Best Time To Visit
When to go
Zimbabwe has a warm climate year round. For optimum game viewing the best time to visit is the dry winter period May to October, with warm sunny days, cool nights and excellent animal sightings as they congregate around the diminishing water sources. December through April is a time of plenty, mammals give birth and migrant birds arrive in droves. Expect sudden short downpours followed by warm sunshine. The parks transform miraculously during the rains – from dry, bleak terrain into verdant woodland.
Air Zimbabwe is the only direct carrier to Zimbabwe with twice weekly flights from London Gatwick. Kenya Airways flies daily to the capital Harare via Nairobi. There are daily flights via Johannesburg to Victoria Falls, Bulawayo and Harare on SAA, BA and Virgin. From these hubs, a flight network takes you to the wilderness areas.
GMT +2 hours
British citizens can obtain visas on arrival at a cost of US$55.
There are no compulsory requirements. Zimbabwe is a malarial area and precautions should be taken. Always consult your doctor at least six weeks before travel and refer to this useful NHS website for details of recommended vaccinations for your destination.
English is the official language. Other widely spoken languages are Shona and Sindebele, which also have various dialects and other minority languages.
Zimbabwe is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
220-240 A.C. Hairdryers cannot be used at camps with generators but camera and video battery recharging is fine. Zimbabwe uses 3-square pin plugs, the same as in the UK.
Due to space limitations and safety there are strict weight restrictions on light aircraft transfers, depending on the airline.
Generally, scheduled flights within Zimbabwe impose a maximum of 20 kg per person packed in soft bags (no hard-shelled suitcases) is permitted. This includes camera equipment and carry-on baggage. Although 20 kg for luggage sounds rather little, camps do laundry daily and provide flashlights, soap, shampoo and towels; and only casual clothing is required.
For charter flights in smaller aircraft, the luggage limit is 12kg per person, again packed in soft bags.
The use of the Zimbabwe dollar as a mode of payment for goods and services has been suspended indefinitely. The country has adopted a multi currency system for payments. The readily accepted hard currencies are US Dollars, Pounds Sterling, Euros and South African Rand. Visitors are encouraged to carry their hard currencies in small denominations for ease of trade. Though credit cards are generally not accepted as a form of payment, there are some hotels that will.
Avoid USD100 bills as they are not accepted in most places. USD notes should be issued after 2000 as older bills are not accepted. Traveller’s cheques are not readily accepted.
Zimbabweans are a talented nation who sell a wide range of locally made soapstone statues, wooden carvings, baskets, crotchet ware and hand printed African sarongs.
Malaria is virulent in the low lying areas of Zimbabwe which include most of the good wildlife destinations. Anti-malaria precautions should be commenced prior to departure. Some malaria strains are becoming more resistant to some of the prophylactics and it is therefore advised that visitors take extra precautions such as using insect repellent and wearing long trousers when mosquitoes are active.
Aids is widespread.
Tetanus and hepatitis vaccinations are recommended.
Your own GP or practice nurse will be the best person to give you precise and accurate information about health requirements and you should be guided by his or her advice.
Make sure that your passports and visas are valid for all the countries you are visiting and that it is valid for at least six months beyond your intended return. If you are travelling via South Africa, you must have a minimum of two clean, facing pages in your passport. Failure to comply with this may result in your being denied entry to South Africa. Try to have the exact amount in US Dollars cash for payment of visas as officials are sometimes not in a position to provide change.
For visa information from the UK contact:
Zimbabwe House, 429 Strand London, WC2R OJR. 020 7836 7755
Take a high factor sun lotion, Insect repellent, anti-malarial prophylactics, fleece and waterproof jacket during the rainy months, a hat, light walking shoes or trainers, good polarized sunglasses and a guidebook /field guide.
Remember to bring binoculars (recommend large 8x40) and a camera with a dust proof bag. Take spare batteries, film and memory cards, as they are seldom available locally.
The following suggestions are only a guide and shouldn't be considered in any way as compulsory. We suggest all gratuities are given at the completion of services and not on a daily basis. Wherever possible, give gratuities directly to the intended recipient, although you will find that most safari camps and lodges have a staff tip box.
On safari: Driver / Guide US$10-15 per day per couple.
In lodges: There is usually a tip box provided at the lodge and if you can’t see one do ask. Gratuities placed in the tip box are generally divided amongst the entire staff on a monthly basis. A guideline of US$5 per day is reasonable.
Restaurants: 10-15% of the restaurant bill is standard
Fuel attendants: $1-2 is appreciated
Porters: If someone carries your bags to/from your vehicle at a lodge, then a reasonable guideline is US$2-5.
Please be sensitive when photographing local people and their villages. Ask the guide or the villagers first. Be careful when photographing public buildings and persons in uniform - again, ask first.
Things To Do
- Get soaking wet at the Victoria Falls, arguably the most spectacular side
- Watch the game as it comes to you at a waterhole in Hwange
- Canoe along the mighty Zambezi at Mana Pools
- Visit the ruins of a lost civilization at Great Zimbabwe
- Take a game walk with a superb Zim guide
- Have a high tea to rival the ‘best of British’ at Victoria Falls Hotel
Visitors will be spellbound by the sheer beauty, drama and diversity of Zimbabwe. After a decade of fluctuating fortunes and economic and political uncertainty, Zimbabweans are optimistic about the fledgling coalition government and meaningful change. The adoption of the US currency and the relaxation of price controls has ended the spiralling hyperinflation and made it possible to import again: shop shelves are stocked and fuel is readily available.
Our Zimbabwe specialist, Inken 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.
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Why Choose Us?
Passionate travel experts
- We've been leading wildlife travel since our first South Africa tours over 25 years ago
- Our Travel Specialists have lived in their specialist area for years
- We work with local guides to immerse you deeper in our diverse range of experiences
Personal & tailor-made
- You'll speak to your own expert who'll share their first-hand knowledge
- We'll make your itinerary seamless with 24/7 emergency contact available
- Your Travel Specialist will listen to ensure you have the best chance of seeing the wildlife you love
Responsible by nature
- We take care to actively contribute to the conservation of environments we visit
- For select countries, we make a charitable donation on your behalf when you make your booking
- We've partnered with conservation experts and NGOs to curate responsible tours