It is rather more convenient to start off your Zimbabwe tours in the capital Harare because this is where so many of the country’s attractions are found. Established so many years ago, Harare is a blend of an ancient colonial capital and a modern African city on the rise by the years. Modern towering buildings stand side by side the historic colonial houses well preserved for the next generation of Zimbabweans. Harare has a lot to offer for tourists as long as you know where to go and what to look out
The city was a fort when the Pioneer Column founded it in 1890. The city was formally known as Salisbury. It became a city in 1935 and was made the capital of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1953 to 1963.
The city was renamed Harare on April 18th, 1982 during the second anniversary of Zimbabwean independence. The name has been taken from the Shona chieftain Neharawa. Harare was politically and economically affected in the early 21st century. In May 2005,the Zimbabwean government demolished the shantytowns in the other cities of the country, resulting in a sharp reaction from the international community.
Harare is the largest city in Zimbabwe and is also the administrative, commercial and communications center of the country. The city of Harare is situated in the northeastern part of Zimbabwe. As per the Harare geography, the city lays on the geographical coordinates of 17° 50′ South and 31° 03′ East latitude and longitude respectively. It is situated at an elevation of 1480 meters (4858 feet) above sea level.
Harare is set above the lowlands of the Zambezi River in the north and Limpopo River in the south. The geography of Harare features that it lies on a high-lying plateau. Harare enjoys a warm and wet season from November to March/April, cool and dry climate from May to August and a hot and dry climate in September/October.
Manyame River is a major river of Harare that flows in the southwestern part of the city. Some of the nearby cities and towns of Harare are: Arcadia Meyrick Park Belgravia Civic Centre Avenues Eastlea History of Harare.
Attractions in Harare
Architectural attractions are vast in Harare-some of the stops on tour Harare tours include a visit to Zimbabwe’s Parliament, National Art Gallery, Queen Victoria Museum and Queen Victoria National Library. With the museums, you’ll get the true picture of Zimbabwe through the times of the early missionaries, the colonial era and then make a contrast to the present day Zimbabwe.
Art and literature are part of the exhibits in the museums and libraries with famous showpieces like Victoria Falls by Thomas Baines and interesting stone carvings by Shona people while the collection of notebooks, diaries and writings by the early Rhodesians (colonial Zimbabwe) missionaries and explorers are valuable items for Zimbabwe history. You have to visit Harare to find more hidden treasures in these buildings
Zimbabwe tour itinerary also include interesting places like Chapungu Sculpture Park, Lavron Birds park, the Cheetah and Lion Park, Vhukutiwa Sculpture Garden, Lake Chivero and the National Botanical Garden. The National Botanical garden was established in 1962 and boasts more than 800 different species of trees and shrubs from all parts of the country.
Mukuvisi forest on the banks of a water stream is a good place to chill after a hectic day in the busy streets. Explore the woodlands on a guided forest walk and see its wealth of indigenous birds, butterflies, wildlife and the unique flora. More than 200 species of birds are recorded in the forested woodlands with famous sights like the African finfoot, Narina trogon and the hawk eagle among many others
The forest woodlands are a fenced off to create a peaceful home to giraffe, zebra, impala, tsessebe, wildebeest, bushbuck, steenbuck, reedbuck and eland among other smaller species of wildlife. This small park is a starting point for your Zimbabwe safari holidays.
Weather: Harare is a pleasant place to stay with temperature high of up to 19°C during the hot months of September and October often crowned with chilly nights. The lowest temperature is recorded during the wet season of November to mid April. The dry season is during May to August. The best time to visit Harare is May to July because this is most a cool season.
Getting around:There is no better way to get around the town than using a commute bus. You can also hire a tourist van or car from any tour operator around Harare with a guide to drive you around this interesting city.
Harare Flights: Most of the international flights arrive in Harare. Buses, train and taxis constitute the public transport system in the city. The best option to get around is by car, which is easier now. Fuel is freely available at most outlets for cash or through a coupon system.
Harare’s airport is the major gateway for flights into the country. Air Zimbabwe also operated a small network of domestic flights before ceasing operations. By train: Train services have been badly hit by the economic troubles in Zimbabwe during recent years but most domestic trains are now running daily once again. By car: A good road from Johannesburg allows easy access. By bus: Buses from Johannesburg are easily available ranging from Greyhound (for R450 as of April 2010) and Intercape (R420) to the local ones (for R250 as of April 2010). The bus takes between 16-24 hours.
Eating and Dining in Harare
The best restaurants to try when in Harare are: Cafe espresso 40 Cork Road 167 Enterprise Road Amanzi Restaurant Coimbra Beverlino Restaurant Victoria 22 Shop Cafe Da Eros Trattoria 360 Restaurant Amanzi Restaurant Alo Alo Leonardo’s Restaurant The Olive Salad Bar & Coffee Shop Jaipur Book Cafe Willow Bean Celebration Centre Paula’s Place Emmanuel’s Vanilla Moon La Fontaine Picobella Pizzeria Fish Monga Sitar Fishmonger Sopranos Wild Geese Lodge Keg & Maiden
Shopping in Harare
Harare is a unique town to have your shopping tour in Zimbabwe. Since it is the largest city and the commercial capital of Zimbabwe, you’ll find everything from fresh produce of maize, cotton, fruits to other items such as steel, antiques and many other items you want for your Zimbabwe holiday.
Some modern places to go shopping in Harare include Westgate-a shopping centre with shops selling all sorts of items from clothes, shoes, antiques and groceries. Meikles hotel also has shops with everything you like. Check out the offices of Zimbabwe tourism Association located at the hotel for more information about Zimbabwe also located at Meikles.
One of the major shopping destinations in Harare is the ‘Mbare Musika’ market. It is located at a distance of 3 kilometers from the city center, next to the main bus station. There are shops selling variety of fruits and vegetables. Besides, this shopping center of Harare also sells beautiful crafts, hand made clothes and herbal medicines. ‘Feredays’, Borrowdale sells fishing equipment, camping equipment, safari clothes and other things that one needs on a safari. It also sells books written by local authors. It is open from Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm. On weekends, it is open from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm.
Another Harare shopping center is the ‘Doon Estate’. Located in the industrial area of Msasa, it sells potteries, crafts, jewelries and artworks. It operates from 9 am to 4.30 pm from Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, it remains open from 9 am to 1:30 pm. The galleries of the city sell beautiful Shona sculptures. The tourists can have pleasurable time shopping in the numerous shopping centers of the city of Harare.
Where to stay in Harare
There are many international hotels in Harare that provide world-class reception to its guests. The well-known hotels in the city are: Meikles Hotel Holiday Inn Harare Rainbow Towers Crowne Plaza Hotels Harare – Monomotapa Imba Matombo New Ambassador Hotel Harare. Palm Villa Lodge Mundawanga lodge Hillside lodge Small World Lodge Bowood Lodge Cresta Oasis Simba Harare