Zimbabwe travel information
What to Wear
When travelling to foreign destinations it is always respectful to dress modestly and we suggest the emphasis is on comfortable clothing. It is often very warm on the plains during the day, but it can get very cold, especially in the early mornings and evenings for game drives. DO NOT at any time wear camouflage materials as it is illegal, only the armed forces wear these.
Whilst on safari neutral coloured, loose fitting and relaxed clothing is the most appropriate. You might feel rather a ‘clichéd traveller’ but the reason most safari clothing is khaki or light brown is that tsetse flies are attracted to darker colours. Basically, loose light coloured clothing is best. We also suggest taking a fleece or jumper for early morning games drives and evenings around the camp fire. It can be surprisingly cool! Some safari vehicles will provide a blanket but it is best to be prepared for cool mornings as the wildlife wakes up around you. A perfect way to start the day!
Please also refer to our suggested packing list in your journey essentials document post-booking.
Please limit baggage to two items per person and always use soft bags rather than suitcases. In specific cases i.e. for internal flights, luggage may be limited to 10kg per person. More information about luggage can be found in your journey essentials document post-booking.
Getting There & Away
If Natural World Safaris has arranged your international flights you will be sent your flight itinerary separately. Please note that once your flights have been booked these will be subject to their respective terms and conditions. If you haven’t booked your flights with Natural World Safaris clients will need to make their own arrangements to arrive and leave in accordance with their itinerary. We can arrange these flights for you if needed, please ask for further details.
Upon arrival at your destination, you will be met by our local representative. They will hold a ‘welcome card’ with your name on it. We have provided local contact details in the accompanying information but if you have any problems please call our 24-hour UK telephone number on +44 (0)7887 637 628. If you are arriving into Livingstone Airport, please be aware that, due to airport congestion, all tour operators now have to wait for their guests outside the Waiting Lounge below the stairs, this is essentially outside. This means that drivers and guides may not be visible in the arrivals hall when you first come through.
Hotels & Lodges
The lodges/camps in Zimbabwe are generally of a very high standard. They are usually small and intimate offering a very personal and high level service and consist of anything from walk in tents to cottages. Electricity is usually provided from a generator or by solar power. We do however always attempt to use environmentally friendly lodges that are committed to helping the local communities.
Most lodges are able to offer laundry facilities but please note that the cost is not always included. Check with reception for current prices. Due to natural drying and variable climatic conditions your clothing might not always come back ‘bone dry’. As most laundry is hand washed please avoid handing in delicate clothing. Most lodges won’t wash underwear but will happily provide washing powder to use in your room.
Food & Water
Food varies from destination to destination. Please bear in mind that we try to use lodges/camps that use local produce which supports the local communities. Do not be afraid to try local produce it is part of the experience!
We recommend that you only drink bottled water which is often provided by the lodges.
Mobile phone coverage is very limited in some of the more remote places. Most of the communication to and from the lodges is done via radio or in emergencies, satellite phones.
We are not able to provide contact details for individual hotels, lodges or camps, as many do not have the facilities to handle guest calls/communications. We will provide contact details for our ground agents, please see accompanying information.
Zimbabwe is in the Central Africa Tome zone (CAT) which is two hours (+2) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). There is no daylight saving time.
Sunrise in Zimbabwe depends on the season, but this ranges from 05.10 to 06.30 and sunset ranges from 17.30 to 18.50.
Outside of the major towns electricity supplies in rural areas are provided by solar cells or generators. As such most lodges are only able to provide lighting/power to guest rooms at set times in the morning and afternoon. Most lodges do not have in room electrical sockets but charging facilities will be available, so please ask at reception. Please bear in mind that solar power is weather dependent and at times insufficient sunshine may mean lighting is limited. In these instances alternative lighting is generally available e.g. storm lanterns or torches.
The electricity supply in Zimbabwe is 220 volts, 50Hz. Plug sockets do vary and we advise visitors to take multi-adapters to cope with 3 round pin sockets (South Africa) or 3 square pin sockets (UK).
The Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWD) was the local currency in Zimbabwe, however it was suspended indefinitely in 2009. Currently the local currency is South African Rand (ZAR or R), Botswana Pula (BWP), US Dollars (USD) or the British Pound (GBP). You will be able to use your debit/credit card at most lodges/hotels/shops/petrol stations/restaurants although we always recommend having cash.
As most meals, park fees, guiding fees etc are covered in the cost of your safari we generally recommend allowing approximately US$10-15 per person per day for spending money on drinks, souvenirs and craft items. We do not advise you to carry large sums of money with you.
You may wish to take extra funds to make contributions or donations to organisations that we encourage clients to visit. Donations and contributions are entirely voluntary.
It is preferable to travel with cash rather than travellers cheques or credit cards (cards are useful as an emergency back–up); often it is only possible to use these in main cities or some of the larger lodges. US Dollars and British Pounds are accepted at most lodges throughout Zimbabwe. It is illegal to change money in Zimbabwe, anywhere but from an officially licensed dealer and they may not always have sufficient funds to accommodate your request.
Never keep all of your cash in the same place, keep it in different pockets and split it up between different bags.
If you are carrying USD$ or GBP£, please take bills dated 2006 or later as earlier dated bills may not be accepted (as well as torn and dirty bills – the crisper the better!). A number of low denomination USD$ bills are useful for tipping.
Credit/debit cards are not widely accepted. It is possible to withdraw cash from some ATMs, however we do not advise you to rely on this.
At time of writing there is no departure tax.
A valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity and 3 blank pages is mandatory for entry to Zimbabwe and exiting via a neighbouring country if quick departure is necessary. You will need a visa to enter Zimbabwe; this can be purchased before travel or on the border. We always recommend getting your visa in advance and please note obtaining the correct entry visas are your responsibility.
Please contact the Zimbabwean Embassy for current requirements and for your visa application.
Please note obtaining the correct entry visas are your responsibility.
The UNIVISA system (which allowed travellers to enter both Zimbabwe and Zambia using a dual visa) is currently suspended. If you’re travelling between Zimbabwe and Zambia (more than one entry either way), you should get a double entry visa for both countries. Both Zimbabwe and Zambia issue double entry visas at ports of entry.
Embassy Contact Details
In the UK the Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe is located at Zimbabwe House, 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR.
Tel: 020 7836 7755
In the USA the Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe is located at 1608 New Hampshire Avenue, Washington, DC 20009
Tel: (202) 332 7100
All of our local operators conform to local safety regulations. If you at any time feel that this is not the case please do not hesitate to contact us.
Know Before You Go is an ongoing campaign from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to help Brits stay safe abroad, however in our opinion it has useful information for all nationalities. The campaign was launched in 2001 to promote these key messages:
Get adequate travel insurance
Check the FCO’s country travel advise
Visit your GP as soon as possible before travelling
Check your passport is in good condition and valid and you have all necessary visas
Make copies of important documents and/or store them online using a secure data storage site.
Tell someone where you are going and leave emergency contact details with them
Take enough money and have access to emergency funds.
We suggest that you go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to get up to date information on your specific destination and important travel tips before you travel.
Go to: https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/ for relevant and important travel tips to plan your trip abroad.
Do not flaunt money and always use safes when provided at hotels/lodges. If in doubt please ask your guide. Most of the lodges that are used in Zimbabwe are far from any built up areas and so incidents are very rare, however remain vigilant when in Zimbabwe. The main concern with regards to security is the threat from the wildlife which often roams free within the confines of the lodges and so special care needs to be taken when walking around alone. Do not approach wildlife on your own as they can be dangerous, please treat all safaris with caution and respect.
For latest travel advice please contact us, at our UK office, or alternatively use the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
Health & Medical
Always seek medical advice before travelling; please consult your GP or Doctor who will be able to advise you on required vaccinations and anti-malarial prophylaxis.
In the UK we recommended visiting the ‘Fit for Travel’ website.
In the USA we suggest consulting CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) - http://www.cdc.gov/
Please bring any personal medication required. Anti-malaria tablets and mosquito repellents are essential. Drink bottled or boiled water only. Travel from some countries requires a Yellow Fever inoculation and certificate. When travelling between South Africa and Zambia a Yellow Fever inoculation and certificate is compulsory, even if just in transit. Please seek medical advice before travelling and ensure you have all of your relevant vaccinations.
Medical services in Zimbabwe are basic and somewhat unreliable, so it is essential you have appropriate travel insurance with adequate medical cover, air repatriation with a 24-hour contact telephone number for emergencies.
It is a condition of booking that all clients must have, and must demonstrate to the company prior to their departure, adequate insurance for the duration of the tour.
Proof of the following items of insurance is required on booking; cancellation or curtailment of your trip, medical expenses, repatriation, loss of luggage, personal injury, adventure activities such as white-water rafting, tracking wild animals, theft of personal belongings.
Please report any theft, trip disruption immediately to your guide during your trip and also in writing to Natural World Safaris immediately on return to your home country.
We strongly believe that smoking in national parks should be avoided and is often not permitted.
Travel times can vary considerably in Zimbabwe. Main roads are generally good but travel is much slower than on European or American roads. Most roads in rural areas are often dusty or muddy and bumpy due to poor local maintenance and weather conditions. Wherever necessary we use properly equipped 4x4’s. Transfers between lodges are often done by light aircraft (please see the baggage section regarding restrictions) as this is the easiest way to get around. Departure times and travel times will vary depending on the route and how many stops there are before your drop off point. This is great way to get around as it gives you an aerial perspective of the country. We would generally advise avoiding public bus transportation. The services are unreliable, badly maintained, over crowded and the drivers often uninsured and reckless.
The weather in Zimbabwe depends on the season, but usually temperate all year round due to its inland location and altitude. Generally it is warm during the day and can be cold at night and early morning. Zimbabwe is in the southern hemisphere and so experiences its winter between May and September when night time temperatures can drop as low as 5 degrees centigrade. Some very sharp cold spells can occur where the temperature will drop down between -5ºC and 5 ºC.
Between October and April is the ‘summer’; usually sunny in the mornings with thunderstorms common in the afternoon. Day temperatures average from 25 ºC to 35 ºC and nights from 14 ºC - 20 ºC. Lowland areas are generally warmer all year round, with temperatures averaging 35 ºC - 50 ºC.
The main rainy season is between November and March.
Please refrain from photography of military personnel, military installations and airports. Always ask for permission when taking photos of local people or alternatively ask your guide for advice. Please bring extra batteries as it may not always be possible to re-charge them at the lodges. In addition it might be useful to bring a car charger (cigarette lighter variety). For photographing wildlife a zoom lens of 300mm or more is highly recommended.
Most lodges in Zimbabwe offer an all inclusive package that includes local drinks, all meals and game activities and so our prices usually include the following: airport transfers, accommodation, meals and drinks as per your itinerary, shared game drives and transfers, most game activities, most park fees
Prices exclude all items of a personal nature: entry visas, international flights, tips, telephone calls, drinks (unless otherwise stated), laundry and airport taxes.
These are just rough guidelines and some may differ depending on the itinerary chosen.
Tips & Gratuities
During your time in Zimbabwe, tipping is entirely at your discretion. There is no obligation to pay a tip to your drivers, hotel staff or your government guides. However, should you wish to tip, the following may be used as a guideline:
US$5 -10 per person per night at each camp/lodge. This goes into a main pot and is divided between all the staff. It is quite normal to tip your guide separately using the same guidelines.
If there are other staff who have been particularly helpful you may want to tip them separately (US$1-5 per day).
For airport transfers you may wish tip your driver between US$2-5 per vehicle.
Charitable Giving & Community Projects
We recommend as part of our responsible travel policy that you do not give money or gifts directly to local people. We have links with local projects/schools that would appreciate your support. Please ask your guide for further details. If you would like to contribute to these donations of clothing, pens and pencils are greatly appreciated.
When you buy an ATOL protected flight or flight inclusive holiday from us you will receive an ATOL Certificate. This lists the flight, accommodation, car hire and/or other services that are financially protected, where you can get information on what this means for you and who to contact if things go wrong. Company Name: Natural World Safaris Ltd. ATOL Number 9826. For more information please visit their website: http://www.caa.co.uk/atol-protection/
As a member of the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), Natural World Safaris Ltd has provided a bond to meet the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.
In the event of insolvency, protection is provided for non-flight packages commencing in and returning to the UK and other non-flight packages excluding pre arranged travel to and from your destination. Please note that packages booked outside the UK are only protected when purchased directly with Natural World Safaris Ltd.
In the above circumstances, if you have not yet travelled you may claim a refund, or if you have already travelled, you may claim repatriation to the starting point of your non-flight package.
The ABTOT number is 5127.