While there are mix signals coming from Harare about the political and economic future of the country, one thing is for sure Zimbabwe is making a come back at least on the tourism front. The Tourism Fair held in Durban this year has proved that a lot of people are showing interest in the tourism industry of the country and as a result Zimbabwe has become the second best travel destination in the region behind South Africa.
The greatest attraction has always been the Victoria Falls along the Zambian border but just recently the tourists have also started to show interest in the ruins of the ancient capital of Zimbabwe called the “Great Zimbabwe”. These are the largest ruins in the Sub Saharan Africa spanning on an area of 1800 acres and have been a part of Unesco’s world Heritage sites since 1986.
It is located halfway of the road connecting Johannesburg and Harare so if you are arriving from some other country then you can either take a cheap flight to Harare or Johannesburg and make the rest of the journey through the local bus service that runs between the cities. The park is located 27 miles from the main road so if you don’t have your own cars then try to hire a taxi from the nearby Masvingo Town. The prospects for the Zimbabwean economy are not bright yet so you may face a fuel shortage in the area but a seasoned taxi driver knows how to buy the fuel through the black market but that may cost you a little more than usual.
The fiver meter high walls enclosing the ruins are visible from quite a distance and are amazing in the sense that they were built without using any kind of mortar and have still lasted for 7 centuries. The monuments inside these walls were the palaces built for the monarchs of Zimbabwe between the 11th and 14th century. The complex acted as the center of the political power of the country and has some gorgeous pieces of architecture. The best thing about visiting Great Zimbabwe is that its safe to travel there, unlike some other ruins of Africa which are either sacred to the local residents so visitors are not welcomed or they are infested by the wild animals who jealously guard them.
There are no guided tours available in the area to provide you information regarding the place so stroll around and explore it your self. A few locals may try to act as guides but there is a fair bit of chance that they know nothing about the history of the place and hiring them as guides will only be a wastage of money and time.
There is not much in form of quality accommodation in the area but if you are interested in exploring the ruins in detail by spending a couple of days there then the best option will be to stay in the town of Masvingo which has a few decent hotels and the best part is that they are also quite cheap.