In case you have never heard of it or you just have not heard enough to stir some interest in the small country snuggly tucked away in Southern Africa, I am going to give you a whole list of fifteen reasons you should resolutely make Zimbabwe your next travel destination.
Of course I love Zimbabwe and I could think of a hundred reasons why I do but I know it is mostly because I was born here and I have experienced the brunt of life from right here. This is the country where I have learned to swim in streams of every small town I have visited, watched the beautiful sun sprinkle its golden streaked rainbow colours over the horizon and get to speak the same language in over 20 dialects!
It is a small but culturally rich and robust country with lots of loving people. Every person you meet on the street is ever ready for a chat and banter. If you are not exactly one for chit chats, then you can get a serene hide-out in the vast uncharted lands across the country. To get all that and more, here are the first things you should know about my country and I know you will ditch your bucket list and take the next flight over!
- A compact and Easy to Explore Land
The country is only 150,872 sq miles of mostly green fields. You can easily drive from one border to the other across the country in just a day and enjoy the full expanse of raw nature in just twenty-four hours!
As you pass through the towns and undeveloped land take some time to enjoy the calm of undisrupted nature. Lush green fields and at times you get a glimpse or two of some baboons, monkeys and bush babies!
- Plenty of Fauna for Viewing
This is one of the countries around Africa where you get to interact with wildlife. There are several animals including all of the big five; lions, elephants, rhinoceros, leopard and cheetah and the folklore stories’ characters like the hare, tortoise, baboon and crooked fox. Most of the game parks have specially trained wild animals that one gets to ride while viewing other game.
Get to see all the animals in one place when you visit waterholes at sunset. The sight is one glorious unity of God’s marvellous creations all enjoying a much needed drink side by side after a hot day’s work manning the ever green forests.
- Cultural Diversity
Small as it is, Zimbabwe has much appreciation of its diversified cultural affinity. There are sixteen official ethnic groups in Zimbabwe and each of these has a unique culture that is respected and held in awe by all the others.
You can enjoy the adrenaline rush from watching hyped dances from the Gule Wamkulu; a culture of masks. These would dress up like typical circus clowns in regalia made from nature’s very own; sewn- leaf outfits and unrefined animal hide such that when they depict a baboon you see the full glory of one from head to toe.
Then you may even get to attend a rite of passage ritual by the untamed Tonga where semi-naked girls are initiated to womanhood. The Indian Diwali lights would be lighting up the sky from beyond.
Right next to these you would appreciate the hard-core hand clapping and stamping of feet as the white garment church congregants have at it in moments of spiritual ecstasy.
- An Artistic Flair
Perhaps one of the most popular works of art are seen in the architectural designs of the Great Zimbabwe Ruins culturally termed “Dzimba Dzembabwe” meaning houses of stones. These were built from a pile of stones one after the other; they were piled with neither mortar nor cement for cohesion. Built over a century ago, these buildings still stand in full glory to date.
There are many historical activities you only get to learn from rock and tree paintings. The ancestral artistic skills have spilt over to the current generations where rock sculpting, creative wood-work, painting all play a pivotal role in the retaining of our cultural pride. There are several galleries where you can get a whole story told from just looking at paintings and carvings.
- Widely Varied Cuisine
There are several nationalities homed in Zimbabwe currently. Each of these has its own tastes and there is much freedom of expression and enjoyment as they have all been absorbed into a daily array of cultural buffets.
You can get the hot and spicy Indian tastes, the sweet and sour Chinese specialty in relish and dig up on the thick porridge traditionally made by the locals all at one go.
- The Spirit of Celebrations
Naturally, the freedom of worship and mixed cultured feature makes the country a celebratory one all year round. Each of the nationalities and religions in Zimbabwe has its own special festivities to participate in and if you are the adventurous traveller you can freely participate in any one of them at any given time of the year.
There would be the traditional rain dances, which normally take place towards the end of the year, the Christians celebrating Easter and Christmas festivities, Muslim rites of passage celebrations held mid-year and then of course the festival of lights by the Indians towards the end of the year!
- Great Weather
In fact the weather in Zimbabwe is not just great, it is perfect! Many have come in search of suitable weather conditions under which to recuperate from various ailments; a hundred years later we still share the fence with their descendants. Once you get a feel of the warm sun and then the rainy season with its fresh aroma from leafing trees you will most likely want to take root in Zimbabwe!
There are three main seasons in Zimbabwe, Summer in all its golden glory, winter which gives a pretty pale quality to the sun baked arms and nose and the windy Spring when the beauty of flora begins to show off in colorful harmony.
- Plenty of Wild Fruits to Munch On!
The richness of the soil and the untamed forests pay back their respects through a great harvest of natural goodness in fruits and edible tubers.
Cultivate your taste-buds through these tangy, sour-tasting and very sweet tasting varieties of indigenous, healthy, ground sprouting produce.
Amidst the plush forests you are always sure to get the best lodges and farm houses under which you can spend blissful nights while enjoying the night views of sparkling starry skies.
There is a wide range of sleep-over options to choose from; chalets and grass thatched semi-detached homes for the hot summers, luxurious lodges for a feel of the modern while enjoying the day time nature’s best.
- Friendly People
This is one country where you can get away with speaking in your natural language and still get an interested ear that would attempt helping you around. Generally, Zimbabweans are well-travelled people thus you are most likely to meet with someone who knows a word or two of most international languages.
If they can’t pick a word from what you are saying the creative side in us will devise a way to communicate. Even if it may mean drawing pictures, you are surely going to get assistance one way or another!
- Just too Many Places to Visit
As small as my country is, you would be hard tasked to find one citizen that has travelled and seen most of the beautiful resorts and safari places around the country. There are just too many of them.
So if you are not sure what it is really you would want to experience and are all for living-in-the-moment, Zimbabwe is the best place to get confused in; there will be many others as confused as you are and you may find a partner or two to share the spontaneity with.
- A Mixed Currency
Worried about bureau de Changes and getting robbed of your piggy savings while looking for the best rates? In Zimbabwe you are able to use most currencies directly in retail stores and grocery malls. Mostly we use the USD but you can bring your Yuen and Euros without worry.
- Peace and Quiet
I know you have heard the gruesome stories that surround African countries of people that feast on other people, civil wars and barbaric displays of macho egos; those are folklore stories.
You can walk anywhere any-time of day without fear of any attacks when walking the streets of my country. And though we love a good tasty, chewy, meaty meal, we are not cannibals!
- Pretty Sunny Prints for Outfits
Bordered by deeply cultural Zambia, ethnic Botswana, and traditional Mozambique and fast developing South Africa, my country is rich in cultural wear of only the best prints and designs.
If you want a cultural but sophisticated feel, visit any one of the markets and malls and pick a wrap-around cloth to use as a beach wrapper. Get yourself a pretty African frock while at it!
- Fun to Learn Languages!
I did mention that Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in which you get to speak the same language in 16 variations or dialects.
Typically, African languages are clicky and rapid flowing when spoken. My Shona language is no exception and it is even funnier when you get to change intonations and evoke a nasal or throaty feel when amidst various ethnic groups. There is no such thing as broken Shona or IsiNdebele. I think it’s a pretty cool thing to play around with language with no fear of prescribed grammar corrections!
So really, why wait?
While surfing around the cultural atmosphere you can still enjoy the urbane air if you are one for cities. There are galleries, theatre places, dance open-stages and the occasional operas when in the city.
When in Zimbabwe; you can enjoy an African climate under a starry fully moon-lit sky, fill up on scrumptious African food and sleep in a plush luxurious imported bed in one night!