The Best of Bulawayo
The Best of Bulawayo
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.