Aaah Harare, the sunshine city! With plenty of natural resources, ample business and investment opportunities – the country boasts more than 40 minerals, including diamonds, gold, copper and iron, and is the second-highest producer of platinum in the world – and its own personal seven wonders, Zimbabwe is a country waiting to be explored through Africa’s latest air-traffic hub: Namibia’s Hosea Kutako International Airport.
By Marita van Rooyen
During May, Air Namibia launched the latest addition to its already impressive route network, allowing business and leisure seekers the freedom to explore Harare four times a week. Journalist Marita van Rooyen, who had the opportunity to fly to Zimbabwe on Air Namibia’s inaugural flight to Harare, reports below.
Where to stay
I personally recommend Jacana Gardens, a place as fresh as the Feng Shui that flows through it. A square house consisting of three en-suite rooms and a kitchen; two symmetrical living rooms, each with its own fireplace, soft sofas, music selection, piles of books, and doors leading to the lush gardens; and a large breakfast table right in the middle of it all, is rounded off with a sky-hole in the roof. It’s beautiful.
Willem Landman and Rian van de Braak, the team behind the guest lodge, are proud to tell guests that everything in their cosy little place was locally sourced. Depicting colourful scenes of rural life, all the cupboards were hand-painted by a local artist. There’s even an African mermaid! Traditional Tonga doors are featured in headboards, and in a communal table and other coffee tables around the house. All rooms have satellite television and wireless Internet, with a self-help coffee station. The honesty bar is well stocked with wines, soft drinks and snacks.
A side cottage is also available on request. A great mix of visitors, including senior business consultants; young journalists; Africans; Europeans; old-generation travellers; and youngsters meet over breakfast. Some have spent their mornings listing birds in the gardens or splashing around the pool, while others have been out on business, returning only in time for Rian’s home-cooked dinners. Rian and Willem have worked all over the globe for the Doctors Without Borders NGO. After their time in Zimbabwe, they decided to settle at 14 Jacana Drive in Borrowdale, Harare. Rian believes fully in the future of tourism and life in general in Zimbabwe. “It’s not an ‘if’; it’s a ‘when’.”
What to see
Pay a visit to the living quarters and work- and showroom of world-famous silver smith, Patrick Mavros, just off Umwinsi Dale Road. Originally Patrick started his business here in Harare around 30 years ago, simply because he loved the country and couldn’t imagine working from anywhere else. Nowadays guests are received mostly by Patrick junior, who followed in his father’s footsteps and is now in charge of business. Mavros also has a shop in London, manned by another of his sons. Even if you can’t afford the high-grade silver, the drive there and reception you’re given are worth the effort.
Situated in Harare’s suburbs in a hilly, green area, the views from here are to die for, and Patrick junior is a really friendly chap. But call first rather than arrive unannounced! The actual shop is situated in the Meikles Hotel, right in the city centre.
Where to eat
For a totally new and revitalising lunch experience, try The Butcher’s Kitchen. An initiative by Ian Miller and Douglas Saint Claire, these men properly ‘raised the bar on the butchery trade’. A butchery/restaurant is a place where you can pick your own matured-for-21-days Zimbabwean steak, have it cooked on an original charcoal grill, and served with a choice of bread from the ‘hot closet.’
Round it off with a beer, while having a read through The Butcher’s Daily, actually the menu that makes you want to take out a piece of paper and take notes for the next time you come. If you don’t feel like company, or have a guesthouse full of people to feed, take your steak, seafood, poultry, or freshly baked bread home, and do it yourself. The eat-all-you-can salad bar, which is open seven days a week and situated in Sam Levy’s Village, Borrowdale, feeds hungry vegetarians for only U$6.
What to do for entertainment
The Book Café is a famed hangout for locals and expats from the surrounding suburbs. Here you mustn’t be surprised if you run into the president’s bodyguard, or an outspoken street kid, both ready and willing to speak their minds.
With a schedule pumping with activity, Wednesdays hosts a film club, followed by a live music performance, while poetry nights, ‘open-mike nights for the sistaz’, a good wine list and a sampling of the best pizza in town further ensures that visitors return. As local movie promoter, Rudo Chakanyuka, sums it up: “This is the cultural hub of Harare. Everything that’s arty happens here.”
The Book Café is situated on the corner of Samora Machel and 6th Streets.
This article appeared in the July’12 edition of FLAMINGO Magazine.