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Zimbabwe – Home of the Victoria Falls & Africa’s Finest Safari Guides

Zimbabwe – Home of the Victoria Falls & Africa’s Finest Safari Guides

Zimbabwe remains one of Africa’s premier safari destinations with arguably the best quality guiding in the whole of the continent! The views of the Victoria Falls are magnificent from the Zimbabwean side and it is a great launch pad to a Big 5 Safari into not only the parks of Zimbabwe, but those of Botswana and Zambia too.

Each year more and more travellers are discovering how special this country is.  Zimbabwe still lives up to its reputation as one of Africa’s finest safari destinations with vast unspoilt wilderness areas.

The three main parks are Hwange, Matusadona and Mana Pools and all three work well on a longer trip. For the seasoned safari traveller, Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe’s south eastern corner is definitely one to consider.  Access into the park has improved and with its superb lodges that hold conservation at their core and total wilderness factor, this has got to be one for the wishlist.

Added to these areas are the hauntingly beautiful Matobo Hills for their archaeology and ancient rock art, the ancient settlement at Great Zimbabwe, the lush Eastern Highlands for golf and hiking in dramatic scenery and not least the magnificent Victoria Falls.

Zimbabwean guides, well known for being the most qualified in Africa, include in their number superb old hands with more than 30 years of bush craft knowledge; often running their own very professional bush camps.

 

 

 

Introduction

Located in the heart of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe is a vibrant country of dramatic landscapes and top class safari parks. After a decade of fluctuating fortunes and political and economic uncertainty, the country still has a significant amount to offer. Superb experiences range from game drives in Hwange National Park, helicopter flights over Victoria Falls, canoe safaris in Mana Pools and unique rock art in Matobo National Park. Zimbabwe’s crowning glory is the naturally beautiful Victoria Falls which offer a wealth of spectacular scenery and awe-inspiring sights of the plunging Zambezi River. The country’s extensive wildlife is accredited to the vast diversity in ecosystems and habitats, including 500 species of bird and 350 mammal species. For visitors seeking some peace and quiet, Zimbabwe offers plenty of first class luxurious accommodation within the vast wilderness. Particular highlights are the 3,000 rock paintings in the Motobo National Park which reflect the activities of the San Bushmen 10,000 years ago.

Population:  Estimate in July 2014 –  13,771,721 Source:  CIA The World Factbook

Capital: Harare.

Religion: 50% syncretic (a blend of Christianity and traditional religion), 25% Christian, 24% traditional, 1% Islam.

Languages: Official language is English but Shona and Ndebelle are first languages for most.

Time Zone: GMT +2

Country Dialing Code: +263

Currency: The Zimbabwean dollar was withdrawn in 2009, so the US dollar is now universally accepted, followed by the South African rand, the Botswanan Pula and Pound Sterling.

Electricity:  220-240 volts AC. Plugs used in the country are British-style or South African style. Many lodges are situated in rural or remote areas so operate on generators for around 6 hours daily. It is strongly advisable to bring spare batteries.

 

Topography

Zimbabwe is landlocked and bordered by five countries; Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. Topographically, most of the country is elevated in a 1,500m high central plateau. Running NE-SW across this central plateau is the Great Dyke, known for its valuable gold and diamonds. The Eastern Highlands are another defining feature which stretch 250km along the Mozambique border where Mount Nyangani is situated at 2,592m. 20% of the country is the lowveld under 900m. In the North-West tip, the world famous Victoria Falls resides, while further downstream, the Zambezi is dammed at Kariba, home to the second largest manmade lake in Africa.

Climate

Zimbabwe’s climate is a pleasant temperate-to-tropical climate throughout the year. There are significant regional variations influenced by the topography and seasons. The country consists of 3 climatic regions; the central Highveld plateau is temperate, the Eastern Highlands is cooler and wetter and the low-lying regions of Hwange, Gonarezhou and the Upper Zambezi in the Southeast are significantly warmer throughout the year.

Seasons

The summer season begins in November and ends in April, bringing frequent rainfall, sunny mornings, dramatic storms in the afternoons and temperatures of 25-35°C. Low lying areas can reach 50°C. The rains reach the northern locations first.

The winter season from May to August is dry and cooler with maximum temperatures on average 5-10°C cooler than summer, with clear skies and virtually no rainfall. Ground frost in the mornings is not uncommon for Hwange.

 

Month

Conditions (for Harare)

January-February The wettest months (150-190mm), with the most rain in the Eastern Highlands (<2,000mm/yr). A belt of rain known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone works its way south. Regular and often torrential downpours common in the afternoon. Maximum temperature 32°C, average 26°C. Humidity 57-74%.
March Rainfall decreases. Average maximum temperature 26°C. Few nights will be below 14°C. Humidity 52-75%.
April-May Cloudless with few showers. Maximum daytime temperatures are around 21°C with a minimum night time temperature of 10°C. In more southerly and mountainous locations, night-time temperatures significantly drop.
June-August The coolest months with maximum temperatures of 28°C during the day, averaging 21°C, and lows of 7°C at night. August is slightly warmer where daytime temperatures may exceed 30°C. The days are clear and warm. This is the peak season;  days are cloudless and game sighting continues to increase.
September-October The peak of the dry season and known as suicide month.  Early afternoon temperatures average around 27°C, with maximums of 34°C and nights seldom fall below 12°C. Humidity is low during these months, averaging between 25-45%. Zimbabwe’s lower lying rift valley (Mana Pools) can get extremely hot in October.
November Often similar to October’s conditions, however humidity can build up and clouds start to form in early afternoon. Average maximum temperatures are 27°C. Extensive cloud cover results in cool temperatures and showers in the late afternoon. Mornings are generally fine and hot with blue skies.
December Temperatures are usually between 20-30°C throughout the day and night, with a maximum daytime temperature of 33°C. Coolest nights can be 16°C. Rainfall occurrences increase during the afternoon.  Humidity can reach 55-70%.

Temperature & Rainfall

Zimbabwe Temp & Rainfall Chart

 

Passport & Visa

It is essential that your passport is valid at least 6 months beyond intended stay. At least two blank passport pages are required, otherwise passport entry will be denied.

Visitors from the UK, USA and many Commonwealth countries do require visas. Visitors requiring visas, which are normally issued for 30 days, should apply in advance and cost US$30.

Visitors to Zimbabwe are advised to take out a comprehensive medical insurance policy to cover them for emergencies.

Health

It is vital to be up-to-date with the necessary immunisations, which often take 8 weeks to organise. It is wise to be up-to-date with tetanus, polio, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B and typhoid. Vaccinations against rabies are recommended especially for travellers to remote areas. Yellow fever is not needed but proof of vaccination is required if you are travelling from a yellow fever endemic area. Malaria occurs throughout Zimbabwe so it is essential to take all precautions against the disease. Please consult your doctor.

Drinking Water

Within main cities and towns, water is regularly of poor quality so it is advisable to drink bottled water. In rural areas, most camps and lodges use water from boreholes which is usually good quality. Do not drink tap water at national parks or any other rural source other than at the safari camps.

Food and Drink

Camps, lodges and hotels that cater for overseas visitors serve a range of international dishes and the quality of food in the most remote camps in usually very high. Local beer is available.

 

Shopping, Tips & Extras

Curios, jewellery, fabrics, wood carvings and crafts can be purchased, along with traditional souvenirs. In urban areas, supermarkets and larger retail outlets are available.

Tipping

Tipping is widely expected in tourist hotels and restaurants. Often a service charge is automatically added, but where not, a 10-15% tip is appreciated. Tour guides and game rangers often rely on tips for their income. It is recommended that guides are tipped US$5-US$8 per guest per day, and general staff tipped US$3 per day.

Luggage & Clothing

Smaller, privately chartered planes may have a maximum weight limit of 10-12kg for hold luggage which must be packed in a small, soft bag. Travelling with a hard suitcase may result in extra charges or separate transportation.

Clothing

Zimbabwe’s dress code is usually conservative in urban areas; so long skirts for women and long shorts for men are advisable. However, these rules are redundant at safari camps, where dress is casual. Appropriate footwear such as walking boots are useful for safari outings.

Zimbabwe Highlights

Rhinos & Rock Art in Matobo

Rhinos & Rock Art in Matobo

Rhinos & Rock Art in Matobo

Just south of Bulawayo, the Matobo Hills have one of the highest concentrations of rock art in ...

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Rhinos & Rock Art in Matobo

Rhinos & Rock Art in Matobo

Just south of Bulawayo, the Matobo Hills have one of the highest concentrations of rock art in southern Africa. Ancient Khoisan art can be viewed on foot or by 4×4 within the immediate viscinity of Big Cave Camp

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Lake Kariba House Boats

Lake Kariba House Boats

Lake Kariba House Boats

A houseboat on Lake Kariba offers the beauty of the African wild combined with all the comforts of ...

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Lake Kariba House Boats

Lake Kariba House Boats

A houseboat on Lake Kariba offers the beauty of the African wild combined with all the comforts of home. It’s a great way of getting close to Zimbabwe’s game and offers exceptional fishing. Perfect for family trips.

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Canoeing the Zambezi

Canoeing the Zambezi

Canoeing the Zambezi

Zambezi Canoe safaris are ideal for adventurous travellers who want 3 or 4 days paddling the ...

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Canoeing the Zambezi

Canoeing the Zambezi

Zambezi Canoe safaris are ideal for adventurous travellers who want 3 or 4 days paddling the Zambezi River overnighting in mobile camps along the way. Alternatively, camps dotted along the Zambezi River will take you out for a couple of hours in early morning or late afternoon for a different perspective on wildlife viewing.

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High Tea at Victoria Falls

High Tea at Victoria Falls

High Tea at Victoria Falls

Stanley’s Terrace at Victoria Falls Hotel is the setting for its famous traditional afternoon tea ...

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High Tea at Victoria Falls

High Tea at Victoria Falls

Stanley’s Terrace at Victoria Falls Hotel is the setting for its famous traditional afternoon tea with magically views of the Victoria Falls Bridge and the spray from the Falls below.

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Adventure Activities

Adventure Activities

Adventure Activities

Experience Victoria Falls - the adventure capital of AfricaApart from the experience of white water ...

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Adventure Activities

Adventure Activities

Experience Victoria Falls – the adventure capital of Africa

Apart from the experience of white water rafting the amazing rapids of the Zambezi River, there is whole host of adventure activities to enjoy. These include helicopter or microlight flights for a bird’s eye view, bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls railway bridge, zip lining batoka gorge, horse back safaris, quad biking and canoeing or fishing the Zambezi. All of the above Victoria Falls experiences will leave you with life long memories!

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Luxury Lodges

Luxury Lodges

Luxury Lodges

Zimbabwe offers remote exclusive hideaways with Conservation and Community programmes at their ...

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Luxury Lodges

Luxury Lodges

Zimbabwe offers remote exclusive hideaways with Conservation and Community programmes at their core.

The Elephant Camp is a luxury tented camp, 10 km outside Victoria Falls on a private concessions that is home to an Elephant Sanctuary and a resident orphaned cheetah who has become ambassador for his kind.

Singita Pamushana is a luxury lodge adjacent to Gonarezhou National and boasts 6 palatial suites and a 5 bedroom villa. Guests are able to learn about the lodge’s conservation and community development programmes in the 130,000 acre Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve.

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Chilojo Sandstone Cliffs

Chilojo Sandstone Cliffs

Chilojo Sandstone Cliffs

Chilojo Cliffs are one of the most prominent and enduring natural features of Gonarezhou National ...

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Chilojo Sandstone Cliffs

Chilojo Sandstone Cliffs

Chilojo Cliffs are one of the most prominent and enduring natural features of Gonarezhou National Park. These magnificent red sandstone cliffs are a terrific backdrop for a Safari sundowner cocktail.

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African Wild Dogs

African Wild Dogs

African Wild Dogs

Painted Dogs, also known as African Wild Dogs, are unique to Africa and they are among this ...

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African Wild Dogs

African Wild Dogs

Painted Dogs, also known as African Wild Dogs, are unique to Africa and they are among this continent’s most endangered species. It is estimated that less than 7,000 remain in the wild. The Painted Dog population in Zimbabwe is one of the last strongholds of the species Painted Dog Conservation works in the field to make a lasting contribution to the future of Painted Dogs and the lives of the local people. It is not unknown to encounter researchers in Mana Pools who will inspire and educate!

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Africa's Top Guides

Africa's Top Guides

Africa's Top Guides

Zimbabwe guides are some of the finest on the continent. Safety comes first on walking safaris and ...

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Africa's Top Guides

Africa's Top Guides

Zimbabwe guides are some of the finest on the continent. Safety comes first on walking safaris and their knowledge of animal behaviour keeps guests safe and they are usually great raconteurs around the evening campfire too.

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Hwange Hides

Hwange Hides

Hwange Hides

Safari hides are positioned at buzzing waterholes throughout the park and camp grounds. These ...

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Hwange Hides

Hwange Hides

Safari hides are positioned at buzzing waterholes throughout the park and camp grounds. These provide guests with an unusual perspective to view wildlife up close without being intrusive.

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Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls - one of the greatest attractions in Africa and one of the most spectacular ...

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Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls – one of the greatest attractions in Africa and one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. Enjoy Scenic Flights over the Falls, Zambezi Sunset Cruises, White Water Rafting and Guided Tours.

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Up Close On Foot

Up Close On Foot

Up Close On Foot

Zimbabwe offers some of the finest walking safaris on the continent. In the safe hands of ...

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Up Close On Foot

Up Close On Foot

Zimbabwe offers some of the finest walking safaris on the continent. In the safe hands of exceptionally qualified guides you will be able to get up close to big game on foot. Mana Pools and Hwange are both superb destinations.

If you are an intrepid safari traveller, then Mana Pools National Park could be your ideal destination where the focus is on close up encounters with wild dogs, elephant and lion.

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Eastern Highlands

The Eastern Highlands is a land of rugged mountains and scenic beauty running down the eastern border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Best reached on a self drive or ...Read More

Gonarezhou

Gonarezhou means “place of many elephants’!  It is a jewel of a wilderness area in the south east low veld adjoining the Mozambique border. It’s been ...Read More

Hwange

Hwange National Park is one of Africa’s premier elephant strongholds and there’s nothing better than watching these splendid creatures as they come down ...Read More

Kariba and Matusadona

Matusadona National Park is located on the shores of Lake Kariba and is perhaps one of the lesser known wilderness areas in Africa – both are strikingly ...Read More

Mana Pools

Mana Pools is a tantalizing prospect for the seasoned safari traveller and we urge you to visit while it remains, for the time being, a wild kingdom without ...Read More

Matobo

The Matobo Hills National Park is a small hauntingly beautiful park, easily accessible just south of Bulawayo and forms the core of the Matobo Hills region famed ...Read More

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls, one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders, is without doubt Zimbabwe’s top tourist attraction and one of the best locations in Africa to ...Read More