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Useful Information

 

FAST FACTS

  •  Area 390,580 sq km (slightly larger than Germany)
  •  Capital Harare
  •  Country code %263
  •  Famous for Victoria Falls, Mana Pools, Hwange National Park, Zambezi River canoe safaris, Robert Mugabe
  •  Languages English, Shona, Ndebele
  •  Money The US dollar is now used legally throughout Zimbabwe
  •  Phrases Siyabonga kakulu (thank you; Ndebele); tatenda (thank you; Shona)
  •  Population 13 million (officially, though up to three million Zimbabweans are thought to have emigrated since 2001)

 

 

BUSINESS HOURS

Shops and restaurants are generally open from 8am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to noon on Saturday. Very little (including restaurants) is open on Sunday.

 

CHILDREN

Zimbabwe is a great place to travel with kids. Travellers should organise their tours through travel agents who can tailor trips and accommodation to suit all needs and wants. Some safari operations won’t take children, but travel agents will know not only those who do, but those who cater best for them too. Most lodges these days will accept children, though others have an age limit for safety reasons.

 

PETS

Regional tourists (except Mozambicans) who wish to bring pets into Zimbabwe should apply for an inter-territorial import and export permit, together with a health certificate from their nearest veterinary Office. Tourists from other countries should apply well ahead for a permit to: The Director of Veterinary Services, P O Box 8012, Causeway, Harare. 

 

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS

Visitors may import a maximum of US$350 in items not for trade, excluding personal effects. Travellers over 18 years of age can also import up to 3L of alcohol, including 1L of spirits.

 

DANGERS & ANNOYANCES

Zimbabwe is nowhere near as dangerous as foreign media makes out, but crime is on the rise. Carjacking and smash and grabs are the current dangers. Although the number of incidents and degree of violence are a far cry from that in Johannesburg and others, it is a reality. Drivers should take the following precautions: avoid stopping at traffic lights
at night, lock all doors, lock all valuables in the boot and keep windows up.

 

INTERNET ACCESS

There are internet centres in all the main cities and towns. Internet access is around US$2 per hour. Wi-fi access is pretty prevalent these days; you can find it in backpacker hostels, cafes in Harare and the occasional Spar supermarket. If there isn’t wi-fi, there are internet cafes popping up everywhere in the main towns, including places like the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.


LANGUAGE

The official language of Zimbabwe is English. It’s used in government, legal and business proceedings, but is the first language for only about 2% of the population. Most Zimbabweans speak Shona (mainly in the north and east) or Ndebele (in the centre and west). Another dialect, Chilapalapa, is a pidgin version of Ndebele, English, Shona and Afrikaans, and isn’t overly laden with niceties, so most people prefer you sticking to English.

 

MONEY

There are no restrictions on foreign currency to be imported into Zimbabwe. However, a maximum of $ 10 000 or its equivalent can be exported out of the country. Tourists are entitled to duty-free importation of their goods which they intend to take out of the country, for instance laptops, cameras, vehicles, binoculars, fishery rods and trailers; as well as duty-free importation of goods for personal use (not commercial) worth US$300.00 for consumption in Zimbabwe. A CDI form is required for exports whose value exceeds US$1 000.00.

  • ATMs - At the time of writing, ATMs were not being used because of the ‘multicurrency’ situation. Also note carefully: change for cash is a big problem, so have plenty of small notes.
  • Credit Cards - Credit cards were being accepted in top hotels and some restaurants and shops, with the costs being quoted in US dollars.
  • Tipping - Some restaurants automatically add a 10% service charge to the bill; if so, no tip is required. Otherwise any tip is hugely appreciated.
  • Travellers Cheques - Don’t take travellers cheques to Zimbabwe. Use a credit card or cash.

 

MOTOR VEHICLES

Private motor-vehicles, caravans and trailers may be brought temporarily into Zimbabwe, provided they are licensed in their home countries and bear the appropriate registration plates and a nationality plaque. The international Certificate of Motor vehicles is recognized in Zimbabwe. A vehicle toll fee is levied on all vehicles that pass through the Beitbridge border-post.

Vehicles must be insured against third-party risks arising in Zimbabwe: short-term policies are obtainable at border-posts. Visitors driving hired cars from companies registered outside Zimbabwe should check that customs surety arrangements have been made.

 

DRIVING IN ZIMBABWE

International driving and driving licenses issued in all SADC countries are valid in Zimbabwe. Visitors from other countries not covered by this agreement are able to drive for a period of 90 days using driving licenses issued in their home countries. If not printed in English, it should have a certificate of authority and validity, or a translation of the text with the bearer’s photograph attached. Renewal after expiry of this period is obtained from the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Drive on the left in Zimbabwe and give way to traffic approaching on the road to your right at uncontrolled intersections. At controlled intersections, motorists are required to yield precedence to pedestrians crossing on a green light. At all intersections, a fire engine, ambulance or police vehicle sounding a siren takes precedence over all other traffic: move out of its course and remain stationary until it has passed. The general speed-limit in Zimbabwe is 120km/h on open roads and 60 km/h in urban areas, but watch for the signs.

 

TRANSPORT AND TOURS

  • Taxis – can be found at taxi ranks in the main centres or on call from hotels and restaurants.
  • Car Hire – cars with or without chauffeurs can be hired in most tourist areas from internationally recognizable operators.
  • Buses/Coaches – Zimbabwe has a variety of both mid-range and luxury intercity coach services.
  • Trains – A commuter rail link exist between Harare – Mutare, Harare – Bulawayo and Bulawayo – Victoria Falls.
  • Air Services – Air Zimbabwe, the national airline, operates frequent flights between the main centres and major tourist destinations. Other private scheduled and charter flights are also available on these routes. Feeder services are provided to regional capitals. International flights are also available.
  • Road tours – A selection of road tours are operated at reasonable cost to Zimbabwe’s main tourist attractions by registered tour operators. In addition, sight-seeing and game-viewing tours are offered with couriers who are fluent in the main European languages.
  • Boat Hire – At Kariba, Victoria Falls, Mutirikwi and all other water bodies in Zimbabwe, boats are available for hire from registered companies and lake cruises and charters are offered at reasonable cost.

 

VISAS

With a few exceptions, visas are required by nationals of all countries. They can be obtained at your point of entry. Single-/double entry visas cost US$30/45 (and can be issued upon arrival) and multiple-entry visas (valid for six months) cost US$55, but are only issued at Zimbabwean diplomatic missions. British citizens pay US$55/70 for single/double entry. A good website for checking changes in requirements and other immigration news is www.safemigrationzimbabwe.com.

For visa extensions, contact the Department of Immigration Control Linquenda House, cnr Nelson Mandela Ave & First St, Harare). 

Vaccination for yellow fever is not required for entry to Zimbabwe unless you have recently been to an infected area. However, for all sorts of reasons, get a jab before you come to Southern Africa and carry a certificate to prove it.