With a new regime in charge following Robert Mugabe’s demise, Zimbabweans, as well as many visitors, remain guardedly hopeful. For too many years, tourists substituted Zambia for Zimbabwe on their southern African itineraries, but once an expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport enabled more flights and wide-body aircraft to land, arrivals surged 25% in the first half of 2018, and that number may rise as tourists avoid Tanzania for its recent human rights abuses. In addition to the newfound benefits of political stability and added access, credit relatively low prices—a Zimbabwe trip can cost one-third less than comparable travels in neighboring Botswana.
But the wilderness is just as incredible. In Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s biggest national reserve, you might see 60 elephants in a single day—Hwange’s 45,000-elephant herd is among the largest left in Africa. The 5,600-square mile expanse, which is roughly the size of Connecticut, has primarily lured only seasoned safari-goers, but that is about to change as Zimbabwe re-emerges as a wildlife destination worthy of Africa’s short list. Another plus: Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall based on volume, churns for more than a mile between Zambia and Zimbabwe. In just the right light, the spray births rainbows, a fitting metaphor for the future promise of Zimbabwe tourism.