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Zimbabwe

Main attractions

Ruins of Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
Ruins of Great Zimbabwe / Ross Huggett, / CC BY 2.0

Zimbabwe is gorgeous country with rich array of natural and man made heritage.

Highlights of Zimbabwe are:

  • The only true large ancient stone structures south from Sahara. Best known by far is Great Zimbabwe, which gave a name and cultural symbols for the country, but there are hundreds of more sites.
  • Ecosystems and giant trees. Zimbabwe has southernmost African rainforest - Chirinda Forest, which has truly unique mahogany tree. Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe have several outlying "islands" of tropical forests with numerous endemic species of plants and animals.

Among the other highlights should be mentioned gorgeous waterfalls (including one of world's most impressive natural landmarks - Victoria Falls) and excellent prehistoric cliff paintings.

Natural landmarks

Mutarazi Falls, Zimbabwe
Mutarazi Falls / Radozw, / GNU GFDL

Waterfalls

  • Mutarazi Falls (Mtarazi Falls) and Mutaruru Falls - Manicaland. A pair of two waterfalls. The largest - Mutarazi Falls - is 762 m tall waterfall, one of the tallest in Africa. Waterfall is part free-falling (479 m), part sliding down along very steep cliff. Mutaruru Falls have similar height and have formed on a smaller stream some 500 m east from the large waterfall.
  • Pungwe Falls - Manicaland. 243 m tall waterfall with several cascades and twists.
  • Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya) - Matabeleland North and Zambia, Southern State. Extremely powerful falls, 1,708 metres wide and 1087 metres high. They are some of the most impressive natural sights in world.

Gemstone finds

  • Sandawana emerald mines - Masvingo. Oldest emeralds in the world, their age could exceed 2 billion years. Sandawana emeralds are small but with a deep color and high clarity.
  • St. Anne's pegmatite - Mashonaland West. Rich find of gemstones, with exceptional blue topaz, blue euclase, aquamarine, tourmalines and other gems.
Victoria Falls Big Tree, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls "Big Tree" / Charles Haynes, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Trees

  • Chirinda Big Tree - Manicaland. Enormous African Mahogany (Khaya anthoteca (Welw.) C. DC.), diameter at least 4.5 m, height at least 64 metres. Grows in the southernmost African rainforest - Chirinda Forest.
  • Devuri Baobab - Masvingo. Possibly the largest baobab in Zimbabwe, with a circumference of 27.61 m (1987), 21 m high. It is not known if the tree survives up to this day.
  • Victoria Falls "Big Tree" - Matabeleland North. Baobab with the circumference of 22.6 m, 24 m high.

Other natural landmarks

  • Chirinda Forest - Manicaland. Stand of moist montane tropical forest (at the height of 1,100 - 1,250 metres, area 606 ha), southernmost African tropical rainforest. Contains numerous endemic species and enormous trees. Here grows also the Big Tree - some 65 metres high and 4.5 metres stout (diameter) African Mahogany (Khaya anthotheca).
  • Chinhoyi Caves - Mashonaland West. Group of legendary, sacred and very impressive caves with up to 172 metres deep lakes (Sleeping Pool). Extremely high transparency of water where clouds and birds flying over can be seen from 30 metre depth inside the cave lake.
  • Mother and Child Kopje, Zimbabwe
    Mother and Child Kopje / Susan Adams, / CC BY-SA 2.0
    Epworth Balancing Rocks - Harare. A stack of enormous boulders, well known thanks to depiction on banknotes.
  • Mother and Child Kopje - Matabeleland South. Impressive balancing rocks, rising tall above the surroundings.
  • Sinamwenda structure - Matabeleland North. Potential impact structure, 200 m in diameter, with some metres high crater rim.

Man made landmarks

Prehistoric cliff art

  • Bambata Cave - Matabeleland South. Archaeological site with fine rock painting - a frieze with painted elephants, giraffes, warthogs and other animals.
  • Dombashawa Rock - Masvingo. Natural rock shelter with some 100 m long panel of paintings. These paintings are some 13,000 and some 2,000 years old and depict people, hunting scenes.
  • Inanke Cave - Matabeleland South. Cave with extensive prehistoric paintings.
  • Murewa Caves - Mashonaland East. Long caves, contain at least 1000 years old San paintings.
  • Nswatugi Cave - Matabeleland South. Cave with beautiful prehistoric paintings of animals - giraffes, elephants, kudu.
  • Pomongwe Cave - Matabeleland South. Prehistoric cave settlement with cave paintings (damaged). Archaeological excavations have provided 39,032 artefacts.
  • White Rhino Shelter - Matabeleland South. Cliff shelter with a prehistoric frieze which depicts large rhinos.
Ruins of Ziwa, Zimbabwe
Ruins of Ziwa / Damien Farrell, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Ruins of ancient settlements

  • Bumbusi - Matabeleland North. Ruins - colossal stone walls, platforms. Constructed in the 18th - 19th century by local people.
  • Danamombe (Dhlo-Dhlo) - Midlands. Ruins of Rozvi town, constructed mainly in the 17th - 18th centuries. Structures were made from dry stone, possibly also from mud, which was reinforced with wood.
  • Great Zimbabwe - Manicaland. Capital city of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, inhabited around 1100 - 1400 AD. There could be up to 18,000 inhabitants in the city at its peak. Today remain impressive ruins of dry stone. Walls are more than 5 m tall, the architecture is monumental and highly distinct.
  • Khami - Matabeleland North. Ruins of the former capital of Butua Kingdom. Built and inhabited roughly in 1450 - 1800s. Consists of seven built up areas, structures were constructed with great skill. Especially impressive is 68 m long stone wall, all adorned with checkerboard ornaments.
  • Naletale - Midlands. Ruins of Rozvi town, built mainly in the 17th century. Dry stone walls are decorated with chevron and herringbone ornaments. One of the most impressive archaeological sites in Zimbabwe.
  • Mtoa - Matabeleland North. Ruins of old structures, built by the local people in the early 19th century. Circular walls and large stone monoliths.
  • Ziwa - Manicaland. Ruins from the 17th century, former city. Site contains diverse structures and archaeological excavations have provided diverse works of art. Interesting structures include double walls, massive covered doorways etc.
Victoria Falls Bridge
Victoria Falls Bridge / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Other man made landmarks

  • Birchenough Bridge - Manicaland. Enormous steel through arch bridge, beautiful structure. This bridge was built in 1935 and the longest span is 329.4 m long.
  • Malindidzimu - Matabeleland South. Summit of mountain - enormous granitic monolith, with giant boulders on it. Ancient sacred place with great views. Controversial cemetery of the European invaders, e.g. Cecil Rhodes.
  • Victoria Falls Bridge - Matabeleland and Zambia, Southern State. Steel parabolic arch bridge near Victoria Falls. The longest span is 156.5 m, bridge was constructed in 1905.

List of described attractions by provinces

Zimbabwe is divided into 10 provinces:

Bulawayo
Harare
Manicaland
Mashonaland Central
Mashonaland East
Mashonaland West
Masvingo
Matabeleland North
ArrowVictoria FallsWaterfalls
Matabeleland South
Midlands

Map of Zimbabwe

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