On Lake Kariba, between this new republic and Zambia, you can catch exotic tiger fish while watching elephant, water buffalo, hippos and antelope graze along the shore.
In the Inyanga Mountains of eastern Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), you can fish for trout or swim in cold mountain streams, gaze upon the second-tallest waterfall in Africa, pick wildflowers, climb mountains or just sit back and enjoy a spectacular landscape that reminds many of Scotland.
At the Zimbabwe ruins, southeast of Fort Victoria, you can explore the mysterious remains of a civilization that flourished in southern Africa more than 1,000 years ago.
Victoria Falls may be the most spectacular and most popular attraction in this country. But for the tourist, Zimbabwe is a lot more than the falls. It is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, and most of its tourist infrastructure is intact despite seven years of guerrilla war.
"Some of the rural hotels are slightly run-down, due to lack of business. But it won't take long to put them back in shape," said Ronald Underwood, chief development officer of the National Tourist Board.
Some of Rhodesia's prime tourist attractions became inaccessible, or nearly so, during the war, and tourism took a sharp nosedive.
"We were very qualified in our promotion," Underwood said. "We didn't intend to go to people overseas and say that they should come here until peace was assured."
Big-game hunting always has been one of the major sources of tourist revenue for Rhodesia, and it is expected to enjoy a resurgence now that peace has been restored. Unlike some African countries, which have allowed certain species to be hunted almost to extinction, Rhodesia has firmly controlled hunting and replenishes its stocks through extensive game ranching.
There are hunting areas scattered all around the country. For those who prefer to shoot game with a camera, Zimbabwe also has about 20 wildlife sanctuaries containing more than 100 species of animals and several hundred species of birds. The wildlife is not as extensive as that in Kenya or Tanzania, but it includes a considerable number of such animals as black sable antelope, kudu and white rhino, which are relatively rare elsewhere.
The Wankie National Park, about 50 miles south of Victoria Falls, is one of the largest in Africa. Its game was heavily poached during the war, but Underwood said it still is necessary to cull some species there that have become overstocked.
There are a number of lakes, all of them manmade. The largest is Lake Kariba, a 170-mile-long reservoir built on the Zambezi river and completed in 1961. The Bumi Hills resort on Lake Kariba, not far from the Matusadona National Park, has become one of the country's most popular tourist attractions. More extensive recreational facilities are located at the town of Kariba, near Kariba Dam. The Inyanga Mountains are the site of the 2,500-foot Mtarazi Falls, the second-tallest in Africa, after the Murchison Falls in Uganda.
A number of ancient ruins, some of them going back 40,000 years to the early Stone Age, have been found in the Inyanga region, which is near the Mozambique border north of Umtali. But the Zimbabwe ruins, in the midlands region, are the most important in the country and perhaps the most important African ruins south of Egypt.
Discovered in the 19th century, these extensive ruins of an ancient, gold-mining people are still the subject of scientific controversy. The Zimbabwe civilization apparently flourished from the 7th to 14th centuries. Some experts argue that the buildings of Zimbabwe were erected by native people. Others maintain that pre-Moslem Arabs founded Zimbabwe, and they point to similarities between the ruins and those found in certain parts of the Middle East.
The modern-day cities, including the capital, Salisbury, are relatively uninteresting to foreign visitors. Salisbury is a blend of small-town America and England, and most visitors, as well as many residents, find it dull. Its chief importance to the tourist is as an entryway to the rest of the country. Thus it does not have enough first-class hotels, but Underwood says a number of international hotel chains have made offers to establish new hotels in Salisbury.
In general, Zimbabwe offers two important advantages to tourists. One is low prices. But now that international economic sanctions have been lifted from Rhodesia, the new nation is starting to move into the world economy, and prices are rising. Still, a single room in a good rural hotel costs as little as $12; in Salisbury recently the top price for a single room in the city's best hotel was only $27.50.
The other major advantage is a good highway network throughout the country. In most of Africa, tourists find themselves bouncing along dusty, unpaved roads to reach their destinations. In Zimbabwe, the main highways are tarmac all the way.