There's nothing like up-to-date, relevant travel information direct from the experts - get Go2Africa's essential Zimbabwe travel advice before you go.
Money & Spending
Following the collapse of the Zimbabwe Dollar, Zimbabwe currently uses the US Dollar as its currency. Cash is king in Zimbabwe: make sure you can cover your costs during your visit as withdrawing cash from an ATM or bank is not something you can rely on. Travellers’ cheques and credit/debit cards are not widely accepted and often incur hefty fees.
Bring small denomination notes - small change is rarely available in Zimbabwe - and note that although tipping lodge staff and guides is customary for good service, make sure that a service charge hasn't been added onto your bill beforehand.
History & Economy
Great Zimbabwe, the towering ruins from which this country took its name, is a silent reminder of Zimbabwe's remarkable history. Once the centre of a huge empire based on trade with Africa's east coast, this land-locked country was originally home to the Khoisan people who left their rock art scattered across the country.
Migrating farmers from West Africa, ancestors of today's Shona tribe and the builders of Great Zimbabwe, arrived in the 9th century while 19th century upheavals in South Africa's Zulu kingdom saw the Ndebele people flee from Zululand and settle in western Zimbabwe. A British colonial takeover was next and the country spent most of the 20th century as Rhodesia; the subsequent liberation war was a protracted and bitter one, culminating in Zimbabwe's independence only in 1980.
Zimbabwe boasts good infrastructure, an educated population and abundant resources. Its wealth has been built on agriculture, especially tobacco, as well as mineral exports and tourism. The country has some of the world's biggest platinum and diamond mines.
People & Culture
Around 70% of Zimbabwe's 12 million people are Shona-speaking while some 20% are Ndebele speakers. English, the country's official language, is widely spoken and visitors to Zimbabwe are often struck by the friendliness and optimism of its people, despite recent hardships. The country is a profoundly religious one - nearly two thirds of the population attends church regularly - and some 85% consider themselves Christian.
Zimbabwe is a country where culture runs deep: it has produced internationally acclaimed artists, musicians and writers but it is for its sculptors that Zimbabwe is best known. Stylised birds and human figures carved from soapstone, serpentine and verdite are the most famous.
Landscape & Wildlife
Despite a mountainous and thickly forested eastern border with Mozambique, most of Zimbabwe lies on Southern Africa's raised central plateau, a landscape of rolling savannah, farmland and vast open woodlands. A large chunk of the country lies in the lower, hotter and more humid southern lowveld but it is the Zambezi River and Lake Kariba that define northern Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls is set in its north-western corner.
Such a mix of habitats means high biodiversity and Zimbabwe has a long history of wildlife conservation. Its flagship reserve is Hwange National Park, home to the Big 5 and some of Africa's biggest concentrations of elephant while Mana Pools and Matusadona National Parks offer excellent game viewing destinations at the edge of the Zambezi.
Zimbabwe wildlife highlights include bird watching and game viewing along the Zambezi River at Victoria Falls; abundant predators and outstanding dry-season game viewing at Hwange; Zambezi canoe and walking safaris at Mana Pools; and game viewing and birding at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve and Gonarezhou National Park in barely-visited southern Zimbabwe.
For in-depth tipping guidelines, enquire with one of our Africa Safari Experts - they'd be happy to share their knowledge with you.
Average summer temperatures: 17°C to 31°C
Average winter temperatures: 7°C to 29°C
Rainy season: November to April
Refer to “best time to visit Zimbabwe” for climate charts and advice on the best times of year for game-viewing.
What to Pack
Generally, casual comfortable clothing is suitable for Zimbabwe throughout the year. For your Zimbabwe safari, pack lightweight clothing in light, neutral colours (but not white as it gets dirty very easily). Include a warm jacket or fleece in your suitcase for evening game drives as well as a pair of comfortable walking shoes. For more on what to pack for a safari, refer to our Africa Safari Guide travel advice section.
Flights & Getting Around
Did you know you can book your flights through Go2Africa? For more information and frequently asked questions, please see our Flights section.
Harare International Airport: mostly used as a conduit to Victoria Falls, the easiest way to fly into Harare is via Johannesburg as there aren't many direct international flights into the country.
Victoria Falls International Airport: serving Victoria Falls, Hwange and the Zambezi Valley destinations, this airport is a local logistics hub and connects easily with destinations in Botswana and further afield.
Road transfers in Zimbabwe are usually conducted in mini buses and game drives in open-sided 4X4 vehicles. Light aircraft charters are available for flights to more remote destinations.
Visa & Passport Requirements
Visas are required by most visitors to Zimbabwe and can usually be obtained at your point of entry. Citizens of the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, most EU countries, Israel and Japan as well as a number of other countries will receive their visas at the airport or border post upon payment of requisite fees. However, some nationalities will have to apply for and obtain a Zimbabwe visa prior to travelling.