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Zimbabwe

Beaties of nature, a diversified animal kingdom and interesting cultures are waiting for you. The most impressing natural wonder is the Victoria Falls which you can easily combine with a safari through Botswana.

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Flora & Fauna

The country is mostly savanna, although the moist and mountainous east supports tropical evergreen and hardwood forests. Trees include teak and mahogany, knobthorn, msasa and baobab. Among the numerous flowers and shrubs are hibiscus, spider lily, leonotus, cassia, tree wisteria and dombeya.

Mammals include Hippopotamus, Rhinoceros, Baboon, Okapi, Giraffe, Kudu, Sable, Zebra, Warthog, Porcupine, Badger, Otter, Hare and many more. In all, there are around 350 species of mammals.

Victoria Falls

David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view the Victoria Falls - which he did from what is now known as 'Livingstone Island' in Zambia, the only land accessible in the middle of the falls. David Livingstone gave the falls the name 'Victoria Falls' in honor of his Queen, but the indigenous name of 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' - literally meaning the 'Cloud that Thunders' - is also well known. The World Heritage List recognizes both names.

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is claimed to be the largest. This claim is based on a width of 1,708 meters (5,604 ft) and height of 108 meters (354 ft), forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world. The falls' maximum flow rate compares well with that of other major waterfalls. For a considerable distance upstream from the falls, the Zambezi flows over a level sheet of basalt, in a shallow valley bounded by low and distant sandstone hills. The river's course is dotted with numerous tree-covered islands, which increase in number as the river approaches the falls. There are no mountains, escarpments, or deep valleys which might be expected to create a waterfall, only flat plateau extending hundreds of kilometers in all directions.

The Zambezi basin above the falls experiences a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season the rest of the year. The river's annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April, The spray from the falls typically rises to a height of over 400 meters (1,300 ft), and sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from up to 50 km (31 mi) away. At full moon, a "moonbow" can be seen in the spray instead of the usual daylight rainbow. During the flood season, however, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist. Close to the edge of the cliff, spray shoots upward like inverted rain, especially at Zambia's Knife-Edge Bridge.

As the dry season takes effect, the islets on the crest become wider and more numerous, and in September to January up to half of the rocky face of the falls may become dry and the bottom of the First Gorge can be seen along most of its length.

Matobo National Park

The Matobo National Park forms the core of the Matobo or Matopos Hills, an area of granite kopjes and wooded valleys commencing some 35 kilometers south of Bulawayo, southern Zimbabwe. The hills were formed over 2 billion years ago with granite being forced to the surface, this has eroded to produce smooth "whaleback dwalas" and broken kopjes, strewn with boulders and interspersed with thickets of vegetation. Mzilikazi, founder of the Ndebele nation, gave the area its name, meaning 'Bald Heads'.

The Hills cover an area of about 3100 km², of which 424 km² is National Park, the remainder being largely communal land and a small proportion of commercial farmland. The park covers some beautiful scenery including some spectacular balancing rocks and impressive views along the Thuli, Mtshelele, Maleme and Mpopoma river valleys. Part of the national park is set aside as a 100 km² game park, which has been stocked with game including the white rhinoceros. The highest point in the hills is the promontory named Gulati (1549 m) just outside the north-eastern corner of the park. Administratively, Matobo National Park incorporates the Lake Matopos Recreational Park, being the area around Hazelside, Sandy Spruit and Lake Matopos.

Matobo National Park has a wide diversity of fauna: 175 bird, 88 mammal, 39 snake and 16 fish species. Game include white Rhinoceros, sable antelope, impala and leopard. The park contains the world's densest population of the latter, due to the abundance of hyrax, which make up 50 % of their diet. The game park in the west has been restocked with white and black rhinos, the former from Kwa-Zulu Natal in the 1960s and the latter from the Zambezi Valley in the 1990s. It has been designated as an Intensive Protection Zone for the two species, as well as giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and ostrich.

Matobo National Park contains the highest concentration of black eagles, and breeding pairs of these birds, worldwide.

Hwange National Park

Hwange National Park (formerly Wankie Game Reserve) is the largest game reserve in Zimbabwe. The park lies in the west, on the main road between Bulawayo and the widely noted Victoria Falls and near to Dete. It was founded in 1928, with the first warden being by the 22-year-old Ted Davison. He befriended the Manchester-born James Jones who was the stationmaster for the then Rhodesian Railways at Dete which is very near Hwange Main Camp. Jones managed incoming supplies for the park.

This park is considered for inclusion in the 5 Nation Kavango - Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. It hosts over 100 mammal and 400 bird species, including 19 large herbivores and eight large carnivores. All Zimbabwe's specially protected animals are to be found in Hwange and it is the only protected area where gemsbok and brown hyena occur in reasonable numbers. Grazing herbivores are more common in the Main Camp Wild Area and Linkwasha Concession Area, with mixed feeders more common in the Robins and Sinamatella Wild Areas, which are more heavily wooded. Distribution fluctuates seasonally, with large herbivores concentrating in areas where intensive water pumping is maintained during the dry season. The population of African wild dogs to be found in Hwange is thought to be of one of the larger surviving groups in Africa today, along with that of Kruger National Park and Selous Game Reserve.

Other major predators include the lion, whose distribution and hunting in Hwange is strongly related to the pans and waterholes, leopard, spotted hyena and cheetah. Elephants have been enormously successful in Hwange and the population has increased to far above that naturally supported by such an area. This population of elephants has put a lot of strain on the resources of the park. There has been a lot of debate on how to deal with this, with parks authorities implementing culling to reduce populations, especially during 1967 to 1986. The elephant population doubled in the five years following the end of culling in 1986.

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Zimbabwe - Home of the Victoria Falls.

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