It's not unusual for golfers to share the 18-hole championship course at the Elephant Hills Inter-Continental with a group of warthogs. The warthogs are part of what makes Zimbabwe special, while Elephant Hills, with its Gary Player designed golf course, is part of this southern African country's growing collection of luxury resorts and safari lodges.
Zimbabwe is undoubtedly a long haul for Americans--it's a 19-hour trip from JFK--but it's also a uniquely rewarding destination. The country has beautiful, unspoiled scenery, abundant wildlife that can be viewed without crowds, and two justly renowned attractions: Victoria Falls, the world's largest sheet of falling water, and Great Zimbabwe, the monumental ruins of an ancient African stone city.
Elephant Hills, the largest hotel development in Zimbabwe's history, was built in 1991 in Victoria Falls. The 276-room resort has a casino, tennis courts, a gymnasium and pool, and seven meeting rooms seating up to 350 persons.
Nearby, but worlds away in character, is the venerable 182-room Victoria Falls Hotel. On the terrace of this turn-of-the-century Edwardian hotel, guests can sip cocktails and take in the spectacular view of the Victoria Falls Bridge.
In the town of Victoria Falls, activities, centering on the mighty Zambezi River, include white-water rafting, canoeing, kayaking, sunset cruises, even bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge. For aerial views, there are airplane and helicopter flights.
Although there's plenty of game watching in and around Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe's premier wildlife showcase is Hwange National Park. One of the few great elephant sanctuaries left in Africa, Hwange is also home to lions, zebras, giraffes, impalas, kudu, and other species. Zimbabwe's Lake Kariba, an inland sea created with the completion of Kariba Dam in 1958, is another wildlife safari center as well as a mecca for boating and fishing.
Back in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, a modern urban center that retains some vestiges of its British colonial past, the 318-room Meikles Hotel features 13 meeting rooms accommodating up to 500 persons.