The sunshine city of Harare, despite being run down by a negligent government system, is still a warm and and friendly place to any visitor.
So, whether you arrive by road or air, Harare – which spreads its metropolis from the central hilly landscape known as the Kopje, will embrace you with its warm weather and smiling citizens.
If you really want to see the real Harare, you do not want to confine your visit to the main city centre, so, according to our online reporterm and resident of Harare, Tapiwa Zivira, here are the ten places you MUST! visit when you come to Ha-ha-ha-rare! (as Dusty Miller would say!).
One of the oldest townships of Harare, Highfield in a residential area that consists of over 10,000 housing units, some of them built in the 1950s.
This is a place that carries a rich history of the country’s liberation struggle as nationalist like Robert Mugabe emerged from there. You will have a chance to see Mugabe’s bullet riddled house in the Canaan area of this township.
Other areas you can visit in Highfield include Machipisa, a shopping centre that can only be equated to South Africa’s cultural hub of the 1950s, Sophiatown.It was at Machipisa, and particularly Mushandirapamwe Hotel where nationalist musicians like the iconic Thomas Mapfumo peformed and it is also where Zimbabwe’s most popular music genres were developed.
Another ghetto where nationalists emerged from. But today, you might want to visit Mbare to have a few minutes in the little studios of the emerging dancehall artists. It is in Mbare where amateur studios like ChillSpot and Gunhill are producing big names in the currently famous Zimdancehall genre.
These studios, which are situated in the old, infamous flats of Mbare, consist usually of old computer sets and mixing equipment. But the talent is so amazing that good productions come out of that.
You cannot come to Harare and go back without visiting one of the most popular braai and barbeque centres. This is where you can enjoy a variety of braaied meats – beef, pork, chicken gizzards etc- and beer on an open space.
Alternatively you can visit other popular braaing areas like KwaFatso in Glen Norah, kwaZindoga in Waterfalls, KwaChikwanha in Chitungwiza, and if you want to have a little extra adventure, you can go to Ziko, a place that has half a rural and half an urban flair- very enjoyable.
4. Lake Chivero.
Wanna have some aqua time? Then you must go to Lake Chivero. Here you have a chance for a boat ride in the vast and wonderful Chivero. You can have drinks and braai on the beaches of the lake, or maybe just watch the waves, or enjoy watching the dozens of fishermen who come to the lake.
Trust me, the place is just wonderful.
5. Bally Vaughan Game Reserve.
Zimbabwe has huge game reserves like Hwange. But if you want to have a game drive and watch animals near Harare, then Bally Vaughan is the choice place.
Here, there is a variety of game- from kudu to lions to elephants. You can also ride on elephants,canoe down the river or climb the hills in the game reserve. The place has affordable rates and a nice lodge if you want to spend the night. Click here for directions and more of what they offer
6. Private Lounge.
Feeling like to go on a little adventure to explore some of the most sensational clubs in town? Private Lounge in the main city centre is the place to be. Strip shows and everything along those lines is where it happens- till morning!
7. National Archives.
Near the affluent suburb of Borrowdale and close to the army headquarters, the National Archives is one place to visit if you want to go down the history lane of Zimbabwe.
8. Musical show.
If you really, really, really, really want to go out and spend the night agog, then you must experience a live musical show in Harare. You can go out on any day of the week, but I recommend Fridays and the following musicians, Alick Macheso, Sulumani Chimbetu, Oliver Mtukudzi, Jah Prayzah, and Progress Chipfumo. I will insist on Chipfumo because his shows tend to have a lower audience and are therefore intimate. His band also does deliver a great performance and I have never been disappointed every time I have gone there.
As you drive down Leopold Takawira Avenue towards Avondale, you will notice the jacaranda trees bending towards the road, creating a ‘tunnel’ of trees. If it is September, October or November, these trees will be blooming and the whole street will be adorned with their beautiful purple flowers. Avondale shopping centre is wonderful area where you can find eateries and bars- far from the madding crowd.
In my view, no one should visit a place and see only one side of it. I recommend in the end you visit Hopley, a settlement that accommodates some of the poorest people in the country.
Despite the visible anguish, the people are warm and friendly to visitors and here you can be able to discern that Harare, despite its problems, is still a warm place where people still laugh and have fun.