Welcome to Zimbabwe!
For a small, landlocked country in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe offers an astounding variety of natural beauty and spectacular scenery and holds great appeal for the active adventurer as well as outdoor enthusiast. Famous sights include the iconic Victoria Falls, the giant marble-like boulders of the Motopo Hills, the verdant mountains of the Eastern Highlands, the national parks teeming with wildlife, and the Great Zimbabwe Ancient Ruins. Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, is also impressive in many ways.
Wildlife flourishes in the untamed wilderness of the Zambezi Valley, in national parks and on the shores of Lake Kariba, where Hippo, Crocodiles, Buffalo, Rhino, Elephant and Lion roam freely.
From the Zambezi Valley, past the Eastern Highlands to the South East Lowveld, Zimbabwe is truly a gem waiting to be discovered.
With an astounding variety of natural beauty, spectacular scenery and home of the iconic Victoria Falls.
USEFUL TRAVEL INFO
Best time to visit
A year-round destination with mild temperatures. May to October is the dryer winter season, generally seen as the best time for game viewing, although note that September and October can be extremely hot and dry. April to May, around the end of the rainy summer season, is best to visit Victoria Falls when they are in full flood for the most dramatic views.
Current is 220-240 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin rectangular blade plugs are common
English is the official language in Zimbabwe, although it is only spoken as a first language by a tiny percentage of the population. Several indigenous languages are spoken including Shona and Ndebele.
The official currency is the US Dollar (USD). The South African Rand (ZAR) and British Pound (GBP) are also sometimes accepted. Major international credit cards are accepted in most of the larger hotels, restaurants and shops. ATM facilities, dispensing USD, are available in the cities, although in smaller towns and rural areas you’ll need to bring cash.
Local mobile phone operators provide network coverage in most cities, towns, and tourist areas throughout the country. Internet facilities are available in most towns and cities, but internet cafes are often crowded.
Health & Safety
Travellers to Zimbabwe who are coming from infected countries require a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Vaccinations against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid are recommended. There is a risk of malaria all year in most of the country, particularly in the Zambezi Valley, Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and in the Eastern Highlands, the risk is very small in Harare and Bulawayo. Mosquitoes are chloroquine resistant.
Visitors are advised to take food and hygiene precautions. It is advised to only drink bottled water. The current economic instability has led to shortages of medication in public hospitals, and striking is common; it is advisable to bring a supply of personal medication. Medical insurance is essential. Private clinics expect cash payment and medical costs can be high.
While there are travel advisories in place for much of the country, Victoria Falls and resorts around Lake Kariba are safe and well-policed and most visits are hassle-free.
Visa & Passports
Citizens of the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa require a passport valid for the duration of intended stay. A 90-day tourist visa or 30-day business visa can be obtained on arrival. South African nationals do not need a visa for stays for up to 90 days.
A return ticket or proof of onward travel, all documents for next destination and proof of sufficient funds is required for all travellers. Visas issued on arrival vary in fee, payable in USD, according to amount of entries and nationality. Passports must have at least one blank visa page. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination.
Airports in Zimbabwe
- Harare International Airport (HRE)
The airport is situated 15 km (around 9 miles) from Harare.
- Victoria Falls Airport (VFA)
The airport is situated 22 km (13 miles) south of Victoria Falls town.
- Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport (BUQ)
The airport is 24 km (about 15 miles) north of Central Bulawayo.
- Hwange National Park Airport (HWN)
The airport serves the Hwange National Park.
TOP REASONS TO VISIT
Great Zimbabwe Ruins
The mysterious ruined city of Great Zimbabwe located in the South Eastern hills near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo, dates back to the 11th – 15th centuries AD and remains the emblem and heart of the nation. The UNESCO World Heritage–listed site provides evidence that ancient Africa reached a level of civilisation not suspected by earlier scholars. The site is divided into several major ruins with three main areas – Hill Complex, the Valley and the Great Enclosure.
This National Monument is located to the west of the Khami River, 22 km (13.5 miles) from the City of Bulawayo. Khami, which developed after the capital of Great Zimbabwe was abandoned in the mid-16th century and is of great archaeological interest. The discovery of objects from Europe and China shows that Khami was a major centre for trade over a long period of time.
The area was the capital of the Torwa dynasty, which arose from the collapse of the Great Zimbabwe Kingdom between 1450 -1650 and was abandoned during the Ndebele incursions of the 19th century. It is composed of a complex series of platforms of dry-stone walled structures, emulating a later development of Stone Age Culture.
The Zambezi is Africa’s fourth largest River system, after the Nile, Zaire and Niger Rivers. It runs through six countries on its journey from central Africa to the Indian Ocean. Its unique value is that it is less developed than others in terms of human settlement and many areas along its banks enjoy protected status. Its power has carved the spectacular Victoria Falls and the zig-zagging Batoka Gorge. The Power of the Zambezi River has been harnessed along its journey at two points, the first being Kariba Dam in Zimbabwe and the second Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique.
The River’s beauty attracts many visitors from all over the world providing opportunities for a myriad of water sports and game viewing.
The upper part of the Zambezi River is only sparsely populated by farmers and fishermen. Vic Falls is considered the boundary between the upper and middle Zambezi and for 500 km (310 miles) the river serves as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
With its spectacular scenery, stunning sunsets, great fishing and boating opportunities it is one of the finest places on this planet for a holiday.
A place of incredible beauty that is a nature lover’s dream and a photographer’s paradise.
The portion of the lake which falls within Zimbabwe has been designated a recreational park within the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Estate. It is a major tourist attraction, largely because of its proximity to several national parks, including the Mana Pools National Park which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and big game fishing.
Lake Kariba offers a tremendous wildlife experience, either by safari vehicle, fully serviced houseboat or on foot. Fish Eagle, Cormorant and other water birds frequently visit the shorelines and Elephant, Crocodile and Hippo are also commonly seen.
Ancient Culture – The Matopos
A mass of granite hills, located south-east of Bulawayo, formed by river erosion and weathered into fantastic shapes and deep valleys. The hills are associated with folklore and tradition, some being venerated as dwelling places of the spirits of departed Ndebele Chiefs. The hills contain gigantic caves with Khoekhoe paintings, and there are Stone and Iron Age archaeological sites.
Chinhoyi Caves Park
If you’re driving to Kariba or Mana Pools, then Chinhoyi Caves Park is an excellent place to stop. This cave system is composed of limestone and dolomite, and the descent to the main cave with its pool of cobalt blue water is very impressive. This pool is popularly called Sleeping Pool or Chirorodziva (Pool of the Fallen). Diving is possible in the caves all year round.
Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences
Located in Harare, the museum offers a good understanding of the archaeology of Zimbabwe from the Stone Age into the Iron Age and contains the seven-hundred-year-old Lemba artifact Ngoma Lungundu, which some believe to be a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. It is the oldest wooden object ever found in Sub-Saharan Africa.
National Gallery of Zimbabwe
In the south-east corner of Harare Gardens, this lovely gallery has multiple spaces exhibiting a mix of contemporary local, African and international artists. Shows change monthly, with a mix of paintings, photography, stone sculptures, masks and carvings. The attached shop is an excellent place to stock up on crafts and books on Zimbabwean art, before coffee and cake in the cafe. There’s an open-air Shona sculpture garden outside.
Chapungu Sculpture Park
Founded by Roy Guthrie, this park has pioneered the promotion of Zimbabwe Stone Sculpture (Shona Sculpture) and has built up the most important permanent collection of this work in existence. From its humble beginnings as a small gallery in Harare, to the 20-acre sculpture park in the outskirts of the capital, Chapungu has remained steadfast to its mission statement which is to promote the Stone Sculptors of Zimbabwe, through world-wide exhibitions, documentation, workshops, preservation and sales.
Ewanrigg Botanical Garden
Situated just outside Harare, the gardens are internationally known for the wide range of both indigenous and exotic aloes and cycads and succulent plants, one of the largest collections in the world. The overall setting is extremely attractive with the collections planted in a natural style amongst small granite kopjes (pronounced ‘kopees’) where these plants flourish amidst a habitat of indigenous Miombo and Brachstagia Woodlands.
Close to Gweru and home to a whole host of activities, with a team of experienced guides, who can conduct game drives, horse rides, bush walks, boat cruises, bird watching and much more.
Antelope Park offers more than the ordinary Game Park though, it is also home to the most iconic animal in the world, the Lion. The Lions are not free-roaming here, but at the forefront of the effort to ensure the survival of their species. The Park works together with the African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) to battle the rapid decline of the Lion species through the African Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Programme.
Lake Chivero Park
The lake is south-west of Harare, covering 3 470 hectares and it harbours White Rhino, Giraffe, Zebra, a selection of antelope, Baboons and Monkeys, Bush Pig, Rock Hyrax, Scrub Hare, Bush Squirrel, Warthog, Civet, Genet, Black Backed Jackal, Porcupine and Pangolin. It is also a paradise for birds and rock paintings which existed approximately 100 years back can be seen.
Top Adventure Activities
WHERE TO GO
One of nature’s greatest spectacles, and one of the few attractions that exceeds even the wildest expectations of its visitors. Victoria Falls lies between Zimbabwe and Zambia, two countries separated by the Zambezi River and the chasm of the Batoka Gorge. The waterfall can be viewed from either country, but we do recommend Zimbabwe, as sixteen of the twenty viewpoints are in the rainforest on the Zimbabwean side.
The town itself, referred to locally as ‘Vic Falls’, straddles the banks of the Zambezi River, in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland. It is a pleasant place to be based, as its home to several hotels and lodges, a couple of good restaurants, and some great bars to enjoy.
There is an excellent selection of things to see and do in Victoria Falls, from a mist-soaked stroll to the viewpoints that run the length of the falls to adrenaline-packed activities like white water rafting and bungee jumping. There are helicopter rides, canoe trips, river cruises, safaris and fishing trips available in Vic Falls, as well as first-rate national parks to visit nearby. A day-trip across the border into Zambia is also well worth doing.
White Water Rafting
Raft the biggest rapids in the world at Victoria Falls, along the Zambezi River. Commonly recognised as the best Grade 5 White Water Rafting in the world.
One the most spectacular activities to ever experience. View the majestic Victoria Falls from the sky, with fantastic views upstream of the Zambezi River and downstream of the Batoka Gorge.
Zambezi River Sunset Cruise
A superb way to relax and enjoy the spectacular beauty of the Zambezi River. See the wildlife while sipping on cocktails.
Cultural Village Tour
Meet the people and gain insight into Zimbabwean rural life.
Take a short game drive in an open vehicle into the Zambezi National Park, perhaps seeing some game along the way before taking to the water with a qualified Canoe Guide.
Horse Back Safari
Canter through open bush, explore hidden paths and roam through wilderness areas on a Victoria Falls Horse Safari.
Chobe National Park
Take a day trip from Victoria Falls to enjoy the abundance of wildlife in Chobe National Park, known for its large herds of Elephant that frequent the Chobe River daily. Chobe also has an abundance of varied wildlife to offer.
Jet Boat Sunset Cruise (Day Trip)
Experience this unique and close-up exploration of the islands situated on the Upper Zambezi in Zambia, just above the Victoria Falls. Discover the secret hideaways of Hippo and Elephant as well as enjoying the fascinating flora and fauna. A highly recommended activity for photographers and naturalists.
See amazing views of the Zambezi Rapids, Victoria Falls Bridge and the spray of the Falls. Observe the riverine forest from a variety of different vantage points – from above, below and within the canopy itself. Experience forest birdlife along a network of slides, trails and rope bridge walkways in the hardwood forest of the Zambezi Gorges.
Steam Train Dinner
Take a trip back in time to the Victoria Falls Bridge on this ultimate Victoria Falls gourmet dinner experience. Enjoy the luxury and grandeur of a bygone era, with 5-star service, while savouring a delicious 4-course dinner and marvelling in the surrounding beauty of Victoria Falls at sunset.
Bungee Jump, Bridge Swing or Zipline
An incredible adrenaline rush – bungee jumping, bridge swinging or ziplining from the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge over the Zambezi, in no man’s land between Zimbabwe and Zambia. This is a once in a lifetime adventure, set against the incredible backdrop of the beautiful Victoria Falls.
Crocodile Ranch & Wildlife Sanctuary
Get up-close to these massive beasts in the safety of a guided tour. Enjoy an encounter with the Nile Crocodile of the Zambezi and watch the large Crocs leap up and snap at meat chunks. Hold a newly hatched baby Croc and learn about conservation challenges at Victoria Falls.
Known as ‘The Sunshine City’, the capital of Zimbabwe, is a city of modern buildings, wide thoroughfares, numerous parks and gardens. A city whose streets are lined with flowering trees, with a wonderful and invigorating climate. While it’s tempting to rush off to your safari, it’s worth hanging around in Harare to sample its fine dining, museums, craft markets and varied bars.
For nature lovers, visiting the Lion and Cheetah Park as well as the Chriemba Balancing Rocks are a good idea. The National Botanical Garden is another good outdoor attraction as well as horse riding and walking safaris offered in the nearby Mukuvusi Woodlands, while Lake Chivero is great for jet-skiing, sailing and fishing.
If you want to experience shopping the way it is traditionally done in many African countries, you need to stroll around at the open flea-market at Mbare. Here guests can feast their eyes on a colourful array of baskets, food, clothing and other items. The Kopje, a granite hill rising above the south-west corner of central Harare, is a great place to go for views of the city.
A multicultural hub in the south-west of Zimbabwe, the second largest city after Harare and regarded as the business and industrial capital, partly due to its proximity to South Africa and Botswana. Close to the tourist hotspots of Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and Matobo National Park. If you make a stop here, be sure to visit the city’s museums and parks and a good kid’s attraction is the Bulawayo Railway Museum, one of only a few of its kind in the world, which features some excellent colonial-era exhibitions. The Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage for abandoned, sick or wounded animals is a great educational outing for the kids, as many exotic animals there are rescued pets and therefore perfectly tame.
Hwange National Park
Named after a local Nhanzwa Chief, Hwange is the largest park in Zimbabwe occupying roughly 14 650 sq km. It is in the north-west corner of the country about one hour south of the mighty Victoria Falls.
It became the royal hunting grounds to the Ndebele Warrior King Mzilikazi in the early 19th Century and was set aside as a National Park in 1929. Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species recorded. The Elephant population is one of the largest in the world.
Matobo National Park
One of Zimbabawe’s major attractions, less than an hour’s drive from Bulawayo and known for its beautiful granite domes and balancing rocks as well as many San Rock Paintings. The park also contains many historical sites, such as the burial site of Cecil John Rhodes. A large section of the Park is fenced to contain wild game including some of the more beautiful larger antelope such as Kudu, Sable and Eland, as well as Black and White Rhino. The Park boasts the largest concentration of Raptors (especially the Black Eagle) and Leopard in an area of its size in the world.
Mana Pools National Park
A World Heritage Site, based on its pure wilderness and beauty, it is home to a wide range of mammals, over 350 bird species and aquatic wildlife. During the rains, most of the big game animals move away from the Zambezi River and into the escarpment. They start returning to the riverine areas from around April, as the pans in the bush dry up. As the year progresses, increasingly large herds of Elephants and Buffalos are seen, as well as Kudu, Eland, Waterbuck, Zebra, Impala and many other antelope. The game is very relaxed about people on foot, therefor making Mana Pools one of Africa’s best national parks for walking safaris as well as guided or unguided canoeing, one of the major attractions along the Zambezi River.
Matusadona National Park
One of the biggest and most stunning wildlife havens, situated on the shore of Lake Kariba offers excellent wildlife viewing in a magnificent setting and best experienced along the shoreline on board houseboats. The Big 5 are present, including the endangered Black Rhino. The dry season, from June to October, is the best time for wildlife viewing, as the vegetation is thinner and animals gather on the floodplains of Lake Kariba.
Gonarezhou National Park
Hidden in the south-east corner of the country is the stunning Gonarezhou National Park, ZImbabwe’s second-largest park, sharing the border with Mozambique. The park is virtually an extension of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, where you may see the large tusked Elephants.
Three major rivers, The Save, Runde and Mwenezi rivers flow through the Park, forming pools and natural oases from which hundreds of bird species, wildlife and fish gather to feed and drink.
See the iconic Sandstone Chilojo Cliffs, Lowveld Scrub and Sandveld Flood Plains, magnificent Baobab Trees, Mopane Woodland and tracts of Palm Tree Forest.
Chizarira National Park
Situated on top of the great Zambezi escarpment in the north-western part of Zimbabwe, overlooking the mighty Zambezi Valley and the upper waters of Lake Kariba. Renowned for its walking trails which offer guests an unparalleled opportunity to get up-close to nature. Due to the presence of large game and predators, visitors are only allowed to walk under the supervision and protection of an experienced guide. Along with bigger species such as Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Buffalo, there are also many species of smaller game, including the Klipspringer, famous for its ability to inhabit rocky outcrops.
Chizarira offers an abundance of unique bird life and several hundreds of species have been sighted within the park. The Big 5 Birds of the area include: the African Broadbill, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Yellow Spotted Nicator, Emerald Cuckoo and the rare and elusive Angola Pitta. Chizarira is also home to the Taita Falcon which make its nests within the park.
Chizarira is the place for 4×4 enthusiasts with its broken terrain of untamed gorges and hills. There are many challenging roads and tracks which lead to hidden gorges, spectacular viewpoints and richly vegetated natural springs.
Kazuma Pan National Park
On the border between Zimbabwe and Botswana lies the Kazuma Pan National Park, which is an extension of the Matetsi Safari Area and was developed to be a refuge for the animals during the hunting season. An unspoilt wilderness known for its large numbers of Buffalo (as many as 2 000) and Elephant. The beautiful landscapes of open grassland, natural pans and small Mopane Tree forests are home to a wide variety of game. You are likely to see Lion, Leopard, Giraffe, Zebra, Antelope and more. The Kazuma Pans attract many birds making it a dream for any birdwatcher.
Nyanga National Park
Situated in one of the most scenic areas of Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands, with rolling green hills and perennial rivers that transverse the 47 000 hectare Park. With its stunning mountainous views, numerous waterfalls, varied activities and unique flora and fauna, Nyanga National Park provides visitors with an unforgettable holiday experience. The mountainous terrain is home to a variety of animals including the mysterious Waterbuck, Wildebeest, Kudu, Zebra, Impala, Sable, Eland to mention but a few. The park is located about 268 km (166 miles) from Harare along a well-tarred highway.
Chimanimani National Park
Situated along the eastern boundary, bordering Mozambique, in an area of rugged mountain grandeur, enhanced by many spectacular gorges and high peaks. There are several streams cascading through the mountain formations as well as numerous mountain springs.
Development in the park has been limited to preserve the natural, pristine beauty and wild landscapes of this mountainous area. Wildlife species include Eland, Sable, Bushbuck, Blue Duiker, Klipspringer and the occasional Leopard. Forest lovers will take delight in the rare virgin forests, as there are several species of butterfly, birds, plants, snakes and shy cats that are commonly seen. There are no roads in this wilderness, only footpaths with narrow tracks that lead to the various places of interest. This adds to the fun of the wild and unspoilt character of the area.
AFRICAN OUTPOSTS PACKAGES
2 Night Victoria Falls – Fly in
from R8589 per person sharing
‘The Smoke that Thunders’ presents a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River
4 Night Victoria Falls & Hwange Safari – Fly in
from R23910 per person sharing
Experience great adventures at the massive natural wonder of Victoria Falls and take in the big game of Africa on this action-packed safari.
11 Night Zimbabwe Safari
from R85285 per person sharing
A safari in Zimbabwe is captivating in its splendour- it promises mystery and magic and enchantment to anyone who has felt the soil beneath their feet.