Following a recent visit to Zimbabwe, Journalist Lucia Van Der Post reflects on her return to a country she ‘fell in love with long ago’. In her article ‘The Great Wide Re-open’, featured in the Financial Times Travel section, Lucia explores the quint-essential reasons why every traveller should consider Zimbabwe as an option on their list of destinations to visit.
Touching on the changes slowly taking place within the country, Lucia highlights some of the major aspects that makes the country such a unique Destination,
“… those who want an authentic African experience (that) Zimbabwe is still the place to find it. The old glories – Vic Falls; the Zambezi river and its valley; Mana Pools, a Unesco World Heritage Site that borders the Zambezi and is one of the most beautiful of all national parks; and Hwange, Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve – are all still there. For the visitor, it is a safe and fascinating place to travel, and delivers a fantastic wildlife experience at a significantly lower price than its less-complicated rivals Botswana, South Africa and Kenya.”
The article covers additional features of Zimbabwe, such as the level of excellence in the professional guiding and service, the opportunities for adventure, and the ‘behind the times’ isolation that one can experience when in the African wilderness, bringing back a view of the ‘Old Untouched Africa’.
Lucia ends her article by touching on the misconception that people have with the idea that travelling to Zimbabwe means supporting a government that has, until recently, almost crippled the country:
“If you’re still doubtful about visiting a troubled land, it’s worth remembering that if you stay away, none of the ruling elite will suffer one second’s inconvenience. It is the people on the ground who will pay the price. Many years ago I interviewed the great South African businessman and philanthropist Anton Rupert, and I’ve never forgotten one thing he told me: “Africa’s biggest need is jobs, and every tourist that comes creates seven jobs.” If you mind about Zimbabwe and its people, then remember that what they need terribly is work. If tourists don’t come, the wildlife will go. For all the difficulties and tragedies Zimbabweans have endured, most love their country passionately. One is aware that behind those smiling faces looking after us with such fastidious care there are some heartbreaking stories – here a farm lost, there a family member murdered, there a business in receivership – but Zimbabweans are famous for “making a plan”. They’ll make one for you; and I would be very surprised if you didn’t love it.”