Imagine my surprise when I learned that Zimbabwe was listed as no 3 on the list of countries to visit in 2019 just published by Lonely Planet. I’m not sure why I was surprised because it is a beautiful country and has so much to offer a tourist. Not much has been written about it recently so I have put together a list of travel tips for visiting Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is often in the headlines for the wrong reasons, but anyone who has visited it has been astounded by its natural beauty and friendly people as I discovered when I relocated here two and a half years ago.
Travel Tips For Visiting Zimbabwe
Is it safe?
One of the first questions any travellers asks about a lesser known destination “is it safe?”. Yes, it is VERY safe. In fact, it is one of the safest destinations in Africa. Of course, you need to take the usual sensible precautions one would in any city, but I can categorically say that at no time, in all the time that I have lived here, have I ever felt threated or unsafe.
The concept of public transport is a bit thin in Zimbabwe. There are some taxis around, but the roads are fairly good so it might be a good idea to hire a car.
There are a number of flights each day internally so that’s a good option to cover any great distance.
If you are planning to visit the national parks a 4WD vehicle is required.
Cash is currently difficult to get in Zimbabwe. The official currency is USD, but there are also Bond notes in circulation, which is on a 1:1 basis. The cash machines will often dispense bond notes. These are not able to be used outside the country so don’t get caught with any. Most places will accept an international card, but I would advise that you arrive with cash, in USD, in small denominations.
How can I communicate?
Zimbabwe has a high standard of education and almost everyone speaks English as well as their own regional languages. I have not yet been in a situation where I cannot be understood so there is no need to stress about language difficulties.
There is a wide range of accommodation options to choose from. Anything from budget to a luxury stay is available.
Zimbabwe uses 220V with UK style 3 pin plugs. If you are visiting from the US and bringing hairdryers etc with you will need to bring a transformer and a plug adapter.
Mobile / Internet connectivity
Mobile coverage is good throughout Zimbabwe. A number of mobile phone companies provide coverage. On arrival in Harare, you will find all of these companies have kiosks at Harare airport. It’s the easiest place to buy a local sim card if you do not have roaming enabled on your device.
Most hotels have WiFi available, although if you are out in the bush, in the middle of nowhere, don’t expect coverage.
When to visit
This really depends on what you plan to do while you are in Zimbabwe.
August – November is peak season for adrenaline junkies who what to come and experience some of the best whitewater rafting in the world.
June – Mid October is the dry winter period. This is just before the rains arrive and water is scarce for the game. This is a great time to plan a safari. Temperatures are around 25-35°C, the hottest month being October. The evenings are much cooler at around 8° C being at the bottom of the range.
March – November is the wet season. The days can be humid, depending on where you are in the country, with thunderstorms.
April – June is a stunning time to visit Victoria Falls when the water levels are at its highest for the season
Find out more about visiting Victoria Falls
The dress code in Zimbabwe is conservative so bear this in mind when you pack. It is not advisable to wear very short skirts or dresses. You may well be subjected to stares, but the locals will not harass you.
What to pack
Your normal casual clothing will be perfect for Zimbabwe. If you are going on safari the pack light neutral colours, but not white because it gets dirty quickly. You will also need a warm jacket or pullover and comfortable walking shoes.
Don’t forget a hat and sunscreen, and an umbrella if you are travelling in the rainy season.
Hand sanitizer and wet wipes always come in useful as well.
Do I need anti-malaria tablets and vaccinations?
There is a high risk of malaria in Zimbabwe depending on which part of the country you are planning to visit. It is advisable to check with your doctor before you leave. I always carry a mosquito repellent like Peaceful Sleep or Tabbard. These are available in both spray and stick form. You can also wear a wristband that has repellent in it. Mosquitos are most active towards sunset so I normally wear long sleeves in the evenings.
Several vaccinations are recommended, but not essential. Once again you should check with your doctor what is required.
It is advisable to drink bottled water at all times which is readily available.
If you are eating out at restaurants in the cities a 10% tip is the norm. If you want to tip a hotel porter 1 USD is sufficient. If you are using a taxi then rounding up your fare is always appreciated.
Zimbabwe has 3 categories of visas.
You can check which category you fall under in the Zimbabwe Immigration website.
- Category A: Countries who nationals do not require a visa
- Category B: Countries whose nationals are granted a visa on arrival on the payment of the visa fee.
- Category C: You can apply online for an e-visa
I hope that this short guide with my travel tips for visiting Zimbabwe has put your mind at rest. If you have any other tips to add please feel free to drop them in the comments section. Likewise, with any questions that you may have drop them in the section below and I will attempt to answer them.
Zimbabwe is just waiting to be “discovered” again by tourists. It’s a beautiful country to visit right now, so why not come and explore?
Need a reminder? Pin it for later