Bulawayo is a city in southwest Zimbabwe. Bulawayo is Zimbabwe’s second largest city and is home to the country’s main museum – the Natural History Museum, the Bulawayo Art Gallery, good hotels and the finest caravan and camping parks in Zimbabwe.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Bulawayo for ideal weather are August to October and March to June.
Top Places to Visit in Bulawayo
1. Matobo Hills
Called “Matopos” for short, Matobo Hills is the Matobo National Park is an expanse of granite hills and rock formations, an area of spiritual significance and natural grandeur. Come here for extraordinary landscapes, intriguing rock art, geological wonders, as well as sightings of rhino and raptors. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is said to hold the greatest concentration of leopards in Zimbabwe. Look out for a Matobo National Park travel guide post coming soon on this blog – there is a lot to be said about this place, and a lot to do, from abseiling to horseback safaris.
2. Natural History Museum
This rather odd-looking circular building is an intriguing place to spend a few hours. An elephant in the taxidermy display holds the record for being the second largest of its kind to be mounted in the world. When you see this beast in person, at 4 metres or 12 foot in height, it’s a truly fearsome sight – apparently its tusks alone weigh 40kg. In addition to the wildlife galleries, there’s a Geology section showing Zimbabwe’s mineral riches, and a Mankind section which takes the visitor on a simplified tour of Zimbabwe’s history from the Stone Age to Colonialism. Don’t miss seeing a Dodo egg, or one of the first ever caught Coelacanths (pre-historic fish species), and learning about Syntarsus, a distinctive Zimbabwean dinosaur.
3. Railway Museum
Any fan of locomotives or African history will love to visit the Railway Museum. A fantastic collection of steam and diesel engines (some in working order) are also on display, as well as colonial ticket offices and exhibits dating back to 1897. Visitors are allowed to climb on board the trains which makes it an exciting place for kids to play and explore. They can pretend they’re mechanics or train drivers, first-class passengers or livestock transporters.
4. Khami Ruins
Similar to Great Zimbabwe Ruins, these give a glimpse of pre-colonial Zimbabwean life. Scholars suggest that construction began at Khami in the 15th Century, some time after the collapse of the Great Zimbabwe state. Khami was thought to be the capital of the Shona Torwa nation, and it differs to Great Zimbabwe in size, structure and construction method, although they both stem from a similar. Here, stone walls were used to create terraces on which huts were arranged. The stone in this area is difficult to use for free-standing drystone walls, so it was built into the hillside instead. Don’t miss the short walk up to the Hill Complex where the elite lived, and where a Portuguese Cross of mysterious origins points to a lovely view of the hillside. There is a picnic area under large trees where you can refuel after your history walk.
5. Tshabalala Game Sanctuary
This is a fantastic opportunity to explore the African bush on foot without worrying about being stalked by a lion! In most other game parks, you will need a professional guide with you when you walk around, but in this park, there aren’t any dangerous animals, so you have much more freedom. The park contains a variety of animals including zebra, giraffe, warthog and impala as well as an abundance of birds – so you will still be able to see some beautiful African game up close. The park also offers horseback rides, which will take you even closer to the wild animals because they are so accustomed to the horses. You can even cycle around the park if you bring your own bike. Take your own food and drink, as well as a hat and some safari-coloured clothing. The best time to see the animals is late afternoon.