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Zimbabwe

Country info

Nowhere is there anything to compare with the magnificence of the Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Nothing catches the spine-tingling magic of a walk in the Zambezi Valley with buffalo and elephant cautiously watching your every move. The magic of a canoe ride where you slide stealthily past a school of hippo. Even a camera can't catch the camaraderie around the campfire or the chill in the air of an early morning game drive. Only the excitement that shines in your eyes will really convince your friends that the wild raft ride through the towering gorges of the Zambezi was not only fun, but also exhilarating.
It's not just a fist full of natural advantages that Zimbabwe brings to the international tourism market. It also offers years of experience and a well developed infrastructure, phones that work, reliable cars to hire, efficient banks, excellent roads, good shops, international hotels and a friendly people who are sincere in their welcome and desire for you to enjoy your stay. Natural wonders, infrastructure, service, facilities and a welcome; it's all there.

Zimbabwe adds one more vital ingredient: a fascinating history that provides depth and meaning. Past and present are so inextricably part of everyday life that it is impossible to separate the two.
For untold millennia Stone Age man has left the unmistakable traces of his handiwork by the rivers and the rocks of this land, where they lie still, today. Bushman artists have painted the walls of caves and overhangs leaving a gallery of stunning art for us to enjoy.
Bantu speaking people arrived from across the Zambezi nearly two thousand years ago, bringing with them their cattle and their knowledge of iron, their agriculture and their different way of life. For more than a thousand years, Arab traders have trod this land and exchanged beads, cloth, and plate from around the world for ivory, and gold. Portuguese explorers too have sought out this metal, fought battles on this soil and died from its pestilencec and hardships.

Travel info

Climate
Altitude and relief greatly affect both temperature and rainfall in Zimbabwe. The higher areas in the east and the High Veld receive more rainfall and are cooler than the lower areas. Temperatures on the High Veld vary from 12 - 13°C (55°F) in winter and 24°C (75°F) in summer. On the Low Veld the temperatures are usually 5.5°C (10°F) higher, and summer temperatures in the Zambezi and Limpopo valleys average between 32C - 38°C (90 - 100°F). Rainfall decreases from east to west. The eastern mountains receive as much as 40 inches annually, while Harare has 32 inches and Bulawayo 23.6 inches. The south and southwest receive little rainfall. Seasonal shortages of water are common. The summer rainy season last from November to March. It is followed by a transitional season, during which both rainfall and temperatures decrease. The cool, dry season follows, lasting from mid-May to mid-August. Finally, there is the warm, dry season, which last until the onset of the rains.

Clothing
Generally, casual comfortable clothing is suitable throughout the year. The most practical items to pack for safari are:
blouses with long sleeves (even in summer, they will protect you from the sun and from mosquitoes)
t-shirts
shorts or a light skirt
jeans or safari trousers for evenings and cooler days
fleece or sweater and a warm jacket for game drives (necessary, even in summer)
comfortable walking shoes
track suit - good for sleeping in during winter months
light, compact raincoat is a good idea for the summer
swimsuit, as most hotels/lodges have swimming pools
Elegant casual outfit for dinner and/or cocktails at the smarter hotels and restaurants - men are generally expected to don collar, jacket (sometimes even a tie) in cocktail bars and restaurants after 18:30, except in the warmer parts of the country and at the game lodges.
Layers are most practical for the fluctuating day/night temperatures of Botswana. Dull and/or neutral colours are more suitable for safari, white is not practical. It is best to pack hardy, durable clothing.
If you are travelling with an organised safari, it is important to check what your weight limit is. Generally you will need to restrict your luggage to 10-12 kg (packed in a soft bag) plus a reasonable amount of camera equipment.

Visa
All visitors require a visa apart from nationals from the following countries:- Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, USA, EU countries (excluding Greece and Portugal), Japan, Nationals of commonwealth states (excluding Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka).
Many, but not all, other nationals who do require visas can obtain them upon arrival. You are strongly advised to check with your local consulate or embassy.

Car hire
There is a fairly good network of roads, but some are in poor condition. Driving is on the left hand side and an International Driving Licence is recommended. There are numerous local and international car hire firms

Health
It is imperative that you obtain malaria prophylactics 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-sleeved 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.
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. Tap water is perfectly safe to drink and only in extremely remote areas is it necessary to boil or purify the water. Tetanus immunisation is recommended.

Currency
The unit of currency is the Zimbabwean dollar (Z$), which is divided into 100 cents.
Foreign currency is widely accepted and prices are usually also displayed in US$. Foreigners are requested to settle their accommodation payment in foreign currency, preferably US$.
EXCHANGE RATE
For most visitors the exchange rate is in your favour. Generally, you will find that fine cuisine, wine, and entertainment cost a fraction of the tariff charged by equivalent establishments elsewhere in the world.
Major hotels have foreign exchange facilities and most shops, lodges and travel agencies will accept traveller's cheques. Note that hotels usually offer a more favourable exchange rate than banks.
CREDIT CARDS
All major credit cards are accepted at hotels, shops and restaurants. However, please note that certain lodges and restaurants do not accept payment by Diners or American Express. Credit cards are not accepted at petrol filling stations.

Commercial Banks
Banks in Zimbabwe are open for business during the following hours:
Mon, Tues, Thur, Fri 08:00 15:00
Wed 08:00 - 13:00
Sat 08:00 11:30

Language
English is the official language of Zimbabwe although it is only the first language of about 2% of the population. Other indigenous languages spoken include Shona and Ndebele. Guided safaris are usually conducted in English.

Useful phrases:
English  - Shona Ndebele
Hello (initial) -  Mhoro/Mhoroi Sawubona/Salibonani
Hello (in reply) -  Ahoi Yebo
How are you?  - Makadii/Makadi-ni? Linjani/Kunjani?
Im well  - Ndiripo Sikona
Thank you -  Ndatenda/Masvita Siyabonga kakula
Welcome  - Titambire Siyalemukela
Good morning  - Mangwanani Livukenjani
Good afternoon  - Masikati Litshonile
Good evening  - Manheru Litshone njani
Goodbye (to person staying) -  Chisarai zvakanaka Lisalekuhle
Goodbye (to person leaving)  - Fambai zvakanaka Uhambe kuhle
Please  - Ndapota Uxolo
Excuse me -  Pamsoro.ipindeo Ngicela ukwedlula
Sorry/pardon  - Pamsoro Ngiyaxolisa
Do you speak English?  - Unodziva kutawura chirungu? Uyakwazi ukukuluma isilingu?
Yes  - Ehe Yebo
No  - Aiw Hayi
Where is . . .? -  Arikiupi . . . ? Ungaphi . . .?

Accessoires
sun block, sunglasses, hat, insect repellent - essentials!
binoculars and a camera are a must
track suit - good for sleeping in during winter months
light, compact raincoat is a good idea for the summer
swimsuit and snorkelling and diving gear
towel, torch and sleeping bag for camping safaris (sleeping bags can be hired from most safari operators)
                                                       copyright: Paul Janssen