Wild Dogs, Hwange NP, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has transformed itself politically in the last few months and it’s revelling in its new-found popularity, says safari specialist Acacia Africa. In the post-Mugabe era, travellers are seeing the country in a whole new light, and interest in the destination is on the up.

Rhino walking safari, Matobo NP, Zimbabwe (c) Acacia Africa

With plenty of unspoilt wildlife havens to enthuse your appetite for all things Africa, Zimbabwe is a serious contender for the title holder of “best games parks and reserves on the continent.”

For instance, take Hwange National Park, home to an estimated 50,000 elephants, many of which are in breeding herds as large as 300.

Add in 100 different kinds of mammals (including the endangered wild dog) and around 500 bird species, plus little competition for vantage points, and it’s a no-brainer for anyone with a safari on their bucket list.

The Matobo Hills National Park isn’t your quintessential African safari park, as there are no rolling plains, but if you’re looking for something a bit different, then it’s worth the visit.

Here, you’ll enjoy the rare opportunity of a walking safari to trek the elusive, yet captivating rhino and there are other ancient treasures in store – bushmen paintings dating back 2000-4000 years, etched into the Nswatugi Cave.

Matobo NP (c) Zimbabwe Tourism Authority

As one of Acacia’s guides recalls, “near the cave, we parked up and climbed over surprising lichen-covered boulders and rusty looking rocks, before ascending higher and reaching the heart of the cave. Here, we marvelled at the Bushmen paintings. The clay and ochre art is exquisite, carefully detailed and full of colourful oranges and red; you could even be forgiven for thinking they were done yesterday.”

“As Bushmen came and went, the stories they told through paint crept higher and higher up the walls to a height now that leaves you wondering how they reached it. Unfortunately, the Bushmen have long since moved out of Matobo with all their bush secrets, but their paintings reignite an understanding of the old ways, of spiritual and earth connectedness; ways that are sadly disappearing quickly from modern society.”

Ancient bushmen paintings the Nswatugi Cave (c) Acacia Africa

The Victoria Falls are probably the icing on the cake when it comes to Zimbabwe’s celebrated attractions. One of the seven natural wonders of the world and standing at 1,708 metres wide with a drop between 90 and 107 metres, this is the largest falling curtain of water in the world.

An average of 550,000 cubic metres of water per minute plunge over the gorge and at high water times the spray can be seen from 20-30 kilometres away. As one of Africa’s adventure capitals there’s more to do than simply looking at the falls themselves (though Zimbabwe bags the best vantage points, the falls visible year round).

There is also the opportunity to take on many activities including white water rafting, bungee jumping, helicopter flights and sunset cruises.

Victoria Falls, as seen from the Zimbabwean side (c) Acacia Africa

Acacia Africa offers overland tours and small group safaris covering Zimbabwe, the specialist recently launching two new itineraries including the nine-day Kruger and Victoria Falls.