Having just returned from Bulawayo, where my daughter and I spent the half-term weekend with a close friend and her 4 year-old son, I wanted to share with how enthused I was about how much there is for families to do and see in the second largest city in Zimbabwe!
Did you know that Bulawayo is home to the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, which is ranked as the fourth biggest museum in Africa! With it's nine display galleries, it offers a variety of intriguing exhibits, some of which are incredibly life-like and sure to arouse the interest of your children. As you might imagine, the live snake display stimulated much excitement. The museum is open from 8.30am to 5pm every day of the year and costs just US$3 per adult and US$1 per child (although children below the age of 5 go free!) Click here to find out more.
The Hillside Dams Conservancy provides gentle walking opportunities, as well as scenic picnic spots and a restaurant with a selection of refreshments and snack meals. There is a small play area within the bounds of the boma, or a bigger playground near the dam. Sadly, the dams were empty when we visited, due to the poor rainy season, but nevertheless, we enjoyed our walk. The entry fee (which is redeemable on exit to restaurant patrons) is US$2 per adult and US$1 per child (except children below the age of 5).
Just 34km from Bulawayo is the Matobo National Park, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, which is nothing less than breathtaking...in more ways than just one:-) Described as majestic, the park rich in flora and fauna, and it has a range of tourist attractions and activities including the grave site of Cecil John Rhodes. Sundowners atop Phephe will be a particularly treasured memory I think! As the last rays of the sun, like fingers, slipped below the horizon, the moon, which was almost full, rose quickly into the sky guiding us gently down and out of the park for the evening...to dream. Click here for more information about Matobo.
Another highlight was our day trip to Ncema Dam, one of Bulawayo's water sources. This recreational site, which is very well maintained with beautifully mown green lawns and shady trees, has a clubhouse along with a play area for the kiddies. Of course, if you have a boat, you can enjoy watersports and fishing as well.
Zonkizizwe Shopping Centre, located in the Bradfield area of Bulawayo, offers a secure and comprehensive shopping experience with a couple of pleasurable dining options. Roosters Pub and Grill is a lively family-friendly restaurant overlooking a delightful garden and water feature, with a wooden jungle gym and play area for children. The food is affordable and nicely presented. Brooks Cafe and Deli also has a fun atmosphere and serves a delicious range of cakes (and other snack food!) and drinks. Open daily from 9am to 5.30pm, and 9am to 2pm on Saturday and Sunday. There is also a Pick 'n' Pay and a Food Lovers Market in the shopping complex, which might be helpful to note.
We really did have such an entertaining weekend, and as I said to my friend, there always has to be a reason to return to a place so we've left some other attractions 'til the next time we visit Bulawayo!!