Useful travel tips

In the following, we have collated a few useful tips, hoping that they will assist you in planning your trip to Zimbabwe.

Should you have any further questions, we are available to respond by email: ZimbabweTravel.de

nebenstrasse in zimbabwe

What is the best time of year to travel in Zimbabwe?

Elephant Hwange Zimbabwe Dry Season
Zebras Hwange Rainy Season
 

Zimbabwe’s climate is subtropical to tropical and the seasons are opposite to those of the northern Hemisphere. I.e. During our summer it is winter in Zimbabwe, our autumn is spring there. A large part of the country is on a high plateau of over 1000 metres above sea level. The climate here is usually temperate. In the low-lying areas in the valleys of the large rivers Limpopo and Zambezi at about 300 metres above sea level, it can be very hot.

The hottest month is October -so called "suicide month" before the first rains that cool the air a little are expected in November. The rainy season is from November to March, this is also the summer that often brings hot and humid weather. In winter the weather is usually clear and dry with night frost up to approximately -5°C whilst temperatures during the day can average at 20 to 25°C.

Even in summer, it is best to bring clothing that can be layered. When a thunderstorm cools the temperatures down by 10 or more degrees, it still isn't really cold but feels like it due to the sudden contrast.   

In order to go on safari and see lots of animals, the dry months between June and October are best. During this time animals find little or no water in the bush and depend on waterholes and rivers to drink. During this time the grass is golden-yellow and many of the trees and bushes are bare.

If you would like to go on safari but also prefer moderate temperatures, then either May or late August/early September are good times to go.

For birders the months between November and March could be rewarding as many of the migrant species can be found here during this period. During the "green season", birders have the best chances of spotting migratory bird species in Southern Africa. February and March, sometimes even April are a challenge because of the many immature birds that look so different from their parents!

How safe is it to travel in Zimbabwe?

How safe is it to travel in Zimbabwe?

As far as crime is concerned, Zimbabwe can be considered far safer than South Africa.

If you decide to travel to Zimbabwe, your safety is, of course, of the highest priority. Should you have decided on a self-drive trip, please follow the usual safety rules: With the exception of touristic destinations, don't carry cameras or other valuables conspicuously, this also applies to jewellery, watches, smartphones, etc.

Do not leave anything lying around visibly in your car when you park it, lock your doors when you are driving through towns and stop at traffic lights. When you stop at traffic lights, your windows should be closed so that nobody can simply reach into the vehicle.

If you have chosen to join a guided tour, you will always be in expert company and will always have a partner at your side with whom you can consult in all situations and who will see to it that you can make the most of your safari.

Did you know that Zimbabwe trains the best guides in the whole of Africa?

Can I use my electronic devices in Zimbabwe?

Can I use my electronic devices in Zimbabwe?

The Zimbabwean power grid delivers alternating current at 50 cycles with roughly 220 to 250 volts, as is usual in most European countries. The plugs used are Type G, "Commonwealth" plugs. See photo above. Sometimes you will find Type D, with 3 rounded pins rather than square pins, but these are quite rare. We advise that you bring an adaptor if applicable, as not every lodge or camp will supply them.   

Please note that the electricity supply in Zimbabwe is not entirely reliable and power cuts are frequent. Thus we recommend that you bring spare batteries for your camera, flash, torch and whatever else you may need, and that you recharge any empty batteries whenever you get the chance. Some of the newer rental vehicles have a USB power socket that can be used to recharge mobile phone batteries. Check this with your car rental company before departure if this is important to you.

What currency will I be using in Zimbabwe?

What currency will I be using in Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe has no national currency of her own at the moment. Officially the US$ and the South African Rand are used. We recommend bringing US$ with you in a mixture of smaller and larger denominations up to a maximum of  US$ 50,00. US$ 100,00 notes are often not happily accepted.

You should make sure you have small denomination banknotes, too, as there is frequently no change. In supermarkets you are often given a voucher, SA Rand or sweets as change for sums below 1 US$ because there are no US$ coins available in Zimbabwe. There are so-called "Bond Coins" and "Bond Notes" that are used at the same rate as the US$ within Zimbabwe but are not accepted anywhere outside the country.

Road toll fees are US$ 2 per sedan vehicle or 4x4 vehicle, thus it is useful to have small denomination notes in your car at all times. Credit cards are only rarely accepted and if so Visa is the most widely used at the moment. Car rental agencies will, need a credit card in order to secure your deposit if you are planning to rent a car. 

What vaccinations do I need for a trip to Zimbabwe?

What vaccinations do I need for a trip to Zimbabwe?

There are no mandatory vaccinations required unless you are entering Zimbabwe from a country where yellow fever is endemic. We recommend that you make sure your usual vaccinations are up to date.

Please consult your GP or travel specialist about appropriate malaria prophylaxis!

Train travel in Zimbabwe

Trains still operate regularly on the routes in Zimbabwe, if not daily. The most famous passenger route is certainly the nightly link between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo and vice-versa. These train rides can be fun as the railway line is built alongside the famous Hwange National Park and you can quite often see animals from your train window when the moonlight is bright enough. On the other hand, you should have plenty of time, expect long delays and be aware of the fact that the journey will not necessarily be very comfortable. But it is definitely an experience! The sleeping cars were built in Great Britain in the 1950s. With luck, you will travel in one of the very old coaches with wood panelling and the original fixtures. Thus be aware of the fact that everything is a bit worn and take enough food and drink with you, because unfortunately, the train doesn’t have a restaurant car any longer.

The current timetable is as follows, but we can not guarantee whether and for how long the information is correct.

Victoria Falls - Bulawayo, daily service

  • Departure 19.00 hours
  • Arrival 07.00 hours the following morning

Bulawayo - Victoria Falls, daily service

  • Departure 19.30 hours
  • Arrival 07.30 hours the following morning

For more information, contact National Railways of Zimbabwe or Passenger Services.

Train travel in Zimbabwe ... An image from long ago:

Travelling by bus in Zimbabwe

No, we don’t mean the so-called "Chickenbuses". These are old public buses, often enveloped in a black cloud of diesel exhaust fumes, that stop at every intersection and that derive their names from the fact that in addition to transporting passengers they carry almost everything else, too, including chickens. Frequently, you will see that people move house by public transportation. Then you'll find everything from cupboards to sofas on the roof of a "chickenbus". This is often the only affordable way for local people to get from A to B and these buses are often the only means of transportation available in rural areas. We won’t recommend this option to you unless you would like to have the experience just for a short distance. Surely you will be received with friendly smiles and politeness as always and everywhere in Zimbabwe and there will be no shortage of subjects for conversation. But these veterans of the roads are not really all that safe technically and very often extremely late due to frequent breakdowns.There are faster, more reliable alternatives in the form of express buses that travel between major cities. These connections are frequent, their timetables can be relied upon and their fares are still comparatively reasonable.Damit sind nicht etwa die sogenannten "Chickenbuses" gemeint. Dies sind öffentliche, oft in eine schwarze Dieselwolke gehüllte alte Busse, die an jeder Einmündung halten und ihren Namen daher haben, dass sie zusätzlich zu Passagieren auch noch alles andere, inklusive Hühner transportieren. Nicht selten werden Sie sehen, dass ganze Umzüge per öffentlichem Verkehrsmittel bewältigt werden. Dann findet sich alles, vom Wohnzimmerschrank bis zum Sofa auf dem Dach eines "Chickenbus". Das ist oft der einzig erschwingliche Weg für die örtliche Bevölkerung von A nach B zu kommen und diese Busse sind auf dem Land häufig das einzige Transportmittel weit und breit. Ihnen empfehlen wir diese Option nicht, es sei denn Sie möchten auf kurzer Strecke einmal die Erfahrung machen. Sicherlich werden Sie wie immer und überall in Simbabwe freundlich und höflich empfangen und keinen Mangel an Gesprächsstoff haben. Aber diese Veteranen der Landstraßen sind technisch alles andere als sicher und sehr häufig aufgrund von Pannen stark verspätet.

Es gibt schnellere und zuverlässigere Alternativen in der Form von Linien Schnellbussen, die zwischen den großen Städten verkehren. Diese Verbindungen verkehren häufig, halten sich zuverlässig an den Fahrplan und sind auch noch verhältnismäßig günstig.

(Klicken Sie auf das Logo um zu der jeweiligen Website zu gelangen.)

intercape
ExtraCity
CityLink

Car Rental in Zimbabwe

Renting a car in Zimbabwe

This topic is very extensive and according to our experience after many conversations at trade shows there is a huge demand for information. We will try to provide as much information as possible in this section, but should you have any further questions, please contact us directly at: Enquiry

gelaendewagen in zimbabwe

What kind of car do I need?

If you want to get around within the cities or between cities, a compact car or a normal sedan car will be fine. Off the paved roads you should take the precaution of enquiring as to the state of the roads before travelling. However, if you wish to drive within national parks on your own, you need a car with good ground clearance at the very least. Often a real 4x4 will be needed. Please note that this also applies to the access roads to some of the lodges that are within the national parks. It is important to find out about road conditions in the areas you are planning to visit prior to departure. Then again, this is not a guarantee, as the status can change rapidly due to sudden heavy rainfall or other unforeseeable weather conditions.

Secondary road in Zimbabwe

Where can I rent a car?

In Zimbabwe, you can rent regular cars and SUVs with standard equipment. The vehicles are generally maintained and serviced very well. However, you may not necessarily be provided with the car you asked for. The fleets are not very large and the more popular models are frequently booked out.
(Click on the logo to follow the link to the relevant website.)

Europcar
Impala Car Rental
AVIS
 

For enquiries with Europcar Zimbabwe, please contact Europcar Rentals or Europcar Sales

To contact Impala Car Rental, please send an email to: Impala Car Rental

What requirements must I meet?

We will point out a few important conditions of rentals here for you. If you wish to go into detail, please refer to the terms and conditions of the relevant car hire company.

  • With small variations depending on the car hire company you must be at least 23 years old.
  • You must be in possession of your driver's license for at least 2 years prior to renting a car.
  • You do not necessarily need an international driving license, provided you have an EU driving license or a national driving license that is legible in English. However, if you plan to cover several Southern African countries in the course of your self-drive trip, it could help to have an international license just to be on the safe side.
  • The car rental company will want to see your passport as well.
  • You need a credit card card to secure your deposit. Please note that Visa is your best bet, however Europcar accept American Express, Master and Visa credit cards.
  • Your address and phone number at home, as well as your local address will be required.
  • The detailed terms and conditions can be found on the websites of the car rental companies.

sandpiste zimbabwe

What must I take into consideration?

Obviously you cannot take every eventuality into account, but here are some tips that may help you when travelling with a rental car.

General information on vehicle hire:

  • Check out all the tires, including the spare tire, check air pressure and tread on picking up your rental car.
  • Are the jack and the spanner in the boot?
  • Walk around the car with the agent of the car rental company and make sure that all the dents, scratches and other damage are noted on the appropriate form.
  • In addition to the above look out for cracks and damage to the windshield, this damage is often excluded from the fully comprehensive insurance.
  • Look over the contract carefully to ensure that all the insurance options you have booked are in fact noted.
  • Turn on the ignition and check the fuel gauge, make sure that the tank is full. You will have to return the car with a full tank.
  • Take a look at the registration sticker, which is usually located on the passenger side of the windscreen. Make sure that it is valid for the duration of your rental.

Particular tips for driving in Zimbabwe:

  • You must have 2 warning triangles and a fire extinguisher on board.
  • For road tolls (which currently cost U.S. $ 2 per sedan or 4x4) you should always keep small notes ready.
  • Always be friendly and polite at the many police roadblocks even if you are showing your license for the 5th time that day!
  • Strictly stick to the speed limit there are many speed-traps in Zimbabwe!
  • If you are caught in a speed-trap and know you were driving too fast, pay your fine without arguing, and make sure that the officer issues a ticket. This is usually roughly A4 size and is headed "Admission of Guilt". You are wondering how we know this so precisely? No comment!
  • Plan your route carefully to avoid night driving under all circumstances. Cattle and wild animals on the roads are a high risk during the daytime, at night the danger is considerably higher still.

cattle on the road

Camper vehicles in Zimbabwe

Camper vehicles in Zimbabwe

For a self-drive trip with a camper, only a four-wheel drive camper can be recommended in Zimbabwe. These are mostly off-road vehicles with either a camper-bodywork or 4x4s with one or two rooftop tents. Usually, the vehicles also have a complete set of camping equipment on board.

This is what a rooftop tent looks like:

Rooftop tent on a Landcruiser

These types of vehicles can be found as rentals in Zimbabwe only on a very limited scale, usually in the context of a guided tour, where the owner accompanies the tour as a guide.

In this vehicle sector there are massive price differences, but there are just as huge differences in quality.

Superbly equipped vehicles and excellent service can be found in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. You have the choice of taking a slightly longer trip and driving the vehicle across the borders yourself, making the journey as much fun as actually reaching your destination, or you can have the vehicle delivered to you in Zimbabwe. This will cost quite a bit in delivery fees but will definitely be worth it if you prefer this mode of travel.

Fully equipped 4x4 car rentals

These are our recommendations (click on the logo in order to follow the links):

 

Bushlore Africa
Travel Adventures Botswana
Asco Car Hire

To send a message to Bushlore, contact Clyde as follows: Bushlore

You are welcome to contact Travel Adventures Botswana directly: Travel Adventures Botswana

If you have any queries for Asco Car Hire, here is your direct contact: Asco Car Hire


Border formalities with a rental car

First of all, please note that we cannot guarantee the completeness and accuracy of the information given here. Rules can be changed at short notice and it may take a while for the information to reach us. Many thanks for your understanding.

What you need when renting a car:

  • Written permission from the rental company that you may cross the relevant borders with their vehicle.
  • The car’s registration papers (you are supposed to present the original papers, but no car hire company will hand those out!)
  • Some car rental companies insure their cars so that the insurance applies across borders, others do not. Enquire with the rental company as to the validity of their insurance in your country of destination.
  • You should discuss your plans to cross borders with your rental car with the rental company at the very latest when you pick the car up. It is better if you let the hire company know when you make your booking, as they will then prepare the relevant documents in readiness for your arrival.

What you should do at the border:

  • Normally, the first thing you do is go to the immigration counter and buy your visa, which is often stamped at the same time.
  • At Customs you need to fill in a TIP form (Temporary Import Permit). Here you enter the details of your vehicle and also of any other equipment you want to bring along for the duration of your stay, such as cameras etc.
  • Furthermore you need to pay Carbon Tax and road tax at Customs, the amount of these fees is based on the engine capacity of the car.
  • If your car rental company has no valid cross-border 3rd party insurance for your vehicle, you still need to buy additional insurance.
  • A CVG (Commercial Vehicle Guarantee) is also necessary. This is often sold by "clearing agents" who do not wear uniforms. That does not make things easy, but you can usually ask the customs officers, with whom you pay your carbon tax, to whom you should turn for your CVG.
  • A special feature of Beit Bridge is the toll payable for the bridge over the Limpopo, it is U.S. $ 10
  • Overall, you should calculate about U.S. $ 80 to 120 in total, depending on whether you buy a single or double entry visa and also depending on the engine capacity of your car. The time you will need for all this varies between the different border crossings but you should expect to take about 1 to 1.5 hours at the border. Beit Bridge may take quite a bit longer, depending on how busy the border is at any given time. Usually we can obtain the latest information for you at short notice, please contact us: zimbabwetravel.de
  • .

As a general rule: Always be friendly, courteous and respectful, then you will normally be treated the same way. Nervousness and impatience will only hurt your own nerves.

Have we caught your attention?

We have gathered together some fascinating safari options in Southern and Eastern Africa, trips that you won't find in a catalogue: Journeys for active people, for dreamers, for nature-fans, for families, for seniors, for bird-watchers, for wine-lovers, for photographers, for artists ... and surely for you as well!

If you like any of the safaris and tours on our website, you are most welcome to ask the tour operator of your choice to contact us: zimbabwetravel.info