What you need to know before you leave…
Zimbabwe is GMT+2.
With a few exceptions, visas are required by nationals of all countries. They can be obtained at your point of entry. The passport must be valid 6 months after your return date and have 2 consecutive blank pages. Single-entry/double-entry visas cost US$30/45 (and can be issued upon arrival) British citizens pay US$55/70 for single/double entry. The visa is valid for 3 months. Anyone departing from Zimbabwe by air must pay a departure tax of $ 30.
A good website for checking changes in requirements and other immigration news is Safe Migration Zimbabwe (www.safemigrationzimbabwe.com).
Embassy of Zimbabwe
12 rue Lord Byron
Tel : 01 56 88 16 00
There is no obligatory vaccination. The vaccine against yellow fever is not required unless you are travelling from an infected area. In this case, when passing through customs, your vaccination certificate will be required. You can be vaccinated only in approved centres.
It is essential to follow an anti-malarial treatment in Zambia. We also recommend that you bring mosquito repellent ointment and/or spray (Malaria is transmitted by mosquito bite).We advise you to consult your doctor or an approved centre who will indicate the most appropriate prophylaxis to take. This is a zone 3. Your vaccinations against diphtheria, polio and tetanus should be kept updated. We encourage you to get inoculated against yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis A and B. This recommendation applies to all destinations worldwide.
The tsetse fly is present in the Mana Pools region however the risk of contracting sleeping sickness is very slight. Be attentive to your diet and do not drink tap water! Avoid swimming in stagnant water due to bilharzia.
In the current economic situation many medicines are in short supply or cannot be sourced, so you are strongly advised to take all medications with you. Medical attention will be very hard to get: many hospitals even in cities are completely closed or unable to offer substantial care. Some medical personnel may perform procedures for payment, in somewhat dangerous and under equipped surrounds. Medical supplies are severely restricted. Your travel insurance is very likely to be invalid if you travel to Zimbabwe and medical evacuations impossible to arrange.
Zimbabwe legalised the use of foreign currencies as legal tender, thus negating the need for the inflation-ravaged Zimbabwe Dollar, which has now been withdrawn from circulation.
The US dollar is now the de facto currency in Zimbabwe, but the South African rand and the euro are also widely accepted. Do not expect to be given change if the value is less than $1 as there are no coins in circulation, but in supermarkets, you may be given change in chewing gum or sweets.
American Express, Diners Club and Visa are widely accepted, whilst MasterCard has more limited use. Some ATMs accept credit cards but it is very limited for non-citizens, so come with plenty of cash on hand.
Mon-Tues and Thurs-Fri 8am-3pm, Wed 8am-1pm and Sat 8am-11.30am. In international airports, bank teller’s are open until the arrival of the last long haul flight.
Cost of living
Non-imported items are very cheap (especially labour intensive things), however for a tourist drinking coke and eating pizza, prices are not that much lower than in South Africa. Petrol (gasoline) supplies are improving, so are food supplies in supermarkets. Haggling for a better price is common, but keep in mind that most people are very poor.
Make sure to tip as times are tough for locals, and they depend enormously on your generosity.
After your safari, it’s customary to give a tip to your guide and the staff at the camps and lodges. The amount varies depending on the quality of the guides and staff service. On average U.S. $20 per day per person (U.S. $10 for the guide, U.S. $5 for the tracker or boat guide, U.S. $5 for the staff at the lodge / camp). Tip boxes are available in the camps and the tips are generally shared equally between the staff. Elsewhere in Zimbabwe it’s customary to tip 10% – 15% of the bill for meals, beverages, and taxis.
Zimbabwe’s official languages are English, Shona, Sindebele/Ndebele. There are also numerous but minor tribal dialects. Shona is the most widely spoken language, even in the capital Harare.
The electrical current in Zambia is 220v. If you come to Zambia with different voltage equipment, then bring a converter set. Some of the places you visit will use two pronged or three pronged plugs. Usually there are no wall plugs at safari camps. So make sure to check if the lodge can help you with charging cameras, etc.
Remote lodges are not connected to the national grid and electricity is produced by generators or solar panels.
The country code is 263 and the international dialling code is 00
To call abroad from Zimbabwe: 00 + country code (32 for Belgium, 33 for France, 41 for Switzerland, 1 for Canada) + phone number without 0.
In case of an emergency, the easiest way is to contact a person travelling is to call the Go Tourism emergency number: +27 (0)83 254 5813
Internet is available in hotels and at one or two internet cafes, but the service is slow and irregular. Cell phone coverage around Harare is good. SIM cards can be easily purchased at a low price. Problems can be experienced with international calls, however. International landline calls are also still unreliable.
There are very few payphones. The remote lodges are often cut off from civilization and have no phone line at all. They are connected to the world by radio.
1 January: New Year’s Day
April – Easter: Good Friday
April – Easter Sunday +1d: Easter Monday
18 April: Independence Day
1 May Workers Day (Labour Day)
25 May: Africa Day
Second Monday in August: Heroes’ Day
Second Tuesday in August: Defence Forces Day
22 December: Unity Day
25 December: Christmas Day
26 December : Boxing Day
The hospitality industry in Zimbabwe, apart from around the major tourist attractions, is relatively underdeveloped. However, the luxury and comfort of accommodation is largely equivalent to that of European standards. Whether travelling on a small budget in US$50 B&Bs or living it up in US$800 luxury lodges. Zimbabwe has a range of luxury lodges that are the rival of any in Africa. What’s more, fewer visitors means you have these lodges and untouched wilderness areas all to yourself! The hotels and lodges selected by Go Tourism are recognized for the quality of their services, hospitality, charm and their situation. We try, whenever possible, to offer a wide range of prices to suit most travellers.
Climate and temperatures
Despite lying in a tropical zone, Zimbabwe’s generally high altitudes produce a beautiful and moderate climate, meaning higher temperatures from November to April (summer) and lower temperatures from May to October (winter). Temperatures are never very extreme (7°C in winter is considered freezing and 35°C in summer considered boiling). The warm, wet season (November to May) should provide the year’s rain. Days are sunny with a dramatic afternoon/evening thunderstorm. The end of the cool, dry season, around September/October, is the top time for wildlife viewing
What to pack
Warning: It is extremely important to respect luggage weight restrictions
On international flights, the maximum weight of checked baggage is on average 20 kilograms per person. On regional routes, it is not uncommon that the weight is limited to 12kgs per person maximum (cameras and hand luggage included) Please check with your consultant before you start packing.
It is essential to respect the following baggage restrictions: SOFT sided FLEXIBLE travel bag with a MAXIMUM height of 25 cm. A suitcase with wheels is not recommended for this kind of trip.
It is strongly recommended to avoid bulky clothing in your suitcase. Pack instead practical, lightweight clothes. If you are going on safari, bright colours are not recommended as it alerts and frightens the animals away. Opt instead for khaki, beige, brown or dark neutral colours and a pair of good walking shoes. White is to be avoided for the same reasons as above but also because the dust gets in everywhere. Simple and casual attire is the norm; however some hotels, restaurants and lodges require slightly more formal attire.
Dress according to the region and the season and bring at least one warm sweater and a wind breaker for cool/cold mornings and evenings. In winter (June to September), the nights can be extremely cold. Even in summer, wear long sleeved T-shirts to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evenings. Do not forget your Swimsuit as most hotels and lodges have swimming pools. The dress code in the luxury lodges remains fairly casual.
- Hat or bob
- Cotton shirts, T-shirts and shorts
- Pull-over for early chilly mornings and evenings
- Trousers or long skirts for the evening
- Raincoat or poncho
- Anorak, fleece, gloves, scarves, hat. (Dry winter season)
- Pair of walking shoes
- Pair of lightweight shoes for day or evening wear.
- Pair of sandals
Luggage and Accessories
- A soft sided sports bag
- A small backpack (day pack)
- A cap or sunhat
- A pair of good quality sunglasses
- A pair of binoculars
- A camera
- A thermos flask / water bottle
- A double adapter
- A flashlight with extra batteries
- A penknife (Swiss Army knife or Leatherman)
Toiletries and First Aid Kit
Although there are very good hospitals and highly trained medical personnel in the main towns, we advise you to travel with your own personal first aid kit.
- Anti-mosquito products (spray, cream)
- Cream for insect stings
- Dressings, Aspirin, anti-diarrheal, lip balm, eye drops (for dust).
- If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you take your pair of glasses too.
- High factor sunscreen
It’s essential to use a UV filter on your camera and/or video recorder. A brush and a waterproof cover are necessary to protect your camera from dust which gets in everywhere. Plastic zip-lock bags are a great protection. It’s possible to recharge the batteries of your camera in most of the hotels, lodges and rental cars (Don’t forget the necessary cables).We recommend you bring a zoom lens of 200 mm / 300 mm minimum on safari. You will need to practice speed, silence and patience in order to get good photographs of animals and birds.
Do not take pictures on the sly without prior permission from the person you want to portray.
Photographing government buildings, military or strategic infrastructure, official residences and embassies, as well as people in uniform and demonstrations is prohibited and punishable by law.
Zimbabwe is accessible by road from the countries that surround it. Contrary to past scenarios, the fuel situation has improved with prices now being quoted in US dollars. As fuel has to be imported from either Mozambique or South Africa, you can expect to pay more per litre than you would in most other Southern African countries.
The condition of certain roads in Zimbabwe seems to have improved considerably since the economic collapse of 2008 (Roads between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo, Bulawayo and Masvingo (Great Zimbabwe) and Masvingo and Mutar). However t should also be noted that some roads are still in a very dilapidated state, and due caution should be taken when driving, especially at night, and in particular, during the November to March rainy season. Potholes are a very common occurrence and a serious threat to any vehicle that hits one.
Almost no gas stations in Zimbabwe currently take credit cards. Also road blocks are common but usually police just want to see your drivers licence and your Temporary Import Permit (TIP). Police can fine you if you do not have adhesive reflectors on your car, red hazard triangles in your boot, a spare tyre, and a fire extinguisher so be sure to carry those items if you want to avoid a fine.
The US, Japan and Germany lifted their travel warnings to Zimbabwe in April 2009; an indication that the security risk for visitors is low. Zimbabwe is generally a very safe country however occasional robberies do occur. Be careful with your opinion, as speaking against the government is a crime.
Gone are the days when you needed a shopping bag full of notes for dinner – so now that you can be discreet with your cash, do so. The biggest threat is the increased number of smash and grabs, so ensure your taxi/driver knows where not to go, that your windows are wound up, and that no bags or phones are visible.
It is noteworthy that Zimbabweans are generally very friendly and relaxed people. They will meet foreigners (i.e. Westerners/white travellers) on almost all occasions with a smile, some curiosity and friendliness – or just indifference at worst. This holds true even in larger cities like Bulawayo for instance.