The Sunshine City of Harare
Harare is a city of approximately 1.5 million people. It has a compact downtown area and sprawling suburbs to the North of the city centre where the school is located in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. With the exception of city centre, Harare is a very “green” city with trees and flowers eternally in bloom.
Harare boasts a number of restaurants, many of them inexpensive by Western standards, but on the upper end prices are equal and sometime a little higher. There are movie theatres that show current films, and Harare is also known as one of the music capitals of Africa and there is an array of concerts and clubs. While Shona is the language of the indigenous population, English is spoken by virtually everyone.
An advantage of Harare is that the “real” Africa, the bush, is not too far from the city. Additionally, within three – six hours drive time from Harare there are a multitude of nature and game reserves for those weekend getaways. Zimbabwe boasts an amazing tourist infrastructure including Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River valley, the Eastern Highlands, Lake Kariba, Matopos National Park, Hwange National Park, and the ruins of Great Zimbabwe – to name only a few. Approximately eight percent of Zimbabwe’s total land area is set aside as national or wildlife recreational parks.
It is often said that Zimbabwe is “Africa for beginners” because of its relative safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure, which has historically characterized the country. Even so, Harare is a city and standard big-city precautions should be used when. With the changes in the economy, the third-world reality underlying a first-world façade has become more apparent.