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Zimbabwe

Country Profile: Zimbabwe

Despite its turbulent political history, Zimbabwe has one of Africa’s oldest national park systems, some of the continent’s finest wildlife guides, one of the country’s longest and most dramatic rivers, and one of the planet’s superstar attractions, Victoria Falls. Beyond the falls, Zimbabwe’s high plateaus, wooded savanna, and wetlands offer superb opportunities for wildlife viewing, fishing, boating, and more.

The natural starting point for any trip to Zimbabwe is Victoria Falls. Whether seen as an end in itself or a stepping-stone to points beyond, this most magnificent of African waterfalls is easily reached by air from adjoining countries, making it a worthy addition to any itinerary. The falls’ mile-wide, 355-foot drop is magnificent year-round, and the surrounding area offers unlimited outdoor adventures, including canoeing and white-water rafting along the Zambezi River.

Nearby, you’ll find Zimbabwe’s classic safari destination and its largest game reserve, Hwange National Park. Vast yet easily accessible, the park straddles a transitional zone between the burnt sands of the Kalahari and the savanna woodland and teak forest of the east. Among its hundreds of mammal and bird species are 30,000 elephants, whose antics you can spy on at close range from hides at the park’s water holes.

Zimbabwe’s ancient cultural roots are the focus at Matobo Hills, the country’s oldest national park. The striking granite outcrops here, sculpted by the elements into dramatic domes and spires, were home for millennia to San hunter-gatherers, whose vivid red-ochre paintings of battles, hunting expeditions, and African mammals have earned the park UNESCO World Heritage status.

North along the Zambezi River lies another UNESCO-listed site, Mana Pools National Park. This remote, undeveloped landscape is a paradise for game viewing and wildlife photography. During the December to March “emerald season,” the Zambezi’s floodplains explode with life as huge herds of buffalo and elephants come to drink at the park’s four permanent pools, joining year-round populations of hippos and crocodiles. Upriver, dazzling sunsets fill the big skies above Lake Kariba, a prime site for bird-watching, boating, and pursuing the elusive, razor-toothed tiger fish.

View Our Zimbabwe Tour

Country Highlights & Attractions
  • Thrill to the roar of Victoria Falls, one of Africa’s great natural wonders
  • Raft the raging rapids of the Zambezi River
  • Spot giraffes, zebras, and vast elephant herds in Hwange National Park
  • Seek out ancient petroglyphs and rock formations in the Matobo Hills
  • Watch wildlife flock to the natural water holes of Mana Pools National Park

Why Walk With Us

  • Trust our expertise with 38+ years in active travel.
  • Immersive experiences with our local guides.
  • Virtually everything is included, even beer and wine with dinner.
  • Your departure is always guaranteed.
  • We take care of our solo travelers.
  • Past guests and referrals always save.

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Country Facts

About Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe today seems to be known more for its recent tumultuous events and politics than for the natural beauty of its vast highlands and parks and their exceptional biodiversity, its rich culture and history, and exhilarating Victoria Falls.

Known in colonial days as Southern Rhodesia, Zimbabwe gained its independence from Great Britain in 1980. The capital city is Harare. While nominally a parliamentary democracy, Zimbabwe’s government since independence has been under the uninterrupted control of President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe, who won election as Zimbabwe’s first prime minister in 1980, abolished that office and declared himself president in 1987, simultaneously abolishing seats that had been set aside for whites in Zimbabwe’s parliament. In ensuing decades, Mugabe’s government has repeatedly come under criticism for alleged corruption, vote-rigging, intimidation, and fraud, and his tenure has been marked by a prolonged economic downturn. Despite the challenges of daily life, Zimbabweans provide a warm welcome to visitors.

Zimbabwe’s official language is English. Shona and Sindebele (also called Ndebele) are also widely spoken throughout the country, along with a number of tribal dialects. Zimbabwe’s population of 14 million is made up of many ethnic groups and subgroups with diverse local traditions, of which the Bantu-speaking Shona people are a majority, with about 82 percent of the population; the Ndebele are the second-most populous group, at around 14 percent. About half of Zimbabwe’s people are syncretic (practicing a religion that contains some Christian and some indigenous beliefs), about a quarter are Christian, and just under a quarter practice indigenous beliefs. Muslims and other minority religious groups account for the remaining 1 percent.

As in many African countries, traditional cuisine in Zimbabwe relies on a few staple foods, the main one being “mealie meal” or cornmeal, served porridge-style, and for lunch and dinner accompanied by a savory vegetable, meat, or fish stew. However, on safari, guests enjoy a wide diversity of locally grown salads, vegetables, fruits, local fish, poultry, and beef . African lager-style beers are widely enjoyed along with fine wines from South Africa.

Zimbabwe is an ideal year-round destination. Despite its location in a tropical zone, its high altitudes result in a pleasant, moderate climate. Coolest months are May to October (winter) with average temperatures in the 70s F, and the hottest months are November through April (summer) with temperatures ranging from the 70s to the high 80s F. There is rainfall in summer, usually occurring in the later afternoon or evening, with sunshine prevailing the rest of the time.

Best months for viewing mammals: Sep–Oct; for white-water rafting: Aug–Dec; for botany: Dec–May.

U.S. citizens: Passports and visas are required, and visas (current fee $30 for a single-entry tourist visa) may be obtained by paying in cash at the port of entry. You will require a KAZA Visa (current fee $50) if you are considering a day visit to the Zambia side of Victoria Falls (not included in your tour, but optional). For most up-to-date visa information, see the Embassy of Zimbabwe website: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/zimbabwe.html

For visa and passport assistance services, we recommend Travel Document Systems: www.traveldocs.com.

Zimbabwe does not have its own currency at this time; the U.S. dollar, South African rand, and British pound are among the foreign currencies widely accepted throughout the country, and prices are usually displayed in USD. Botswana’s pula is also accepted in the Victoria Falls area. Zimbabwe is a cash society, and credit cards and travelers checks are accepted at very few establishments. All departure taxes and many entrance fees must be paid in cash with U.S. dollars.

***IMPORTANT: Accessing cash through credit cards or debit cards can be a challenge. We recommend arriving with sufficient cash.There also tends to be a shortage of small currency notes in Zimbabwe so we also suggest arriving with smaller notes.

No immunizations are required to enter Zimbabwe, with the important exception that proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for all travelers traveling from, or transiting through, a country with yellow fever transmission.

Malaria medication, hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations are also generally recommended for all travelers. Requirements and recommendations change frequently, so always check directly with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC: www.cdc.gov/travel; 800-232-4636), a travel clinic, and/or your personal physician for the most current information. Plan ahead for immunizations, as some require administration several months prior to departure.

Alternating current of 220/240v and 50Hz is used in Zimbabwe. Plug types are typically the type D and the British G plug.

Zimbabwe country code: +263

International access code calling out of Zimbabwe: 001

  • Cell-phone coverage throughout Zimbabwe cannot be guaranteed at all times, especially in remote areas.
  • Internet access is also limited and is not guaranteed at all accommodations.

For more information about Zimbabwe, see the national tourism board website: www.zimbabwetourism.net.

Photos

Zimbabwe - 1 Tour Available

Guided Walking Victoria-Falls-Zambia
Africa

Zimbabwe Safari: Victoria Falls & Undiscovered National Parks

Activity level: Easy to Moderate Terrain

2 - 3 hours daily

Flight + Tour

13 days, 12 nights

From $7,648 USD

per person

Tour Only

10 days, 9 nights

From $5,998 USD

per person

Tour Highlights:
  • With expert guides, track wildlife on bush walks and follow trails along the rim of Victoria Falls
  • Get closer than you ever imagined possible to wild elephants inside an innovative underground “look-up” blind
  • Walk through conserved farmland into a remote village, where you are likely to be joined by local children on their way to school
  • Discover the fascinating history of Africa’s Cape-to-Cairo Railway as you ride along a stretch of it through Hwange’s backcountry

Have Questions?

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Departure Dates
Flight + Tour Combo

2018

  • Jun 4
  • Sep 30
Tour Only

2018

  • Jun 6
  • Oct 2
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