Before you go

Fast Facts before you go to Zimbabwe

 

Best time to visit

Zimbabwe is an all year round destination. However there are certain seasons for special interest groups to take note of:
For high adventure enthusiasts, white water rafting is most exciting when the Zambezi waters are low, generally from August to December.
Best botanical months to visit the famous Vumba Botanical Gardens are Dec - May when the vegetation is lush and green, and also when most plants are in flower.  Victoria Falls is best to see just after the rainy season April through the end of June when the Falls are at their most impressive.  At the end of the dry season October -  December, you can do more adventure activities around the Falls when water levels are very low.
 

Passports & Visas

 
Passports must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay and please ensure that there are sufficient blank pages for any visas as well as for entry stamps upon arrival.
 
This is a guide only - please check with your nearest Zimbabwe Consulate for up to date information. U.S. citizens entering Zimbabwe for tourism only can expect to pay $30 for a single-entry, 30-day duration of stay permit upon entering the country. A 60-day multiple entry permit is also available for $60.
 
IMPORTANT: Present Costs
USD 30, single entry per person
USD 45, double entry per person
 
All multiple entry visas (i.e. entering Zimbabwe more than 2 times on any itinerary) require prior application.
Single entry visa is valid for 6 months, double entry visa is valid for 3 months, multiple entry visas are valid for 6 months and are only issued in Harare.
No visitor is permitted to work or seek employment
 

Malaria Prophylaxis

 
It is recommended that you obtain malaria prophylaxis before entering Zimbabwe. When purchasing these, please tell your doctor or pharmacist which areas in Zimbabwe you intend visiting. Start your course at least 24 hours before entering Zimbabwe and continue taking the pills for 6 weeks after leaving the country. If you suffer from side effects, try taking your malaria prophylactics at night, after dinner as this usually minimises the effect of the symptoms. 
 
Precautionary measures that you can take to prevent contact with mosquitoes are: sleeping under a bed-net or in a room/tent with mosquito proofing (remember to keep the flaps zipped at all times); spraying your accommodation with insecticide; making use of a mosquito-repelling lotion or stick; and wearing long-sleeve clothing, long trousers and socks when outside at night.
 
Any person entering Zimbabwe from, or via, a yellow fever or cholera-infected area must be in possession of a valid International Certificate of Vaccination against yellow fever and/or cholera.
 
Please avoid swimming in dams and rivers as the water may be infected with bilharzia. If you are canoeing or rafting and cannot avoid the water, this is not a problem - just remember to towel off as soon as possible any one who has any special medication should take enough supplies to last the visit.
 

Health Requirements & Innoculations

 
Travelers to Zimbabwe who are coming from infected countries require a yellow fever vaccination certificate. 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.
 

Medical Care

 
The current economic instability has led to shortages of medication in public hospitals, and many staff are on strike; it is advisable to bring a supply of personal medication. Medical insurance is essential. 
 
In the event of a medical emergency, contact your country’s embassy or consulate for extra assistance. Most doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of whether you have travel health insurance. Serious medical problems will require air evacuation to a country with state-of-the-art medical facilities (generally South Africa). Visitors are advised to secure medical cover on their medical insurance before arriving in the country. Make sure your health insurance covers you for medical expenses abroad. If not, supplemental insurance for overseas coverage, including possible evacuation, should be seriously considered. Major hotels & Lodges may have contracts with physicians and dentists. Visitors are, however, advised to bring along sufficient supplies of specialized medication they may require.  
As always, don’t forget to use sun screen and drink plenty of water while out in the African sun.
 

Isurance

 
Travel insurance is highly recommended and can be purchased through South African Airways Vacations or your travel agent. It can be used to cover baggage & personal item loss as well as trip cancellations.  Tour operators will not be held responsible for any loss or damage to passenger’s belongings.  Travel Guard is the (travel) insurance carrier that is offered through South African Airways Vacations. For additional information, please inquire. 

 

Clothing & Necessities

Here is a guideline list of important items to bring:

  • Casual, comfortable wash and wear clothing is most useful.  
  • Shorts, capris & Cotton T-shirts
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Long pants & shirts with collars for evenings
  • Fleece jacket and a warm jacket for early morning and evening game drives
  • Swimwear
  • Rain ponchos
  • Casual light-weight cotton, khaki or neutral colored clothes for safari.
  • Bright & white colored clothing will attract unwanted insects.
  • Studies have proven that most African game animals are able to see bright blue over any other color.
  • Wide brimmed hat, personal toiletries, sun screen and lip balm.
  • Anti-malaria prophylactics, insect repellent and prescribed medication
  • Binoculars, camera, batteries and accessories
  • Sunglasses
 
Laundry service is available at most hotels, camps and game lodges. Luggage is restricted to 20kg/44lb (all luggage including hand luggage). Large suitcases are impossible to store in vehicles and on small aircraft and should NOT be used. 
Some game lodges include laundry.  There are storage facilities for luggage located in OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. Meet and assist can be arranged by SAA Vacations to assist with luggage storage.
 

Mobile phones, Land lines & Internet access

A direct international dialling service is available from the major hotels in Zimbabwe. Both local and long distance calls are metered on a time basis and every second counts in terms of cost. Major hotels and businesses have a fax service. Remember that hotels levy a substantial surcharge on all calls.
 
Lodges in the more remote areas of Zimbabwe do not have telephonic communication facilities. These lodges are able to communicate with the outside world via two-way radio.
 
Internet and email facilities are available in most towns and cities Harare, but internet cafes are generally crowded.

 

Credit Cards

 
Credit cards should only be used in Zimbabwe in major hotels or lodges.
 

Banks

 
Banks in Zimbabwe are open for business during the following hours. 
 
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 8.00am – 1.00pm 
Wednesdays 8.00am – 1:00pm 
Saturdays. 8.00-11.30am 
 

Tipping

 
A service charge is usually included in the bill in Zimbabwe, otherwise a 10% tip is customary for restaurants, hotels and taxis. In general tipping for good service is discretionary. Some tour guides and game rangers depend largely on tips for their income.
 

Water

 
Bottled water is available and the only guaranteed safe drinking water. Make sure you buy your bottled water from reputable outlets as some of the bottled water is not up to standard. Avoid drinking water straight from the faucet, although, water in the major towns is purified and generally safe to drink.  Alternatively boil the water first and cool it for drinking.  Ensure that you take bottled water with you when traveling to remote rural areas and the bush. Most lodges and camps will have bottled water supplies available either for sale or on a complimentary basis.
 

Languages

 
The official language of Zimbabwe is English and other indigenous languages spoken include Ndebele and Shona. 
 

Wildlife

 
There is a wide variety of wildlife that can be seen in Zimbabwe.  
  • MOST OF THE BIG FIVE - Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo with the exception of Rhino.
  • THE BIG CATS – Lion, Leopard, Cheetah
  • A RICH DIVERSITY OF MAMMAL SPECIES – zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, wild dog, primates, etc. and various antelope species
  • CROCODILE…AND OTHER REPTILES
  • BIRDLIFE
Always remember that while some animals have become accustomed to the presence of people they are still wild animals. Keep your distance!

Electricity

 
220/240 Volts AC. Outlets are of the 3 pin, 13-amp type.
Lodges in the more remote areas of Zimbabwe do not have electricity. These lodges generally rely on generator power for lighting and refrigeration and this power only runs at certain times of the day. Please be aware that at these lodges you will not find plug sockets in your rooms/tents.
The following table shows the proper adapters for South Africa, Zambia and neighboring countries, as well as the voltage and other necessary information.  This information was retrieved from www.europlugs.com. Feel free to visit the website to get further information, or to see pictures of the listed items.
 

Country

Voltage

Frequency

Plug and Socket Type

Universal
Plug Adapters

Country-Specific
Power Cord

South Africa

220/230 V

50 Hz

M,  D

WA-10L,  WA-10

WE-110L,  WE-110

Zambia

230 V

50HZ

C, G, D

WA-9C, WA-7, WA-10

WE-109C, WE-107, WE-110

Zimbabwe

220V

50HZ

G, D

WA-7, WA-10

WE-107, WE-110

 

Metric Conversion

 
To convert Celsius into Fahrenheit = double then add 32
 
.62 miles = 1 kilometer
3.3 feet = 1 meter
1 acre = .405 hectare
1.05 quarts = 1 liter
2.2 pounds = 1 kilogram
 

Driving

 
Driving is on the left hand side as in South Africa but we do not recommend self-drive itineraries in Zimbabawe at this stage.  The roads in many areas are in very poor condition, the availability of petrol can be a problem and there are still a number of police roadblocks.
 

Souvenirs & VAT

 
Ebony, mahogany or mukwa sculptures are common throughout the country. You can also easily find interesting works of art within the galleries in Bulawayo and Harare, though beware of poor quality woods covered in wax. You can also do some good business with precious stones such as emerald, malachite or serpentine which are either sculpted or made into jewellery. For those who like it, lace and basketery are available for a good cost/quality ratio. The most typical Zimbabwean souvenir is the famous batonka drum, made from sculpted wood and originating from the Binga region but easily found in Victoria Falls.
 
The standard rate of VAT in Zimbabwe is 15% and may be claimed at the airport.  Items must be available for viewing and not packed in locked luggage.
 
 

Travel Emergencies

 
If you have lost your passport or wallet, please contact the local police department and file a report.  Once you have done this, contact Zimbabwe’s U.S. Embassy. (see below).  If you have purchased Travel Guard travel insurance, please contact the number on your policy cards. Travel Guard will help you replace any and all lost travel documents. If you have purchased travel insurance from a different provider, please contact that insurance provider. If you did not purchase travel insurance, or if you have other travel emergencies, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. All visitors seeking Consular services are requested to make contact with the Embassy before arrival as all routine U.S. citizens services are conducted by appointment only.
 
U.S. Embassy Harare, Zimbabwe
172 Herbert Chitepo Avenue, Harare
 
Telephone: (263)-4-250-593/4
Emergency, after-hours telephone: (263)-4-250-595
Fax: (263)-4-250-343
 
Although every effort has been made to ensure the content accuracy, travelers are urged to check independently on matters of specific interest.  SAA Vacations, its associates and/or affiliates will not accept any responsibility or liability for any losses or damage resulting from the advice given.