Geography & Wildlife
Highs and lows
Zimbabwe is made up of a series of plateaus and mountains. In the middle, the High Veld ridge stretches from the southwest to the northeast and occupies around a quarter of the country. Its highest peak, Mount Nyangani (2,592 metres), rises up along the border with Mozambique.
The Middle Veld plateau, from 900-1200m in height, has areas of wooded savanna and bracken-covered hills and enjoys a temperate climate. Either side of the Middle and High Veld are the Low Veld regions along the Limpopo Valley to the north and the Zambezi Valley in the south. These lower-lying areas are hotter and drier.
Some of Zimbabwe’s landscapes are distinguished by their large rock outcrops, cliffs and boulders.
In the drier low-lying regions, mopane and baobab trees are common across the scrubland. The quick-growing Australian eucalyptus tree has also been introduced to provide wood for fuel and to act as windbreaks on farms.
Baobabs grow naturally in most countries south of the Sahara. These remarkable trees have a lifespan of hundreds of years and can grow up to 25 metres high, with trunks of 6-10 metres in diameter. Their leaves and fruits are often used locally, such as for baobab oil and fruit juice.
A land of parks
Deforestation and widespread cultivation have cleared much of the natural vegetation. However, around 10% of the country is set aside as parkland and natural habitats are preserved in the national parks.
The largest national parks are Chimanimani, Chizarira, Gonarezhou, Kazuma Pan, Mana Pools, Matobo, Matusadona, Nyanga and Hwange.
Matobo National Park has an ‘Intensive Protection Zone’ where a large population of Black and White Rhinoceros are protected.
Notable among the country’s many birds are the large number of raptors, including martial and bateleur eagles.
Zimbabwe's parks are home to the African ‘big five’ (lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhino), as well as a range of other predators such as the serval, civet, jackal and hyena. The country also has a variety of hoofed animals, such as species of kudu, antelope, duiker, impala and bush buck.
Some parks are expanding
Transfrontier parks in Africa are helping to create wider conservation zones for the region’s migratory animals. The Great Limpopo is one such example; this cross-border wildlife area links Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park with the Kruger National Park of South Africa and Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park.