A Guide to Harare
Harare is the bustling capital of Zimbabwe, and is a modern green city populated by over two million people. Numerous parks, plains and gardens with healthy trees make Harare a surprisingly attractive destination for nature lovers in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s national buildings, art gallery and botanical gardens are situated in Harare, along with many other things to see and do.
Places to go
As Harare is progressing in commerce, a number of local and international businesses have been set up in previous years. Sam Levy’s Village is the most well-known shopping centre, which is designed to look like an old brick-paved European village. If Zimbabwean culture is your thing, traditional baskets, food and second-hand ‘mabhero’ clothing can be bought from local tradespeople for reasonable prices from the open Avondale ‘Flea Market’ in Mbare – a small, rustic market for savvy shoppers. Avondale Shopping Centre is a little more up-market if you want contemporary souvenirs and clothes.
The Domboshawa on the Dombashawa road north of the city centre is a popular hiking destination. Visitors can explore the caves and pools that made up the prehistoric territory of the Mashona people, and the beautifully simplistic views of the Mashonaland from the top of the sandy rocks are a joy to behold.
Darwendale Dam to the west of Harare is particularly great for fishing. National weight records for catches have been broken there for largemouth bass – 8.2kg is the current record. Arcadia Dam a mile north of Kasane is a larger dam, and offers water skiing and sailing facilities.
Places to see
A day tour of Harare is likely to begin at The Harare Gardens. The gardens are well-maintained, with over 900 species of trees and flourishing lawns. The views of the city’s largest park can be enjoyed from the children’s playground or during dinner at the continental restaurant. The gardens are so relaxing you won’t want to leave, but you should because there are other places well worth looking at.
The Zimbabwe National Gallery is an impressive collection of contemporary art and displays the country’s artistic heritage with famous stone carvings from Shona people. The gallery has an international scope as part of the annual Harare International Festival of Arts, which attracts many visitors from outside the city. Other art on show in Harare includes contemporary stone sculptures dotted throughout the city.
Just a 30-minute drive from Harare, you can gawp at Zimbabwe’s game and bird life. The Mukuvisi Woodlands on the banks of the river Mukuvisi is 277 remarkable hectares of preserved land, where all African woodland species of bird and wild animal can be seen. This includes many kinds of antelope, giraffe and zebra.
The best view of the African plains in Harare can be had at the top of The Kopje, where herds of roaming buffalo have worn a sandy stretch of land over the plain. A national monument since 1968, The Kopje is a 37-acre granite hill which offers 360° views of south-west Harare.