We recently spent four weeks doing 'December in Zimbabwe', also called silly season as there's something about the heat and the holiday vibes that gets things a little wild. We had an amazing time, so we've put together our favourite places we recommend checking out whether you already live in H or are lucky enough to be planning a trip there soon. Either way, Harare is not known as 'Sunshine City' for nothing, enjoy :-)!
In the mood for...Shopping: Doon Estate
Doon Estate design quarter can be found in the Msasa industrial area is the perfect antitode to the cookie cutter mall experience. As any of Harare's tastemakers will tell you, this little shopping village is a must visit for travelers hunting for good quality souvenirs, the collective of shops selling a range of locally handmade jewelery, furniture, fabric, arts & crafts, and sculpture. Don't miss Ros Byrne's beautiful handmade pottery, Kudhinda's potato printed fabrics, the hot chocolate at Veldemeers chocolate shop, or the vervet monkeys running across the roofs! You can easily spend a whole morning or afternoon exploring the shops and galleries so make sure you either start or end with lunch at The Shop Cafe, Trip Advisor peeps say it's Harare's best restaurant!
1 Harrow Road, turn right off Mutare Road just after the Caltex garage. Farmers market last Saturday of the month where local produce is sold at stalls in the garden. Also check out the Chapungu sculpture garden next door!
In the mood for....People Watching: Cafe Nush
With arguably the best spot in the Avondale shopping centre, Cafe Nush is the place to grab a coffee (they do great coffee) and watch Harare's movers and shakers come and go. A favourite for informal business lunches and catching up with friends, don't be surprised if you find yourself sitting next to music legend Oliver Mutukudzi or the next Strive Masiyiwa. If you're local, the chances of bumping into someone you know are extremely high so keep your hungover-still smelling like vodka-days for another side of town. PS. We recommend their grilled chicken wraps and strawberry lemonades- your welcome.
In the mood for....City Safaris: Lake Chivero
Just 30 minutes out of town, Lake Chivero is the perfect spot for some weekend downtime. It's a favourite for getting family and friends together for lakeside braais, beers and banter, but you can also game drive or fish if you're into it. We managed to spot some zebra, rhino and kudu, but there are also giraffe, crocodile viewing, horseriding, walking safaris and canoeing. If you drink too much beer and want to stay the night, there are a chalets (from $20), lodges (from $60) and campsites.
30km out of Harare, off the Bulawayo Road
In the mood for...Painting the Town: Red Bar
Red Bar fast became our favourite nightspot for it's relaxed and mature crowd. Socialising in Harare can still be very segregated but Red Bar is one of the only places in town that has a more mixed cosmopolitan vibe. It's also one of the only places in town which seems to have (and pull off!) a design concept, being industrially themed with exposed concrete and steel, minimal fittings, and obviously lots of red. They have regular comedy nights and live music during the week so be sure to check out for some midweek letting down of hair.
39a Newlands Shopping Centre, Old Enterprise Rd. ZimboJam is useful for nightlife listings.
In the mood for...That Morning After Brunch: Pistachio
Pistachio is new to the H-town foodie scene having only been open 6 weeks when we visited, but it's a breath of fresh air to Borrowdale village where it has taken over from Mimi's cafe. However it's already consistently packed thanks to its pleasant pistachio green surroundings and great, great food. Their chai latte was the best we've ever had, and Alae has sampled many across the world, the salads are just as good and filling as the burgers, and the complimentary foccacia bread sticks will fight off your hunger as you watch everyone else's plates of amazing looking food go by. Cordon Bleu trained head chef and owner Teresa Muirhead told us she wanted to create an oasis of fresh & healthy eating in Harare- but don't worry there are also some pretty decadent cakes if like us your 'fresh & healthy' comes with pastries on the side.
Monday-Saturday, Shop 19 Borrowdale Village
In the mood for....The local music scene: Book Cafe
Book Cafe is the pulse of the creative scene in Harare and the best place to catch local musicians, poets, and comedians. They have something going on almost every night of the week so its always worth checking out their listings, or just dropping by for some pizza, browsing the local writers in their bookshop, or joining in a public discussion.
139 Samora Machel, cnr 6th Street.
In the mood for....Date Night: Dinner at Amanzi
We've only ever heard rave reviews about Amanzi- 'so beautiful you have to visit in the evening and the daylight', 'The Noisettes shot their video there', 'the food is incredible'- so we made sure to check out their infamous Thursday live music night. The food is an adventurous fusion of African and Asian flavours, the chicken groundnut stew and chargrilled kudu wrapped in pancetta were big winners, and is served in the gorgeous setting of their gardens or verandah. After dinner head to the bar for some jazz and cocktails, making Amanzi the place to be seen on a Thursday night,
158 Enterprise Road, Highlands. (If you still can't get enough, check into one of their twelve lodges nearby, each designed in the theme of an African country.)
In the mood for...Saying smart things about art: National Gallery
Artwise, the National Gallery is the hub for contemporary African & Zimbabwean art, (there's also Gallery Delta), curated by Raphael Chikukwa who spearheaded Zimbabwe's first presence at the Venice Biennale 2011. As well as browsing the exhibitions, the gallery shop is a great place to pick up artistic souvenirs and the cafe is run by the same people who do the Shop Cafe at Doon Estate so expect more great food. Don't miss their upcoming exhibitions of the legendary Samuel Fosso, and the Venice Bienelle collection. 20 Julius Nyerere Way
In the mood for....Working Out
Finding good internet access was one of our biggest challenges in Harare, but with the number of meetings we had to do on our visit we had to find out fast where the best places are to get some good coffee and fast WIFI. Our favourite was Vanilla Moon in Avondale- they have a lovely garden to work in, great sandwiches, and you can use their super fast uMAX wifi for $1 p/30 mins which is perfect for checking emails, or get bigger data bundles for serious workouts. We gave out lots of uMAX vouchers at our recent garden party, so if you were lucky enough to pick one up, check out their website for their list of where else you can max about.
For more pictures of all these places and of our trip check out our facebook 'SBA in Zim' pics. There's so much we didn't get to do and can't wait to be back!
What have we missed out? What are your Harare hotspots?