1. When is the best time to go to Zimbabwe?
Travelers can visit Zimbabwe any time of the year, however they will be greeted with heavy downpour between December and February, and possible rains even in November and March through April. Some lodges even shut down operations for the wet season. The dry season tends to be the most popular time to visit with May through November being possible. The hottest months in most areas are June and July and are best avoided if you prefer cooler temperatures.
2. What are the accommodations like?
Accommodation options really run the gamut in Zimbabwe, with anything from traditional (and rustic) traditional safari tent camps with bucket showers if at all to luxury Egyptian cotton king beds with clawfoot soaking tubs overlooking a waterhole with a herd of elephants. Most hotels have private baths, hot water, and clean comfortable rooms. Larger hotels are typically used in metropolitan areas as a good location and proximity to the airport and other attractions is our priority. We strive to use safari camps and properties that are not only environmentally, but also socially responsible companies. Where possible, they are locally owned or employ local villagers and give back to the communities in their respective regions.
3. Do I need a converter/adapter for the electricity?
Zimbabwe uses 220-240 Volts, 50Hz electricity. They use type D and G power sockets, similar to those used in Britain. It is recommended to bring a converter or to purchase one upon arrival.
4. Are meals included?
We have tried to balance flexibility and convenience regarding meal options. For this reason, we include meals on any of our tour days when you are traveling off the beaten path where restaurant choices are limited. Most of the safari camps are all-inclusive and will include snacks on longer transfers as well. In cities, where there are a wide variety of restaurants, we generally do not include meals, to allow our travelers the flexibility of choosing their own food preferences. Your hotel will typically provide a light continental breakfast on these days.
5. What are the tour guides like?
Our tour leaders are exceptional! They are fluent in English and typically another Banut language or rural dialect as well. By Zimbabwe law, all guide licensing exams are handled at the national level by the Zimbabwe Parks Authority (ZPWMA). Extensive written, oral, and practical exams in weaponry, first aid, and fieldcraft are required along with peer review by mentors. Zimbabwe holds some of the strictest standards for guides in and required years of apprenticeship in all Africa. All of our tour leaders treat our travelers like friends, showing visitors both the major highlights and the local treasures.
6. What type of transportation is used?
In Zimbabwe a variety of transport is used from open top safari vehicles, to trains, to your own two feet! Internal flights may be used to cut down on travel time. Each tour itinerary page has a description of the transportation included on that tour. If you have additional questions, just ask!
7. What type of food is typical of Zimbabwe?
Staple foods in Zimbabwe are typically created with a cornmeal base. “Mealie meal”, or cornmeal, is used to make bota, a porridge like paste that is typically served at breakfast. Cornmeal is also used to make sadza, which is similar to bota but with vegetables, beans, and meat stewed together until it becomes more firm. As a former British colony, Zimbabweans typically do take morning and afternoon tea times as well. Other traditional foods commonly used in dishes are peanuts, beans, butternut squash, and cucumbers. Avocados and certain kinds of meat or game may also be eaten. During summer some markets will see dried mopane worms and flying ants. Both are eaten fried and have a chewy and salty flavor.
8. Are these trips suitable for kids?
It depends. If your children enjoy wildlife, learning about other cultures, and meeting new people, Zimbabwe may be a great choice. Keep in mind that US food, video games, television, etc. may not be readily available so prepare your kids ahead of time so that they will have reasonable expectations. We realize that you know your kids best so we will be happy to answer all of your questions and try to give you the most accurate impression of what to expect. However, please remember that these are adventure tours and flexibility is essential! Many lodges do have a minimum age requirement, with the youngest allowed typically being 7 years old. To make family tours easier, we often recommend having a private group and guide, though families with well-behaved children are welcome on our group departures as well. We have special private tour rates for families- please ask your trip coordinator if you are interested.
9. What is the typical age range on the Zimbabwe tours?
Typically, ages range from 25 to 65, however we have seen children as young as 6 and the "young at heart" as old as 90 on our trips!
10. Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?
Absolutely! Our Zimbabwe tours tend to attract a great mix of solo travelers, families, friends, etc. We can often match you up with other groups to share transfers to and from the more remote safari lodges. This helps to keep additional costs to a minimum. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive Solo Traveler Departures.
11. Do tour rates include international flights?
Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You can purchase international flights on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in international flights.
12. How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?
This depends on your first destination. If you are staying at an all-inclusive lodge or safari camp, typically their shuttle will plan to pick you up when your flight arrives for the transfer directly to the lodge. If you are staying in your arrival city for an overnight first, then we can either arrange a pickup for you at an additional cost, or you can take a local taxi.
13. Are there any discounts available?
Absolutely! We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Travel Discounts
page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.
14. How much should I budget for tips?
Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary to offer a small tip for exceptional service. Tipping amounts vary widely, but we recommend $7-$10 per day for your guide and $3-$5 per day for other safari camp staff. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.
15. How far in advance should I book?
You can book your Zimbabwe tour at any time and generally the earlier you book, the better. Booking early (3 months or more recommended) is especially important for travelers visiting during the high season to ensure that first choice camps are still available. Further, we usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available. We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice hotel may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip planner can recommend some similar options that would be equally interesting!
16. Are tour dates flexible?
YES. Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed online. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as hotels and a guide are available.
17. Can I extend or change my stay?
Absolutely! Give us a call for suggestions in the region. We can easily arrange for extensions to other Africa destinations such as South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, or Zambia. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.
18. What should I pack?
You will receive a detailed packing list after you book your tour. Since the climate varies depending upon locations and season, it is difficult to offer many generalizations. Comfort is the rule and fancy clothes are not necessary for any of our Zimbabwe tours.
19. How concerned should I be about the altitude?
Zimbabwe is a relatively low lying nation, with its highest peak topping out at around 8500 ft. Altitude sickness is generally not a concern.
20. How safe is Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe is a relatively safe country for visitors in the game reserves, national parks, and larger cities. As always, travelers need to be aware of their surroundings and use common sense when venturing out at night. Zimbabwe does have a past history of wanting to end white-supremacy in the country, which has resulted in white-owned lands being seized by the government. While individual disdain towards foreigners may not follow suit, visitors would be wise to be conscientious and sensitive of this history. Certain acts also draw unnecessary suspicion and should be avoided. Particular attention to what you photograph outside of the game parks and main tourist attractions. Political sensitivity to opposition (particularly from western nations) may cause suspicions to arise when seeing foreigners photographing government buildings, police cars, or other ‘official’ government subjects. It is worth noting here too, that speaking critically of the country’s president is a punishable crime. Homosexual acts or displays of affection are likewise considered a punishable crime in Zimbabwe, so please be discreet when in public. Should any local political riots break out, westerners would be wise to stay away and contact the local embassy for any specific instructions.All this being said, Zimbabwe is a relatively safe country. The most common issue reported are pickpockets when visiting crowded marketplaces or shopping areas. Be wise and keep your possessions hidden under your top layer of clothing to prevent anything from being stolen.
21. Is the water safe to drink?
The tap water is generally NOT safe to drink anywhere in Zimbabwe. Bottled water or filtered water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, safari camps & restaurants, and hot water (boiled to make it safe) or hot tea is generally offered with a meal at a restaurant. Travelers can also use bottled water when brushing your teeth to be extra cautious.
22. What should I pack on safari?
You must be careful what to pack, as international flights restrict luggage weight to 20 kg (about 44lbs) and domestic flights restrict the total of your hand baggage and luggage to only 15 kgs, so you need to pack light.
Relaxed clothing is best, as is cotton. It is best to bring 3-4 outfits and use the readily available laundry services at most safari camps to keep re-wearing the same clothes. Underwear however should be packed for your entire time, as due to local traditions, laundry service may not be offered for these garments. Clothing that covers most of your body is also best, to help protect from the sun as well as mosquitoes. Comfortable walking shoes are also must. A more complete packing list will be sent to you after confirming your exact itinerary. It is noted that travelers should avoid any clothing that is of a camouflage design, as it is illegal to wear this in Zimbabwe.
23. Can I use US dollars or do I need local currency? What is the local currency, exchange rate, etc.?
The US dollar is the official currency though South Africa Rand is also accepted in main cities. It's a good idea to arrive with US dollars. Other currencies (such as Euros) are sometimes accepted or exchangeable in larger cities, such as Victoria Falls Town, however the exchange rate is not likely to be favorable. Some cash should be brought when traveling to safari camps for incidentals and gratuities, etc.
24. Should I bring cash or Traveler's checks? Are ATMs available? Can I use credit cards?
Credit cards (Visa & sometimes MasterCard) are accepted in major hotels only and are not readily used or accepted outside of larger tourist areas. Zimbabwe is predominantly a cash-based society and ATMs even are a rare occurrence. Most well-established hotels, and a few bank ATMs will accept cards. Travelers should check with their card company before they travel to inquire about any per-day maximum limitations. Plan to bring enough cash with you for the majority of your trip, preferably in small bills as change for larger bills is not generally available. Traveler’s checks are not typically used.
25. Can I use my cell phone?
Depending on your provider, some mobile phones will receive a signal in some towns and safari camps near larger towns when using the local provider, Econet. You should contact your phone carrier to find out if your phone will work properly. Another option is to buy a local SIM card once you are in Zimbabwe if you do have an unlocked phone. It is advised to also double check your international calling rates with your provider. Services for making international phone calls are widely available in tourist areas. Many safari camps do offer a communal wifi signal, however keep in mind the internet connection is much slower than what you are used to at home and video-chat may be frustrating. Safari camps oftentimes do impose a restriction against using cell phones while on game drives and in certain parts of the camp. It is best that you plan to be ‘unplugged’ while in the country.
26. Do I need a visa/passport?
To travel to Zimbabwe, all travelers will all need a passport valid for at least 6 months after they depart. Currently, citizens from the US do not need a visa, and will receive a Visa on Arrival. Travelers must be careful to acquire the proper kind of visa for their trip, whether it be a single-entry or double-entry visa. If you are visiting neighboring countries, and will be returning into Zimbabwe, you will need to purchase a double-entry visa. Day-tripper visas between Zambia and Zimbabwe are also available at certain borders. The Kaza Univisa, which allowed for one visa applicable to both Zimbabwe and Zambia, has currently been suspended at this time, but may be offered again in the future. Travelers from other nationalities should check with the local consulate for visa information. Entry requirements change with surprising frequency. It is each traveler's responsibility to check with the consulate for the most up-to-date visa information.
27. What immunizations are recommended/required
No immunizations are currently required for visiting Zimbabwe. Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and malaria medications are highly recommended. Malaria is a possibility in most areas and precautions should be taken prior to your trip. Hepatitis B, Rabies and yellow fever preventatives are also loosely recommended depending on where you plan to travel in Zimbabwe. A yellow fever and/or cholera vaccination is required if you are arriving from another country with risk of yellow fever/cholera. The yellow fever vaccination, which is valid for 10 years, must be administered at least 10 days before your arrival in the destination with yellow fever risk. Travelers must bring along their International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) as proof of vaccination. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control web-site
28. What time zone is Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe is in the Central Africa Time Zone, or UTC+02:00.
29. Is travel insurance recommended?
Absolutely!!! In fact many camps require it. We work with a company called TravelGuard that provides reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc. They have two different types of insurance available, depending upon whether or not you will need the cancellation coverage. Check out our Once You're Booked
page for more information.