Zimbabwe’s ‘Sunshine City’, gateway to Victoria Falls
The enigmatic capital of Zimbabwe, Harare has been blighted in recent years by political troubles causing disruptions to everyday life, but things are slowly improving. As a place to visit, Harare is an attractive, cultural city with a whole host of museums and galleries documenting the country's colonial past, as well as the traditional culture of this part of Africa. Harare was originally founded in the late 19th century by British businessmen Cecil Rhodes, of DeBeers fame, as a fort for a group of military volunteer settlers. The settlement was formerly known as Fort Salisbury, named after the 3rd Marquis of Salisbury, the British prime minister at the time. Serving as the capital of Southern Rhodesia, Salisbury eventually became the capital of the Independent Republic of Rhodesia in 1970. The city then became Harare in April 1982, adopting its name from that of a local Shona chieftain.
Zimbabwe’s ‘Sunshine City’ is a culturally and historically interesting African capital, as well as being a gateway to some of the region’s incredible natural attractions such as Victoria Falls. As the recent political problems in the country begin to move toward practical resolutions, flights to Harare will be popular once more.
When to Go?
Harare enjoys a subtropical highland climate, which due to its altitude means that the city enjoys cool south-easterly winds. This means that temperatures are not as hot as you might expect, varying somewhere between the low 20s and the low 30s. The wet season lasts from November to around March or April, while the cooler dry season lasts from April/May to August, which is the best time to visit Harare.
How to get there?
Due to recent political problems in Zimbabwe, flights to Harare are not so easy to come by, however Air Zimbabwe does offer Harare flights three times a week from London Gatwick. Until the political stability of Zimbabwe is assured, and tourism becomes popular again, flights to Harare International Airport (HRE) are unlikely to be offered by many other airlines, and costs will remain high.
Harare has maintained a strong cultural heritage, integrating both its colonial past and the traditions of native people from this part of Africa. The National Gallery features a permanent display of some remarkable Shona Stone carvings, while the Queen Victoria Museum and the Queen Victoria National Library are also places where you can find out more about the history of Harare. The lovely National Botanic Gardens contains hundreds of species of wild trees and shrubs from all over Zimbabwe. The world-famous Victoria Falls lies at the other end of a scenic train journey from Bulawayo.