Landlocked and in the center of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe has been an important trade center as well as the most strategic spot for British Settlement since the 18th century. This comprehensive Zimbabwe travel guide highlights the best of Zimbabwe.
With the British politician and businessman conquering the territory and taking possession of the mines, the area was named Rhodesia by the Queen.
Initially founded as a British Colony called Southern Rhodesia, it gained independence in 1965 as Rhodesia. The following 15 years saw violent guerilla wars between the white minorities and black nationalists, which ended up in the foundation of the Republic of Zimbabwe in 1980.
Initially appointed as a prime minister, the longest-running president was Robert Mugabe from 1987 until his resignation in 2017. During his authoritarian rule, he was held accountable for the increased mortality rate as well as the declining life expectancy and economy.
In November 2017, his reign came to an end as he was put under house arrest after a coup d’etat. He was then replaced by the vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. This created a tension between the supporters of Mugabe and those who opposed him.
Zimbabwe Travel Guide: Things to Do, Places to Stay, Culture, and Travel Tips
Official languages: English, Shona, Ndebele, Southern Sotho, Tswana, Xhosa, Venda, Chewa, Tsonga, Tonga
President: Emmerson Mnangagwa
Currencies: United States Dollar, Indian rupee, Pound sterling, and more…
Plan a Trip to Zimbabwe
Points of Interest: Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe Ruins, and more…
Average Flight Time: 24 h 30 min flight
Fun Fact: Zimbabwe has not one but two largest water body in the world – Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world, and Lake Kariba, the largest man-made lake in the world.
Why Visit Zimbabwe
Amongst all the political unrest, Zimbabwe’s touristic profile has been on a rapid decline. However, that is not to say that Zimbabwe has nothing to offer. On the contrary, the country has several tourist attractions and is one of the safest countries in Africa to visit.
The magnificent Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe is the sole reason for visiting as one of the most popular natural wonders of the world. Furthermore, national parks like Hwange National Park and Nyanga National Park offer spectacular wildlife.
The country is also home to some of the most striking examples of Victorian dry stone architecture that can be observed in ancient cities. This travel guide will provide detailed information about Zimbabwe’s hidden gems.
Best of Zimbabwe
Best Places to Stay in Zimbabwe
#1 Victoria Falls Hotels
This Edwardian style hotel gives you a stunning view of Batoka Gorge with magnificent Victoria Falls only a short walk. The Victoria Falls Hotel features three restaurants, an amazing swimming pool, fitness center, and more.
#2 Shearwater Explorers Village
Shearwater Explorers Village offers low-cost accommodation without compromising on style and comfort. And it’s no surprise that the Explorers Village is only 400 meters from the falls.
#3 Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
The breathtaking Victoria Falls Safari Lodge offers easy access to Victoria Falls, a natural wonder of the world. Overlooking the Zambezi National Park, this safari lodge features a restaurant, Buffalo bar overlooking a waterhole, and more. It’s no wonder the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has been voted 20 years in a row as the best safari lodge.
#4 Meikles Hotel
This 5-star luxury hotel is located in the Central Business District and features a large pool, airport transportation, fitness center, and even babysitting service. A 2013 revitalization renewed the charm of the legendary hotel.
#5 Rainbow Towers Hotel And Conference Center
Located in the business district of Harare, the Rainbow Towers Hotel and Conference Centre offers access to the business center, fitness center, elaborate pool and bar area and more.
Best Things to Do in Zimbabwe
#1 Safari in the Zimbabwe National Parks
An African adventure can never be complete without a safari. The two most significant Zimbabwe national parks are Hwange and Matopos. These African national parks offer an exciting collection of animal encounters, game drives, and walking safaris are both possible in these destinations.
#2 Visit the Great Zimbabwe Ruins
Zimbabwe’s cultural heritage from the Medieval Era is surprisingly intact, especially the Great Zimbabwe Ruins near Lake Mutirikwe. The ancient capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe has ancient ruins dating back to the 11th- 15th centuries, consisting of distinct dry-stone houses.
This UNESCO Heritage Site is one of the biggest ancient cities you will ever see in African countries.
#3 Watersports Around Zambezi River
The Great Zambezi River at the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia is the source of both the famous Victoria Falls and many adventurous water sports around the area. You can participate in activities from fishing to rafting and rock-climbing.
Best Things to See in Zimbabwe
#1 Victoria Falls
The Smoke That Thunders, Victoria Falls is considered the largest sheet of falling water in the world. With a height of 108 meters, it is twice as high as Niagara Falls.
The picturesque waterfall and the surrounding Victoria Falls National Park is a massive wildlife area and a rich rainforest.
Although the Zambian Site is more touristic nowadays thanks to the town Livingstone, you should not underestimate the Zimbabwean side.
#2 Granitic Boulders at Matapos National Park
Matabo National Park is well-known for its granitic boulders where you will feel like you are on another planet. Not only these rock formations picturesque, but they are also historically valuable for the Bushmen paintings that they preserved.
#3 Bulawayo and Mutare Town
Zimbabwe’s historic towns will impress you with their quaint atmosphere and vintage architecture.
Bulawayo’s National Museum and the Railway Museum are very informative about the country’s history. Mutare Town is another successful demonstration of Zimbabwean culture and art.
We have more ideas on 9+ absolute best things to see and do in Zimbabwe. You will love #5.
Best Places to Eat in Zimbabwe
#1 Amanzi Restaurant
#2 Victoria 22 Restaurant
#3 Alo Alo Restaurant
Average Flight Cost: $925 – 1,400
Set low fare price alert for Zimbabwe!
Camping: $7-8 per person per night
Guesthouse: $20 – $50 per night for a standard room
Hotel: $50 – $150 per night
Local meal: $5 – $7
Meals at a popular restaurant: $10 – $25
Beer: $2 – $3
Bottle of Water: $0.7
Bottle of Coke: $1
Intercape Bus from Harare to Bulawayo: $30
1-2 hours of bus ride within the cities: $10 – $12
Hiring a private taxi: $50 – $80 per day
Victoria Falls Entrance Fee: $30
Matopos Entrance Fee: $15
The Great Zimbabwe Ruins Entrance Fee: $15
Game drive in national parks: $40 per person
All-inclusive safari (accommodation, meals, activities): $600 – $800
Total Travel Cost
Expect to spend between on average between $1,500 to $2,500 depending on the number of days you plan on visiting the country. The cost of a luxury trip is two to three times the average cost, and for budget-friendly or backpackers, spending under $1,500 is very realistic.
Zimbabwe Travel Tips
Weather in Zimbabwe
The winter or wet season is from November to April with peak rainfall in March and April. From July to October is the summer or dry season with mostly sunny days and cold nights.
Best Months to Visit (When to Visit)
The peak season starts in July and continues until September. This time of the year is a popular time to visit Zimbabwe because wildlife viewing is the easiest. It is also the ideal time for canoeing and rafting in the Zambezi River. However, it is also much more crowded compared to the rest of the year, so you might want to wait for October for the tourists to go back to their 9-5 jobs.
How to Save Money in Zimbabwe
- Besides the Small World Backpackers Lodge in Harare and Shoestrings in Victoria Falls, the backpacker scene hasn’t developed much. The other cheap form of accommodation is camping. It is best to bring your own tent, as you might not always find spare tents at the campsite.
- Instead of using luxury buses like Intercape, you can use the local buses between cities to save up on transportation.
- Visiting during the winter (wet) season will save you between $500 to $1,500 on flight and accommodation.
Safety Tips: What You Need to Know About Zimbabwe Travel
- The political unrest is still ongoing in the big cities, even after the resignation of President Mugabe. There might be occasional violent protests, especially in Harare.
- Petty theft is common in the cities, so do not go out alone at night. Also, try not to flash your valuables or look like a confused tourist with a map on one hand and a safari hat on the other.
- You must not disturb/feed/engage with the animals during the safari drives. This is critical both for your own safety and for the well-being and comfort of the animals.
- Zimbabwe is a Malaria-risk region, so we suggest that you consult your practitioner before you travel. For detailed information on vaccinations needed, visit here.
Culture & Customs
Zimbabwe has 16 official languages: Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Khoisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, and Xhosa.
The three most common ones are Shona, Nbedele, and English. The white farmers, who are a minority in the country, also speak Afrikaans and some European languages.
The most common currencies are Zimbabwe Dollars and US Dollars as the primary foreign currency. For detailed information about the exchange rates and how tourists can pay, visit here.
It’s customary to leave a 10% tip at the restaurants, as well as giving $1-2 to the car guards. Safari guides will also appreciate tips as well.
There are abundant of wildlife to view in Zimbabwe at the national parks or on game reserves. Ever since the Wildlife Conservation Act in 1960, the wildlife in this Southern African country has shown significant improvement.
There is an increasing population of buffalo, elephant, rhinoceros, giraffe, leopard, lion, zebra, and antelope around the country.
Getting Around Zimbabwe
Surprisingly, you have access to trains between the main tourist destinations. The most popular train route is between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls through Hwange National Park.
There are two types of buses: The Intercape and the local buses. The latter is cheaper and much less comfortable. See the travel costs section for transportation price information.
Private shuttle and road transfer companies like Wild Horizons and Safari Logistics provide comfortable transportation to the national parks.
Entry & Exit Requirements
To visit Zimbabwe, you will need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months on the date of entry. Reservations, travel insurance and return tickets are also required.
There are three types of scenarios for Zimbabwe visa requirements, depending on your home country:
- You don’t need a visa (including SADC countries like South Africa)
- You can obtain a visa on arrival
- You have to apply for a visa beforehand.
For the lists of countries in all three categories, visit here.
Individuals from certain countries can obtain Univisa, which allows them to travel to both Zimbabwe and Zambia for $50. This can be purchased at Victoria Falls or David Livingstone Airport. Check here for the list of eligible countries.
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