Many chapters of Zimbabwe’s history were written in Bulawayo, which is still characterized by many old British colonial buildings, maintained by the Bulawayo City Council and landlords as heritage sites. Bulawayo boasts one of the best municipal caravan and camping parks in Zimbabwe.
The country was originally known as “Rhodesia”, named after Cecil John Rhodes who made a lasting impact on the country’s history. One of Rhodes’ favorite places was the Matobo Hills, south of Bulawayo. He was so moved by the fascinating rock formations and the wild spirit of this area that he chose to be buried at the highest point of the hills that he named “World’s View”. His burial site is visited by thousands of tourists to Zimbabwe.
Places to visit in Bulawayo
The Natural History Museum
Situated in Centenary Park, it is not only the country’s main museum but
also one of the better-known natural history museums in the Southern Hemisphere. The impressive mammal collection comprises more than 75,000 specimens.
National Art Gallery
Housed in a charming Victorian building, Douslin House, in Main Street. The gallery complex contains a curio shop, restaurant and artists’ studios (also a bicycle hire facility for the energetic.)
Display of steam engines and rolling stock and station buildings from the earliest days of the country’s railway history, including the Pullman saloon that transported Rhodes’ body from Cape Town for his burial.
Out of Town
Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Center
Situated just out of town off the Old Falls road, the Center is
definitely worth a visit if you are looking for memento’s to take home. Visitors can choose from a wide selection of skillfully crafted sculptures, basketry, pottery, beadwork and woodwork, all done by local people.
Established in 1963, the Center today boasts a commercial pottery unit providing jobs for more than 70 people. Situated nearby is the Bulawayo Home Industries Center where batiks, hand-woven items and embroidery work is manufactured and sold.
About one hour south of Bulawayo by road, are the stunning Matobo Hills. Regarded as one of Zimbabwe’s major tourist attractions, these famous rocky outcrops extend across 2000 square kilometers of countryside. The massive granite boulders and gigantic rock formations are more than 3,000 million years old, creating an ancient, brooding landscape.
A focal point is Rhodes Grave on the summit of the Hill of Benevolent Spirits. The entire area has great cultural and religious significance for the African people.
The vegetation in the Matobo’s is quite different from the surrounding countryside and provides fascinating and varied habitats for wildlife. There are hundreds of caves, many of which were home to early man, and rock painting bears testimony to the value of wildlife to the artists. These are sign posted and directions and maps are available. Despite their antiquity, many of the depictions are well preserved and very clear.
Matobo National Park
Matobo National Park contains some of the more rare species of
wildlife, including the sable antelope and both black and white rhino. It is renowned for having the highest concentration of leopards and black eagle in an area of its size in the world. Bird life is prolific and the area is a botanist’s delight. There is a fenced area where most of the country’s big game can be viewed in a short space of time against a dramatic setting.
Tshabalala Game Sanctuary
Ten kilometers from the city centre en route to the Matobo’s, Tshabalala Game Sanctuary contains varied wildlife, birds and waterfowl. One may drive, walk or cycle, and horse rides can be arranged. It has an important Interpretive Centre, easily accessible for school children and City dwellers.
Just 22 kilometer’s west of Bulawayo – one of southern Africa’s most magnificent Late Iron Age ruins, now recognized as a World Heritage Site. The ruins consist of a series of terraces and passages supported by massive granite walls, some overlooking Khami Dam and Khami Gorge.
Scenically more beautiful than Great Zimbabwe, the ruins are thought to have been built between 1450 and 1650. It is claimed that the Matabele king Lobengula used the site for rain-making ceremonies. A small museum displays relics has been made into a municipal Recreation Park, called Mazwi Nature Reserve. There the visitor may walk, drive and picnic. Horses are available for hire.
Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage and Research Center
A shelter for orphaned young wild animals, Chipangali is situated on the
main Gwanda Road, 23 kilometers from Bulawayo. Among the orphans are lions, leopards, cheetahs, black rhinos, many species of antelope, and a large collection of birds. There is an interpretive center and a small bush camp.
Bulawayo, a name that means “place of slaughter”, was the royal kraal of the legendary Ndebele kings in former times.
Zimbabwe’s second largest city, it is noted for the exceptionally wide streets which were originally designed to allow turning space for a full span of oxen.
Map showing Bulawayo’s location in relation to the rest of the country.
Most of the hostels have a Shuttle Service to and from Town. There are local buses availiable as well and numerous taxi’s about.
If traveling to Vic Falls, there is a bus Company called Route 49 that goes every Monday and Wednesday, or there is the train, the cost for either of them is suited for the travellers.
Click here for a quick list of backpackers accommodation in Bulawayo.
About the Author
Hi there, my name is Lisa and I have been living in Zimbabwe since 1980. I think Zimbabwe is really a great country and it has so many tourist attractions to see.
I have recently opened up an Internet CafÃ© that has many facilites availiable, like faxing, telephones, colour scanning and printing, snooker table, swimming pool, dart board and a jukebox, oh, also Full Internet and E-mail access.