Densest populations of some of the world’s most spectacular animals inhabit this beautiful, landlocked, mid-south African country—according to legend, land of King Solomon’s mines—which has set aside more than 12 percent of its area as national parks and reserves. Unfortunately, recent political events have devastated much of the country; if and when they are resolved the country again will be a premier wildlife destination.
Black rhinos, elsewhere highly endangered, have reached 500 here despite continued pressure from poachers intent on removing horns for dagger handles, aphrodisiacs, and other folk medicines. Zimbabwe has thousands of elephants, as many as its protected territories can accommodate.
Bird species range from crowned eagles to tiny, exquisite paradise flycatchers—more than 640 feathered species in all.
There have been, until recently, more ways for a visitor to see all this than anyplace else in Africa—by wildlife drives in open and closed vehicles both by day and night, by walking, and by various water-borne means: houseboat, kayaking, canoeing, white-water rafting, and wildlife drives in guided sightseeing boats.
International flights arrive in Harare and Victoria Falls, with car rental and a variety of lodging. Most roads have been surfaced and are in fair repair.
Farsighted legislation enacted in the 1970s enabled landowners to manage private lands profitably for wildlife, culling excess animals for meat, allowing access by safaris and some limited, controlled hunting, thereby sustaining general environmental support of wildlife by local populations. This plan had been popular and notably successful.
Threats continue. Besides political unrest, mainly these are poaching, mostly for rhino horns and elephant tusks, and a burgeoning population, doubling every 20 years and requiring ever more space in this agricultural and mineral-rich country.
Best times to visit are April–July.
More about the Reserves in Zimbabwe
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