Our Zimbabwe specialist, Lisa Fisher answers questions about the country of her birth. She says " I may be a little bias about this beautiful country and would love to see it restored to its former glory. Tourism can have a positive impact and I'd say go now while it is still being re-discovered. Hotels and lodges make a direct impact on improving the lives of local Zimbabweans and a large percentage of these propertoes fund local projects in education and healthcare".
Why travel to Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe is renowned for its incredibly warm and friendly people, its diverse national parks such as Hwange which is famous for its large herds of Elephants and by contrast, the Matobo Hills with a Rhino population and large granite boulders which dot the landscape. The Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side are arguably the best and the Mana Pools National Park, the perfect spot to get onto a canoe and explore the river ways, with hippos and wildlife coming to the river's edge to drink. The mysterious Great Zimbabwe ruins, built by a lost civilisation, still stands today. If that 's not enough to keep you busy the Eastern Highlands are filled with beautiful mountain towns, tea plantations, waterfalls, all offering a lovely range of activities from golfing, fishing and horse riding.
How do we get there?
From the UK via other countries such as South Africa, UAE and Kenya into Victoria Falls, Bulawayo and Harare, as the three main central access points.
How do we travel around the country?
Due to the great distances between the national parks, light aircraft flights are generally the best way to travel. Some trips do use road transfers and these are in comfortable vehicles. The Eastern highlights are best explored by self drive.
If there was one thing I shouldn’t miss, what would you recommend?
Take a walk through the African bush on a guided tour for a real adrenaline rush – sometimes the simple things are the most exciting! For a real treat, try an elephant-back safari or a helicopter flight over the Victoria Falls. The Mana Pools Canoe Trail is a must, no previous experience necessary, reasonable fitness and opportunity to enjoy wildlife close up whilst you glide along silently.
Is Zimbabwe safe?
Yes on the more popular tourist routes, Zimbabwe is safe. There’s an issue with petty theft practically everywhere in the world, and the same is true here, so we’d advise you not to leave valuables unattended.
Can I drink the tap water?
Depending on the circumstances of the property you visit, you should be able to but for the most part bottled water is the safest option. When buying bottled water yourself, make sure the bottle is sealed at the time of purchase.
Is English widely spoken?
Yes. English is the official language of Zimbabwe and is widely spoken. Zimbabweans take great pride in the education and are for the most part very well spoken.
What level of facilities and service should I expect in the hotels and lodges?
The quality of service is generally very high in Zimbabwe. Obviously facilities depend on the grade of accommodation you have booked, but in general the lodges and hotels here are of a high standard.
What is the local food like?
There is a strong European influence in many traditional Zimbabwean foods. Rice pasta and potatoes are widely available along with cornmeal and all the usual vegetables and meats that you would expect. European cuisine is typically served on safari but with some tasty African influences, such as a local stew generally served with a starch. (Do try Sadza, preferably eaten by hand, a thickened maize meal made into a stiff porridge consistency which you roll into a ball and dip in your stew.
Is Zimbabwe culturally different to Europe?
No, as this was a British colony and they are still Commonwealth members. So education and daily life are very similar to UK life, just in a more rural setting.
How can I contribute to the local economy and conservation programmes?
Most hotels and lodges are directly involved with local projects and are proud to show the difference they have made. They can advise you locally on how you can contribute. Alternatively, we can help you find a suitable cause prior to departure.
Do I need to get any vaccinations ahead of travel and/or malaria tablets?
Yes, malarial prophylactics are strongly advised and you should see your doctor for the most up to date information on requirements. Remember to leave enough time to visit your doctor and get the vaccinations needed to have a happy and healthy holiday – we advise making an appointment at least six weeks before travel.
I am pregnant, can I travel to Zimbabwe?
We would advise against travel if you are pregnant as Zimbabwe is within a malaria zone. Always take advise from your doctor.