A country forever on the front page for all the wrong reasons, Zimbabwe's international reputation is dominated by president Robert Mugabe (who’s now involved in a dubious ‘power sharing’ arrangement that came about through an election many see as far from democratic - in short, he lost but refused to leave power). The politics often overshadows the countries impressive attractions, which is a crying shame, as there are plenty of them, not least an internationally famous waterfall.
Victoria Falls it the most obvious: a pummeling waterfall which you can eye from the cliff top, stare down at from a Microlight, or experience from one of the swimmable pools that seem precariously close to the fall’s drop. A lush green gorge with a permanent rainbow welcomes you to the torrents; you can get dripping wet on the close up viewing bridge, and ogle the full mile of the falls, before heading for a bit of white water rafting down river.
Elsewhere, notorious capital Harare is home to a phenomenal art gallery, and is the best place to delve into traditional Zimbabwean cuisine, sampling white maize porridge followed by the not-quite-right taste of the local beer, Chibuku. Surprisingly, the city is also home to a selection of high-class golf courses on which to chill out and practice your drive.
Out in the countryside, Mana Pools is a frightening draw, being the only African wildlife park that allows unguided walking tours amongst the Lions, (bring nerves of steal!). Alternatively, visit Great Zimbabwe, a crumbling city that’s home to the colossal stonewalls and turrets of a mammoth old fortress. The Eastern Highland, meanwhile, are home to one of Zimbabwe’s highest peaks (and a challenging hike), a collection of casinos to bet the night away, and the chance to take a quick-paced safari on the back of a galloping steed.
The political situation in Zimbabwe is highly volatile, and getting a visa (especially if you’re British) can end up being both complex and costly. Always check the latest before you head off, and be aware of what’s going on around you. Don’t let it stop you getting involved, though: Zimbabwe is best seen through the eyes of a local, and well worth the trouble.