Day 4 – Bulawayo to Great Zimbabwe Ruins

We’re awake at 5.30 this- morning and slept pretty well in our tent. Just a bit puzzled as to why a local cockerel was crowing at 3am. I thought that they didn’t crow until dawn.

Today’s journey today takes us to Masvingo and the Great Zimbabwe Ruins where we will enjoy a guided walking tour of this historic site. Dating back to the Late Iron Age, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was once the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe.

Great Zimbabwe is the name of the stone ruins of an ancient city near modern day Masvingo, Zimbabwe. People lived in Great Zimbabwe beginning around 1100 C.E. but abandoned it in the 15th century. The city was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, which was a Shona (Bantu) trading empire. Zimbabwe means “stone houses” in Shona.

Great Zimbabwe was part of a large and wealthy global trading network. Archaeologists have found pottery from China and Persia, as well as Arab coins in the ruins there. The elite of the Zimbabwe Empire controlled trade up and down the east African coast. However, the city was largely abandoned by the 15th century as the Shona people migrated elsewhere. The exact reasons for the abandonment are unknown, but it is likely that exhaustion of resources and overpopulation were contributing factors. It is a truly incredible site of magnificent workmanship. Each and every wall is constructed without the aid of mortar.

We walk across the plain and visit a traditional Shona village to understand how the inhabitants of Great Zimbabwe would’ve lived – crafts, music, dancing etc.

We walk to the top of the Hill Complex, a series of structural ruins that sit atop the steepest hill of the site. This is generally believed to have been the religious center of the site. The Hill Complex is the oldest part of Great Zimbabwe, and shows signs of construction that date to around 900 C.E.

We return to our campsite for the evening and pitch our tent beneath a beautiful clear sky. It’s Bar-B-Q for dinner and a bottle of red wine. Perfect end to a great day.

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