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Zimbabwe’s 15 Greatest Natural Wonders

Zimbabwe is home to some of Earth’s most stunning natural attractions – from tourist spots to hidden gems.

Photo: Kanuman/Shutterstock

Zimbabwe is home to some of Earth’s most stunning natural attractions – that much is undeniable.

Many of these wonders are recognized globally for their beauty, while others are hidden yet equally outstanding gems.

I must credit my mum, Isobel, for helping to compile this list.

Being born in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, she spent much of her adolescence and early adulthood exploring the incredible natural wonders across the country.

I have admired the vast vivid descriptions of Zimbabwe’s picturesque locations told by my mum since my early childhood.

So buckle up as we discover the Southern African nation’s most exceptional natural attractions!

1. Victoria Falls

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A Man Takes In The Wondrous Victoria Falls. Credit: Yana Zubkova/Shutterstock

Victoria Falls is perhaps the first image that comes to mind for most when Zimbabwe gets mentioned. Recognised globally for its spectacular beauty, Victoria Falls is regarded as one of Earth’s best, and largest, waterfalls.

Its origins in terms of human interactions are, unfortunately, not quite as widely known.

Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone proclaimed that he was the first European person to visit the site back in 1855, and he subsequently named the waterfall after then-monarch Queen Victoria.

An alternative, but equally recognised, name for the famous waterfall is Mosi-oa-Tunya, which is Sotho for “the smoke that thunders”. Evidently, the local name carries with it a more profound meaning.

The sheer size of Victoria Falls alone offers visitors endless adventures; from hiking around the perimeter and taking a trip to the site’s crocodile park, to taking advantage of the perfect photo opportunity at the lofty heights of the waterfall.

Just remember to hire a raincoat while you’re there if you want to avoid getting too soaked!

For the more daring adventurer, there’s always the Devil’s Pool – in which you are quite literally at one with nature. Technically located in Zambia, this intimidating section of Victoria Falls sees you atop the very edge of the currents. But for many, those spectacular views make it worthwhile!

Victoria Falls certainly earns its place on this list, as its timeless beauty ensures that it will forever be regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders!

2. Lake Kariba Sunset Cruise

Scenic Sunset View Of Lake Kariba In Zimbabwe
Scenic Sunset View Of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe. Credit: Paula French/Shutterstock

Alright, technically Lake Kariba shouldn’t count as a Zimbabwean natural wonder. After all, it’s famous for being one of the world’s largest artificial lakes.

But man-made or not, it’s the breathtaking serenity that can be experienced on a sunset cruise across Lake Kariba that makes you truly admire the natural surroundings around the dam.

Crossing paths with the beauty of the Zambezi River, you can book a spot on a 40 seater luxury sunset cruise, which departs at 4pm and takes you along Lake Kariba’s eastern shores for a remarkably serene few hours.

Known locally as the ‘Kariba booze cruise’, most travelers enjoy sipping on their drink of choice while they enjoy the lake’s stunning scenery, watching crocodiles and hippos along the way from the safety of the boat.

The best part of the cruise, of course, is getting to experience the idyllic Southern African sunset while you enjoy relaxing in the most majestic of settings.

3. Chinhoyi Caves

A Tourist Explores The Chinhoyi Caves
The Cobalt Blue Pool At Chinhoyi Caves. Credit: KITAMU/Shutterstock

Visiting the Chinhoyi Caves in Mashonaland West is a must if you want to witness one of the most unbelievably beautiful natural wonders of Southern Africa.

Apart from exploring the caves themselves, it’s in fact the ethereal sight beneath the Wonder Hole that is the site’s main attraction.

Keen scuba divers enter the Wonder Hole – a swallow hole – and make their way down the walls of the steep cavern and into the electric blue ‘Sleeping Pool’ to explore the crystal clear depths.

With ancient limestone and dolomite surrounding the cobalt blue pool, this location is likely the closest you could get to a natural mermaid pool, such as Mako Island‘s Moon Pool in the Australian teen show H2O: Just Add Water.

Chirorodziva is the traditional name for the Chinhoyi Caves’ Sleeping Pool, which translates to ‘the Pool of the Fallen’.

4. Matobo Hills

Rock Paintings By Bushmen Dating Back To The Stone Age
A Stone Age Rock Painting At Matobo National Park. Credit: Vadim_N/Shutterstock

The site of the Matobo Hills contains some of Zimbabwe’s most significant ancient art.

Located in Matabeleland, the art region consists of colorful granite hills and valleys.

As you enter Matobo National Park, you’ll be greeted to rock art which dates back to the Stone Age. The art mainly consists of a vast number of paintings, but some engravings are also present.

The paintings, created by local Bushmen, largely depict humans adorning bows and arrows, alongside various animals; namely the kudu antelope, but also other mammals such as giraffes, zebras and rhinos.

If you’re keen to discover Southern Africa’s early artwork, then head over to the Matobo Hills for the most fascinating and educational experience!

5. Great Zimbabwe Ruins

The Ruins Of A Medieval City, Great Zimbabwe.
The Ruins Of A Medieval City, Great Zimbabwe. Credit: Jo Reason/Shutterstock

Great Zimbabwe is another key site that combines the talents of humanity with the beauty of Southern African nature.

A medieval city, Great Zimbabwe was constructed using natural granite boulders – as well as rectangular blocks – to create steep, secure walls.

The building process eventually led to the general layout of the city being formed; consisting of a substantial circular wall and tower.

The remains of daga houses are contained within these walls, but it’s the Great Enclosure that attracts such widespread curiosity.

As the biggest single ancient structure in sub-Saharan Africa, the Great Enclosure is presumed to have been the site of a royal residence, which perhaps led to the affluent African trading empire situated at Great Zimbabwe.

Misinformation used to be rife regarding the Great Zimbabwe Ruins – with prejudiced colonial figures professing that the city’s structure was too complex to have been built by African people.

After admiring the stunning ruins, Masvingo itself is a lovely place for both a quiet break and a long hike, as the area is so vast, scenic and mountainous.

6. Chiremba Balancing Rocks

Balancing Rocks In Epworth, Harare
Balancing Rocks In Epworth, Harare. Credit: KITAMU/Shutterstock

The Balancing Rocks of Zimbabwe are not confined to a single location. There are, in fact, numerous areas throughout the nation that include the fascinating feature.

Formed naturally by igneous rocks, the Balancing Rocks are truly emblematic of Zimbabwean nature.

So much so, that the Chiremba Balancing Rocks in Epworth, Harare appeared on the nation’s currency back in 2008 (when historic hyperinflation led to a 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar banknote being issued).

These unusual beauties are most definitely another photo opportunity waiting to happen!

7. Gonarezhou National Park

Gonarezhou National Park in the town of Chiredzi is home to an abundance of African wildlife.

From the sensational Chilojo Cliffs, long-stretching rivers and vast woodlands, Gonarezhou seems to contain each element of scenic Zimbabwean nature, all in one place.

Getting to witness lions, cheetahs, rhinoceros, zebras, antelopes and giraffes in their spacious natural habitat is an unforgettable memory to take home with you.

While for elephant lovers, Gonarezhou is the place to visit – with around 11,000 elephants roaming around the Park!

Elephant sightings are so commonplace there that Gonarezhou has been nicknamed the ‘Place of Elephants’!

8. Hwange National Park

Wildlife Enjoy Each Other's Company At Hwange
African Wildlife At Hwange National Park. Credit: paula french/Shutterstock

The above picture really encapsulates what Hwange National Park is all about: an awe-inspiring breadth of wildlife species, all surviving alongside one another in the incredible Zimbabwean wild.

Impressive is an understatement. Hwange is the largest natural park in the country, spanning a substantial 14,650 sq km.

Despite being Zimbabwe’s most celebrated national parks, Hwange and Gonarezhou don’t need to be pitted against each other.

Southern African wildlife and landscapes are so unpredictable and expansive that you’re bound to have an unforgettable, unique experience at both parks.

Hwange got its namesake from a local Nhanzwa chief, being recognized as a protected national park in 1929.

With the park being so vast in size, Hwange understandably includes an especially impressive array of wildlife species.

From over a hundred species of mammals to 400 species of whimsical birds, Hwange is an adventure whether you’re looking up to the skies or on the rough terrain.

Elephant lovers are also in for a treat at Hwange, with 40,000 tusker elephants being one of the park’s main attractions.

While Hwange is enjoyable at any time of the year, it’s recommended that you visit during the dry season – between May and October – to witness the biggest concentrations of wildlife, namely elephant herds.

9. Nyanga

Nyanga Is Reminiscent Of The Scottish Highlands
Nyanga Resembles A Scottish Landscape. Credit: Marc Dumont/Shutterstock

Zimbabwe’s landscape is forever full of surprises. This is certainly the case when it comes to Nyanga in the Eastern Highlands.

The mountainous region bears a remarkable resemblance to the Scottish Highlands – which my mum Isobel noticed immediately upon her arrival in Scotland.

From the rugged green hills and earthy color palette to the mesmerizing rivers across the region, Nyanga offers an exceptionally peaceful escape for travelers.

From the breathtaking Mtarazi Falls to the scenic routes of Nyanga National Park, there’s something really healing about this area of Zimbabwe.

10. Chimanimani Mountains

Chimanimani's Picturesque Mountains
Chimanimani’s Picturesque Mountains. Credit: Dave Stewart Africa/Shutterstock

Chimanimani is home to some really stunning views – with peaceful waterfalls and long-stretching forests adorning a range of mesmerizing mountains.

Unfortunately, however, the Chimanimani Mountains are one of Zimbabwe’s hidden gems, being less frequently visited than more prominent Zimbabwean landmarks.

I only discovered the beautiful region because of my mum telling me of how she went there once as a child.

But on a positive note, this means that you’re guaranteed a quiet, relaxing environment while enjoying a long hike or a swim in Tessa’s Pool!

11. Lake Chivero

Lake Chivero's Beauty Makes It Look Postcard Ready
Lake Chivero’s Postcard-like Beauty. Credit: John Fortune/Shutterstock

Lake Chivero, previously known as Lake McIlwaine, is another of Southern Africa’s hidden gems.

The massive lake is an idyllic setting for camping, fishing trips, or even if you just want some undisturbed, peaceful alone time.

If you’re passing through Zimbabwe’s capital, then Lake Chivero is an ideal spot to visit on your travels due to its close proximity to Harare.

Lake Chivero and Harare also share a crucial connection, with the reservoir providing the primary supply of water for the city.

12. Kuimba Shiri Bird Sanctuary

On the topic of Lake Chivero, nestled on its shores, lies a truly magical site: Kuimba Shiri Bird Sanctuary.

Opening its doors 30 years ago, Kuimba Shiri (which fittingly translates to ‘singing birds), houses an impressive 460 species of birds.

Wild birds from across the African continent can be discovered at the sanctuary – including rare and indigenous eagles, Egyptian vultures, numerous owl species – and even some adorable cockatoos!

There are so many aviaries at the sanctuary that you’ll be enchanted for several hours!

13. Khami Ruins

Khami Ruins, Bulawayo
The Stonewalled Khami Ruins, Bulawayo. Credit: Brian Stuart Nel/Shutterstock

Just as historically and archaeologically fascinating as Great Zimbabwe are the Khami Ruins near Bulawayo.

Constructed following the abandonment of Great Zimbabwe’s capital in the mid-1500s, Khami Ruins comprises a substantial complex of stonewalled sites.

Khami Ruins has helped archaeologists to discover just how important Zimbabwe was regarding trade.

Objects from across Europe and China have been found at the site, indicating that Khami was fundamental to international trade over a long period.

Now officially known as Khami World Heritage Site, the incredible ruined city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1986.

14. Domboshava

Domboshava's Granite Hills Are Ideal Picnic Spots
Domboshava Is An Ideal Picnic Spot. Credit: Tawanda Kapikinyu/Shutterstock

Domboshava, which takes its namesake from the huge granite hills across the area, is a real spectacle.

Situated 27 km north of Harare, Domboshava is an ancient scenic place with plenty of natural beauty to behold.

Granite rocks, some of which are balancing, accompany stunning streams and caves.

According to my mum Isobel, it has long been regarded as an ideal picnic spot and rock climbing site.

Or even if you just want to take in the serene views as you explore some ancient rock paintings, Domboshava is the place to visit.

15. Mana Pools National Park

A Greater Kudu Accompanies African Birds On The Plains Of Mana Pools
An Antelope With Majestic Birds At Mana Pools. Credit: Martin Mecnarowski

Last, but most definitely not least, on our list is Mana Pools National Park, which is located in the far-north of Zimbabwe, by the Zambezi River.

Rather than merely being ‘yet another’ wildlife park, Mana Pools takes the concept to an even more impressive standard.

Numerous islands, sandbanks and channels – within which resides an abundance of wildlife – all form the basis of this stunning safari.

A visit to the Long Pool offers the optimum chance of getting to witness Mana Pools’ innumerable wildlife species – with Nile crocodiles, elephants and hippos typically gathering there at sunrise.

If you’re an especially brave adventurer, head south to Chitake Springs – as it’s here that lions eagerly await their prey.

Tired of trekking? No problem, you can enjoy Mana Pools via a canoe safari or game drive!

For more advice on which time of the year is best to visit Zimbabwe, check out this link.

Written By

I am an MLitt Digital Journalism Masters student at Strathclyde University, and a 2.1 graduate of English Literature (MA Hons) at the University of Edinburgh. Engaging for a decade with journalistic writing and reporting, I have been involved with a broad range of media work; from sports journalism and features, to news writing and disability awareness.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. isobel malik

    May 21, 2024 at 4:06 pm

    Omar, I’m so proud of you writing this beautiful and accurate article about Zimbabwe. As your Mum and having been born and brought up there, it certainly was nostalgic reading this and, as they say, once you’ve got Africa in your blood it never leaves you. It makes me want to go back and see it all again but at least I’ve got all the memories.

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