Harare, formerly Salisbury, capital of Zimbabwe, lying in the northeastern part of the country. The city was founded in 1890 at the spot where the British South Africa Company's Pioneer Column halted its march into Mashonaland; it was named for Lord Salisbury, then British prime minister.

Harare is a corruption of Havarari, meaning 'They never sleep' and this was the name given to the Zezuru Chief of this northeastern part of Zimbabwe, a Chief Harava.

Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe. On the edge of landscaped Harare Gardens, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe has a large collection of African contemporary art and traditional pieces like baskets, textiles, jewelry and musical instruments. The unusual granite formation Epworth Balancing Rocks is southeast of the city. Wildlife such as zebras and giraffes roam Mukuvisi Woodlands, which has bike paths and a bird park.

Harare is Zimbabwe’s leading financial, commercial, and communications centre, and a trade centre for tobacco, maize, cotton, and citrus fruits. Manufactured goods include textiles, steel and chemicals, and gold is mined in the area. The city’s suburbs include Borrowdale, Helensvale, Greendale, Chisipite, Mbare, Highfields, Kuwadzana, Marlboro, Marlbereign, Vainona, Mount Pleasant and Avondale; the most affluent neighbourhoods are to the north.

The University of Zimbabwe, the country’s oldest university (founded in 1952), is situated in Mount Pleasant, about 6 km (3.7 mi) north of the city centre. Harare is home to the country’s main Test cricket ground, Harare Sports Club, Caps United F.C. and Dynamos F.C., Zimbabwe’s most successful association football teams.

Attraction in Harare

More attractive than most other Southern African capitals, Harare gets a bad rap and unjustly so. While it's certainly not without its problems, overall it's a safe and laid-back city where wide avenues are lined with dusty red earth, and indigenous plants and blooming jacarandas give it a lovely African summertime feel. While it's tempting to rush off to your safari, it's worth hanging around in Harare to sample its fine dining, museums, craft markets and varied bars.

It is Zimbabwe's leading commercial and communications centre, and a trade centre for tobacco, maize and cotton. One is truly spoilt for choice with some key attractions being the National Heroes Acre, National Art Gallery, Harare Gardens, Lion and Cheetah Park and a large number of high-quality restaurants.

Harare has very good transport links within Africa, with direct flights from/to Johannesburg, Windhoek, Dar es Salaam, Addis Ababa and Nairobi. Emirates also operates a flight from Dubai to Harare via Lusaka. Currently there are no direct flights between Harare and Europe, although there is always talk of these starting up again, so watch this space. At present the majority of Expert Africa’s travellers reach Harare via Jo’burg, taking an overnight flight from London Heathrow on either South African Airways or British Airways.

Harare is also well-situated for light-aircraft flights to and from Matusadona and Mana Pools National Park. Most travellers can fly into Harare on a scheduled flight and then straight on to a camp or lodge further afield. The city is also well-placed for transfers to Great Zimbabwe (about five hours by road) and Gonarezhou National Park (about six hours by road or two hours by light aircraft).

What to do and see: activities in Harare

Harare is characterised by wide streets lined with jacaranda trees and pavements often crowded with market stalls and vendors selling myriad goods. In addition there is a great selection of shops both in town and in the more upmarket areas away from the CBD. For arts and crafts, try the excellent Nguni & Ngwenya, which features stock from both Zimbabwe and South Africa. Another higher-end option is Patrick Mavros’ jewellery store in the suburb of Unwinsdale. With lovely views over the surrounding hills this isn’t just a shop but also an educational experience taking in one of the more picturesque areas around Harare.

For animal lovers there is a very well-run wildlife sanctuary, Wild is Life, just outside Harare, where full- and half-day visits can be arranged. The sanctuary looks after and rehabilitates orphaned, injured and endangered animals, and while it’s a far cry from the wilderness areas of Zimbabwe’s national parks, the opportunity to support its work is well worthwhile.