Things To Do In Harare
More alluring than most other Southern African cities, any negative criticism directed at Harare id unjustified. Since its independence, the Zimbabwe government has poured large sums of money into providing security and safety in the capital city. The nation has also invested much into education, and standards in the country’s schools and colleges are greatly improved. While it’s enticing to run off to a safari once you reach this city, you can also choose to know Harare and its downtown scene -- to try its excellent cuisine, visit the historical centers, specialty markets, and party the night away at the string of posh pubs in the central part of the city.
When To Go:
Harare experiences pleasant temperatures, practically no rain during the dry season, and a low chance of acquiring malaria. The dry May to October winter season is generally seen as the best time to visit the city especially for safari game viewing. You can also visit during the hot summer months in Harare (September – October).
The city has a delightful year-round atmosphere with constant blue skies and average temperatures. The rains occur around November to March while April to October bring a dryer and cooler climate. Avoid the rainy season months because the roads are not ideal and flights get cancelled.
When in Harare City do not miss these special attractions and things to do:
Wild Is Life Grand Zimbabwe Tour
The Wild Is Life Grand Zimbabwe Tour and its location are quite interesting and the interaction with the animals is different. When you get inside this animal sanctuary, you will have the opportunity to feed giraffes even if they just had a baby. The baby elephant is also available to view, but cannot be touched for the health of the animal. The site is very well maintained and the animals too. The location is very neat with well-equipped, trained and polite guides. The tea / coffee served at the end of the walk is delightful. There is nothing like it in town and the chance to interact with the animals and get up close is quite an experience; you will treasure vivid memories of Harare wildlife.
Situated just outside the city center of Harare, this is the animal reserve that houses Kudu (a famous baby elephant in captivity). You can also feel and touch the imperiled and exceptional pangolins, or watch the cheetah walking around the yard along with a giraffe, zebra, and impala. Within your view there will also be monkeys strolling around in the open fields behind. The lions as always are astounding and excellent. And the best part of it is -- all of this can be enjoyed while having a cup of tea and cucumber sandwiches. It is quite a sight seeing the creatures play as the sun sets behind them. The staff is always on hand to let you know the story behind each of the creatures living there, and how they are looked after. This is just one of the extraordinary first spots to visit when in Harare; it is worth the effort and an experience that you can share over and over with your friends or family.
Thetford Game Reserve
The Thetford Game Reserve is an amazing animal habitat run by professional and trained preservationists. A huge range of animals can be found here: lions, zebras, giraffes, tigers, elephants, and wild ox -- all just on the outskirts of Harare. You also have the chance to get near the mighty and excellent white rhinos in another area of the site. You must bring your own food, drinks are the only thing sold inside the jungle reserve. It is compulsory to buy drinks because a part of their profit goes to the maintenance and care of the wildlife, especially the white rhinos.
You can spend a magical time during this full safari encounter that is just a few minutes away from Harare. The creatures are allowed to roam free in this natural habitat that is specially designed to answer all their needs, they are even happy to see people and do not move away when being photographed. The aides are equally amiable and make the entire trek filled with information and funny anecdotes about the animals' natural behaviors. The highlight of the tour is the sunset moment, when the rhinos gather and graze around the savannah area at close range -- aware of the presence of their audience. Some go around the truck or stomp their feet as they get closer. It is one of the unique memories you can have while in the city of Harare. At night the spectacle never stops, as you can still view these animals from an observation deck.
Kuimba Shiri Bird Sanctuary
The Kuimba Shiri Bird Sanctuary is worth every bit of time and effort, with an admission fee that is totally affordable. This bird sanctuary is located along the coast of Lake Chivero. It is an exciting place to be when the sun sets. This nature reserve has an amazing assortment of winged creatures and it is also quite a surprise to see zebras and different wildlife sharing the space with the birds. Kuimba Shiri is a shrouded jewel on the majestic and serene lake. Be there and see how birds scoop fish out of the lake with just one dip in the waters.
The place also has lots of interesting lookout points, botanical gardens with lush greenery, huge trees, and peaceful dining places where you can feast on home-made burgers prepared by a resident chef. You can dine outdoors and have a great view of the beautiful lake and the vast selection of birds flying to and fro.
You can also visit an adjacent reserve area and have a night safari to see lions and cheetah prowling around. The costs of the bird sanctuary tour and the night safari are extremely sensible, the staff is very supportive, and there are always lots of things to do to keep the interest and enthusiasm about the site high. Tours must be arranged in once tadvance because slots per tour are limited.
Lion and Cheetah Park
The Lion and Cheetah Park is a very cool ride after a visit to the nearby safaris and sanctuaries in Harare. If you have seen safaris before you get here, this one is totally different. There are baby lions that are too cute to be just photographed but cannot be cuddled once they are running around. The rest is more like a zoo because some animals are trapped in cages. You can see adult lions and cheetahs too. The ticket is very cheap and even though it is quite small, the tour is made doubly entertaining with the help of the safari tour guides.
The ride into the wild is made inside a closed bus with thick railings. The surprising part of the nature reserve is the appearance of Tomy, a 300-year-old turtle that shows up in the second part of the tour. Another positive side of this place is that it is close to Harare, (1 hour away by car) and if by chance you visit the park when there are newborn cubs at the nursery, they will allow you a few minutes (in exchange for $5) to cuddle the new born cubs, and feed or pet them like newborn babies. It is a spectacular experience and the main thing that distinguishes this safari from other nature reserve places you can visit and explore in Harare. It is a perfect thrill to do this with friends who want that rare chance to cuddle a baby lion just once in their lives.
Lake Chivero Recreational Park
If you are in Harare and you don’t have enough time to go to Hwange or Mana Pools, you can choose the next best option, the Lake Chivero Recreational Park because it is close and only one hour drive away from the city center. If you are lucky enough you can see rhinos and giraffes freely roaming around the lake. Aside from being a breathtaking lake, it is also a beautiful park with lots of flora and fauna. In addition, you can also see lots of deer and colorful ostriches. It is well worth a visit and the advantage is it’s located in such a short distance from Harare.
The wild and exotic life of the city and its encompassing views are the main reasons why tourists flock to this site. If you take the safari tour around the park you will be entertained by the friendly driver /guide, who will explain everything about the lake and the wide variety of animals you can see around here. It is a very simple place but its natural beauty is unsurpassed. You will get to see everything and you can even take pictures together with the giraffe. This lake is a must see when in Harare.
The Mukuvisi Woodlands are easily accessible by minibus and definitely worth the time and effort to get there. It has very nice facility, nice staff, and a good restaurant. The horse safari tour is very cheap and the guides are well trained to handle the animals. It is so fun and entertaining that you will hardly notice the time just flew by. Definitely this site is worth a visit -- giraffes, antelopes and zebras included!
It pays to do the walking tour of the woodlands -- and you could bring certain animals or your pet with you. However, the tour does not last long and if you are in Harare it is a great way to spend an afternoon. If you don’t like the idea of walking the entire site, you can also take the horseback ride ($10), which goes all the way to the end of the forest preserve.
The Harare Gardens maybe a bit old and unkempt in some corners but this is still an amazing spot to visit. It is the biggest garden of the city and located very close to the National Art Gallery. Obviously it lacks maintenance, but the rain forest part is still appealing. The fountains and the flowerbeds require a lot care and attention to be restored to their former beauty. The gardeners are recently sprucing up the place again -- however, the benches require a new coat of paint and some ponds need to be maintained better to recover their glory once again.
Still, this place can be considered the oasis of calm and peace in a busy city. If you feel like just sitting in an intimate park, to reflect, meditate or just to spend some quiet moments then you should definitely come by just for a while. There are still vendors with statues and other handicrafts from the nearby shops. After dusk, you should avoid the area as it is declared unsafe for tourists.
In the northern part of Zimbabwe there is an amazing horseback experience that you must not pass up while in Harare. It can be found within the territory of the Mavuradonha Mountains, and this is a real insider tip for those who think they have seen it all in Africa! For a few years already, James and Janine Varden have been offering their "riding safaris with a difference." With Varden Safaris you will venture into the true wilderness; it's more of a "travel by horse" in an absolutely isolated mountainous landscape that one can reach onlyby foot or horseback. You can stay overnight in simple camps under the open starry sky. Drinking water -- and water fun for horse and rider -- are offered at the romantic Twinga River. Very simple equipment is brought with pack horses to the camps. There is no generator, no mobile or internet to disturb the peace and solitude. You will learn to be skillful and master the “back to basics” technique where all hot food is cooked on an open fire to the satisfaction of everyone.
James Varden is one of the best guides in Harare and leads all guests on elephant, rhino, and giraffe trails and into the bamboo forests that have centuries-old rock drawings of the Bushmen. You can even climb the Flughunde peak and explore caves that provide a huge view over the mountains. Elephants, Saber tigers, antelopes, zebras and other small antelope species can be observed with some luck. You must bring along jodhpurs; riding shoes with profile rubber sole, with which one can go walking and climbing; Mini Chaps (but these are also provided); helmet (provided upon request); sleeping bag; depending on the season, very warm clothes for the night; a small camera that you can always carry on your belt; binoculars, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent for the evening. Book at least 4-5 days! From Harare, you can reach Varden Safaris by car in 2 hours. They also offer shuttles from your hotel up to the safari area if you make reservations on their site.
National Gallery of Zimbabwe
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe is not one of the world's incredible national exhibitions, but there is much to enjoy here notwithstanding its inadequacies. There is a decent gift shop, with some fascinating books about African workmanship. There are presentations of conventional woodcarvings and fixations etc. and a couple of truly advanced canvases, some of them offering an understanding into the travails of a future and more modern Zimbabwe. The museum also features local artworks of the latest contemporary artists from Harare. If you are an art lover or crafts enthusiast, there is so much to see and discover here for you.
If you want to have great memories of your travel to Harare, Zimbabwe, this is the place you must visit to buy stuff you can bring back home. Some items here are a bit expensive because they are of high quality and design. For basic craft, it is best to buy directly from the artisans, but for sophisticated and innovative things, Doon Estate is the place to be. There is an awesome vegetarian restaurant inside this souvenir shop and a pastry shop with the best croissants and delightful lemonade drink. Aside from souvenirs they also sell iron pots, clothes, handmade magnets and trinkets.
Harare is an excellent trip and a fashionable travel destination for backpackers and romantic couples. It is a necessary destination for those who fantasize to live out some scenes from the film "Out of Africa". The spectacular scenery that is devoid of any human presence can only be seen in this part of Zimbabwe. Enjoy the wildlife safaris, the game viewing, the interaction with cubs and cheetahs, the lakeside adventure, the horseback riding tour into the deep wooded forest (this is totally exceptional and truly makes the city a classic place to explore), the humor and unfailing kindness of the people -- all of these create a unique experience that can only be seen and felt through the charms of Harare City.