At A Glance
Those lucky enough to travel through Zimbabwe understand why it is referred to as “The World of Wonders”
Once Zimbabwe was one of the greatest tourist destinations in the region. However, years of political and economic turmoil have resulted in a massive reduction in the number of visitors. Despite significant improvements in tourism infrastructure in the last few years, there remain many challenges to travelling in Zimbabwe. For those that make the effort though, an amazing country awaits!
The iconic Hwange and Mana Pools National Parks are the linchpins to the country’s safari circuit. Add to this Matusadona and Gonarezhou National Parks and for a relatively small country, you have a safari destination that punches above its weight.
Beyond the parks there is so much more on offer. The mighty Victoria Falls, the immense Lake Kariba, the historic ruins of Great Zimbabwe, the towering formations of the Matobos. The list goes on and on.
If you would like to visit Zimbabwe, but have concerns, whether regards safety or on ethical grounds, mail us or give us a call and let’s chat, then you can make an informed decision.
* Hwange National Park
* Mana Pools National Park
* Matusadona Park
* Gonarezhou National Park
* Victoria Falls
* Lake Kariba
* Great Zimbabwe
* Matobo National Park
* Eastern Highlands
* White water rafting on the Zambezi
* Multi-day canoeing on the Zambezi
* House boating on Lake Kariba
* Bungee jumping
Phone & Internet
There are three mobile service providers in Zimbabwe. If you are going to buy a local sim card we recommend Econet as they have by far the widest coverage in the country.
Most visitors will arrive in Victoria Falls and you are able to purchase a local sim at the Econet shop in town. If arriving in Harare there is an Econet shop at the airport.
Econet plan to have it’s entire network converted to 3G by the end of 2017, with a growing 4G network. While coverage is relatively good in the cities and major towns, it is intermittent to non-existent in some of the more rural and wilderness areas.
An increasing number of lodges and camps are now offering internet facilities. Ask us if you need more information on facilities available where you are staying.
There are no required vaccines for visiting Zimbabwe (except Yellow Fever – see below) – however, some medical sources recommend that travellers inoculations against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. As always, it is best to consult your doctor.
In line with the International Health Regulations (2005), Zimbabwe requires a valid yellow fever certificate from all citizens and non-citizens (over one year of age) travelling from a yellow fever risk country. Vaccination certificates are routinely checked at the Zimbabwean ports of entry for travellers arriving from countries designated as high risk for yellow fever transmission. For full details please click here. Please note that if you are coming from a yellow fever risk country that you need to carry your yellow fever certificate with you!
Virtually the whole of Zimbabwe lies within the endemic malaria zone. Please consult your doctor prior to travel and follow their recommendations.
While generally a safe country you are advised to be vigilant in towns and cities. Poverty if rife in Zimbabwe, and as a result there is a fair level of petty crime (pick pocketing, smash and grabs etc).
Take sensible precautions, do not carry large amounts of cash or valuables on your person. Make sure that valuables and money are securely locked away in your hotel/lodge. Be extra cautious when in towns and cities and out at night, particularly if travelling alone.
Of greater concern is safety on the roads, particularly if driving at night. See our driving section below.
Dangers while on safari should also not be underestimated, especially on walking and canoeing safaris.
The US Dollar (N$) is the main currency in Zimbabwe, however, the South African Rand is also legal tender. Also legal are the British Pound, Euro, Australian Dollar, Indian Rupee and Chinese Yuan. However, for general acceptance we recommend the US$.
The former Zimbabwe Dollar is no longer accepted, following periods of hyperinflation. By late 2008 it was estimated that inflation was running at 79,600,000,000% leading to the printing of a Z$100,000,000,000,000,000,000.00 note!! There are currently new Zimbabwe “bond notes” in circulation at a 1:1 ratio with the US$, if you are offered these as change try and refuse, and if you have no option, take them, and spend them as soon as you can.
Visa and Mastercard credit cards are generally accepted in most tourist lodges, hotels, restaurants and activity providers as well as some larger shops. Do not bother with American Express or Diners. However, it is common for credit card machines to fail – the rule is cash is king.
ATM/cash point machines not widespread and even where they exist they are often empty. Zimbabwe has a critical shortage of currency, and you are advised to bring hard cash in with you.
We advise you pay for as much as you can in advance of arriving in Zimbabwe, and take enough cash to cover the rest in case you have problems with your credit card.
Small denomination US$ notes are vital – US$1, US$5, US$10 are best, with some US$20s for the larger purchases.
Passport & Visas
All visitors to Zimbabwe require a valid passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry.
PLEASE note that visitors must have 1 blank page in their passport for entry into South Africa. If you intend travelling to South Africa and Namibia please ensure you have at least 3 blank pages in your passport.
Holders of full United Kingdom, United States, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and most EU passports require a visa to visit Zimbabwe for tourism purposes up for stays up to 90 days, obtainable on arrival.
Costs on arrival for most countries are US$30.00 for single entry and US$45.00 for double entry (for example if you are flying in and out of Victoria Falls and spending two night on safari in Chobe in between). However, for British and Irish passport holders the price is US$55.00 for single entry and US$70.00 for double entry. For Canadian citizens the cost is US$75.00 for single entry.
If you are planning on travelling between Zimbabwe and Zambia during your stay (as well as day trips to Chobe with no overnights) you can apply for a UniVisa on arrival. The UniVisa costs US$50.00 and allows unlimited travel between Zimbabwe and Zambia for a 30 day period. HOWEVER, the UniVisa has had a very checkered history and either the Zimbabwean or Zambian side or both sides can run out. Basically, when you arrive, ask for a UniVisa (if suitable for purpose), if they have run out then you will simply need to purchase the regular single or double entry visas.
Always make sure you have the exact cash (preferably US$) for any visa requirements. The credit card machines at point of entry are notoriously unreliable.
We find the most reliable source of latest information is available here – if in doubt contact your nearest Zimbabwean embassy.
Travelling with children
There are no special conditions for travelling in Zimbabwe with children as there are for South Africa.
However, as most people travel to Zimbabwe via South Africa and many combine a trip to Zimbabwe with South Africa and/or Botswana please see our travelling with children on the respective country pages.
Currently we do not recommend that any clients undertake self-drive tours in Zimbabwe.
Poor road conditions, frequent and intimidating roadblocks and arcane road laws make it a very unpleasant experience. Even many veteran drivers from around southern Africa avoid travelling through Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe the standard voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Zimbabwe, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 – 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). If the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 100 V – 127 V (as is in the US, Canada and most South American countries), you may need a voltage converter in Zimbabwe. Many small electronic devices now have dual voltage converters as standard.
The standard plug in Namibia is a three wide flat pinned plug as show above – often referred to as a type G – commonly used in the UK. Although round pinned type D plugs are also used. We suggest travelling with an adaptor – although most hotels and lodges will be able to assist (a deposit may be required).
Zimbabwean seasons are reversed to those in the northern hemisphere.
Spring: September – November
Summer: December – February
Autumn: March – May
Winter: June – August
More accurately there is a dry cooler season, from around April until September. The days are warm and at night the temperatures plummet. Clear skies predominate and there is usually no rain.
From October the temperatures start climbing and cloud cover increases. The day time temperatures become hot and the evenings remain warm. By late November the first rains have usually arrived. The rainy season then lasts until late March.
Because of Zimbabwe’s varied topography different areas experience different degrees of heat and rain. Much of the country experiences a very pleasant climate year round. In areas like Victoria Falls and Hwange the winter temperatures can get very chilly, while the lower lying Kariba and Mana Pools do not get as cold. The Eastern Highlands can get very cold. Conversely, in summer, the higher the ground the less extreme the heat will be, with the low lying Zambezi valley getting the hottest. It is not uncommon for temperatures in Mana Pools to top 40°C in October.
As with most areas of the world, Zimbabwe is experiencing a changing weather pattern, with more extremes.