Welcome to Zimbabwe travel guide. From the majestic Victoria Falls to the captivating historical sites and vibrant cities, this guide is your essential companion. Navigate the intricacies of accommodation, discover money-saving tips, indulge in culinary delights, and uncover unique souvenirs.
Fast Facts About Zimbabwe
- Climate: Zimbabwe boasts a diverse climate, from tropical to temperate. The dry season, between May and October, offers pleasant weather for safaris and outdoor activities. The wet season, from November to April, brings lush landscapes but might affect some travel plans.
- Local Currency: The Zimbabwean Dollar (ZWL) is the official currency. Currency exchange facilities are available at airports and banks. Credit cards are accepted in major cities and tourist areas.
- Power Voltage: Zimbabwe uses a power voltage of 220-240V with a three-pin plug. Make sure to bring a universal adapter for your electronic devices.
- Language: English is the official language, making communication easier for travelers. Learning a few phrases in local languages like Shona or Ndebele can enhance your interactions.
- Religion: Christianity is the predominant religion in Zimbabwe. While Zimbabwe is generally tolerant, respecting local customs and religious practices is essential.
- Safety: Zimbabwe is relatively safe for tourists, but it’s crucial to stay informed about the local situation and follow any travel advisories. Keep belongings secure and be cautious when exploring unfamiliar areas.
- Cultural Etiquette: Greetings are essential in Zimbabwean culture. A friendly “hello” or “how are you?” shows respect. When visiting villages or homes, seek permission and adhere to local customs.
- Tipping: Tipping is customary in Zimbabwe. Around 10-15% of the bill is appreciated in restaurants, and tipping guides and drivers during safaris is also customary.
Best Time to Visit Zimbabwe: Seasons and Festivals
- Dry Season (May to October): The dry season is ideal for wildlife safaris and outdoor adventures. The temperatures are pleasant, and animal sightings are more frequent due to the scarcity of water.
- Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA): Held in Harare during April or May, HIFA is Zimbabwe’s premier arts and culture festival. It features music, dance, theater, and visual arts performances.
- Victoria Falls Carnival (December): Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a unique twist at the Victoria Falls Carnival. Enjoy music, parties, and the stunning backdrop of the falls.
- Bira Festival (Various Months): The Bira festival is an ancestral spirits celebration of the Shona people. It takes place throughout the year in different regions and involves traditional rituals and dancing.
- Zimbabwe International Film Festival (October): Film enthusiasts can enjoy the Zimbabwe International Film Festival, showcasing local and international films. It usually occurs in October.
Top Attractions and Things to See and Do in Zimbabwe
- Victoria Falls: Witness the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the “Smoke that Thunders.” Experience the spray and roar of the falls, and opt for activities like bungee jumping or helicopter rides for a unique perspective.
- Hwange National Park: Embark on a safari adventure in Hwange National Park, renowned for its vast elephant population. Spot a diverse range of wildlife, from lions to giraffes, in their natural habitat.
- Great Zimbabwe Ruins: Explore the ancient stone city of Great Zimbabwe, an archaeological marvel dating back to the 11th century. Discover its intricate architecture and learn about the history of the Shona civilization.
- Matobo National Park: Discover the otherworldly landscape of Matobo National Park, famous for its balancing rock formations. Engage in rhino tracking and explore ancient rock art sites.
- Mana Pools National Park: Immerse yourself in the untouched wilderness of Mana Pools National Park. Enjoy walking safaris, canoeing, and camping by the Zambezi River.
The Best Ways To Get Around Zimbabwe
- Domestic Flights: Domestic flights are ideal for covering long distances efficiently. Airlines like Air Zimbabwe operate flights between major cities and popular destinations.
- Private Vehicle: Renting a car provides flexibility for exploring at your own pace. Well-maintained roads connect major attractions, but it’s advisable to research road conditions before embarking on your journey.
- Public Buses: Utilize public buses for cost-effective travel within cities and towns. They offer insights into local life and are budget-friendly.
- Shared Taxis: Shared minibuses, known as “kombis,” are common for short-distance travel within cities. They’re affordable but can get crowded.
- Guided Tours: Join guided tours for hassle-free exploration of attractions and wildlife areas. Professional guides provide insights and ensure a smooth experience.
Accommodation Tips: Zimbabwe
- Lodges and Camps: Experience Zimbabwe’s stunning landscapes by staying in lodges and camps within national parks. Wake up to the sounds of nature and enjoy close encounters with wildlife.
- Victoria Falls Hotels: Stay in hotels near Victoria Falls for easy access to this natural wonder. Enjoy spectacular views and explore the falls at different times of the day.
- Budget Guesthouses: Opt for budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels in major cities. These accommodations offer a comfortable stay without breaking the bank.
- Homestays: Immerse yourself in local culture by choosing homestays. Connect with local families, learn about their way of life, and enjoy home-cooked meals.
- Eco-Lodges: Consider eco-lodges that prioritize sustainability. These accommodations offer a unique blend of comfort and eco-consciousness, providing an authentic experience.
Zimbabwe Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
- Free Museums: Explore free museums like the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare, showcasing contemporary African art. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the country’s cultural scene without spending.
- Happy Hours: Take advantage of happy hours at restaurants and bars for discounted drinks and meals. Look for local hotspots that offer deals during specific times.
- Local Markets: Shop at local markets for fresh produce and unique crafts. Negotiate prices to get the best deals on souvenirs, textiles, and more.
- Cook Your Own Meals: If you have access to a kitchen, consider cooking your own meals using locally sourced ingredients. It’s a budget-friendly way to experience Zimbabwean cuisine.
- Walking Tours: Join walking tours in cities like Harare and Bulawayo to explore on foot. Many tours offer insights into local history and culture without breaking the bank.
Culinary Delights and Traditional Cuisine in Zimbabwe
- Sadza: Indulge in sadza, a staple made from maize meal, often served with vegetables and meat. It’s a hearty and satisfying dish loved by locals.
- Biltong: Try biltong, a popular dried and cured meat snack. It’s a delicious on-the-go treat and comes in various flavors.
- Mopane Worms: For the adventurous, sample mopane worms, a protein-rich delicacy often enjoyed fried or in stews. They’re considered a traditional Zimbabwean dish.
- Maheu: Quench your thirst with maheu, a traditional fermented drink made from maize. It’s refreshing and a part of daily life in Zimbabwe.
- Chimodho: Satisfy your sweet tooth with chimodho, deep-fried dough twists coated in sugar. They’re a popular street food enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
Souvenir Ideas: Bringing a Piece of Zimbabwe Home
- Handwoven Crafts: Purchase handwoven baskets and textiles crafted by local artisans. These items showcase Zimbabwe’s rich cultural heritage and craftsmanship.
- Stone Sculptures: Invest in stone sculptures, a celebrated form of Zimbabwean art. These unique pieces capture the country’s artistic essence.
- Traditional Jewelry: Acquire traditional jewelry made from beads, shells, and metals. Each piece carries cultural significance and is a tangible memory of your journey.
- Local Coffee: Bring home Zimbabwean coffee beans to enjoy the country’s unique coffee flavors and aroma long after your trip.
- Batik Artworks: Consider purchasing batik artworks that depict scenes from Zimbabwean life. These vibrant and colorful pieces add a touch of Zimbabwean art to your home.