Great Zimbabwe is the greatest medieval city in Sub-Saharan Africa. The city was inhabited between 1100 AD and 1500 AD with 10.000 till 20.000 inhabitants.
The name Zimbabwe is meant to be from Shona origin and means houses of stone (dzimba dza mabwe) or esteemed houses (dzimba woye).
There are two important parts in Great Zimbabwe, the Great Enclosure and the Hill Complex. We took enough time to visit both, but also the small museum, the remains of the smaller Valley enclosures and the reconstructed Karanga Village.
The Whuvi game Park is part of the Matobo National Park. In this game park it is possible to go around by horse.
We didn't , we did the gamedrive by our bus.
The Whovi Game park is known of its black rhino population. We saw a rhino-mother with her kid in the bushes just before we ended our game drive. So we were lucky in the end.
In the two hours before we saw other game like impalas, klipspringers, warthogs, 3 hippos with a baby, a giraffe with a baby and 2 crocodiles.
So our visit to the Whovi Wild Area was not bad at all. At this waterpool we saw a herd of wildebeasts and impalas.
We stayed a few days in the main camp of the Hwange National Park.
At arrival we directly knew, what it was, to be in the middle of wildlife. We saw a group of baboons jumping on some tents.
Early morning and late afternoon we made our game drives to see the elephants and otther game. Open landrovers came to the camp to pick us up. The adventure could start !!!
In August 1994 the park was open from 6 am to 6.30 pm and admission was 15$.
The hillcomplex of Great Zimbabwe is very impressive. The built structures are integrated in the natural boulders. It looks really amazing.
The hillcomplex is occupied for 300 years. There are royal and ritual chambers. The most important part of the hillcomplex is the western enclosure, where two of the original ascents, the ancient path and the terrace path, converge.
i liked it very much to discover the several chambers and entrances by taking narrow steps and corridors.
For more pictures have a look at my travelogue.
From the parking lot it's an easy 5 minutes walk to the top of the hill, that called Cecil Rhodes the "view of the world'' after the view gripped him strongly. Here is his grave, but also two other graves.
The scenery is marvellous with large boulders around his grave. We saw a lot of colorful lizards around the grave and the boulders.
This mountain knew the Ndebele as Malindidzima or ''dwelling place of benevolent spirits".
After spotting a lot of single male elephants at the waterholes, our driver suddenly stopped the car. We waited a few seconds and then started a breathtaking experience.
Just behind our car 40 elephants crossed the track and then also in front of our car another 40 crossed also.
We were enclosed by elephants at all sides. We didn't know, where to look first and nearly forgot to breathe.
There were a lot of young elephants in the herd. The female leader of the herd was looking at us, while the herd was passing.
And the most peculiar of all, we didn't hear any noise of the herd, walking in the bushes !!
For a full sight enlarge the panorama picture.
After the close encounter with the first herd of elephants we drove to a pool with a nice viewing point. The herd, we saw before, was allready arrived together with an herd from the other side. Another herd was leaving allready.
There were 200 elephants around, included some solitary men. Never before I saw so many elephants at the same time!
At the pool were also some buffalos, two giraffes were waiting for their turn, a jackal walked by and we saw some ostriches.
We were in Africa !!!
For panorama enlarge the picture.
See the travelogue for more pictures !
The best known part of Great Zimbabwe, you see at all the pictures, is the Great Enclosure.
Often this enclosure is called Great Zimbabwe itself. The enclosure has a elliptical from of 255 M circumference and 100 M across.
The common people lived in huts outside the enclosures. The more important people lived in the enclosures and it's accepted that the Great Enclosure was used as a royal compound and cloister for the king's mother and senior wives of the Shona king.
The influence of the king stretched into the present-day Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa.
Within the huge walls of the Great Emclosure is a convex conical tower of 10 M high a bit hidden under the trees at the south-eastern end od the enclosure. This tower is object of greatest speculation, because it is not clear what this apparently ceremonial structure represented.
Some speculate that it symbolized a granary, others see it as a phallic symbol or believe it was used in rainmaking ceremonies.
For more pictures of the great Enclosure and Great Zimbabwe have a look at the travelogue.
From the area aorund the Great Enclosure we had a nice overview of the 80 M high hill, where the hillcomplex or the acropolis is situated. The hillcomplex was probably the first of the Great Zimbabwe structures to be built .
We walked up hill by the easygoing modern path, signposted as ''modern path'' in 10 minutes. Along the path we saw remains of old huts.
On our way back we took one of the more difficult and interesting original paths, the ancient path. Going down it was easy to walk along this path, also because we had a good overlook where to go.
After the Great Enclosure and the Hill Complex, we walked very relaxed through the area, looking at the remains of the Valley Enclosures (13th century), towards the reconstructed village.
The reconstructed Karanga village gives an idea how the common people of Great Zimbabwe have lived in their huts, while the royal family lived in stone buildings.
The colorful huts looked really nice.
The traditional huts in the reconstructed Karanga village have mud-walls with thatched roofs. The walls were decorated with geometrical forms in natural colours.
Walking through the village, two people waved at us. We walked in the direction of their hut. The man and the woman were witch doctors. They could heal us from diseases or could tell something about our future. Because our bus should depart in half an hour, there was too little time left to come in their hut for a consult.
So maybe the next time.
After our visit to the Whovi Game Park, we went to the nearby Bambata wilderness area, just west of the Matobo National Park.
The Bambata Cave is known of the rockpaintings. You can reach the cave by a 40 minutes walk from the Whovi-Bulawayo road.
We enjoyed our walk through the rough landscape. First there was a bushpath, but later there was no track , but the walking on the solid rocks was fun and rather easygoing.
The Bambata cave, just near the Matobo National Park, is extensily excavated.
These excavations have uncovered tools and pottery of the first few centuries BC.
Similar finds in Zimbabwe from the same period got also the name Bambata after the name of this cave.
When I'm in a cave with such an old history, I always tried to imagine the life of people thousands of years ago.
The Hwange National park covers an area of 14.651 sq KMs and was founded in 1929. The area was not very suitable for agriculture. At the moment of foundation there were around 1.000 elephants.
They made a lot of waterholes, so there would be also water in the dry season.
In the 1970s there was a population of 20.000 elephants, too many, so they destroyed the area. The amount in the park is reduced to 12.000, acceptable for a good natural balance.
We visited the park in the dry season (July to October). In this period it easy to spot game at the waterholes, where the water is pumped with engines.
Zambezi River, 80 km from Victoria Falls, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Good for: Solo
Corner 3rd Street/Jason Moyo Avenue, Harare, Zimbabwe
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
service was allright rooms are very basic, clean but a little used the restaurant was a posivtive...more