Sadly Zimbabwe fell off the African tourist map some years ago, but it is now making a slow and steady come back. With this in mind, Pulse Africa decided it was time to revisit it, to see how things have changed. So I packed my bag and headed off to Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba and Hwange National Park.

The National Park at Victoria Falls has reopened their restaurant, so if you want to spend a full day exploring and admiring the Falls, you have a place to stop and have lunch. These days, there is so much more to do around the falls in terms of activities. You will not be able to get bored! I even discovered they now have paintball. Everyone knows about Devils pool on the top of the falls, where in low water you can swim in a pool right on the edge of the falls, well now there is an opportunity to swim below the falls (of course only in low water! It is however quiet a hike to get to the pool, so it is recommended only for the fit!

My next stop was Lake Kariba, just an hour and a half charter flight way from the Falls. Rumours had spread the wildlife in the national parks had diminished due to poaching, well to my surprise; this was of course just a rumour.

I spent four nights and five days in Kariba, each night at a different camp, with each offering very different experiences. I tried to experience as much of Kariba as I could by doing as many activities as possible; tiger fishing at Musango Safari Camp being one. To my delight and surprise I had real beginners luck and managed to catch some tiger fish, vundu and some edible sized bream. Another great way to explore the lake is by canoe, as there are great waterways throughout the islands, with hidden pools which you can even go swimming in!

Walking in the Kariba/Matusadona area is an amazing experience. I spent the night at Rhino Camp, a lovely bush camp, where you are up close and personal with nature. I was taken on a walk to track the two large male lions who had walked through camp during the night. Before starting our hunt for lion, we took a lazy stroll across the island, to the main crossing area, here we made ourselves comfortable under a tree and watched as a breeding herd of elephant passed in front of us on their way to get a morning drink. Then it was off to find the lions. With fresh spoor, these two boys were playing tag with us, every time we got to close they would back track and avoid us. Eventually we decided it was getting really hot and breakfast was calling; as we decided to head back to camp, the two large males decided to make their appearance. Both were lying behind a large log and were out of sight as we approached, one male stood up and let us know we were a little close for comfort, gave us a large growl and with a flick of his tail, they both disappeared into the bush. Close encounter, great to get your heart rate up!

Then it was onto Hwange National Park. Driving to my first stop at The Hide, definitely no shortage of wildlife here, around nearly every corner there was something to be seen.

This is a lovely park to visit especially during the dry season. As the rains stop and the grass and water holes start to dry up, all the game congregates around the water holes.

I had the most amazing leopard encounter while in Hwange, staying at Little Makakaloa. Out on an evening drive, with the spot light on looking for all the nocturnal creatures, we see a head pop out from behind an ant hill, – what a beautiful cat . We stopped the car and turned off the lights and watched him as he played around the base of a tree, before being chased up the tree by a herd of elephant with a very young baby. The stand-off did not last long as the elephants moved on and he jumped out the tree again. He suddenly noticed the vehicle and got curious, after inspecting the outside, he sat in front of the vehicle, then he wanted a closer look; as he was about to jump on the bonnet, the guide started the vehicle as decided that was close enough..

So with a great adventure behind me, it was time to head home. On the plane home reflecting on what a wonderful trip I’d had, I realised that when I was last in Zimbabwe nine years previously, I’d had an equally adventurous trip.

So, yes, Zimbabwe is definitely back on the map and waiting for your visit. Contact me and I’ll help you put it together.

Written by Robynne Fleming