Victoria Falls is one of the top tourist attractions of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Travel Guide

This travel guide helps you plan your trip to Zimbabwe with the top sites to see, the best time to visit, safety issues, scams, money matters, and more.

Zimbabwe has had a turbulent, and sometimes violent, past, but with its political situation more stable today, travel is safer and more viable.

Although it’s best known for breathtaking Victoria Falls, locally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or ‘The Mist That Thunders’, for the massive, rising mist that can be seen from up to 30 miles (50 km) away, there are also several other fascinating sites, including The Great Zimbabwe, ruins from an ancient Zimbabwean Kingdom, safaris at Hwange and Mana Pools National Parks, gravity defying rock and ancient petroglyphs at Matoba Hills National Park, and more. on too of this, the locals are very friendly and welcoming of tourists.

Top Attractions In Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is rich with beautiful natural resources, opportunities for adrenaline-rush adventure, and fascinating history.

Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe’s most well known and most visited site is Victoria Falls. Considered the world’s largest waterfall, it has the distinction of having the world’s largest curtain of falling water and is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. But it’s even more impressive in person. Especially when the Zambezi River is at its peak from February to May.

Victoria Falls is the top site in the Zimbabwe Travel Guide
Victoria Falls and Victoria Falls Bridge

When peaking, the mist is so intense, a helicopter, or microlite ride, for a view from above is an ideal chioce (unlike above which was in a dryer season). When the water is low, you can experience the rush of the Zambezi by white water rafting, considered by many to be the best white water rafting experience in the world. There are also several heart pounding adventures for adrenaline junkies, like bungy jumping off Victoria Falls bridge (or Zim Zam bridge), zip lining over the gorge, a gorge swing, and more.

Victoria Falls is a highlight of the Zimbabwe Travel Guide
Victoria Falls

There’s also Victoria Falls National Park nearby, with a variety of wildlife including lion, cape buffalo, elephant, leopard, zebra, giraffe, antelope, and more.

Mana Pools National Park

Although challenging to get to, Mana Pools National Park offers outstanding game viewing and unique walking safaris opportunities as animals congregate around pools in the floodplains of the Zambezi during the dry season. Known for its volume of elephant, you can also see buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah, hippo, and more. Sadly, it was once a refuge for rare the rare rhino, but poaching diminished their number so greatly, they were eventually all moved from here for their safety. Because of this you can only find 4 of the Big 5 here.

The Great Zimbabwe Ruins

A little known, but fascinating place, and yet another UNESCO World Heritage site is the Great Zimbabwe. This ancient royal palace and the Kingdom of Zimbabwe was a powerful, prosperous, international trading city from the 11th to 15th century, inhabited by the ancestors of the Shona people (the largest ethnic group in Zimbabwe today).

the Great Zimbabwe is one of the top attractions in the Zimbabwe travel Guide
The Great Zimbabwe

It consists of a Hill Complex, considered the spiritual and religious center of the city and the oldest part of the ruins, the Great Enclosure, with walls up to 36’ (11m) built without mortar, and valley ruins, living units scattered in the valley.

The Great Zimbabwe

Matoba Hills

Matoba (or Matopa) Hills has history dating back thousands of centuries, with landscape full of gravity defying rock formations and ancient rock art.

Hwange National Park

This is the largest nature reserve in Zimbabwe and third largest in Africa. Known for its large population of elephant and wild dog, it’s a destination to spot the Big 5, although rhino are rare.

Best Time To Visit Zimbabwe

Game Viewing

The best time to visit the national parks for game is the dry season, June through October. As the dry season progresses, temperatures increase, with October being the hottest. June, July, and August are winter months, and evening temperatures are quite cold.

Victoria Falls

Every year is different, but there are general rules.

Peak Flow: March to June. Also when the mist is at its peak, often hindering visibility. Think goggles and ponchos at times. A good time for helicopter viewing.

Transition Flow: June through August/September (and January/February). Decent water flow and good visibility.

Lowest Flow: September to December. Water may be down to just a trickle.

White Water Rafting: White water rafting is best when water levels are low.

Languages In Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe holds the world record for the most official languages, at 16. The 3 primary languages are English, Shona, and Ndebele. Surprisingly, you will find English speakers just about everywhere in Zimbabwe, with 89% speaking it fluently.

Money Matters

Currency: The Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWD) was reinstated in 2019 after using the USD for years. Conversion rates as of January 2, 2023.

  • USD (1) = 322 ZWD
  • Euro (1) = 354 ZWD
  • CNY (1) = 45.18 ZWD

Credit Cards & ATMs: Credit cards are not widely accepted, although may be accepted in tourist areas. If you do use a credit card, verify you’re charged the correct amount as problems have been known to occur. ATMs are also not widely available. They also may not work and may not have cash. And if they do, the cash you are given can be old, which some people may not accept. Confusing, right? It’s best to pre-pay as much as possible before arrival and bring sufficient cash for the rest. USD may be accepted in larger towns and tourist spots, but not always. Convert money to Zimbabwean dollars for more remote areas, but get small bills as some may not have change for larger ones. Due to volatility of the money situation, it’s best to research details prior to your trip.

Tipping: Tipping is voluntary, but 10 – 15% is customary for good service in restaurants. Ask your lodge about tipping safari guides.

Zimbabwe Travel Guide: Safety

Safety is a consideration in Zimbabwe. In most cases there will not be an issue, however, as the economy is challenged, some people resort to crime. Exacerbating the situation, police assistance has been known to be limited.

The situation can vary dramatically and quickly, so it’s best to research closer to your trip. The US Department of State offers a program called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). You can register in advance and will be advised if dangerous situations are known in advance.

Overall, its s best not to attract attention to yourself, wear anything valuable, or leave valuables in your vehicle. Take precautions and always be aware of your surroundings. Trust your instincts. If things don’t feel right, evaluate alternatives.

All this said, I felt safe when I was here, although admittedly, I was here as part of a group tour and sis not visit here solo. We did walk the streets in small groups and found the locals very welcoming and friendly, wanting to say hello and talk.

The Great Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Travel Guide: Scams

Fake Travel Organizations

Always make sure to book with official travel organizations. Zimbabwe makes this easy by providing updated lists of registered tourism facilities on the the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority website. You can also do an internet search on organizations and read reviews before booking. It’s also a good idea to make sure their phone number actually works.

Overcharging For Taxis

It’s common for local taxis to try to overcharge tourists. Make sure they use the meter, and have an idea how much a ride should cost (ask at your hotel or a lcoal on the street). There is no Uber in Zimbabwe, but there is a relatively new ride hailing app called Vaya.

Fake Officials

If asked to provide your paperwork, or someone suggests that they can help you avoid legal requirements, ask for their identification to verify they are official.

Corruption

Police are poorly paid here, so, although rare, some may try to ask for a bribe if you do not have proper paperwork or your vehicle has some violation. It’s best to avoid this completely by making sure your paperwork is correct, you follow local and traffic laws, and your vehicle does not have any violations (like bad lights).

Getting Around Zimbabwe

Since safety can be an issue, it is better to travel with an arranged group in Zimbabwe. If you are adventurous and insist on self driving, a 4 x 4 is required. Especially for game parks. For more details on getting to the top sites in Zimbabwe, see the link to the top tourist attractions below.

Visa Information For Zimbabwe

Visitors from different countries fall into 4 different visa categories. The USA, most of Europe, and China fall under category B, which can apply for an eVisa or visa upon arrival (VoA). For more details and information on other countries, click here.

Note: If you want to visit Victoria Falls from both Zimbabwe and Zambia, get a dual entry visa, or KAZA UNIVISA. If you get this visa on the Zimbabwe eVisa site, your first point of entry will need to be Zimbabwe (and vs).

Zimbabwe Travel Guide: Top Destinations

Click the photo or link below to read more detail about Zimbabwe’s top destinations.

I hope you’ve found this travel guide to Zimbabwe helpful. If you’ve visited Zimbabwe and have comments, please add them below,

Safe Travels!

Julie

Note: All efforts have been made to provide accurate information in the Travel Guide for Denmark, but from time to time things change. If you see something that is not right, please contact me below.

To read more about me and my personal perspectives on travel, see my about me page.

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from Gorgeous Unknown

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading