Zimbabwe travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN ZIMBABWE

Packing tips


Debby Oscroft, from our Zimbabwe supplier, Sunway Safaris: “Be sure not to forget the sunscreen in summer especially and even winter months, as the midday sun is hot and buying sunscreen locally can be expensive. I do recommend that one can buy tins of insect repellent spray or lotion from the local supermarkets if needed. The local brands are really great mosquito and insect repellents and work exceptionally well, so do not worry if you did not manage to find any before you reach Africa. Lightweight, quick drying, long sleeved shirts are extremely handy on safari, offering protection from the sun and in the winter months they will be nice for the evenings. A collared shirt is useful for protecting your neck from the sun while on game drive or bush walks.”

Making the most of Vic Falls


Debby Oscroft, from our Zimbabwe supplier, Sunway Safaris: “A great favourite is the “High Tea” aboard the Ra-Ikane cruise boat above Victoria Falls... it is simply wonderful to cruise above the mighty Victoria Falls, taking in all the sights and sounds of the Zambezi River before it plunges over the falls. The birdlife in this area is prolific and the river cruise offers a fantastic opportunity to see many species close up.”
Simon Mills, from our supplier, Native Escapes, shares his Zimbabwe travel advice: “There are some great safari areas in Zimbabwe, but the country’s main draw is Victoria Falls. 90 percent of the falls face Zimbabwe front on with one corner turned into Zambia, and there are about 2km of gardens in front of the falls that you can pay to go into with lots of different vistas and viewpoints to explore. You don’t need to have a guide to access the park, you just pay to wander round there and spend all day in there for about $30. There are warthogs and other small game running round.”
Andrew Appleyard, from our supplier Exodus Travels: “If you are in Vic Falls on a full moon the park is open for special guided walks to see the lunar rainbow, which lasts three days. Do not, however, do the utterly tragic walking with lions or the elephant riding right next door to the falls, despite any claims that it is supporting wildlife conservation.”

Discover Zimbabwe’s history


Bruce Taylor, from our supplier, Sunway Safaris, shares his advice on what to see in Zimbabwe: “I would recommend that people see the Great Zimbabwe Monuments, which are a collection of ancient ruins – they aren’t on the same scale as European archaeological sights, but it is a fascinating visit and the local guides are excellent, so you get a really good insight into what they are and what their background is. It’s a lovely walk and you can clamber all over the place too, and it’s a great experience to go and stand up on the hill and have a look down at all of the different structures in the valley below.”

Crossing borders


Bruce Taylor, from our supplier Sunway Safaris, discusses different viewpoints: “There’s now a Univisa between Zambia and Zimbabwe, which is the same price for visitors to either side and means you can visit the Victoria Falls from both countries, multiple times, only paying the park entry fee for the side you’re not staying on. In May and June when the Falls are high and there’s lots of water in the river, the Zimbabwe side is very impressive, but at times there’s such a deluge of water that you can’t see across the actual falls through the spray and mist, although you can get a great view if you go and stand at Livingstone’s statue. At that time of year, if you want to go through the rainforest and look at the falls directly in front of you, the Zambian side is preferable.”
Andrew Appleyard, from our supplier Exodus Travels: “Zimbabwe has some of the most impressive San bush art in Southern Africa, even more impressive than seen in Namibia from my perspective.”

Food tips


Debby Oscroft from our supplier, Sunway Safaris: “I am personally not crazy about the idea of eating mopane worms, or kapenta (the tiny dried fish that forms a staple diet and good source of protein for many of the local villagers), but these two iconic items are to be found everywhere in Zimbabwe and are considered a local delicacy. It is often a source of great entertainment to see people trying them for the first time! I would recommend a trip to Mama Africa or the famous boma (place of eating) in Victoria Falls for some local food and entertainment. Here you can try local recipes and also a variety of unusual dishes.”

Health & safety


TRAVEL SAFELY IN ZIMBABWE

Health


You’re likely to need vaccinations before travelling in Zimbabwe. See your doctor or travel clinic 6-8 weeks before departure to allow time to complete any courses of vaccinations – some are taken over several weeks.

Malaria is present in Zimbabwe and so anti-malarial medication is recommended. It is equally important to take precautions, staying well covered with long sleeves and trousers, and using insect repellent and mosquito nets.

It is vital to keep protected from the sun, but also to keep hydrated at all times.

Some of the more elevated regions of Zimbabwe, such as the Chimanimani Mountains, can be cold, particularly in the mornings, so be sure to read your trip notes in advance and pack accordingly, with layers, gloves and hats if necessary. And remember, the sun is still fierce, even when temperatures dip.

Comprehensive travel insurance is essential for Zimbabwe as medical facilities are poor, not just in rural areas but also in the cities. Consult your tour operator about adequate health insurance, and also make sure that it covers all activities, such as rafting or canoeing. Due to the lack of medical facilities you will also need to ensure that your insurance covers emergency repatriation.

Bring all medicines with you, as they are in short supply in Zimbabwe. Ask your tour operator if there are any over the counter medicines that you can bring as donations to local communities that might be useful.

According to UNICEF, access to safe water and good sanitation facilities is very disparate in Zimbabwe. Over 70 percent of city dwellers have good water, but in rural areas it can be dire. So, always drink bottled water, and when using toilets it is advised to use hand sanitiser.

Bring a basic first aid kit and medication for sickness and diarrhoea if you’re visiting Zimbabwe’s remote regions.

Do not bathe in rivers or lakes unless you are specifically told it is safe to do so. There is a significant danger from wildlife as well as water-borne diseases such as bilharzia.

Be wary of snakes when hiking, keep legs covered and wear good boots. Always check inside your boots in the mornings before putting them on again. Scorpions like to hide in there too.

Make a note of the local emergency telephone number, as they differ per region in Zimbabwe. However, the general emergency number is 999.

Safety


Travel warnings have been lifted for Zimbabwe. However, you do need to be vigilant in larger cities and use common sense when it comes to carrying large amounts of money. Which is tricky because ATMs are rare. Another good reason to travel with a responsible tour operator who can give specific advice on this matter.

Do not get involved in any political demonstrations and avoid criticising the current regime. Such comments are considered an offence and you can be arrested. There are still sanctions in place by the EU because of the human rights violations in the country, but it is still all very politically charged, so judge when and where you speak very carefully.

Zimbabwe is still relatively new to the adventure activities sector, and so always ensure that you do things like canoeing or river rafting with a reputable supplier, who carry out all the right safety procedures and are well qualified. The good ones will be shouting about their credentials all over their websites.

You can camp in some of the big parks in Zimbabwe, but always ensure to listen to your guides’ instructions as this is wild animal habitat, after all.

There are police road stops, so make sure you have your passport, or copy of it with you at all times and avoid any confrontation. Although our experience is that the mood is much better among figures of authority towards tourists these days in Zimbabwe.

Driving at night is not recommended as there can be wildlife on the roads, and in fact, the roads are still so bad in Zimbabwe they can be dangers in themselves. Best bet is to travel with a tour operator either in a small group and local driver, or on a tailor made holiday with a local driver guide.

Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe. Same sex couples are advised to be aware of local laws and customs, and to act discretely in public.

For further information on health and safety, please visit the FCO or the CDC websites.
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Zimbabwe travel advice


Tips from our travellers in Zimbabwe

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Zimbabwe travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday.

“Remember that this is Africa and everything does not work all the time. Be patient and positive and make friends along the way.” – Louis Carroll

“Take thermal underwear with you when going on this trip in Africa's winter. The temperature at night was sub-zero and morning and evenings were cold as well.” – Sigrid Pach

“Make sure you have a good zoom camera - we bought a new one en route! And try a monocular if you can't use binoculars.” – Heather Gratland

“Be prepared for some very early starts.” – Christina Monson

“Do it! Money well spent.” – Katrin Nyman

“You'll make the most if it if you go prepared, but with an open mind and relaxed attitude. This is Africa, not Europe... but that's why you go!” – Catharine Coleman
Photo credits: [Packing tips: Ross Huggett] [Making the most of Vic Falls : Meraj Chhaya] [Discover Zimbabwe's history : Ross Huggett] [Food tips: Emesik ] [Review 1 - Kelly Towle: Mike] [Review 2 - Diana Fentiman: Grant Peters]
Written by Catherine Mack
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