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>Zimbabwe National Parks
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The scenery only lacks a seashore! Zimbabwe has
almost every type of attraction - The Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe
Ruins, Lake Kariba, not to mention the mighty Zambezi River! The
country boasts well stocked game parks in a variety of natural settings,
in which the variety of wildlife rivals most African countries.
Elephants in particular, seem to thrive! Distances are not to great,
so it is possible to see quite a lot of the country in a relatively
short time and without too much discomfort.
Predominantly Shona and Ndebele, but English being the official
language, is spoken throughout the country.
Like in all major African cities, crime is
slowly on the increase. Don't walk around with things you can't
do without, like your passport or airline tickets. Carry minimum
amounts of cash and keep it hidden or in a money belt and if possible,
don't leave your car unattended. This is less of a problem in the
rural areas.It is advisable to adhere to the following:
- Don't walk alone in apparently deserted areas,
especially in and around the cities. It is preferable and usually
more enjoyable to walk with company or in groups.
- Don't carry large sums of cash in your purse
or pocket or display expensive jewelry. Be aware of the possibility
of pick-pockets and bag snatchers in crowded areas.
- Make photocopies of the first few pages of your
passport, air ticket and other important travel documents. Keep
this separate from the originals. Don't leave money or valuables
in a hotel room. Most hotels offer safety deposit box service,
and ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage before leaving
- Always remember that while some animals have
become accustomed to the presence of people they are still wild
animals. Keep your distance. It is illegal to feed any animal,
make excessive noise to attract their attention, or deviate from
designated roads for that closer photograph. Never get out of
your vehicle except at designated points.
- Close all windows and zippers when you leave
your room or tent and spray it with insect repellant.
The best way to get the most out of your safari
is to take an active interest in everything going on around you,
not just the number of species you can see in the shortest possible
time. Ask all the questions you can think of and take reference
books on not only wildlife but birds, insects and trees and read
up about everything you see.
It is advisable to take out emergency medical
insurance prior to entering Zimbabwe
A yellow fever certificate is mandatory if you are traveling from
an infected area. Vaccinations for cholera, tetanus and yellow fever
are advised. Malaria is virulent in the low lying areas of the country
which include most of the good wildlife destinations. Take prophylactics
two weeks before arrival and continue two weeks after leaving. Your
chemist or doctor can advise you of the most suitable drug available
as certain drugs lose their effectiveness.
Tap water in the major towns is purified and perfectly
safe to drink. In the more remote areas always boil it first, except
if you're staying at a lodge or hotel where drinking water is perfectly
safe. Bottled water is readily available in the bigger towns. Swimming
should be confined to swimming pools. Swimming in still waters can
be a problem - not only due to bilharzia, but crocodiles!
Chemists / Pharmacies
Travelers should carry an adequate supply of medicines and first
aid accessories with them as supplies are limited in Zimbabwe. Most
chemists in the major towns are open from 08h30 to 12h30 and 14h00
to 17h00. Monday to Friday and 08h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays. There
are no emergency chemists open after hours or Sundays.
Zimbabwe offers a wide range of fine accommodation - from five star
hotels and first class luxury lodges, to rustic bush camps, guesthouses
and campsites. National Parks accommodation offers a relaxed atmosphere
that is perfect for those on a tight budget. Foreigners must pay
for accommodation in foreign currency. Not all of the small town
hotels are equipped to take travelers checks or credit cards.
Power supply is 220/240 volt 50 cycle. Plugs are usually 13-amp
3 pin square (British type)
There are numerous banks in the major towns as well as many bureau
de change. Hours of business vary from bank to bank, but most are
open from 9h00 to 14h30, Mondays to Fridays, and 9h00 - 11h30 on
The Zimbabwe dollar is divided into 100 cents. Notes are in denominations
of Z$20, Z$10, Z$5 and Z$2; coins in 1c, 5c, 20c, 50c and Z$1. There
is no limit to the importation of foreign currency, provided it
is declared on arrival through a currency declaration form. It's
best to come into the country with either Travelers checks or dollars
or pounds which can be exchanged at any of the many Bureau de Change
in the main owns or larger hotels. All moneys brought in should
be declared on a forex form in order to guarantee its re-export.
Credit Cards, Cash and
International credit cards are accepted by most restaurants, stores,
hotels, lodges, camps, car rental firms, etc. However, many small
shops in rural areas will not accept them. American Express, Thomas
Cook, Visa and MasterCard Traveler's Checks are widely accepted.
Tips are normally not included. At restaurants between 10-15% is
adequate. Hotel, airport and railway porters are normally given
Z$2. At the private game lodges it is customary to tip the game
ranger and tracker separately. A communal tip is contributed for
the other staff involved in providing hospitality and services.
In this, as in any other case, the ultimate yardstick is good service.
When in doubt, 10% will do just fine.
Postal services are fairly well organized
in Zimbabwe and you should have no problem sending or receiving
letters. Public telephones are in a bad state of repair and you
could wait hours for a line. Rather make international calls from
a private home or large hotel.
All major hotels have fax machines at the disposal of their guests
as well as telex services. Telephone directories will list all the
international dialing codes. Both local and long-distance calls
are metered on a time basis. (Note the surcharge at hotels is quite
high, but it will cost less in frustration).
When to go
The best time to visit Zimbabwe is between May and September. Game
viewing is excellent during this time of year and nature is out
in its full splendor.
Because of the altitude, the climate is somewhat like that of Southern
California's - warm during the day and cool at night. The rainy
season occurs during the summer months, between December to March.
Zimbabwe has mild winters and the summer days can get quite hot.
Lightweight casual clothes can be worn all year round, with a jacket
or sweater for early winter mornings and evenings. On safari keep
clothes to a minimum and mostly of neutral coloring - khakis, browns
and greens. A sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellant
are a must. Bring a hat, good walking shoes and sun screen. Don't
forget swim wear and binoculars. Some city restaurants have dress
codes - casual jacket and tie for men, informal dresses for women.
Most hotels and lodges will offer a laundry service. In most places
one could hire someone to do your washing.
Zimbabwe is an extremely photogenic country. From panoramic scenery,
wildlife and birds to people and vibrant ceremonies. Rich color
and good low lighting conditions abound. It is considered rude to
take pictures of people without asking them first. Always bring
plenty of film and video cassettes if you're bringing a camcorder
as well as batteries - as these items are difficult to get in Zimbabwe.
Keep your cameras in a dust resistant, padded case and out of the
midday sun. A 200mm (or longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful
on safari, and an ultra violet filter and lens cap are strongly
recommended. Please note that taking pictures of government and
military personnel and installations is not advised.
Driving is done on the left side of the road. Zimbabwe requires
a valid license that must include a picture of the holder. The country
has an excellent road network, making it possible to drive to most
areas. Long distance rural buses are only for the hardier travelers.
Be very careful in towns and villages not to leave
your vehicle open and unattended. People with little are easily
tempted. You should have no problem sleeping outdoors in designated
camping areas or remote places along the way, but get into the habit
of locking things away before you go to sleep.
Most international car rental companies are represented at major
airports, and in the larger cities. Taxi service is available in
Transportation by Air
Harare Airport is only 11 miles outside of town. It is serviced
by carriers from South Africa, Europe, Australia and a variety of
African nations. Victoria Falls may be reached by air, with flights
from Bulawayo, Harare, Johannesburg and Namibia.
An airport departure tax of U.S. $20 is levied when leaving Zimbabwe.
All visitors require a passport that is valid for at least six months.
Very few visitors require visas - check with the Zimbabwean diplomatic
mission in your country to see if you do.
Personal effects, including cameras, binoculars and film are allowed
into the country duty free. All moneys brought into Zimbabwe should
be declared on a forex form in order to guarantee its re-export.
Throughout the year, Standard Time in Zimbabwe
is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, one hour ahead of Central
European Winter Time, and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard
Winter Time in the U.S.