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African Travel Tips For Visiting Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s biggest draw is undoubtedly the majestic Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. But the country has other natural and historical assets to captivate travelers and keep them coming back. Wildlife, fish and birds abound, including a number of unique, rare and endangered species that make game viewing, bird watching, fishing and hunting popular activities.
Home to four World Heritage Sites, Zimbabwe has a rich history of ancient civilizations that make its friendly people stand proud, despite hardships. From the refreshing spray of waterfalls on your face, to the sunset of Lake Kariba, a lush mountain escape to a Zambezi rafting adventure, Zimbabwe is sure to leave you with memories as indelible as those of Livingstone and Rhodes when they saw the wealth of the country.
CHAPTER: Cheer up
CLIMATE: Subtropical. The best time to visit is April-October when the weather is mild with little rain. Winter (May-August) is dry and sunny. Rainy weather is Nov-Mar/Apr.
CURRENCY: 1 Zimbabwe dollar = 100 cents. You can get 15000 zimbabwe dollars from the country. There are no restrictions on importing foreign currency. If you do not declare the foreign money you bring in, you will only be able to withdraw US$500. You may be required to account for foreign currency exchanged/spent in the country. Hotel bills must be paid by credit cards or in foreign currencies, e.g. US dollar.
Credit card users are subject to a surcharge of approximately 3 percent on the total value of goods purchased. Traveler’s checks in US dollars are recommended. Avoid high street exchangers who promise “no commission, best prices” but then cheat on delivery. There are severe penalties for illegal currency trading. Many of the major stores in town do not accept American Express cards. Traveller’s checks are the most convenient means of payment.
HEALTH: Yellow fever vaccination is essential if you arrive from an infected country or region. Visitors are also advised to take pre-arrival precautions against Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid and Malaria (depending on the area they are visiting, especially those outside the cities). Other health concerns include bilharzia (don’t swim in rivers/dams or drink water from them as it can become infected), sunburn, limited medical facilities and supplies outside cities, AIDS and influenza (the risk is year-round).
LANGUAGE: English is the official language. Chishona and Sindebele are widely spoken.
January 1 New Year
April 12 Easter Monday
April 18 Independence Day
May 1 Workers’ Day
May 25 Africa Day
August 11 Heroes’ Day
August 12 Defense Forces Day
December 22 Unity Day
December 25-26 Christmas
SHOPPING: Soft Shona stone carvings. Wood carvings; T-shirts? Safari clothes; ceramics; leather items; utensil basket; sculptures? textile products. Nail polish and old clothes can sometimes be replaced with carvings.
SOCIAL COVENANTS: Christianity is the main religion, but in rural areas people have traditional beliefs. Western/European courtesies are observed. Return invitations are appreciated. A handshake is the usual form of greeting. Dress is casual, but most hotels require more formal attire, e.g. tie and jacket. Business meetings require suits.
TIME DIFFERENCE: GMT+2
TIP: 10-15% is common.
DESCRIPTION OF THE TEN VISITORS:
Called by the locals “Mosi-oa-Tunya” – the smoke that thunders, Victoria Falls is a World Heritage Site and undoubtedly the most majestic waterfall in the world. Popular activities include rainforest walking, white water rafting, bungee jumping, flying over waterfalls, river cruises and more.
Lake Kariba Unique landscape of dead trees emerging from the depths of this huge artificial lake is especially beautiful during sunset. a popular way to enjoy the lake is on a houseboat with friends to see large numbers of crocodile and hippo, game watching in Matusadona National Park or tiger fishing – the largest Tiger fish ever caught here weighed 15.5kg.
The capital offers sightseeing tours of the National Gallery. National Archives? Queen Victoria Museum? Queen Victoria National Library; National Botanical Garden? Mbare Market? Chapungu Village; tobacco auction floors; Mukuvisi Woodlands; Museum of the Humanities; Harare Gardens; Cecil House; National Crafts Center; Africa Unity Square and The Residency.
22 km west of Bulawayo is the Kame Ruins, one of southern Africa’s magnificent Late Iron Age ruins, now a World Heritage Site showing that the area was the seat of government of earlier civilizations.
Great Zimbabwe National Monument:
The ruins of an ancient African city, believed to have flourished between the 13th and 15th centuries AD, are the only existing World Heritage Site south of the Sahara. The country was named after it and the famous Zimbabwean birds found on the site became the national bird and were incorporated into the flag. visit the on-site museum, Kyle Amusement Park, and drive-in or horse-drawn carriage viewing nearby.
Hwange National Park:
The largest national park in the country, both in size and variety of wild game and birds. also one of the few remaining elephant sanctuaries in Africa, with herds up to 100 strong. the only area in the country where gemsbok and brown hyena occur in reasonable numbers and where the wild dog population is believed to be the largest surviving in Africa today.
Mana Pools National Park:
Part of the Middle Zambezi Valley, the Mana Pools are home to some of the largest concentrations of large mammals found in Zimbabwe. It is also known for its diverse and colorful bird life and is one of the last remaining strongholds of the black rhinoceros. Game viewing, hunting and canoe safaris are popular.
Bulawayo & Matobo:
Zimbabwe’s second largest city located on the site of the royal kraal of Lobengula, the last of the Ndebele Kings. Check out the Natural History Museum, Railway Museum, Mzilikazi arts and crafts centre, Centenary Park, central parks and the National Gallery. At a distance of 30 km from the city is the Matobo National Park, a unique area of about 2000 square kilometers with giant wind-sculpted rock formations. The burial site of Cecil John Rhodes and thousands of ancient rock paintings are also located here.
Rich natural environment characterizes this area with mountains, grassy plains, streams, waterfalls, mountain flowers, rare birds, etc. which contribute to the panoramic view of outstanding beauty that attracts nature lovers, hikers and other lovers of the outdoors. visit Nyanga National Park, Mutare, Mutarazi Falls, Bunga Botanical Reserve, Bvumba Botanical Gardens and Chimanimani National Park Wilderness.
This park adjoins the Kruger National Park in South Africa and is home to some of the rarest species of birds and animals in Africa. Alongside this park’s famous African elephants, unlike any other in the world, are the bat-eared fox, suni, Liechtenstein’s hartebeest, nyala and roan antelope.
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