Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa that lies just to the west of Mozambique and to the north of Botswana and South Africa. Like its neighbor to the west, Zambia, most of Zimbabwe’s elevation is above 1000m or 3000ft. It also has two distinct seasons: a rainy season from late October through March. Zimbabwe falls in the tropic zone and much of its land is savannah plains, although it does have some more humid and mountainous regions in the east where tropical forests can be found. Unfortunately, large amounts of deforestation have occurred, which has led to a dramatic decrease in the amount of trees and forests.
Zimbabwe declared its independence from Great Britain in 1980 and has been battling with political and economic issues since. The quality of living has dropped in the past decades, with the average life expectancy at birth for males dropping nearly 50% to 42 years of age (Wikipedia credit) and infant mortality rate rising. It is also estimated that roughly 1 in 4 people in Zimbabwe has been infected with the HIV virus. The difficulties have also impacted the wildlife of Zimbabwe, and in 2007, it was estimated that roughly 60% of its wildlife has been killed off due to poaching and deforestation.
Despite the sharp decline in wildlife, Zimbabwe still has a wide range of wildlife, and all of the big five can be found here. The big five are: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino.
Zimbabwe is bordered by two large rivers, which makes it an excellent location for game viewing. The Limpopo River forms the southern border between Zimbabwe and South Africa and is home to many large game animals including many species of antelope. The Zambezi River runs along the northwest corner of Zimbabwe and forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Zimbabwe River is also the location of the world’s largest waterfall – Victoria Falls – which can be viewed from either the Zambia or Zimbabwe side. Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park is the largest game reserve in the country and is within driving distance of Victoria Falls. There is a large population of wild dogs here and one is able to see some of the bigger cats including lions, leopards and cheetahs.
Zimbabwe’s political and economic difficulties have resulted in a decline in tourism over the past decades, however a handful of conservations the are making an effort to preserve and protect its national parks. Zimbabwe’s lodging and safari offerings are of a high standard and safari-goers who are seeking less-crowded parks may be happier here.