Great Zimbabwe Ruins and its History

Great Zimbabwe Ruins and its History

Zimbabwe used to be called the bread basket of Africa and people used to come from all over the world to visit…Zimbabwe boasts the spectacular Victoria Falls as well as amazing wildlife in the Hwange National Park. Sadly, Zimbabwe has been in the press for all the wrong reasons in the last few years and because of this tourists have mostly stopped going to Zimbabwe. A few months ago I was guiding a JENMAN Safaris tour of 6 clients through Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique and of all the places that the clients loved – Zimbabwe was the favourite!

We started our tour in Victoria Falls which is a small town adjacent to the magnificent waterfalls that this area is famous for; in fact it is one of the natural wonders of the world! Victoria Falls stretches for 1.7 km and the highest point is 108 m high! Watching the water plummet from such a height is truly breath-taking! Victoria Falls is also known for its local crafts which include wooden and soapstone carvings – the clients loved souvenir shopping here.


Our next destination on safari was the Hwange National Park and the Painted Dog Conservation Centre! Hwange consists of 15 000 km of natural game area with a large variety of wildlife – from elephants and wild dogs to the rare sable antelope. The Painted Dog Conservation Centre rehabilitates and looks after injured wild dogs. While we were there we were educated about these amazing creatures and we even got to meet two of the dogs that will, unfortunately, not be released back into the wild…

We then moved south of Bulawayo to Matobo which means bald heads! Matobo National Park comprises of ancient granite hills that the area was named after. Mzilikazi, the Ndebele ruler, loved this area and when he died in 1868 he was buried in a cave on a granite hill named enThumbane. We explored the well-known granite hills where some renowned English men are buried, including Cecil John Rhodes and Sir Leander Starr Jameson.  It was a very special experience exploring this area…

Our next stop was the ruins of Zimbabwe – Great Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe used to be named Rhodesia and after the independence it was renamed to Zimbabwe. The ruins date back to 1200 AD from the Karanga people that arrived in the area in 500 AD. They were responsible for building these impressive houses of stone – of course, only the ruins are left now… What I found very interesting about this region is that the Karanga people actually broke down massive granite stones using temperature changes!

The King’s home was on the top of the hill made up of large boulders and the women’s “enclosures” were at the bottom of the hill and made up or towering walls. By the 1500’s the empire ended due to royal family issues and the ceasing of trading with the Portuguese. The Great Zimbabwe Ruins also includes a museum where totems from this era are protected – totems were carved by the Dzawanda and placed on the tombstones of the kings. You can still visit the Kings house on top of the hills – it’s a bit of a steep walk, but definitely worth it!

Our next stop on our safari was Mozambique… you will have the watch this space for my next blog to find out more…

– Chantel, Jenman Safaris’ Guide

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