Gweru, formerly Gwelo, is a city located in the heart of Zimbabwe, the capital of the Midlands Province. The original Ndebele name for the city was iKwelo meaning “The Steep Place” in reference to the high banks of the river the city was built along where umkwelo (a ladder), was used by those who fetched water from it. Built along the Gweru river, Once the site of Leander Starr Jameson’s military outpost, it attained city status in 1971.
Since it is located in the centre, Gweru has direct connections with all the other cities and towns in the country. Visitors who land at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International airport in Bulawayo from Johannesburg can stay overnight in Bulawayo then head to Gweru by road the next day whilst those who land at the Robert Mugabe International Airport could also choose to stay in Harare overnight before embarking upon the 4-hour drive to Gweru.
The city centre is usually easy to go around on foot but if visitors need to go out of the city center, there are a number of taxi services on offer as well car rental services. The commuter omnibus option is there but is usually okay for locals who know their way around.
One of the best accommodation centers in Gweru is the Midlands Hotel, located within easy reach of the city center and the major landmarks of the city. The hotel, opened in 1927 by the Meikles brothers, offers exceptional services to visitors. The Regency Fairmile Motel is located 1.8 km from the Gweru Memorial, 2.8 km from Bogies Clock Tower and 12 km from the Antelope Park Nature Reserve. Here, visitors are offered good rooms, free Wi-Fi throughout the property and great room service. There is also a restaurant serving a continental or Full English/Irish breakfast. Antelope Park also provides accommodation, a bar and a 24-hour front desk for visitors’ convenience and a restaurant serving a full English/Irish breakfast.
Visitors can also choose Bradley Gardens Lodge, the Chitukuko, formerly the Hotel Cecil, Pamusha Guest Lodge, The Village Lodge, Eagle’s Nest Lodge, Tropicana Guest Lodge and more.
Most accommodation establishments in the city have in-house restaurants meaning visitors do not have to leave their lodgings. However, if one needs to go out and try something else, whatever their taste, there is something for everyone in the restaurants and fast food outlets around the city.
The Dutch Oven, a great place to hang out with friends and family serves light meals as well as hearty dishes. Their offers range from African cuisine to fast foods like hamburgers and milkshakes. The Bata Club located at the Bata Estate, serves good hearty meals in a tranquil environment
Another place worth visiting is Boompa’s Kitchen located at the Gweru Sports Club, a great family restaurant and pub that offers traditional English country cuisine and a good wine selection. On offer are a variety of platters, steaks, seafood, pastas, pies, burgers, and more. There is also a special kids menu available.
For those who want to grab something on the go, here also fast food outlets that include Food Express, Innscor’s Chicken, Pizza and Creamy Inn, Chicken and Pizza Slice. There is also a wide a selection of open barbecue areas where one can enjoy their meat in the outdoors.
There are conventional shopping centers in the city where visitors can buy their food including the Gweru Megawatt Complex with good parking facilities. Shops like OK Zimbabwe, Spar and Pick’n’Pay also offer fresh produce. Apart from hotel restaurants, there are also restaurants around the city serving amazing food. For clothes and other wares, there are chic boutiques around the city center as well as established stores like Edgars.
Though Gweru seems laid back, there are a number of things for visitors to indulge in. Firstly, visitors can choose to visit Antelope Park for an unequalled level of solitude, incredible game viewing opportunities, lion and elephant encounters and bird watching opportunities.
History and aircraft enthusiasts can visit the Gweru Military Aircraft Museum on Lobengula Avenue to view a number of military artifacts ranging from tanks, vehicles, planes, guns and uniforms from World War Two.
Visitors can also opt to visit the Danangombe or Danan’ombe ruins, formerly Dhlo-Dhlo, a Zimbabwean archaeological site, about eighty kilometres from Gweru the city center or visit the White Waters dam for amazing picturesque views, boat cruises, horse rides, as well as barbecuing facilities.
Gweru’s climate is classified as warm and temperate with the summers much rainier than the winters. September to November is the hot dry season, December to April is the wet season, a time of heavy rains and May to August is the cold dry season where evenings and early mornings are usually very cold.
Best times to visit
There really is no wrong time to visit Gweru but based on the tourism score, the best times of year to visit Gweru for warm-weather activities are from early April to mid May and from mid August to late October. If one intends to visit Antelope Park for game viewing, then the best period is is during the dry season where vegetation will be thinner and the grass shorter, making it easier to spot the animals.