Harare is the bustling Zimbabwean capital which surprises many visitors with its beautiful resort areas and alluring tourist gems. A haven for wondrous wildlife, the city is encompassed by sprawling African plains and spectacular scenery home to giraffes, lions, wildebeests and more. And with some great museums and majestic gardens too, travellers can easily lose themselves for days in this busy, dynamic and charming place; here are 7 of the best things to see and do in Harare, Zimbabwe.
National Botanical Gardens
Located 4 kilometres north of the city centre, deep in the suburbs of Alexandra Park, the beautiful National Botanic Gardens boasts a wide range of the tree and garden plant varieties native to Zimbabwe. The garden area covers almost 7 square kilometres, and within the space, there are species from Zimbabwean woodlands, as well as exotic trees and plants from such faraway places as South America, India and the Far East. The lawns here make for an excellent picnic setting, and you can walk around and enjoy the cool shade of the trees on those scorching Harare afternoons.
Watch out for: grab a tasty lunch at one of the popular nearby restaurants
Thetford Game Reserve
Thetford Game Reserve covers a sprawling 3,300 hectares of beautiful countryside and mountain terrain and is set some 30 or so kilometres outside of Harare. Despite being such a short distance away from the vivacious city centre, visitors will find this place an idyllic piece of paradise, a site teeming with wildlife and over 150 species of birds. The game reserve was founded with the objective of providing a safe space for animals to breed, and it now houses many diverse species including buffalo, giraffes, impalas, zebras and rhinos. There is the chance to go on a guided safari here, and you also can grab some tasty meals on-site.
Watch out for: the diverse flora and fauna of the area
Wild Is Life Grand Zimbabwe
Wild Is Life Grand Zimbabwe is a wildlife sanctuary for local animal species, and it is located near to Harare’s International Airport. The sanctuary offers the incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with nature; tours here allow visitors to witness rescued animals in their natural habitats, and to watch rescue workers as they feed and clean many different species. Some of the animals you’re likely to see here are baby elephants, towering giraffes, roaring lions and speedy cheetahs. Wild Is life makes for an unforgettable afternoon and showcases how a caring rescue operation respectfully treats animals before releasing them back into the wild.
National Heroes Acre
The National Heroes’ Acre was set up after Zimbabwe’s war of liberation to honour and commemorate the liberation warfighters. Every year it’s the central venue for the annual independence holiday and celebrations, a spectacle which features a state fanfare and various celebrity personalities. On a private visit, you’ll get the chance to explore the museum and uncover the ornaments here much more closely. There are shrines for many of the famous liberation warfighters and some noteworthy sights like the ‘tomb of the unknown soldier’.
Watch out for: a plethora of historical records and artefacts
Lion and Cheetah Park
Big game and reptiles The Lion & Cheetah Park is a favourite for locals and tourists alike and is an extremely appealing place for young kids. Situated only 30 minutes outside of Harare, the Lion & Cheetah Park houses big game, lions and deadly snakes, and is also the home for zebras, impalas and wildebeests. If you crave extra adventure takes a turn through the Drive-Through Lion Enclosure, with windows up of course, and experience these majestic mammals up close.
Watch out for: majestic wildlife like lions, cheetahs and snakes
Located just 5 kilometres away from the heart of Harare, the Mukuvisi Woodlands give a real, enthralling taste of the African wild. Offering a whole jungle’s worth of fauna and flora, this game preserve is a top spot for animal watching in the region. The entire woodland covers more than 200 hectares, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a glimpse of impalas, giraffes, crocodiles and zebras. You’ll also get a chance to see some of Zimbabwe’s famous feathered friends, such as the water stork and the red-collared widow-bird, as well as hundreds of others.
Watch out for: bird walks and guided pony rides
Chapungu Sculpture Park
Zimbabwe’s famous stone sculptures Located in Harare’s Msasa Park suburb, the Chapungu Sculpture Park was created in 1970 as a venue to showcase local stone sculpture and art. The project, started by architect Roy Guthrie, has flourished to become perhaps the most prominent exhibition of Zimbabwean stone sculpture in existence. Chapungu works with some of the most important stone sculptors in Africa, and showcases work in Zimbabwe, the U.S. and many other countries.
Watch out for: charming stone souvenirs are available for purchase here