The Best of Bu­l­awayo

The Best of Bu­l­awayo

Indwe - - Contents - Text: Kayla Cloete Im­ages © iS­tock­photo.com & Cresta Ho­tels

The terms “game drive” and “Vic­to­ria Falls” lit up my screen while googling the phrase “travel sto­ries in Zim­babwe”. Deeply dis­ap­pointed by these lim­it­ing re­sults, I be­gan to dig a lit­tle deeper to find a fresh ap­proach to ex­plor­ing our neigh­bour to the north.

Sick and tired of the hum­drum tourist routes, I de­cided to ex­plore the slightly lesser known Bu­l­awayo re­gion in Zim­babwe. As the sec­ond largest city in Zim­babwe, af­ter Harare, Bu­l­awayo presents a unique way of dis­cov­er­ing what this African coun­try has to of­fer.

Un­like most Hol­ly­wood movies would have you be­lieve, Zim­babwe does not just con­sist of open plains of bushveld filled with wildlife. Bu­l­awayo is re­garded as the in­dus­trial cen­tre of the coun­try, and is filled with sky-scrap­ers, bou­tique ho­tels, and up­mar­ket restau­rants.

Mot­samai Guest Lodge is a fine ex­am­ple of the sort of up­mar­ket ac­com­mo­da­tion one can find in Bu­l­awayo, and is perfectly suited for those who are trav­el­ling for busi­ness pur­poses. This lux­ury lodge of­fers con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­ties, as well as com­fort­able, con­tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions with com­pli­men­tary Wi-Fi ac­cess. The lodge also has its own restau­rant and pool

area, and of­fers air­port trans­porta­tion at guests’ re­quest. Book on­line at Ho­tels. com, or call +263 9 246 201.

For those who would like to ex­pe­ri­ence more of the his­tory of this na­tion, book in at the Cresta Churchill Ho­tel. A mere 6.7 km from the Rail­way Mu­seum, and 7 km from the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum, this ho­tel is the per­fect base from which to learn more about the city. Lo­cated in one of Bu­l­awayo’s older build­ings, the Cresta Churchill Ho­tel is also steeped in char­ac­ter and old-world charm – with­out skimp­ing on the con­ve­niences of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy. The ho­tel has air-con­di­tion­ing and al­lows its guests com­pli­men­tary ac­cess to Wi-Fi. To book, visit www.cresta­ho­tels.com.

26 on Park Restau­rant pro­vides the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to ven­ture into a Bu­l­awayo sub­urb. Sit­u­ated just out­side of the city cen­tre, 26 on Park serves up a di­verse menu set in a beau­ti­ful old colo­nial house with a stun­ning gar­den and out­door din­ing area. Try some lo­cal de­lights such as the re­gional Nyanga trout, game veni­son pie, or Zim­babwe dry-aged beef or – if you pre­fer to stick to what you know best – their thin-crust piz­zas are also de­li­cious.

While ac­com­mo­da­tion of­fer­ings and restau­rants are all fair and well, the ques­tion that might be lin­ger­ing on your lips is why one might want to stay in Bu­l­awayo in the first place? Firstly, it is the near­est large city to the fa­mous Hwange and Ma­tobo Na­tional Parks, and also to the iconic Vic­to­ria Falls, mak­ing it the ideal city in which to stop over if you do still hope to visit the tra­di­tional tourist land­marks of Zim­babwe.

It is also home to its own Ma­tobo Na­tional Park, which pro­vides some excellent op­por­tu­ni­ties for game sight­ings (an­i­mals in­clud­ing an­te­lope, gi­raffe, ze­bra, im­pala, wilde­beest, and os­trich can be found here). It is also well-known for the Ma­tobo Hills, a range of bal­anc­ing rock for­ma­tions that stand atop a hill, as well as for its an­cient San rock paint­ings at Nswatugi Cave.

Its main draw card, how­ever, is the Khami Ru­ins which lie 22 km west of the city. Listed as a Unesco World Her­itage site, the Khami Ru­ins cover an area of about 108 hectares, spread over a dis­tance of about 2 km. The ru­ins are all that is left of the cap­i­tal of the Torwa dy­nasty, which arose around 1450 –1650 AD af­ter the col­lapse of the Great Zim­babwe King­dom. Ob­jects from Europe and China have been found in these ru­ins, which shows that Khami must have been a ma­jor cen­tre for trade in an­cient times. Vis­it­ing what is left of the stone walls which once housed a vi­brant, and once pow­er­ful an­cient civ­i­liza­tion is a deeply mov­ing ex­pe­ri­ence which helps a per­son re­gain per­spec­tive on life.

Zim­babwe has many rea­sons for tourists to come and stay. As truly spec­tac­u­lar as its game parks and water­falls might be, its cities and his­toric land­marks are equally al­lur­ing. Ex­plor­ing Bu­l­awayo is a great way for tourists to dis­cover the fas­ci­nat­ing metropolitan cul­ture of this vi­brant coun­try.

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