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Once bathed in riches and gold, what remains now is an artefact of African nobility.
Great Zimbabwe: a lost civilisation in the African jungle that has generated a lot of global gossip. The second largest stone built archaeological site in the continent, historically these ruins have been succumbed to just as much speculation than the Pyramids.
Rumours of an ancient city surrounded by African mopane and goldmines once circulated around Europe. Like the pot at the end of the rainbow, no one believed this to be true. Until it was discovered.
A spectacular formation of curved granite towers, turrets and sculpted stairways embellished with intricate decorations were stumbled upon. Shielded by the Mutirikwi valley, on the planes between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers the hidden gem was found.
The European explorers, stunned, refused to believe that this work of unparalleled architecture was constructed by the indigenous people. Solid proof of a history richer in gentility than their own, the Europeans started rumours of origins. These were joined by the local tribes’ own theories of witchcraft, daemons and alien settlers. The ruins remain today with the same otherworldly magnificence.
In 1905 it was confirmed that these works of grandeur were created by the Bantu people between the 11th and 14th centuries. Resilient after years of prodding, extracting and general curiosity – the remains of Great Zimbabwe still stand tall. There is a reason why the country, after independence in 1980 took its name after these statures.
As for most of Zimbabwe, the best time to visit would be the cooler, dry winter from April to October. The ruins still remain open in the wet summer.
From Masvingo, the Great Zimbabwe ruins are just half an hour. From Bulawayo, it is a longer drive so a full day trip and a few days in Bulawayo is necessary.