- Area: 390 000km²
- Capital: Harare
- Time: GMT +2 hours
- Location: Zimbabwe is situated in Southern Africa with Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia as neighbours
- People: The majority of Zimbabweans are Shona people (about 71%) followed by Ndebeles
- Language: The official language is English
- Economy: Majority of people work in the service industry (40%) and second biggest sector is agriculture – Zim’s biggest export is tobacco, followed by gold
The country is landlocked and lies across a plateau, with the Eastern Highlands mountainous region in the east. The landscape is mostly bushveld with rocky outcrops. In the south, the region is dominated by savanna. The world-famous Victoria Falls are situated in the far western tip of the country, right on the border with Zambia.
It is recommended that you check with your travel agent or nearest Zimbabwean Consulate for the latest visa information.
Nationals of the following countries will be issued a visa on payment at port of entry:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Cook Islands, Denmark, Dominica, Dominica Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Seychelles, South Africa, Spain, State of Palestine, Switzerland, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, USA, Zambia
Visas cost around US$30 for a single entry visa (valid for six months) and US$45 for a double entry visa (valid for three months). Requirements for obtaining a visa are a valid passport and one application form.
The currency is the Zimbabwean Dollar (Z$). Due to the economic turmoil in the country, inflation is quite high and the low exchange rate usually means that it is quite cheap for foreigners to visit Zimbabwe.
Open Monday to Saturday (but closed on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.) Traveller’s cheques can easily be exchanged for Zim dollars at any bank. Major international currencies are also accepted. Major credit cards are accepted at tourist destinations.
There is a 15% tax on hotel rooms, safaris and other tourist services. Zimbabwe’s other consumer taxes are usually included in the price. Tips of around 10% are expected by taxi drivers and in tourist-class hotels and restaurants. Some establishments automatically add a 10% service charge to the bill, which replaces the gratuity.
Zimbabwe has been getting plenty of bad press lately, due to the unstable political environment and economic turmoil. However, tourist destinations like Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba and Hwange National Park have been declared trouble-free by tourists as well as operators in the area. Self-drive holidays are not recommended and your best option would be to book your trip through a reputable agent and then fly in directly to the destination of your choice.
Keep your eyes open: As with all major cities, a certain amount of common sense prevails if you are out and about here: don’t walk around alone, keep your valuables hidden and take care which establishments you frequent.
Malaria: Travellers coming to Zimbabwe should get medical insurance. Other medical requirements include getting malaria prophylactics as this is a malaria area. Anti-malaria tablets can be bought at your local pharmacy and you should start taking them at least 24 hourse before entering the country. Tell your pharmacists which areas you inted visiting. You will have to take the pills for six weeks after leaving the country.
Precautionary measures: Take plenty of mosquito-repelling lotion/spray/stick, sleep under a bed net or in a room with mosquito proofing, wearing long-sleeved clothing and socks when outside at night (when the mozzies are most active.)
Vaccinations: Any person entering Zimbabwe from or over a yellow fever or cholera infected area must be vaccinated against these diseases and have a valid Internationa Certificate of Vaccination. Dams and rivers may have bilharzia, but canoeing and rafting should not be a problem, just towel off as soon as possible. Tap water is safe to drink and only in extremely remote areas will you have to boil it or purify it. Also get tetanus immunisation.
When to go
It is best to visit Zimbabwe during the cooler winter months – May to October. Most of the rain falls in the hot summer – roughly speaking from November to April. In winter, temperatures can drop to below freezing, but the days are great for game viewing.
River rafting: For watersport enthusiasts, it is best to go between August and December, when water levels are low on the mighty Zambezi.
Getting there : The main border posts are open daily and are:
Victoria Falls/Kazungala crossing between Zimbabwe and Botswana
Victoria Falls/Livingstone crossing to Zambia
Road and rail links to South Africa via Beitbridge
To Mozambique (and Malawi), the route is from Harare to Blantyre via the Nyamapanda and Mwanza border crossings
Getting around : Zimbabwe has a good railway and bus system – and it is possible to use those when travelling especially between Harare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and Mutare. Most trains run at night and are fairly cheap. There are two kinds of buses: local and express – both will get you there. Car rental is difficult and expensive and due to the semi-dodgy roads, not a recommended way to travel.
Summer : Is from around October to April, during which it gets quite hot – to around 30°C, while night temperatures drop to around 14°C. Thunderstorms may occur in the late afternoon. The rainy season is from November to March, although the Eastern Highlands may get rain year round.
Winter : Is roughly from May to September/October. The days are generally dry and sunny – around 20°C, with the temperature falling at night. At night, it can get as cold as 5ºC.
What to pack
Bring casual, comfortable clothing and preferably light, long-sleeved blouses and lightweight trousers for protection against the sun and insects. Don’t forget:
- Sun block, sun glasses, good walking shoes
- A light and compact raincoat
- Swim suit
- An elegant outfit for a cocktails
If travelling with an organised safari, see if there is a weight limit, in which case you may have to restrict your luggage to 10-12kg.