World Heritage sites Zimbabwe: Treasures in the Great house of stone

Zimbabwe – a land of geographical diversity and beauty, delightfully friendly people, fascinating historical sites and of course, the world renown natural wonder Victoria falls. In an ideal world any country with such a long list of ‘must-sees’ would sell itself instantly to any tourist. Unfortunately outside of Victoria falls, most other top sights in Zimbabwe are virtually unknown to many travelers. We at Tripeon believe that to fully appreciate what an amazing country like Zimbabwe has to offer, one has to step out of their comfort zone and see the rest of the treasures in this great house of stone (The meaning of Zimbabwe in Shona language). And to do that, what better way than to visit all the World heritage sites found in Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe (Entry US$15)

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Giant soapstone bird!

This national monument, a magnificent ruined city covering an area of over 722ha, had the whole country named after it upon independence in 1980. The largest stone structure ever built south of the Sahara, it was the base for a succession of kings and rulers spanning over 4 centuries. The significance of Great Zimbabwe is so immense that the strange carved soapstone birds found at this site provided the country with its national symbol, which can be seen on the national flag 🇿🇼 . 25km southeast of the town Masvingo, Great Zimbabwe is simply the pinnacle representation of Zimbabwe culture and history. Highlights include the Hill complex, the Valley complex and the Great Enclosure, with the latter being the most photogenic and thus can be seen in almost every piece of publicity material about the site

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Aerial view of Great Zimbabwe, with the 6m thick-walled great enclosure at the bottom

Khami Ruins (Entry US$10)

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Beautiful retaining Walls

At 35ha, the Khami ruins site is significantly smaller than Great Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, this area played an integral role in Zimbabwe history, being a city that had important trade links with far-flung empires such as Ming-China (Ming pottery had been found on-site). Comprising of a Hill complex and some outlying hut platforms, today Khami ruins is known for its beautifully decorated retaining walls which form the main platforms of the Hill complex. Being just 22km away from Zimbabwe’s second largest city Bulawayo, Khami ruins proves to be a fascinating historical site where one can easily spend half a day pleasantly strolling

Matobo Hills (Entry US$15)

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Dramatic rock landscape
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‘Chinese Man’ rock formation Lol

Less than an hour’s drive south of Bulawayo lies one of Zimbabwe’s, if not southern Africa’s, most dramatic rock landscapes. Matobo Hills is indeed a place of outstanding natural beauty with writers often struggling to convey the geological majesty of the place. Usually described using adjectives like ‘spiritual’ or ‘massive’, Matobo Hills is famous for its balancing rocks kopjes: huge angular blocks of granite piled on top and beside one another, forming interesting pillars and stacks. These balancing rocks are so symbolic that they were heavily featured on the now-defunct Zimbabwe currency

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Many Zeros on a banknote

At Matobo Hills, granite is the building material and weather the artist. And it is precisely the same weathering processes that created hundreds of caves and rock shelters which were then inhabited and decorated by some of the world’s most ancient people. In fact, this is one of the few areas in the world proven to have supported continuous human occupation for over 40000 years. In short, spectacular Matobo Hills have such an unique blend of natural and cultural sights that even ‘breathtaking’ will seem like an understatement in describing the place

Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas (Entry US$20)

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Regarded by many locals as the finest wilderness area in the country, Mana pools national park is richly stocked with game and blessed with outstanding scenic, riverine beauty. It is relatively little visited when compared to Victoria falls and Matobo Hills, so anyone who makes the effort here will be guaranteed a truly personal, intimate experience. Mana pools is also one of the few national parks in Africa where visitors are allowed to walk at their own risk along the floodplain but it is generally advisable to pay for the company of a armed professional guide or national park ranger. Having abundant wildlife, Mana pools is well known for its magnificent Elephants and other big games like lions, buffaloes, leopards and cheetahs. Nile crocodiles and large hippo pods can also be regularly spotted. Offering a wide range of habitats, Mana pools certainly is the premier safari park for off-the-beaten path travelers, be it in a 4WD, safari canoe or even plain old walking

Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls (Entry US$30)

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Tripeon Brothers at Boiling pot, with Victoria falls bridge in the background

For more information, please see our in-depth post about Victoria falls here

*Traveled June 2016

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