Those were hard times for those in the safari business. Fortunately, Zimbabwe has “turned the corner” and is, once again, one of Africa’s most exciting wildlife destinations. Perhaps the best way to introduce you to today’s Zimbabwe is to describe what we have found during our recent travels there. Although the wildlife is truly impressive, let us start by telling you a bit about the people we’ve met. From the woman who processed our travel visa at Harare International Airport and the driver who bundled us into his little Toyota – from the ex-pat manager of the lodge we stayed at in Harare to the red haired (and impossibly young!) pilot who flew us into Hwange – from the seasoned Zimbabwean couple who, after losing their farm, started a successful sausage business, to the chef who made us one of the best tasting cheeseburgers ever – everyone exuded cheerful optimism and amazing energy, especially when they talked about their home – Zimbabwe.
And the wildlife destinations were equally impressive – as are some of the conservation challenges. Having read about “Operation Noah” in the late 1950s and the rescue of wildlife as the waters of the Zambezi River filled the valley behind the newly-built Kariba Dam – and now we were there – staring across at “Starvation Island” from the room. Several days later we flew into Hwange – in our mind, a legendary safari destination. Sitting on the verandah of the tent, watching as a small herd of sable antelope trotted across the dry scrub, heading to the waterhole the camp filled with water from the camp’s well. But elephants are the story at Hwange! Numerous boreholes provide more than enough water for the elephants and it was exciting to see them thriving.
In addition to some great game viewing, dedicated professional guides and exceptional camps, Zimbabwe offers some of the best values in Africa. If you haven’t been there recently, you might want to make Zimbabwe your next wildlife conservation destination.