Zimbabwe Travel Tips

time

GMT : +2 hours

climate

The climate is generally temperate on the interior plateau at elevations above 1000 metres and in the Eastern Highlands. The low- elevation areas in the Zambezi and Limpopo valleys and the south-eastern Lowveld are generally hot during the day and mild at night. During mid- summer temperatures in these areas can become uncomfortably hot. Winter is generally dry throughout the country with summer rains originating from tropical weather-systems from the north together with localised thunderstorms.

Average minimum and maximum temperatures in areas of significant altitude variance in centigrade are as follows:

harare (1480m)

Summer Nov-Mar 15-26
Autumn Apr-Jun 09-23
Winter Jul-Aug 08-22
Spring Sep-Oct 13-28

lowveld (450m)

Summer Nov-Mar 21-33
Autumn Apr-Jun 12-28
Winter Jul-Aug 10-26
Spring Sep-Oct 17-31

eastern highlands (1880m)

Summer Nov-Mar 12-21
Autumn Apr-Jun 08-18
Winter Jul-Aug 06-17
Spring Sep-Oct 10-22

currency & credit cards

The country has adopted a multi-currency scheme; the US Dollar and South African Rand can be used for domestic transactions.

Credit cards: American Express, Diners Club and Visa are widely accepted, whilst MasterCard has more limited use. Some ATMs accept credit cards.

Some hotels, shops, restaurants and other retail outlets in major towns accept valid, international credit cards. It must be noted that many shops and retail outlets especially in the rural areas do not accept credit cards and it is essential to have a reserve of currency in these areas. Most international hotels and tour operators in Zimbabwe only accept payment for accommodation and tours in hard currency such as US Dollars, British Pounds, Botswana Pula and South African Rands.

electricity

The Zimbabwean power grid uses 220/240 volts AC 50 Hertz. Wall sockets (round and square 3 pin) are rated to carry a maximum of 15 amps. It is important to carry a 3 pin round and square adapter. Most hotels have electric shaver plugs and/or adapters available.

public holidays

New Year’s Day 1st January
Family Day (Easter weekend) April (variable date) Workers day 1st May
Youth Day 16th June
Armed Forces Day 12th August
Boxing Day 26th December
Good Friday (Easter weekend) April (variable date) Independence Day 18th April
Africa Day 25th May
Heroes Day 11th August
Christmas Day 25th December

visas & entry requirements

Valid passports are required by all foreign nationals to enter Zimbabwe, valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond your intended stay in Zimbabwe. British passport holders currently require visas. These can either be arranged on arrival – cost is currently GBP 35.00 for a single entry visa (or USD equivalent – approx. USD 60), or prior to departure at a cost of GBP 40.00 per person. To obtain an application form please call the Zimbabwe High Commission in London on telephone 0207 836 7755 or go to their website or email them

Please check prior to departure as certain professions are required to obtain a visa prior to arrival. All air arrivals must be in possession of a valid return ticket. Visitors must be able to prove that they have sufficient funds to cover their stay in the country. Departure tax is an additional USD 20 per person, payable in dollar bills of 10 & higher. Yellow Fever vaccination is required for travellers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission, please consult your GP or local travel clinic for the latest information.

banks & foreign exchange

Banking hours in most centres are 08h00 to 15h00 Mondays to Fridays and 08h00 to 11h00 on Saturdays. On Wednesdays banks close at 13h00. Foreign bank notes and travellers cheques may be converted into local currency at most banks and Bureaux de Changes. Changing currency at a hotel will usually involve the charging of a larger commission than at a bank. When converting foreign currency you will usually be required to show your passport. There is a flourishing foreign exchange black market in Zimbabwe, where foreign exchange can be exchanged above the official rate. Travellers must be aware that changing money on the street is illegal and that unscrupulous street dealers often short-change unwitting tourists.

business hours

Most businesses and shops are open between 08h30 and 17h00 on weekdays and between 08h30 and 13h00 on Saturdays. Supermarkets and flea-markets are often open on Sunday morning. Curios can be purchased in curio shops in shopping centres or from street traders and at flea-markets in a more informal shopping environment.

dining & drinking

Zimbabwean food reflects the agricultural products of the country. Superb meat products including beef, lamb and venison feature prominently. Harare and to a lesser extent Bulawayo, boast a wide variety of restaurants featuring most of the prominent cuisine varieties of the world. Tap water in most urban areas is chemically treated and safe to drink. Bottled mineral water is widely available. Locally brewed beer is of outstanding quality. South African wines of superb quality are available in most restaurants. Local Zimbabwean wines can best be described as interesting.

medical care

Visitors are responsible for their own medical needs and it is advisable to carry comprehensive medical insurance, which includes casualty evacuation insurance to South Africa. There are Public Hospitals in most towns and cities with services which can be best described as poor. Private Hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo provide good quality medical services with limited facilities. Chemists/Pharmacies, private doctors and other medical practitioners are available in Harare and Bulawayo and in most of the larger country towns.

Malaria is endemic to the low-elevation areas along the Limpopo River and in the Lowveld areas in south-eastern Zimbabwe and in the Zambezi River valley along Zimbabwe’s entire northern border with Zambia. Suitable precautions and the use of Prophylactics are recommended for visitors to these areas. There are a number of excellent mosquito repellents available in supermarkets, which are manufactured in South Africa, which are applied directly to the skin or clothes in the evening. Many hotels and other accommodation establishments have mosquito nets over the beds in their rooms. HIV/Aids is widespread in Zimbabwe and it is recommended that visitors do not engage in any high-risk sexual or drug-related activities, which may cause exposure to the disease.

postal services

Post Offices are open from 08h30 to 16h00 on weekdays and from 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays.

telephones

A formerly efficient telephone service, which has suffered from neglect in recent years, is available in almost all parts of the country. Direct national and international dialling is possible in urban and some rural areas. Pay phones operating with coins are available but seldom work due to poor maintenance. Telephone directories are available but poorly distributed. A cellular telephone operation provides widespread coverage in urban areas and limited coverage in rural areas, usually close to adjacent urban areas. Facsimile services are available at most luxury hotels in major centres.

tipping

Tipping for service is standard practice in Zimbabwe and usually ranges between 10% and 15% in restaurants and about US$1 per item for hotel porters. Cleaners and maids in hotels and Bed and Breakfast establishments usually get between US$1 and US$2 per day. During your trip it is likely that you will come into contact with tour guides, game rangers and trackers who depend largely on their tips for their income. Tipping in this instance ranges from between US$5 and US$10 per person per day. Tipping is only recommended if you are satisfied with the service you have received and is entirely at your own discretion.

value added tax (vat)

GST is currently 15% and is included in the price of most goods.

road travel & public transport

The road network is well developed and of a high standard. Major international and a number of local car hire companies are represented in Zimbabwe. Easy access to car hire from major airports and in the main centres is possible. The developed national and tourist infrastructure within Zimbabwe makes it an easy self-drive destination for the international tourist.

Public transport can be a problem especially in small towns and areas outside of the large cities. Taxi services and mini-taxis are available in the larger towns and cities. Trains and luxury inter-city coaches run between Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls and other large towns in Zimbabwe and Johannesburg in South Africa. Sporadic fuel shortages have created transport difficulties during 2000 and 2001.

security

Zimbabwe has a relatively low level of crime with most offences involving petty thieving. The declining economy in the country has resulted in an escalation of more serious crime and it is important that the visitor is aware of the following:

  • Certain inner city areas are unsafe and should be avoided, especially after dark. This applies in particular to Harare and to a lesser extent Bulawayo.
  • Avoid lonely and deserted areas in the city, especially after dark.
  • Passports and money should be safely locked away in your hotel.
  • Carry your wallet and other documents you may require in a body belt, preferably under loose clothing.
  • Be aware of what others around you are doing, both when walking and driving.
  • If you are unsure about anything ask your tour guide, hotel staff or a local person with whom you are acquainted. · Do not leave valuables in your motor vehicle, which are visible from the outside.
  • Avoid picking up hitchhikers and ensure your car doors are locked, especially at traffic lights.
  • Do not hand your car keys over to anyone other than the car rental staff.
  • The Zimbabwe Republic Police are available at any time to assist in the event of any difficulties.

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