Updated: Jul 18, 2020
The journey home to Zimbabwe is always one of euphoria, suspense, nostalgia and wild adventure. It is futile to even try and sum it up with a single phrase.
Preparations for this trip are always filled with ecstatic excitement that propels me to tap into my inner child to come out and play. It usually requires a radical change in mindset, fully switching off and disengaging from a fast-paced Western world to an indulgent and more relaxed ‘no hurry in Africa’ mode; one where you are finally able to stop and actually smell those roses.
Being a seasoned traveler, I have developed some routine rituals for my trips that I’d like to share with you and let you discover why this global, extensively traveled girl always finds herself back in Africa time and again.
A few days before the trip, I start listening to some African music in order to tune up my spirit to the place that I’ll be travelling to. For a trip home to Zimbabwe, preparation also entails buying gifts for family, friends and those unannounced visitors that somehow always show up at your doorstep just as you are stepping out! With a ‘To Do’ list as a life saver, I generally don’t miss anything out.
I also create a skeleton schedule of who I would like to see and when, as well as places I would like to visit. Researching the areas and reading reviews ahead of time enables me to make informed choices. Although spontaneity is good, having a flexible plan helps in getting the most out of your trip because time goes by so fast and before you know it, it’s all over!
With that being said, buckle up and come along with me as I take you through snippets of my wanderlust adventures to Africa. Let’s explore!
Airport, ready to go!
I make sure I arrive at the airport early so they can be lenient with my ‘guaranteed overweight’ luggage at check in, and also to get a chance to soak in the exciting atmosphere and airport buzz. The odd peek inside the duty-free shops and final indulgence in the executive lounge, always create an exhilarating experience before departure.
On arrival at my home in Zimbabwe, I’m always greeted with jubilation, a signature ‘welcome home’ cake that’s decorated to perfection, along with a long table overflowing with a variety of organic gourmet foods to feast on with the rest of the family.
It’s Mum’s tradition that has always been such a big deal, so counting calories immediately goes out the window from that point! Generally, after catching up and spending quality time with family for a few days, I typically allow a week or two to explore the country with friends and cousins, attending parties, dinners, weddings, ladies’ high tea events and the all-important spa days to catch up with the girls.
Girlfriends catch up at Skin Spa Organikks
Now for some entertainment!
There are so many activities to engage and each day is characterised by unique events. For City life, you can attend live concerts, festivals, visit Westgate shopping mall, the premium Sam Levy’s village Borrowdale Mall, Arundale Village, or just relax and ‘people watch’ with friends at Queen of Hearts cafe. For seasonal events, there is the Carnival Show held in August which is a ‘must-attend’ if your trip coincides with the dates.
There are endless entertainment opportunities, so whether you travel solo or on a work trip, there’s an array of activities to indulge. There’s a plethora of Sports bars and clubs if you enjoy the nightlife. For cultural tours, I would recommend visiting the national sculpture galleries or the buzzing old Mbare Musika market and Avondale flea market where you can put your haggling skills to the test and grab a good bargain.
(Insert pic of Wakanda) or boomerang video
Dining in Harare
When you visit Zimbabwe, make sure you stop by Chez Zandi’s Bistro and Wine Bar. This is where you will enjoy al-fresco dining under an array of beautiful starlit skies at night and a variety of ope-air live entertainment during the day. Another favourite dining experience is Paula’s Place - a Portugese restaurant with an African flair, mouthwatering food and an ambiance that ensures that you won’t want to leave. For a perfect buffet or ala carte, go to Cresta lodge hotel.
Fancy a fusion of Art, Culture and dining? The ArtiSana Gallery Cafe won't let you down! With glowing reviews on file, it captures the true taste of African cuisine meshed with French and western dishes that any connoisseur of fine dining would appreciate.
For fine gastronomy with locally sourced organic ingredients, Skin Spa Organikks is the place to be. It caters for the full spectrum of diets including vegan, vegetarian and dishes for meat lovers. It also offers spa therapies and experiences to leave you relaxed and ready to conquer your next adventure.
Travelling on business?
The typical great meeting spots are Meikles Hotel or Rainbow towers Hotel lobbies for formal meetings where you can grab some hors devours or opt for a full dining experience.
Paula’s Place Eastlea
Situated away from the suburbs is a little undiscovered paradise called Umfurudzi Park nestled up in the mountains. With its afro-contemporary theme, it stands out as the perfect place for a BBQ, romantic getaway, day trip or group retreat venue. The Guest houses with spacious rooms and elegant poolside loungers provide a beautiful transition from the scenic to the sublime, creating a perfect escape for a weekend getaway.
Also, in the neighboring town of Marondera, you will find the magnificent Karumazondo Outdoor Center located just outside of Harare.
This is a place where you can go camping, hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, have picnics, BBQ’s or come in close range with animals on the farm. It is also a wedding venue and conference center for meetings and team building activities.
ADVENTURE FAR AND WIDE
For all the adrenaline junkies out there, the one sight not to be missed is of course the majestic Victoria falls!
A UNESCO World heritage site and one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, this instagram worthy spectacular waterfall fully captures the essence of Southern Africa! You will not be able to stop gazing at the enchanting falls as they harmoniously thunder through the skylines.
A jaw-dropping experience that prompts a few daring people (including Will Smith) to go bungee jumping and zip lining over the safer parts of the Falls.
Must do while in Victoria Falls
Being a diverse cultural melting pot, Victoria Falls is rich with opportunities to invest in experiences and not just sightseeing. With so many activities to choose, you can plan tours by yourself or engage tour companies to create tailor made packages.
We usually use the tour companies ‘Love For Africa’ and ‘Faith Loads’ who provide us with a dedicated driver for the duration of our stay, and we negotiate complimentary excursions within the packages.
Some of our previous activities include elephant encounters, a crocodile farm visit, safari experiences with rhinos, lions, giraffes, sables, kudus and zebras in their natural habitats.
Nothing is more exhilarating.
We also enjoy flying on the helicopter over the falls, which offers a spectacular aerial view of the breathtaking scenery from a different vantage point.
A Zambezi River Dinner Cruise with live entertainment and hippo watching is always fascinating.
While some experiences can be beautifully captured with words, others are best articulated visually.
For an ‘out of this world’ experience, I definitely recommend the cultural Boma Dinner.
During this electrifying experience, you learn how to beat drums in synchronisation, whilst feasting on various samples of game meat; crocodile; oxtail; fresh fish; road runner chicken and sadza which is the staple dish.
The venue also caters to the foreign palate, so you will definitely enjoy the delicacies. Turning into a full-on party with music, you are provided with african print cloths for you to wear and immerse yourself in the full cultural experience.
As for where to stay, I enjoy the Vic falls hotel with its Victorian royal touch; Elephant Hills hotel nestled between the mountainous landscapes overlooking the Falls and;
Kingdom hotel offering a five star hotel experience and located just a stone’s throw away from the falls.
Hosted annually with thousands of guests from all over the world is the famous Victoria Falls marathon that I also like to participate in.
There are so many other places to explore in Zimbabwe. The Eastern Highlands; Vumba; Chimanimani; Inyanga; Leopard Rock; Great Zimbabwe Ruins; Lake Kariba and so much more.
Always remember to get some memorabilia.
With every place I visit, I tend to buy some spices to remember the flavour of the land and also fridge magnets that capture the essence of the city. This enables me to go back to that place in my mind time and again. So, with all the travelling, you can imagine how cluttered my fridge doors have become!
On the whole, Zimbabwean people are very welcoming, going out of their way to show you around or help you where needed.
You will definitely experience the warm nurturing of its people who have that typical southern hospitality.
If they offer you food and you refuse, they may get offended because it’s all made with love, so be prepared to enrol in a serious ‘weight management program’ when you get back!
Lastly, as the great Saint Augustine put it, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” So why not use this travel hiatus to research and plan your bucket list adventure to Zimbabwe, so you don’t miss out on this amazing travel destination in your lifetime. Welcome to Zimbabwe!
About the writer:
Epi is a seasoned Motivational Speaker who travels extensively around Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, inspiring better habits for success within organisations and individuals. Through keynotes, workshops and one-to-one coaching, she provides tools, techniques and strategies that help increase morale, build confidence, work better as teams and yield desired personal and professional goals.
To connect with Epi, visit www.epimabika.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/coachepi/