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Information about Zimbabwe
One of the most spectacular tourist destinations in the world, Zimbabwe constantly invites superlatives.
The name Zimbabwe is believed to derive from the Shona term dzimba-dza-mabwe which translated means "large house of stone" referring to the ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe in the south of the country.
This landlocked country in Southern Africa is sandwiched between South Africa to the south and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the west and Mozambique to the east. The total area is only 390,580 sq km which is just a bit bigger than Japan or the state of Montana. Yet this small country once described as the "Jewel of Africa" has just so much to offer.
Rich in natural resources such as coal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin, platinum and recently discovered diamonds. Soils that are so fertile it was once the breadbasket of Africa. Weather that has been voted many times as one of the best climates in the world.
But surely it's greatest assets at least for this travel website are it's tourists attractions. With 13% of Zimbabwe's total land (50 000sq km) area preserved as wildlife estates some of which are without equal like Mana Pools, Hwange, Matobo Hills, Matusadona and Gonarezhou.
On the northern border we have the mighty Zambezi River which gives rise to 3 outstanding tourist attractions; Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba and the lower Zambezi River's Mana Pools, all of which are filled with unsurpassed natural beauty and wildlife, surely making Zimbabwe one of the most desirable wildlife and safari destinations in Africa.
Pre the year 2000, Zimbabwe's infrastructure was in good shape however the political turmoil under the leadership of Robert Mugabe almost brought the country to it's knees and only though the sheer resilience of the Zimbabwe people has it managed to survive and it's now bouncing back with fury to it's former glory.
However logistically it is still quite a difficult country to get around, this is mainly due to the collapse of the national airline Air Zimbabwe. So for safety and ease it is highly advisable to make travel arrangements through a reputable Zimbabwean tour operator.
There is a lot to know before visiting our beautiful country, please take time to click on the links below for more in-depth information about Zimbabwe.
• Visas - are required by several nationalities to enter Zimbabwe. There are 3 categories, those who don't need a visa, those who need a visa but can get it at the point on entry and those who need a visa and have to apply for it from their own country. Visas purchased at the point of entry need to be paid for in cash. Please read this page Zimbabwe visas to find out how much visas cost and if you need one.
• How to get to Zimbabwe - Daily flights from Johannesburg to both Harare and Victoria Falls, plus several international airlines fly directly into Harare. Read full details on all modes of transport here How to get to Zimbabwe.
• How to get around Zimbabwe - Getting to the various destinations around Zimbabwe is quite a challenge, we have detailed the different options on all the major routes around the country. Read full details here Zimbabwe Transport.
• Money - The US Dollar is the official currency in Zimbabwe. Sterling, Rand and Pula cash are also widely accepted. Credit cards are also widely accepted, but travellers cheques are not. The situation is fluid, so please read the latest information here Zimbabwe currency.
• Tipping - Gratuities or tipping in Victoria Falls, which is also applicable to the whole of Zimbabwe, is at your discretion and for good service only. But how much is enough? Here is a quick guide to tipping in Victoria Falls.
• Is Zimbabwe Safe? - Is anywhere in the world completely safe? Zimbabwe is not a war zone and when you are there I promise you that you will wonder what all the fuss is about. It's idyllic and peaceful with friendly and helpful people.
Zimbabwe's problems happened on the farms and in the rural areas not in the tourist destinations, stick to these and you are fine. I feel a lot safer walking through the streets of Victoria Falls at night than I do through the streets of London and I would comfortably say that Zimbabwe is one safest countries in Africa, certainly a lot safer than Johannesburg.
More than 2.5 million tourists visit Zimbabwe annually without incident but that's not to say that petty crime doesn't exist so be sensible and obey the rules of Africa! If you are planning a visit to Victoria Falls, here is more information on Victoria Falls safety.
• Best time of year - March through to end September are the best months, with June/July being mid winter which in some parts of the country means that it can get very cold in the evening and early morning.
Winter days though are generally beautiful with average temperatures around 23° Celsius. October/November are extremely hot and dry months and the summer rains start in December through till March. It's generally still hot during the rainy season, but heavy and persistent rain can spoil ones holiday, although the cloud formations are just spectacular.
If you are planning a trip to Victoria Falls, here is specific information on Victoria Falls weather.