World at a Glance: Great Zimbabwe


I had 4-5 hours to kill in Masvingo once, waiting for the last bus to Harare. Must have been 16 years ago. So I did what I often do when I’m short on time: I asked a taxi driver if there was anything interesting to see. A slightly dubious practice, I know, and certainly one that can end up costing a pretty penny. Then again, I’ve rarely encountered any difficulties when using this strategy. In Masvingo, he suggested the ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe. A lost city; how could I say no?

Legend has it the Queen of Sheba resided here at Great Zimbabwe. True or not, it was an impressive site and a wonderful discovery. The monumental structure was built almost 1000 years ago, by the Shona people of the area. They called it Great Zimbabwe – Large Stone House. A simple name. Logical. Today, you can walk around in the ruins of royal houses. The general population lived in much simpler dwellings. 10 – 20 000 people is said to have lived here at one time.

I scrambled about on my own for a couple of hours. At the passageways of the Hill Complex, I got lost. Not the first time; I have a crap sense of direction. Dusk approached, and not another soul was in sight. A bit unnerving, that.

Then I met a monkey. A boy, I think. He wasn’t shy. All feelings of unease evaporated. Funny how animals do that. Even cheeky monkeys.

Great Zimbabwe

Wish I had a photo of my little friend from Great Zimbabwe. But here, at least, are his relatives.


World at a Glance is a series of short articles here on Sophie’s World, with a single photo (… well, two this time), portraying curious, evocative, happy, sad or wondrous, unexpected little encounters.

Want more travel inspiration? The pop over to this week’s Travel Photo Thursday.


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Great Zimbabwe National Monument is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.

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  1. Muza-chan 13 November 2014 at 0743 - Reply


    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 November 2014 at 1807 - Reply

      It is.

  2. Gil 13 November 2014 at 0747 - Reply

    Great! hanks for sharing….

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 November 2014 at 1758 - Reply

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Corinne 13 November 2014 at 1354 - Reply

    Cheeky monkeys do make things fun, don’t they?!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 November 2014 at 1759 - Reply

      They sure do 🙂

  4. Leigh 13 November 2014 at 1658 - Reply

    And it all worked out. Interesting how a monkey can take your mind off of your predicament.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 November 2014 at 1759 - Reply

      Things have a way of working out.

  5. [email protected] 13 November 2014 at 1728 - Reply

    I remember reading about this ruin in NY Times Travel and I found it interesting because I have not associated Zimbabwe with the great waterfalls and wildlife, but not ancient ruins. It must be fascinating to explore the sight. albeit unnerving with no one else in sight. But thanks to that monkey ….! Sounds like you killed your time in Masvingo well.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 November 2014 at 1800 - Reply

      You’re right. The name Zimbabwe usually brings to min Vic Falls. Or the country’s infamous head-of-state.

  6. Nancie 15 November 2014 at 0359 - Reply

    I’m not a big fan of monkeys, but if I was lost and one came by to save the day, I’d latch on!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 November 2014 at 1803 - Reply

      Monkeys can be a bit intimidating, sometimes. Many people seem to dislike them; I’m wondering if it is because they remind us of, well, ourselves, less polished.

  7. Mary @ Green Global Travel 22 November 2014 at 1725 - Reply

    That’s a neat idea to ask a taxi driver about something special to see, which I’m glad has mostly worked out! Very interesting what you found! Thanks for sharing!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 17 December 2014 at 0702 - Reply


  8. Hans 22 November 2014 at 2359 - Reply

    Interesting set of ruins … nice departure from the safaris that most associate with Africa!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 17 December 2014 at 0703 - Reply

      There’s definitely much more to Africa than safaris. 🙂

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