Zimbabwe

A nation of spectacular natural beauty, friendly people and rich culture, Zimbabwe’s status as one of Africa’s leading safari destinations was dampened for years by its political instability. But now that the country is transcending its strife and returning to a state of equilibrium, it is once again emerging as a vacation highlight of the continent. Victoria Falls – known to locals as ‘The Smoke That Thunders’ – is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and the sheer power of this massive body of water plunging into the Zambezi Gorge is awe-inspiring and unforgettable. Lake Kariba, with its game-rich shores and islands, is an idyllic safari spot featuring mind-blowing sunsets; Hwange National Park is known for its huge herds of elephants; and a kayak trip down the Zambezi through the Mana Pools National Park will appeal to the intrepid traveller, providing close encounters with crocodiles, hippos and a host of other wildlife.


Banking and Currency

Currency

US dollars are universally accepted as well as South African rands, euros and pounds sterling.

The official currency of Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwe dollar (ZWL). This currency is in the form of *Bond Notes and **RTGS (real time gross settlement). The currency consists of bond coins and banknotes, with denominations including 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 bond coins, as well as 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollar banknotes. The currency was reintroduced in 2019 and even though the Zimbabwean dollar is still accepted and in circulation, the US dollar is the dominant currency.

It's important to note that exchange rates and the use and value of the Zimbabwean dollar can fluctuate, so it's advisable to check with official exchange bureaus, banks, or financial institutions for the most up-to-date information and rates for travel to Zimbabwe.

Banking

Banks in Zimbabwe are open for business Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 08h00 to 15h00, on Wednesdays from 08h00 to 13h00 and Saturdays from 08h00 to 11h30. They are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. 

Only VISA and MasterCard are accepted in Zimbabwe, however it should be noted that very limited facilities will have credit card machines, and the connection is not always reliable so it is advisable to carry cash as back up.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Taxis are safe and reliable, and can be booked through your hotel front desk. Taxis in cities travel within a 40km radius of the city. Always take a taxi at night.

Major airlines fly into Victoria Falls, Harare and Bulawayo. Charter flights are available to most attractions and camps. 

Zimbabwe has a good road infrastructure, by African standards, although potholed. Between major towns, there are frequent road blocks. Traffic drives on the left side of the road. 

If you are driving yourself around Zimbabwe, be sure to check on fuel availability in advance. If you are covering long distances within the country, ensure you carry extra fuel in 5 or 10lt metal containers in case of emergency. Fuel is generally available, but supply can fluctuate. Fuel is only available for cash.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Zimbabwe's native cuisine is based on sadza, a cooked porridge made from ground maize which is normally be accompanied by some tasty relish, perhaps made of meat and tomatoes, or dried fish. Safari camps will often prepare sadza if requested, and it is almost always available in small restaurants in the towns.

Camps, hotels and lodges that cater to overseas typically serve a variety international fare, and the quality of food prepared in the most remote bush camps is usually excellent.

If you are driving yourself around and plan to cook, then get most of your supplies in main towns. There are a number of South African shopping chains operating in Zimbabwe which will generally have all that you will need.

Water in the main towns is usually purified.. The locals drink it, and are used to the relatively innocuous bugs that it may harbour. If you are in the country for a long time, then it may be worth acclimatising yourself to it. However, if you are in Zimbabwe for just a short period of time, then try to drink only bottled, boiled, or treated water available in towns and from all camps, lodges and hotels.


Climate and Weather

In Zimbabwe, the rains come principally in DecemberJanuary,February and March; the further north you are, the earlier the precipitation arrives and the later it leaves. Zimbabwe's higher eastern areas usually receive more rainfall than the lower-lying western ones.

By April and May most of the rain is gone, leaving a verdant setting, which is starting to dry out. Especially in more southerly and higher locations, the night-time temperatures start to drop.

The nights in JuneJuly and August become much cooler, so don't forget to bring some warmer clothes, in case you want to spend an evening outside; the days are still clear and warm. For Zimbabwe, this is the start of the 'peak season'– days are often cloudless and game sightings continually increase.

Into September and October the temperatures rise once again: Zimbabwe's lower-lying rift valley – Mana Pools – can get very hot in October. During this time, you'll see some fantastic game, as the Zimbabwe's wildlife concentrates around the limited water sources.

November is unpredictable; it can be hot and dry, it can also see the season's first rainfalls – and in this respect it's a very interesting month, as on successive days, you can see both weather patterns.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

When in Zimbabwe the cardinal rule is to wear casual, comfortable clothes during the day as temperatures can get very hot. It is advisable to wear light loose-fitting clothing, such as cotton or linen, as they are cool and easy to wash. Warmer clothes are advised for the evenings and rainwear for the wet season. 

A brimmed hat and sunglasses are a good idea year-round. Long-sleeved shirts and long trousers will also guard against the scorching sun rays. It is recommended you wear light shoes, especially if your itinerary entails a lot of walking. 

For safaris, please remember to wear appropriate clothing and shoes. Earth colour clothes, such as browns, greens and tans are advisable. 


Internet Availability

Internet availability is very limited especially outside of the major cities. 

Most holiday accommodation venues offer internet and/or WiFi (free or paid) to their guests but there are often disruptions in service.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical sockets in the Republic of Zimbabwe are Type G (BS-1363) and Type C (CEE 7/16 Europlug) and Type D (BS-546). If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.

Electrical sockets usually supply electricity at 230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency.  If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 230 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 230 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.


Namibia

Namibia posesses some of the most stunning landscapes in Africa, and a trip through the country is one of the great road adventures. Natural wonders such as that mighty gash in the earth at Fish River Canyon and the wildlife utopia of Etosha National Park enthrall, but it’s the lonely desert roads where mighty slabs of granite rise out of swirling desert sands that will sear themselves in your mind. It’s like a coffee-table book come to life as sand dunes in the world’s oldest desert meet the crashing rollers along the wild Atlantic coast. Among all this is a German legacy evident in the cuisine and art nouveau architecture, and in festivals such as Windhoek’s legendary Oktoberfest. Namibia is also the headquarters of adventure activities in the region, so whether you’re a dreamer or love hearing the crunch of earth under your boots, travel in Namibia will stay with you long after the desert vistas fade.


Banking and Currency

Currency

The currency of Namibia is The Namibian Dollar (NAD; symbol N$) is in note denominations of N$200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of N$5, N$1, 50 cents, 10 cents and 5 cents. It is linked to the South African Rand (R) on a 1:1 basis (South African Rand = 100 cents). The South African Rand is also acceptable as currency in Namibia.

The import and export of local currency is limited to N$50,000. The import of foreign currency is unlimited, provided sums equal to or exceeding NAD5,000 are declared on arrival. Export of foreign currency is unlimited up to the amount imported and declared.

Banking

Banking hours: Monday - Friday 09h00 to 15h30 and Satuday 08h30 to 11h00

Banks are found in most towns, with most being closed on Sundays and public holidays. Most of them offer foreign exchange services - with cash, bank and credit cards as well as travellers  cheques. 

American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard and Visa are accepted. Credit cards are not usually accepted at petrol stations, so bear this in mind when you visit the ATM. Setting aside an emergency petrol cash fund is a good idea if you’re planning to drive.

You can also obtain cash from many of the ATMs. Several international banks have branches in main city centres. Always advise your bank that you are travelling outside of the country as they might block your purchases if they have not been informed. 

To avoid additional exchange rate charges, take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or South African Rand. In general, you can expect a better exchange rate for traveller’s cheques than for cash.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Public transport in Namibia is geared towards the needs of the local populace, and is confined to main roads between major population centres. Although cheap and reliable, it is of little use to the traveller as most of Namibia’s tourist attractions lie off the beaten track.

It is easy to travel around Namibia by car, and a 2WD vehicle is perfectly adaquate for most journeys. However, long distances, poor mobile phone coverage outside of main towns and infrequent petrol stations that only accept cash mean that planning ahead is vital.

There are major airlines that fly into Windhoek and Swakopmund. Other destinations are reachable by car or charter flight. 

Namibians drive on the left and all signposts are in English. Seat belts must be worn at all times and talking in a mobile phone while driving is prohibited. The general speed limit is 120km/h on tarred roads outside of towns and 100km/h on gravel roads. In built up areas, the speed limit is 60km/h.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Traditional Namibian cuisine is rarely served and so the food at restaurants tends to be European in style and is, generally, of a very high standard. 

Namibia is very meat-orientated, and many menu options will feature steaks from various animals. However, there is usually a vegetarian and seafood section offered by most camps and restaurants.

In the supermarkets you'll find pre-wrapped fresh fruit and vegetables (though the more remote the areas you visit, the smaller your choice), and plenty of canned foods, pasta, rice, bread, etc. Most of this is imported from South Africa.

The water in Namibia's main towns is generally safe to drink, though it may taste a little metallic if it has been piped for miles. Natural sources should usually be purified, though water from underground springs and dry riverbeds seldom causes any problems. However, filtered and bottled water are readily available in most towns and all camps, lodges and hotels.


Climate and Weather

Partially covered by the Namib Desert, one of the world's driest deserts, Namibia's climate is generally very dry and pleasant – it's fine to visit all year round. Namibia only receives a fraction of the rain experienced by countries further east. Between about December to March some days will be humid and rain may follow, often in localised, afternoon thunderstorms. These are more common in the centre and east of the country, and more unusual in the desert.

April and especially May are often lovely months in Namibia. Increasingly dry, with a real freshness in the air, and much greenery in the landscape; at this time the air is clear and largely free from dust.

From June to August Namibia cools down and dries out more; nights can become cold, dropping below freezing in some desert areas. As the landscape dries so the game in the north of the country gravitates more to waterholes, and is more easily seen by visitors. By September and October it warms up again; game-viewing in most areas is at its best, although there's often a lot of dust around and the vegetation has lost its vibrancy.

November is a highly variable month. Sometimes the hot, dry weather will continue, at other times the sky will fill with clouds and threaten to rain – but if you're lucky enough to witness the first rains of the season, you'll never forget the drama.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Namibia is a country with a diverse climate. It is recommended to pack lightweight clothing made of breathable materials, such as cotton or linen, to combat the heat during the day. In the evenings, temperatures can drop significantly, so it is best to pack warmer layers. Visitors can bring hiking shoes or sneakers for outdoor activities. Long pants and a shirt with buttons are often quite adequate for a formal occasion or work wear.


Internet Availability

Telecom Namibia offers a service called wi-space. You purchase a wi-space voucher that allows you to connect to WiFi wherever you see the wi-space logo (about 40 locations in Namibia). 

Alternatively good WiFi access is available at most holiday accommodation venues across the country (free / paid). 


Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical sockets in Namibia are Type M (SABS-1661). If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.

Electrical sockets in Namibia usually supply electricity at 230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 230 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 230 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.


back to top