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Zimbabwe

Welcome to Zimbabwe!!!!! If you like animal documentaries and natural history museums, then Zimbabwe is for you. In this country located in the middle of southern Africa, the grand spectacle of nature will enchant you. If 13% of its territory is reserved for natural parks, the country is home to the ruins of the biggest ancient capital of sub-Saharan Africa, the Great Zimbabwe. The other advantage of Zimbabwe is that the country is not overcrowded by mass tourism

 

Key facts

  • Capital City: Harare
  • Languages: English (official language), Shona, isiNdebele
  • Time difference: GMT/UTC + 2h
  • Entry formalities: Visa is required and valid 3 months
  • Electricity: 220 volts. 3 pins rectangular or round sockets
  • Telephone: + 263
  • Health: Beware of malaria. Take preventive treatment and bring repellents if you are going to visit humid regions (Lake Kariba, Zambezi Valley). You must have up to date vaccinations against diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus and polio. Do not drink tap water and avoid eating food from street vendors. Do not swim into stagnant waters and never walk barefoot.

Money

Generalities: All the banks accept Dollars or sterling traveler’s cheques after applying for foreign exchange authorization in an exchange office.

Currency: Zimbabwean Dollar (ZWL)

Daily budget: Even though foreigners pay goods and services at much higher price than locals, Zimbabwe is still a cheap country. Luxury hotels or safari lodges cost approximately 250 USD per day and per person (this rate includes accommodation, meal and tours). Visitors with a small budget can find cheap accommodation particularly hostels for hikers for about 10 USD per night. Comfortable and affordable campsites have been established near the cities and tourist attractions. Entrance fees to national parks are worth the quality of these parks. Lunches in local restaurants are very satisfying and cheap. sadza ne nyama (corn seasoned with meat) will cost you just 1 dollar. Hotels offer an excellent quality buffet for only 5 to 20 USD

When To Go And Climate

 The best time to go: You need to make a choice. If the winter season (from May to October) is perfect for wildlife observation, you won’t have the opportunity to see the beautiful green landscapes which characterize the hot and humid summer season (from November to April). During the winter season, daytime temperatures are high, and during the night temperatures can go below 0°C. During the summer, temperatures can reach 35°C during the day. If you want to avoid the South African crowds who invade touristic areas during school holidays, do not travel between mid-April and mid-May or between mid-July and mid-September. Note also that the month of December is the vacation period in Namibia. The month of June is quietest and coolest month of the year and without a doubt your best option.

Ceremonies and festivals: The most entertaining cultural events are the ones you get across accidently: agricultural fairs, school theatrical performances, traditional weddings etc.… If you love music, you will appreciate the House of Stone Music Festival which takes place in Harare.

Climate: The climate of Zimbabwe is not as hot as we would think. In fact, its climate is remarkably mild thanks to its topography (900m above the sea level). The winter season (from May to October) is comparable to a nice Mediterranean summer (hot and sunny days with cool and clear nights). This is a perfect time for wildlife observation. The Lowveld area and the Zambezi Valley have a hot and humid climate. During summer (November-April), the rains fall during afternoon and they are violent and brief.

Must see

Harare: With near 1.6 million inhabitants, Harare is the capital and the heart of the country. Showcase of the country, center of commercial activities, Harare inherited from its former colonizers a European atmosphere. The city suffers from a reputation of insecurity. Visitors must avoid walking unaccompanied during the night. It is worth visiting the National Gallery of Zimbabwe founded in 1957 (http://www.nationalgallery.co.zw/) which is particularly instructive in the understanding of African art and culture. The garden of Shona Sculptures hosts the best pieces of art of the country. Harare Gardens is the biggest park of the city (avoid visiting the park during the night). The park is home for National Gallery, theater, open lounge area, swimming pool, bowling club and miniature tropical forest. 5km away from the capital, Mbare is home for the largest farm produce market of the country. All types of accommodation are available in Harare (from camping to 4 stars hotels). Cheapest hotels are located in the lively neighborhood of Kopje. Harare is by the way, the perfect place to listen to African music and attend a pungwe (concert lasting during all night with a lot of Dancing and Drinking)

Matobo National Park  (http://www.zimparks.org/): Admire the magnificent Matobo Hills, a range of domes, spires and balancing rock formations which have been hewn out of the solid granite plateau through millions of years of erosion and weathering. The park offers a great diversity of wildlife: African eagles, cape eagle-owls, white and black rhinos, giraffes, zebras…

Great Zimbabwe National Monument: The largest medieval city of sub-Saharan Africa was, between the 8th and 15th century, the secular and religious capital of a huge kingdom. Its grandiose setting and historical walls make this site the most outstanding of southern Africa.

Victoria Falls: Beware of the noise!!! This 1.7km wide wall plummets down 550,000m3 of water per minute through Zambezi Canyon 100m lower. Walking above the waterfalls will offer you a superb view and if you are lucky you will be able to see crocodiles, warthogs, hippos, antelopes, elephants, buffalos and lions

Hwange National Park: This national park covering 14,650km² is not highly visited although it is very accessible and has a diverse wildlife. All the better for you!! In the southeast, vast grasslands are populated by important wildlife: herds of antelopes, zebras, buffalos, elephants and baboons. Going further west, the hills are home to lions, leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs

Sports & Activities

Obviously the main activity is safari (meaning “we are going” in Swahili). It is possible to make any types of safari: trekking in the bush, kayaking, rafting, trains safaris between Victoria and Mutare, and horseback safaris in Zambezi Park. Waterways in the Eastern Highlands and Kariba Lake are excellent fishing sites. Zimbabwe has among the cheapest golf courses in the world. If you are planning on shopping, you will find in Harare (or Bulawayo), Shona sculptures, precious gems, and beautiful knitted fabric and few carved wooden stools (batonkas)

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