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Bulawayo is Zimbabwe’s largest city after Harare. Situated in the South, it is the capital of Matabeleland and acts as an accessible hub for flights to and from Johannesburg.
With brilliant road systems, Bulawayo has easy access to some of the plentiful UNESCO sites that Zimbabwe has to offer. Notably, the Matobo Hills (within an hour) and the Khami Ruins just around the corner.
Other than this, the city is captivating in its own right. A sleepier feel than Harare, Bulawayo’s broad, tree-lined boulevards infuse youthful colour into what is otherwise a city that is beginning to fray around the edges.
The remnants of gentility remain in the colonial Victorian architecture. Peppered with city gardens and public swimming pools, Bulawayo also presents a rare opportunity to shop in a range of curios featuring locally produced ornaments.
The bulk of Bulawayo’s cultural prevalence is rooted in its early history. Named KoBulawayo, ‘place of suffering’ by the King Lobengula; the Ndebele Tribe that once called this their home witnessed a transformation of the city.
Following the Anglo-Ndebele wars, Lobengula fled his city leaving behind a canvas of collateral ruins and destruction. After part-burning and poignant bloodshed, the British settlers (led by Cecil Rhodes) began to form a 19th century industrial hub from the ashes.
In turn, this history of struggle and uprising has left a city of hybridity. The array of cultural influences has created a place of diversity and of course historical prominence.
Bulawayo is more temperate than most of Zimbabwe. With less rainfall, Bulawayo’s seasons follow the same pattern for most of the country: the dry season (winter) from May to October, and the wet season (summer) from November through to April.
Just 22 kilometres west of Bulawayo stand the Khami Ruins. With their aged amber hue, these walls were built in 1450 and stood as the Torwa dynasty’s capital at the time. A place of archeological grandeur, these walls lengthen over a 2 km radius and overlook the Dam. They are Zimbabwe’s biggest ruins. From a flight into Bulawayo, venture westward toward the peaceful natural setting that houses these ruins before heading south to the hills of Matobo exploring more of Zimbabwe’s ancient tribal history.