Despite its political past and its economical challenges, Zimbabwe has kept in tact its most extraordinary tourist credentials: dramatic landscapes under a perfect climate, friendly and welcoming people, a wide range of historical and cultural attractions, a number of thrilling adventure activities, and some of the best wildlife encounter worldwide.
Fifteen years ago, Zimbabwe was considered the safari holiday destination par excellence for its unique array of assets; political unrest followed by economic collapse had, to a large extent, ruined this reputation – but not the attractions. African Bush Camps have continued operating in Zimbabwe throughout the hardships, supporting its people, maintaining its natural assets, and not least sharing with our guests the beautiful wonders of the wildlife. As stability to the country has returned, so too have the travellers and slowly but surely Zimbabwe is once again earning its reputation as the top Safari Destination of choice.
Before engaging into political discussions though, be aware Zimbabweans are sensitive to issues related with colonialism and the image of their country abroad; opinions are sharp and contrasted over the current political situation and it is advised to avoid giving opinions on their leaders. The dollarization of the economy has sparkled a new sense of optimism and entrepreneurship among local business and has even attracted foreign investments. Life remains difficult for many Zimbabweans, but the new economic recovery and the return of tourists are both a positive factor.
Tourists in Zimbabwe are treated with warm welcomes wherever they go, and visitors encounter less risks than in other African countries. The general mood and atmosphere in the country is peaceful; a culture of friendliness and helpfulness prevails amongst the Zimbabwean population. Security is generally good and criminality is confined to a petty level – in fact, there have been no reported incidents of violence against tourists for several years. Also, tour operators and other service providers initiated a Police sector that specifically addresses the needs of travelers. They are visible as they patrol the streets of Victoria Falls and ensure the safety of tourists.
Guests in safari locations have been protected from almost all annoyances, though, travel warnings by Western governments before 2009 have strongly impacted their influx.
In April 2009, the US, Japan, German and most E.U. goverments removed these travel warnings to Zimbabwe. As further political developments may induce periods of tensions, it is advisable though to keep an eye on these advisory boards: Britain (FCO) – United States (Dept. of State) – Canada (Foreign Affairs) – Australia (Smartraveller) – New Zealand (SafeTravel), France (conseils aux voyageurs). Be aware that, for Zimbabwe as for any country, these boards tend to focus on alerting issues; we also feel there is some inertia and conservatism in the persistant warning statements regarding Zimbabwe. As in the media: Zimbabwe many times makes the headlines for the wrong reasons; visitors to the country get a very different – and pleasant – image. For more relaxed presentations of the country, its history and the people, you may like to consult Wikipedia and Country Report.
We continue to monitor the situation and will advise if the situation raises new issues.
Dramatic landscapes, teeming with wildlife, beautiful national parks, rugged mountains and lush forests, provide the greatest wilderness experiences, thus making Zimbabwe a prime safari destination. Zimbabwe is renowned in Africa for the high quality of its guides, and the standard of lodges. The decline in tourism in the past years in Zimbabwe provide even greatest opportunities for unparallel wilderness experiences, far from the safari highways known in South Africa, Kenya or elsewhere. Zimbabwe’s national parks offer great opportunities for game viewing. There is a good chance you will see several the Big Five (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino), as well as girafes, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, monkeys, antelopes… Zimbabwe is one of the last rhinoceros havens with both white and black rhinos. Other rare species to be found in Zimbabwe include the wild dog, nyala, the king cheetah and the samango monkey.
Good infrastructure make it relatively easy to move between different parks and enjoy different environments. Hwange national park is just about one hour south of the Mighty Victoria Falls, in the northwest corner of the country. On the edge of the Kalahari desert, it features desert sand to sparse woodland as well as grasslands and granite outcrops, and hosts over 400 species of birds, more than 100 different mammal species including up to 30,000 elephants. Further South to Bulawayo, Matobo Hills National Park is also easy to access; another World Unesco heritage site, it features not only valuable game viewing, but also amazing landcapes of granit constructions, and interesting history. More difficult to reach but highly rewarding is Mana Pools by the Zambezi river, in the North of the country. It has some of the most spectacular river scenery and game-viewing, with superb opportunities to get close to game coming to the Zambezi to drink. Another great water-based safari experience is at Matusadona park, on the Southern shore of lake Kariba, between Victoria Falls and Manap Pools.
Nature has given Zimbabwe one of the finest climates in the world: it is warm without being oppressive and with an average sunshine ranging from four to ten hours per day (and sun shines 90% of the year!). This is because the generally high altitudes compensate for the tropical latitudes. Generally, the days are bright and sunny, the nights clear and cool. Even during the rainy season, the sun will brighten most of your days!
November to April are the summer months (green season) while winter is from May to July, with a generally dry weather. The period August to October is very hot and dry. Both temperature and rainfall are directly influenced by altitude. To better understand seasons in the region, please check our safari seasons information.
The dry season (June to October) is generally better for game viewing, but the shoulder season (May) and the beginning of the green season (November to April) may be very pleasant as well. You will benefit decreased rates in our camps and safaris during those seasons. The country is generally not prone for malaria, except in selected areas (Hwange, Victora Falls, Mana Pools…).