Harare – formerly known as Salisbury, the Capital of Zimbabwe

Harare – formerly known as Salisbury, the Capital of Zimbabwe

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Getting to Harare

By Air

Harare City Center

Harare City Center

The Harare International Airport is the gateway to the rest of Zimbabwe and it is located at 12 Kilometers to the south east of Harare. There is a bus service to the city which takes twenty minutes while a taxi service takes fifteen minutes. Most international carriers such as Air France, British Airways and Air Mauritius serve the airport and provide international connections to parts of Europe and further. Regional carriers such as Air Namibia, Air Tanzania and the country’s own Air Zimbabwe provide air links to the rest of Africa. Air Zimbabwe also flies to destinations in Europe and South Africa.

By Bus and Road
Zimbabwe shares its borders with the neighboring countries of Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa. There are bus services linking Harare to Francis town in Botswana and a bus service linking Harare to Lilongwe in Malawi. Additional bus services link Harare to Tete in Mozambique, to Johannesburg in South Africa and to Lusaka in Zambia. The bus links often go through national parks such as the bus link to Botswana crosses the Victoria Falls /Kazungala crossing and goes through the Chobe National Park onto Namibia.

By Train
A train link exists from Johannesburg in South Africa to Harare in Zimbabwe via Beitbridge.

Internal Travel
Harare is linked to tourist spots such as Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba by internal flights serviced by Air Zimbabwe. However current fuel shortages have limited internal air links to only flights between Harare and Victoria Falls and Harare and Bulwayo.

Bus services exist for internal travel within the city of Harare as well as for inter city travel. There are two kinds of buses express and local. Most tourists use express bus services which go to most tourist spots. Local buses are equally fast and often cheaper than express buses. The local buses don’t have a fixed schedule though and run from early morning to late at night. Harare also has a taxi service. The service is not metered and one is supposed to fix one’s fare with the driver before embarking on one’s journey. Train services exist between Harare and many destinations such as Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Mutare and Beitbridge. However the trains are slow and not very safe. The train services to these cities are usually overnight journeys and one must be careful and vigilant of one’s belongings. International car rental companies such as Avis, Europcar and Hertz operate in Harare. Though car rental is expensive and driving is on the right side of the road as is the custom in the UK.

Harare Hotels
Harare has a variety of hotels both serving the business as well as the leisure traveler. The Sheraton Hotel and Towers is a premier hotel located in the center of the city and is conveniently accessible from the airport as well. It is located adjacent to the Harare International conference center which is the largest facility in Southern Africa. This center has hosted several international summits such as the 8th summit of the Non Aligned Movement in 1986 and the Commonwealth heads of Government meeting in 1991.The Merkles Hotel is an old and established hotel in Harare. It has enjoyed the patronage of both business and leisure travelers. It was built in 1915 and it continues to be owned and operate by the same family. The Hotel is housed in a colonial building with large verandahs and cupolas. The New Ambassador Hotel is another popular hotel of the capital.

The National Gallery, Harare

The museum houses a permanent exhibit of Shona soft stone carvings and it also has traveling international exhibits. There are exhibits of Africana and Rhodesian arte facts in the form of diaries, notebooks which trace and catalogue the origins of Zimbabwe.

The National Botanic Gardens
The Botanic gardens of Harare boast more than nine hundred species of wild trees and flora from all over the country.

The Mukuvisi Woodlands
Situated on the banks of the Mukuvisi stream are the Mukuvisi woodlands spread over 277 hectares. In this preserved woodland one can observe giraffes, impalas, wildebeest, bushbucks and other creatures native to the country.

Excursions around Harare
One can make several excursions to sights around the city of Harare. A visit to Kopje a granite hill rising above south –west corner of central Harare offers great views of the city. It is the site of the Eternal Flame of Independence. Ewanrigg National Park located at an hours driving distance from the city has magnificent gardens with blooms of aloe and cycads. Also worth a visit is Chapungu Kraal which is a reproduction of a Shona village with an art gallery and sculpture gardens and cultural dance performances on the weekend. The replica Shona village also has a soothsayer and a traditional healer.

If one is not going to the great game parks one can satisfy one’s desire to see the wild life of Africa by spending a few days visiting the Lion and Cheetah park , the Lake Chivero Game Park and the Lake McIlwaine Game Park . These parks are within driving distance of Harare and are well stocked with animals such as the king of the beasts, giraffes, antelopes and other imposing examples of African wildlife. One can also drive north to the Tengenenge sculpture park where there are thousands of stone sculptures. Here one can also meet the artists of the stone carvings at this unique park. The Larvon Bird Gardens and Snake Park is yet another attraction close to Harare where several species of exotic birds and reptiles can be viewed.

Other sights of Zimbabwe
The spectacular Victoria Falls are accessible by rail and air from Harare. These falls plunge into the gorge of the Zambezi River. They are one of the great natural wonders of the world and are the site for many adventure activities such as white water river rafting and bungee jumping into the Zambezi River from the bridge linking Zimbabwe to Zambia gorge. Spectacular wild life can be observed on the banks of the Lake Kariba, in the Zambezi River Valley and the national parks such as the Hwange National Park. All these popular tourists’ destinations are accessible from the gateway which is the city of Harare.

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