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Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe African Safari information A country nearly as big as California and about three times the size of England approximately 391, 109 square kms. Zimbabwe lies firmly between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers in southern central Africa. The country has land borders with Mozambique to the north and east, South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest and Zambia to the north west and north. Most of Zimbabwe is a rolling plateau, with over 75 percent of the country lying between 61 m and 1525m above sea level. Its population of some 11 million is mainly Shona speaking but most, due to 19th-century British colonization and massive expenditure on schooling since independence, are fluent English-speakers. The average density is 28.7 people per square km.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

All visitors require valid passports and return air tickets. Entry into Zimbabwe is permitted for a maximum duration of 90 days. Visas are obtainable at the border at a cost of +-USD $30 per visa. Double entry visas are required if you will be entering the country more than once during your stay. Note: Please check with your nearest Zimbabwe Consulate for up to date information for other than US citizens.

DEPARTURE TAXES

For those passengers flying out of Zimbabwe a US$35 International Passenger Service fee applies. For guests departing on a scheduled airline flight this fee should be included in the cost of your scheduled air ticket. There is also a US$10 Domestic Passenger Service Fee, which applies when departing internally from any registered, manned airport. These include Harare, Bulawayo, Kariba, Hwange and Victoria Falls airports. This fee must be paid direct in US dollar cash at the airport when departing (please ensure you have the exact amount of US Dollars in cash as you cannot get any US dollars within Zimbabwe - large denomination bills such as U$50 or US$100 bills are not accepted).

CURRENCY

The currency unit is the Zimbabwean Dollar (ZWD), which equals 100 cents. Travelers can exchange their currency for Zimbabwe Dollars at Harare Airport or commercial banks in Harare, Victoria Falls and major towns in Zimbabwe. Banks are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 8:00am -3:00pm, Wednesdays 8:00am – 1:00pm and Saturdays 8:00am –11:30am. Due to currency exchange differentials we advise against using credit cards while traveling in Zimbabwe. Visitors can import and export their foreign currency without restriction provided it is declared upon arrival. Banks in South Africa, Botswana or Namibia do not accept ZWD bank notes. Most banks in Zimbabwe will not accept USD100 bank notes due to a large amount of counterfeit notes in circulation. Zimbabwe restricts the import of their currency to a maximum of Z$500 in cash. You may also only take Z$500 in cash out of Zimbabwe; however this is not recommended as you cannot exchange Zimbabwe Dollars outside of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has adopted a Controlled Foreign Currency Auction system, which means that tourists are now able to obtain realistic rates for their foreign currency at the banks. All the bureau de changes have been closed and hotels are not able to change money for guests. Thus all currency conversion transactions are carried out by the banks at the official exchange rate only, which is determined by the auction system that occurs several times a week. At hotels, guests are obliged by law to settle their “extras” account in foreign currency, either by cash or traveler’s checks. For shopping or paying for activities, “cash is king” and so you are encouraged to bring as much US dollar cash as you anticipate spending during your stay in order to get the best prices. Please note that anything bought from registered dealers in local Zimbabwean cash is subject to 15% VAT (which is not refundable on departure). We recommend that visitors complete a declaration form on entry into the country stating how much currency you are carrying and get this stamped by an official. This form should remain with you throughout your stay in case you need to show it to any officials at a later date.

CLIMATE

The winter months of May to September are dry, sunny with cool to warm temperatures generally reaching 68°F. However, once the sun goes down, temperatures drop significantly to as low as 41°F at night. Please note that very cold spells can occur and that weather is unpredictable but generally these temperature ranges do apply. During the summer months of October to April, the days are hot and sunny with highs reading 86°F in the morning with afternoon thunderstorms, particularly during the rainy season of mid November through mid March. Evenings and nights experience moderate temperatures in the 59°F range. Please note that in the lower lying areas such as the Zambezi Valley, Kariba and Victoria Falls, it is generally quite a bit warmer than the average and can be very hot in September and October in particular.

Temperature (ºF) – These are the average lows and highs
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
VFA 63/90 63/86 64/88 57/84 50/84 45/77 43/77 46/82 57/91 64/93 64/88 63/88

Rainfall (inches) – This varies according to the year and where you are.
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
VFA 8.47 7.28 3.94 1.77 0.19 0.11 0.03 0.11 0.15 0.78 3.94 7.48

WATER

All major towns have safe water supplies. All tourist areas have safe drinking water but swimming should be restricted to designated areas.

ELECTRICITY

The electricity supply is 220/ 240V AC, 50 Hz. However those camps/lodges situated in remote areas have to generate their own electricity. To do so each camp/lodge has a generator, which runs for about 6 hours per day (3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon when guests are out on activities). These generators then charge batteries located at each tented room, which provide good 12v lights all night (if used sensibly). There are no 220v or 110v power points in camp. If you need to have your video battery re-charged that can be done while you are out on an activity. Therefore, please bring a spare for use while the other is being charged. These systems are simple but perfectly functional. Electrical plug outlets are not available in the tented rooms and therefore it is not possible to use appliances such as hairdryers or electric shavers during your stay.

COMMUNICATIONS

A good postal service is available in major towns and cities and there are freight forwarders available. The local telephone service can get crowded, causing delays. However, the overseas service is better and improving all the time. Cell phones are available and Internet cafes can be found in most major towns. A direct international dialing service is available from the major cities, hotels and lodges. For international telephone calls, the country code is 263 – the regional country codes are: Harare (04), Victoria Falls (13), Kariba (61), Bulawayo (09). Safari lodges communicate via two-way radio to base operations in the city centers.

TIME ZONE

Greenwich Mean Time + 2 hours during Daylight Savings; Greenwich Mean Time + 1 hour for the remainder of the year.

CHECK IN/ CHECK OUT TIMES

Hotels in the Zimbabwe cities generally have a check in time of 2:00pm and a check out time of 10:00am.

LANGUAGE

The three official languages are Shona, Ndebele and English. The English-speaking visitor to Zimbabwe will have no problems while traveling throughout the country.

CAR HIRE/ TRAFFIC RULES AND REGULATIONS

Foreign driving licenses are valid for 12 months and must be accompanied with a photograph. There is no restriction on licenses from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia. If not printed in English, it should have a certificate of authority and validity or a translation of the text with the bearer’s photograph attached. Driving is on the left hand side of the road. There are numerous car-hire companies, many of them situated at major airports. For the traveler who is planning a self-drive holiday, it is advisable to pre-book. Speed limits are 120 kms out of town; 80 kms in urban areas but with certain built-up zones limited to between 60/70 kms. A rule of the road is never to let your fuel tank fall below the halfway mark since in rural areas the next filling station may be out of petrol. There is only one type of petrol in Zimbabwe, called ‘blend’; petrol mixed with sugar cane ethanol. The Presidential Motorcade, accompanied by outriders with sirens, is frequently seen in Harare. Pull over to the side of the road, stop and wait until they have passed before continuing. Warning: In Harare, the road past the President’s house (Chancellor Avenue, Extension of Seventh Street) is closed at night from 6:00pm – 6:00am, with the road blocks manned by armed soldiers.

WHAT TO BUY

Practically anything can be purchased for a price, in Zimbabwe’s modern city markets, but the range is nowhere as vast as in Western countries. Most of the goods are Zimbabwean-made with South African products the next most popular. However, Zimbabwe is a major center of the beautiful stone Shona sculptures with regular exhibitions abroad. Many roadside crafts and good buys are to be had in Zimbabwe, including crochet work, stone and ivory carvings, copperware, jewelry, tie & dye fabrics, elephant, crocodile and ostrich skin items, and pottery. Patrick Mavros’ ivory and silver creations, Toby’s emerald jewelry, Belinda Jones for hand painted tablecloths and unique items and Ros Byrne’s potato-dye prints are top of the range. The Doon Estate is a good one stop shopping venue for better than souvenir quality crafts. Try to avoid anything made from wood except very small items, as irreplaceable hardwood trees are often destroyed to make hippos and giraffes. Export permits are not required, but some countries have restrictions on import of items made from non-cattle leathers and ivory.

EMBASSIES

USA UK Canada Australia
PO Box 4698
Harare
Telephone: +263 794 521
7 th Floor Corner House
Leopold Takawira Street
Samora Machel Avenue
Telephone: + 263 794 521
PO Box 1430
Harare
Telephone: +263 733 881
Karigamombe Center
53 Samora Machel Avenue
Harare
Telephone: +263 757 774

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

1 January
New Year’s Day
Varies Good Friday
Varies Easter Saturday
Varies Easter Monday
18 April Independence Day
1 May Worker’s Day
2 May Public Holiday
25 May Africa Day
11-12 August Heroes’ Defense Forces Day
22 December Unity Day
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day