Zimbabwe can be the ultimate stress-free holiday if you go prepared. As with many travel destinations that are more adventurous and not filled to the brim with tourists, there are some things you need to know before you leave home.
10 things you need to know before travelling to Zimbabwe:
South African Airways is a great way to get to Zimbabwe. The airline will take you to Bulawayo, Harare or Victoria Falls from Johannesburg. If you have the time and want to work in a quick beach holiday you can head to Durban or Cape Town on your way out via Johannesburg. Flights are between 1 – 2 hours and the staff are super friendly! I might be biased as a South African, but I mean it. Lots of smiles, and great food. For SAA specials sign up to their newsletter or follow them on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
Malaria Tablets and mosquito repellent:
This is a no-brainer, but just be safe and take the tablets. I was incredibly nervous about nightmares and feeling sick, but I had no side effects! The best tip I read was to take your tablet in the morning on a full stomach. Don’t take your tablets if you are planning to lay down afterwards as this will increase the risk of feeling sick. Make sure to check with your GP that it doesn’t interfere with other medication that you are taking. Buy a repellent that is a good size for your hand luggage as you’ll need to reapply throughout the day and night.
Zimbabwe requires visitors from certain countries to purchase a visa upon entry (like the UK and USA). You get this done at the airport when you arrive but have a look here to make sure you know whether you need a visa or not and what you need to pay. Category A doesn’t need to worry about a visa, Category B does. Very excitingly Zimbabwe and Zambia have introduced the KAZA uni-visa for USD $55 gets you multi-entry into Zimbabwe and Zambia. Botswana should shortly join the KAZA visa. You can apply online here.
Raincoat for the falls:
If you are visiting during or straight after the rainy season (November – March) you are going to need a raincoat for Victoria Falls. The spray will leave you soaked! Make sure to take protection for your camera too.
Warm clothes for morning and evening safaris:
Do not be fooled! Just because it can reach 37°C doesn’t mean it doesn’t get freezing cold when you’re on a jeep searching for elephants at 06:00! Take enough layers. From personal experience, I like to take a beanie and tissues! It’s so cold that your nose won’t stop running until it starts to warm up and you don’t want to chase a lion away because your’e sniffing…don’t be that person!
At times it can be hard to find cash in Zimbabwe. The bigger towns and cities are filled with amazing markets and you’re going to want cash! USD is the preferred currency so make sure to get enough dosh before you leave for your holiday. You can check with your accommodation whether they’ll have a safety deposit box, but most do. Tipping your driver, or hotel staff is also preferred in cash. USD $200 should be more than enough for 7 days if you have full board.
Take dry snacks and always carry water with you:
I’m the kind of person who needs to eat throughout the day. Because you might not have the chance to stop at restaurants/grocery stores make sure to take some dried fruit, nut bars or energy sweets with you that can’t melt. Each bottle of water that left the hotel with us was consumed, quickly! To take on that kind of heat you need water and a lot of it.
If you are on a self-drive, fill up petrol where you can:
Petrol and diesel can be hard to find at times, so when you get the opportunity make sure to fill up your car.
Sunblock, sunblock and more sunblock:
This is an obvious one, but even as a South African I didn’t comprehend just how strong the sun is in Zimbabwe. Don’t be a fool, use your sunblock and reapply throughout the day.
If you plan to mostly stay in a national park then I can certainly recommend taking full-board for your accommodation option. These often include at least one safari per day. Outside the major cities and towns, you don’t have a large variety of restaurants or grocery stores, so full-board will just help you with a totally stress-free holiday.
For more on Zimbabwe take a look here. It’s without a doubt a must on your travel bucket list!
Feel free to send me any Zimbabwe travel questions and I’ll gladly share more about my time there.