Sprawling medieval ruins of granite drystone walls that once hosted a royal dynasty. You’d be forgiven if you thought that this was a description of an archaeological site in Western Europe. The Great Zimbabwe ruins are located in the southeastern hills near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo, close to the Chimanimani Mountains. Even the temperate climate could be mistaken for European. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s Late Iron Age, and was constructed by ancestors of the Shona people between the 11th and 14th centuries. The name “Zimbabwe” itself derives from the Shona name for the ruins. I won’t list every fascinating fact and theory about them here, but if you enjoy a bit of antiquity a Google search is worth it.
We spent a morning walking around the first archaeological site of our trip and what we were told is the largest structure of comparable age in sub-Saharan Africa. On hearing this, I couldn’t help but look forward to what ancient treasures Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have to offer. But first – Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya….