No visit to Zimbabwe would be complete without even a brief history lesson, but surely some hours of total immersion in the ancestry of modern-day Zimbabweans would be guaranteed to put visitors off, rather than attract them? African Sun disagrees.
Equidistant from Beitbridge, on the border with South Africa and Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, is the town of Masvingo and a short drive from Masvingo is the Great Zimbabwe Monument, capital of the ancient realm of King Munhumutapa.
Fashioned, it is believed between 1250 and 1450 AD, from regular rectangular granite blocks skilfully placed one upon the other gives without the use of tools, gives you an idea of stone masonry few if any could emulate today. This World Heritage Site is a unique historical, cultural and archaeological landmark with many unusual artefacts including the Zimbabwe bird (a national emblem and the subject of its own myths and legends) to be found there.
Straddling its own grounds and the World Heritage Site is the Great Zimbabwe Hotel and Lodges, with the lodges within the site and, therefore, the subject of preservation orders.
Only a short walk away from the Monument itself, the hotel has its own tradition – the African Sun tradition of a warm welcome and top quality products and service.
The swimming pool, tennis court and beach volleyball pitch are only a 2 minute walk from the majority of the rooms. The Sunset Bar is a favourite with locals and guests.
But it is the all-pervasive sense of history, of being in a different time frame, most noticeable in the grounds of the monument but still felt in the luxury of the hotel, that strikes guests as unique. And the mystery surrounding the now-deserted site, its total quiet and stillness, adds to the feeling of being part of an old but long gone civilisation. What happened to the people who built it? Was it for protection or was it a place of worship?
There are many theories and all will be heard in the cocktail bar of the Great Zimbabwe Hotel.