Planning a trip to Zimbabwe?
The country in the south of Africa is full of natural beauty, and it’s sure to be one of your top destinations for years to come.
However, to make sure you remember your trip fondly, there are some things to keep in mind while traveling in Zimbabwe.
Here are our best Zimbabwe travel tips for your next trip:
1. Conserve Your Cash
Since June of 2019, the Zimbabwe Dollar is the only legal tender in the country. However, supplies of physical cash are super low, and many ATMs and banks won’t allow you to make a cash withdrawal there using a debit card or credit card from abroad. Check to make sure credit cards are accepted as much as possible during your trip, including at your hotel, for food, and when buying gas, if needed.
US Dollars are still accepted in many establishments, so be sure to ask if you can pay in USD.
2. Be Safe
The capital city of Harare, as well as other areas of Zimbabwe, have a moderate amount of crime. Whether traveling alone or traveling with friends, be wary when out and about at night, or just avoid going out from late evening altogether.
3. Know When to Go
November through March is known as the wet, rainy season, with dreary days punctuated by thunderstorms and higher humidity levels. June and July are usually the coolest months, as well as the months with the least rain, although anytime between April and early October is pretty dry.
4. Don’t Photograph Government Things
It’s forbidden to take photos of armed forces or police officers. Also, no taking photos of anything political, including protests, speeches, or demonstrations. It’s also prohibited to snap any pictures of airports, official buildings, embassies, and other such places, so save the Instagramming for Victoria Falls.
5. Carry ID Everywhere
You should carry some form of identification with you at all times while traveling around Zimbabwe. However, be prudent and leave your passport locked up in the hotel safe; take a secondary form of ID, such as a passport photocopy or a driver’s license, with you as you spend the day out.
Related Read: What is the African Union?
6. Get the Right Immunizations & Vaccinations
It is recommended to be up to date on several vaccinations and immunizations before traveling to Zimbabwe, including hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, mumps and rubella (MMR), tetanus shots, cholera, polio, and measles. Yellow fever shots are also recommended, and they could be required if you’re traveling from some countries in Africa and South America.
7. Know How to Drive
Many international driver’s licenses are recognized and allowed for use in Zimbabwe, usually for a period of up to 12 months. If driving, make sure to get a receipt if you pay any fine. Also, it’s offensive (and could be dangerous) to not stop your car when the President’s motorcade passes by; the President’s security personnel have been known to assault drivers who didn’t stop in time or in the right location.
Be aware that Zimbabwe has really no DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol) laws, so it can be very dangerous at night for that reason, as well. Finally, you could face a heavy fine for driving a car while operating a mobile device.
8. Ration Your Fuel
If you’re planning on driving in Zimbabwe, you have to be prepared for low availability of gasoline, as well as long lines at gas stations. Also, one gas station may have gas one day and the very next be out, so if you have an opportunity to purchase fuel, don’t wait.
9. Keep Your Stomach Happy
Drink bottled water to avoid any stomach issues stemming from consuming contaminated tap water. Since ice cubes are usually made from tap water, don’t get ice in your drinks at restaurants.
10. Take Home the Right Souvenirs
There are a lot of pretty things you can bring home from Zimbabwe, but if you’re going to buy anything with precious or semi-precious stones, you must have the correct paperwork. And no ivory anything, because it’s illegal and makes you a bad person.
11. Use Safe Transportation Methods
If you can’t or won’t drive while in Zimbabwe, public transportation is often not the safest alternative. Though taking public transportation is a good way of helping meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, it may be dangerous.
Bus drivers, particularly on busy city routes are frequently overworked and tired, and the drivers of minibuses, known as “kombis” or “combis,” are often reckless, so much so that the US government bans its embassy personnel from using them as transportation.
12. Respect the Religion
More than 80% of the country identifies as Christian, but it doesn’t mean you can act the same as you would in Europe. Don’t wear anything too revealing or skimpy, such as short shorts, and keep PDA down to a minimum. Also, unfortunately Zimbabwe has some ultra-conservative views on same-sex relations, particularly between men, so be wary of that in public. Finally, porn is prohibited.
13. Carry a Spare Battery
There are periodic power outages in the country, as well as long periods of time without power, in some cases. To be sure you have the essentials powered, bring a battery and give that the highest priority to charge when you do have power, as it can provide numerous recharges for multiple phones over the course of a day.
14. Take the Right Travel Adapter
Speaking of electricity, be sure to carry the right travel plug adapter with you to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe uses two plug types, D and G at 220V and 50 Hz.
15. Tip Right
A 10% tip is common in city restaurants, or up to 15%. For hotel porters and parking attendants, it’s customary to provide $1 USD or its equivalent for their services. Make sure a service charge hasn’t been added on to your bill first, however.
16. Know What to Wear
During the rainy season, you may want to bring an umbrella and a rain poncho, of course. However, more importantly to keep in mind is that it is illegal to wear anything with a camouflage pattern (well, civilians, but if you’re visiting, you’re considered a civilian while there).
Zimbabwe is a gorgeous place full of friendly people with genuine smiles, and you likely won’t regret going. If you keep these travel tips for visiting Zimbabwe in mind, you’ll have a blast!
Well, that’s all our Zimbabwe travel tips, and we hope you’ll find them useful on your upcoming trip. Got any feedback, questions, or other travel tips for Zimbabwe to share? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!