For those looking for a true African safari experience where the focus is on pure safari, Zimbabwe hits the nail on the head. Still blessed with the same iconic parks and safari hotspots that gave the country its title of Africa’s number one safari destination back in the 90’s, Zimbabwe is experiencing a renewed energy on the safari circuit and is now becoming the talk on everyone’s lips. Safari lodges are filling up and the spectacular wildlife is flourishing again and many of the great guides are returning home.
Why we love it
Many of Zimbabwe’s national parks are world-renowned. The largest park in the country, Hwange is famed for its large, open areas and huge herds of elephants. Mana Pools is high on the list of any avid safari go-er and has to be one of the most spectacular parks in Africa. On the banks of the Lower Zambezi, it offers fantastic walking safaris as well as being famed for its three-day canoe trips down the river.
One of Zimbabwe’s most famous landmarks, Victoria Falls, continues to be the adrenalin capital of Africa. Offering activities from white water rafting, bungee jumping and helicopter flips to elephant back riding and sunset cruises, it is a firm favourite on anyone’s itinerary.
With Zimbabwe still being a far more affordable option than some of its neighboring countries, now is really the time to go… as it is only a matter of time before its prices rightfully match those of Botswana.
Good to know
British and North American passport holders will require a visa to enter. This can easily be purchased on arrival or prior to departure from your nearest embassy.
You are advised to take anti-malaria pills for your trip. No specific shots are required to enter. But we do recommend you visit a travel health clinic prior to departure to make sure your standard travel vaccinations are up to date.
Numerous, but the most common are Shona, Ndebele and English. English is widely spoken in the tourist areas.
2 hrs +GMT
How to get around
Due to the remoteness of many of the camps, most travellers fly in private or shared small charter planes, giving you a great opportunity to see game from the air. Where possible, we also recommend a road transfer allowing you to see some of the country.
How to get there
You will most likely fly into Johannesburg (one of Africa’s major hubs) and then onto Victoria Falls or Harare, Zimbabwe. There are regular direct international flights to South Africa from London Heathrow and some of the major US hubs, such as Atlanta and New York. Alternatively, some international airlines have started to fly direct into Harare.
Is it for you?
Zimbabwe is for the safari traditionalist and those that appreciate excellent guiding. It is ideal for honeymooners, older families, adventure types.
When is best?
Zimbabwe can be a year-round destination and has its advantages/disadvantages depending on how you look at it. The best months for safari are generally between April – October, when it is cooler and less chance of rain. The wildlife viewing gets increasingly better the later you go, as the bush continues to dry up forcing much of the game around the water sources. But be warned, October can be very hot. The months from November – March can be hot and steamy, broken up with occasional heavy afternoon thunderstorm.
The bush is very lush and green, excellent for birders and lots of animals dropping their young. It is often a more affordable time of year to visit. Mana Pools is closed during this time. Victoria Falls is year-round, but they are at their most spectacular April/May/June when there is a lot of water going over the falls. White water rafting is from August – December when the water is at its lowest.
What should I combine it with?
Zimbabwe is a great destination on its own. Alternatively, if you want to extend your safari experience, then it combines well with Botswana & Zambia. The Victoria Falls also provides the ideal add-on for those on safari in South Africa or a stay in Cape Town. For those looking to add some R&R at the end, then it combines well with Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar and Lake Malawi, with flights going via Johannesburg.