Zimbabwe is a land-locked country blessed with fertile soils, mineral wealth and wonderful scenery. Destinations like Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and Mana Pools are world-renowned and the country is blessed with diverse habitats, from the granite hills of the Matopos to the majestic mountains, lush forests and beautiful rivers of the Eastern Highlands. As such, there is much to attract the traveller, from wildlife viewing and adrenalin adventures to delving into the history of the Zimbabwean people going back thousands of years.
It is in the more unspoilt and peaceful northern parks that we concentrate our safari operations. The Zambezi has an exceptional variety of spectacular scenery as well as one of the world's natural wonders: the Victoria Falls. The National Parks along the Zambezi are legendary; our concession lies in Mana Pools, located on the floodplains of Africa's Great Rift Valley and offering superb wildlife viewing.
Along the Botswana border the easternmost tongues of the Kalahari sands creep into the country and mix with the teak forests of the interior, so that desert-adapted animals share the same habitat with woodland species. Hwange National Park is home to some of southern Africa's last great elephant, buffalo and sable herds; Wilderness' Makalolo concession within Hwange is a truly wild area where animals have no restrictions and can migrate back and forth. This area also offers Zimbabwe's best summer game viewing.
Zimbabwe is cradled between two great African rivers - the myth-shrouded perennial Zambezi and the "great grey green greasy" seasonal Limpopo - between which two majestic watercourses lies a wealth of scenic landscapes, remnants of ancient civilisations and incredible wildlife. Spectacular granite landscapes rise up out of miombo woodland and mopane savannah in the south-west, while on the central plateau are extensive moist grasslands and broad-leaved woodland; to the south-east lie the dry woodlands and bushveld of the lowveld while in the north-west corner the Zambezi River pours over the world-famous Victoria Falls.
Biogeographically Zimbabwe sits at the crossroads of the northern tropics of Central Africa and the southern temperate zone of South Africa. Its more than 5 000 species of flowering plants and ferns are testament to the diversity that is possible in a relatively small country at such a meeting place. It is bisected by a well-defined east-west watershed where the northern half of the country drains into the Zambezi River while in the southern reaches of Zimbabwe, rivers wind their way southwards, flowing into the Limpopo or its eventual tributaries such as the Savé or Nuanetsi. The Zambezi zigzags through the Batoka Gorges below Victoria Falls before it carves a giant arc around the north of the country, great cliffs sliding down into riverine forest and wide floodplains. The river traces the northern border of the country flowing into Lake Kariba and then onward through the hot low-lying Zambezi Valley and the World Heritage Site of Mana Pools National Park.
The Limpopo is a very different river, as it ploughs its way between Zimbabwe and South Africa providing a corridor between Gonarezhou National Park and South Africa's Kruger in the south-west and forming the nucleus of another transfrontier park between Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa in the south-west. Both the Zambezi and the Limpopo reach the Indian Ocean on the coastal plain of Mozambique.
In the east, a range of rugged mountains forms the border with Mozambique. Known as the Eastern Highlands, this area is home to heath and rolling grasslands interspersed with Afro-montane forest - a complete contrast to the low-lying valleys of the lower Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers. This region is an extension of a series of relict isolated forest patches that stretch down the eastern seaboard of Africa and play host to an array of highly restricted plant and animal species such as Swynnerton's Robin-Chat. The western regions of Zimbabwe see the dramatic eastern ramparts replaced with the rounded and impossibly balanced boulders and granite domes of the Matobo Hills. The hills are also famously a stronghold for birds of prey, providing a refuge for more than 50 species including the characteristic Verreauxs' (black) eagle.
Along the Botswana border the easternmost tongues of the Kalahari sands creep into the country and mix with the teak forests of the interior. Here Zimbabwe's largest national park, Hwange, is home to some of southern Africa's last great elephant, buffalo and sable herds and plays an integral role in a network of southern African conservation areas. Likewise the mopane woodlands of the south-eastern lowveld, whose elephant herds continue to migrate between here and neighbouring Mozambique and South Africa. For these and other reasons, this beautiful river-bounded country is a vital link in the broad sweep of intact wilderness areas across the southern half of the African continent.
The weather in southern Africa is generally pleasant throughout the year – warm to hot days, and cool to warm nights. During our winter months however (May to August), it can get really cold at night and in the early morning, particularly when on safari, so we would like to suggest that you pack accordingly – very warm clothing including an anorak/winter jacket, a beanie, scarf and gloves are recommended.
Generally, the days are bright and sunny and the nights clear and cool. November to April are the summer months (which is also the rainy season) while winter is from May to August (which usually brings dry weather). September and October are very hot and very dry. The winter months from May to August inclusive, can bring freezing temperatures (below 0°C sometimes) in the early morning and evenings.
If possible and required, our recommendation is to obtain your Zimbabwe visa prior to arrival, as this will expedite the immigration process at both airport and border crossing.
If visas are required, please ensure you have the correct cash amounts (US Dollars) available as credit cards and Travellers Cheques are not accepted.
You must advise the relevant official of the total number of days that you are spending in Zimbabwe otherwise you may be charged to obtain an extension/additional visa later on.
If you arrive in Zimbabwe before continuing with your safari in another country (such as Botswana, Namibia or Zambia) and then return to Zimbabwe prior to departure; or will be staying in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and doing some touring across the border into Botswana or Zambia, then a double-entry visa must be obtained on arrival from the immigration official.
As the country has adopted a multi-currency system for payments, hard currencies such as US Dollars, GBP Sterling, Euros and South African Rand are accepted widely and you are encouraged to carry small denominations for ease of trade. Though credit cards are generally not accepted as a form of payment, there are some hotels that will – Visa is most widely accepted, while MasterCard and American Express are less so. Please check with your travel consultant for specifics prior to travel.
Major airlines include Departure Taxes in their ticket costs. However, if you are travelling on cross-border private charter flights ex Zimbabwe, you must pay this directly at the airport. In addition to the Departure Taxes, there is an AIDEF tax which has been introduced in Zimbabwe to fund the upgrading of its airports. This tax needs to be paid either directly by the client on departure per light aircraft/private charter or will be included in the costs of any scheduled/commercial airline ticket. Currently, and subject to change, these taxes are:
Domestic flights – US$ 10.00 departure tax plus US$ 5.00 AIDEF fees (Aviation Infrastructural Development Fund), total of US$ 15.00 per person.
International flights – US$ 35.00 departure tax plus US$ 15.00 AIDEF fees (Aviation Infrastructural Development Fund), total of US$ 50.00 per person.
This is applicable on departure from any registered, manned airports which include Harare, Bulawayo, Kariba, Hwange and Victoria Falls airports. This fee must be paid direct at the airport in US$ cash or the equivalent in previously mentioned hard currencies.
Small denominations of US Dollars are encouraged for easier and quicker transactions and it helps to have the exact amount to hand as change is sometimes not provided. Travellers Cheques and credit cards are also not accepted for this purpose.
If you need to bring luggage in excess of your allowance, you may have the option of buying an extra seat. This "seat in plane" allows for a maximum of 70 kg (154 lb) excess weight, on the proviso that the bag/s conforms to the dimensions 40 x 40 x 80cm (16 x 16 x 31 inches); soft bag, i.e. no wheels/frame/rigid structures; able to physically fit onto a light aircraft seat; able to be physically secured with one seatbelt; will not impact on the comfort of other guests on the flight. The additional cost of this varies depending on your flight schedule so please contact your agent for further details.