AFRICANGLOBE – Zimbabwe has been in the news a lot recently, but not in terms of travel. By now, most know that the landlocked country was the scene of Cecil the Lion’s death. Where tourism is concerned, Zimbabwe has been mostly off of mainstream travel radars. Typically, South Africa gets all the glory when it comes to visiting the continent; but Zimbabwe is actually considered one of Africa’s most beautiful destinations. Peggy Goldman, Founder of Friendly Planet Travel believes that the destination is worth a visit.
Two years ago, the hotel industry was seeing a rise in visitors, but was still failing to maintain full occupancy. This year, however, tourism is beginning to pick up speed. “Zimbabwe used to be at the forefront of luxury safaris, with a lot of star safari guides coming from Zimbabwe,” shared Hajar Ali, Founder of Urbane Nomads. Whilst that honor now belongs to Botswana, Zimbabwe is slowly coming back on the radar of luxury safari companies. When South-African based Singita opened a lodge in Zimbabwe, that was a clear signal that Zimbabwe is now back on the radar.”
Although Hilton proposed a new property in Harare, the worldwide brand has yet to see that plan come to fruition. In 2014, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister Walter Kanhanga said the multi-million Hilton Hotel and office complex was open to other investors. Whether the potential risk factors or lack of interest from tourists hampered efforts for the hotel, we’re not sure. “We are actively developing our presence across Africa and consider opportunities in all markets where we are in a position to grow our portfolio. We currently do not have any hotels under development in Zimbabwe, however will explore all future opportunities with potential investors,” said Dan Corfield, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Middle East and Africa.
One property that did open this year though, is Linkwasha Camp in Hwange National Park, about a three-hour drive from Victoria Falls. The luxury glamping retreat is in close proximity to the Ngamo Plains, which offers eight en-suite tents, year-round wildlife viewing and “the quality of high-end Botswana camps,” according to Robb Report. Each tent features contemporary interiors, ceiling fans, private verandas and outdoor showers
If glamping isn’t your cup of tea, The Victoria Falls Hotel is a great option and sits in the center of the major tourist hub. Most travel agents agree that this is the go-to spot for all vacationers, which makes it a good home-base for your first Zimbabwe trip. The award-wining hotel is also one of the oldest in Africa and is known for its five-star accommodations, impeccable service, exceptional facilities and the Livingstone Room, voted one of the Best Hotel Restaurants in the World by The Daily Meal.
Zimbabwe is a gorgeous destination with wide open spaces and a plethora of wildlife to discover. It is also home to some of the best weather, especially between June and October. That being said, at this time, there are areas that are safer than others. A few recommended places to explore are Victoria Falls, the Mana Pools, Hwange National Park and Lake Kariba.
When it comes to safaris, one thing travelers often forget, is to use common sense around the animals. Your Instagram shot is not worth losing an arm over! “Africa is not a zoo. Lions are real and they bite. You cannot expect to move in the night around the camp like it is your backyard. There are some basic rules you need to follow (like do not stand in the jeep while doing a safari). But you will be informed by the guides, just listen to them,” cautioned David Trallero, CEO of LookIwasThere.