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Zimbabwe Safety

Zimbabwe is in the headlines and nowadays often for the wrong reasons. There is no question that Zimbabwe has been through some exceptionally difficult years and political violence has ripped through the country but hopefully those years are behind us now. But even at the height of the worst years the violence and safety never really affected tourists. It was a political battle between the opposition parties and a fight between the white farmers and the land invaders. In the towns and tourist destinations you would never really have believed what you were seeing on the News, it mostly happened in the outlying rural areas.

However, bad press is a hard thing to reverse and people not familiar with Zimbabwe would no doubt perceive it as a No Go Zone. Generally though, Zimbabwe is a safe place for tourists. The big cities of-course have their problems, like any other city in the world, and so extra caution and a bit of common sense will minimise the chance of incidence. Here are a few tips:

• Only carry a minimal amount of cash and avoid walking around with valuables.
• Make sure that your bag is secure and closed.
• Do not change money on the streets, but rather use the Forex bureau.
• Do not flaunt your valuables and keep them out of sight. As much as Zimbabweans frown upon thieving, do not temp those who do it for a living.
• Do not leave car doors unlocked and windows open, and absolutely do not leave bags where they can be seen. All it takes is a smashed window to get your possessions out of the car. Rather put your bags out of sight in the boot/trunk or under the seat if you are not needing them.

Travelling At Night

Whether you are in the big city or in a resort town, walking at night has its dangers, and is generally not advisable. Driving should be done with caution, and in places that you know are safe. Keep your eyes open as hijackings can occur, especially at intersections.

What is Illegal

Do not take pictures of government buildings, police and army vehicles, embassies, military sites and national monuments. Do not wear camouflage patterns that resemble army uniform. Be cautious as homosexuality is effectively illegal in Zimbabwe. Do not criticise, insult or make derogatory comments about the president and government.

About Roadblocks in Zimbabwe

There have been instances where imposters wearing police uniform have created road blocks, giving people fines so that they can collect money. Roadblocks manned by only one or two police officers are illegal, so do not stop for these.

Motorcades, Convoys and Cavalcades

The presidential motorcade can be encountered while you're visiting Zimbabwe, especially in Harare. You will hear it before you see it, so get out of the way and if you are driving pull off the road as soon as you hear it, and see the first motorcycle coming towards you. The cars move at rather high speeds and they do not stop until they reach their destination. DO NOT attempt to stop the motorcade. Wait until the procession is complete and all the vehicles have passed. If you want to be extra cautious, wait for the sounds of the sirens start to fade. Funeral convoys may be accompanied by a police vehicle and are to be treated with respect. They generally move at slow speeds.

Rules and Tips in the National Parks

• Do not try to touch or feed the animals - it is not a zoo. These animals are completely wild, although in some areas it may seem that they are accustomed to being around people. Wild animals are unpredictable.
• Watch out for baboons and monkeys - they are bush thieves and will grab anything that catches their attention, like shiny jewellery.
• DO NOT carry or eat colourful fruits or vegetables around monkeys and baboons - they will come for your goodies and it is a startling experience (From personal experience).
• Walking in the wildlife reserves should be done with a professional guide. Zimbabwe's guides are some of the best in the world. Watch where you step. Never run or jog. If confronted by a predator, listen to your guide and back away slowly. Stay close to your guide and walk in single file.
• Never walk between a hippo and water. It may charge in your direction because its safety route to the water is blocked. They are Africa's most deadly animal and kill more people in a year than crocodiles or snakes. They look huge and clunky, but they can run at land speeds of up to 30 km/h (18.6 mph).
• When canoeing on the river, stay in shallow water and away from hippos.
• Do not swim in lakes or rivers unless it is clear of danger. Crocodiles and hippos reside in most if not all of Zimbabwe's rivers and lakes.
• When on game drives, stay inside the vehicle at all times, unless your guide instructs you to disembark. Do not make noise, speak or laugh out loud.
• Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeved loose clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses if you are going out into the bush, especially in the summer. Wear warm clothing during the winter (May, June, July) when going out for early morning drives or river cruises. Do not wear bright coloured clothing such as red or orange, and avoid black or dark blue as these attract stinging tsetse flies found in some areas. In the evenings, insect repellent is recommended along with clothes that cover your skin.

Safari in Zimbabwe safety on a walking safari

More Traveller Information

For advise about malaria, yellow fever, and other health precautions, follow the links below:

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