(Last updated April 2017)
What if you want to travel around Zimbabwe without the structure of a packaged holiday, and don’t want to fly or hire a car? You can travel by coach to certain destinations around Zimbabwe, as I have done on a number of occasions. Bus travel in Zimbabwe, with the right company, can be easy and comfortable.
In this post, I’m not going to focus on the informal buses and commuter vehicles that traverse the region, because although they are cheaper, they don’t run to reliable schedules and their extreme driving speeds can be unsafe. If you want to be spontaneous, you can find transport services by going to a city’s local bus terminus and asking around (also see this external blog post which discusses public transport in Zimbabwe). There is also a cheap bus company called Zupco which runs daily services to many locations in Zimbabwe including Kariba and Masvingo.
Below I’ll discuss only the coach companies that have working contact details on their websites, reliable schedules, good safety records and good reputations. Namely: Intercape/Pathfinders and City Link. I’ve personally used both of these companies in the past.
Alternatively, consider hiring a shuttle company to transport you between cities in Zimbabwe. Here’s a list of reputable shuttles (with hyperlinks to their websites): GoDirect, Shumba Shuttle, Hilton Transfers, Elite Premier, Samaita, Wild Horizons (Victoria Falls and surrounds only) and Shuttle Direct (Harare only). Also, Black Rhino Safaris offer transfers and tours to Harare, Bulawayo, Matopos, Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe and other locations. Groups can contact Pesha Safaris (email@example.com), Hersov Tours (+ 263 773 923 500) or Shumba Shuttle.
The coach companies below all have toilet facilities on board, and they allow passengers to get off the bus for a rest stop and to buy refreshments roughly every 3 hours. There are entertainment facilities on some coaches but I would suggest that you take a book or some form of personal entertainment with you. There is usually no wi-fi on the coaches but there are charging points near some of the seats. It’s always a good idea to take a bottle of water with you on any journey.
Pathfinder Coaches are an established bus company and they are now operated by Intercape. They offer transport primarily between Harare and Bulawayo, as well as to South Africa.
Domestic bus routes
- Harare – Bulawayo: With pickup/dropoff points at Chegutu, Kadoma, KweKwe, Gweru. Departs daily in both directions. Duration: about 6 hrs. Cost: Around $30. Day journey.
- Bulawayo – Victoria Falls: (Not currently running) Additional pickup/dropoff points at Bulawayo, Hwange Town, Hwange Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls. Departs Bulawayo on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Departs Victoria Falls on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. Duration: about 6 hours. Cost: Around $30.
- Harare – Victoria Falls: (Not currently running) This combines the two routes above, so you may want to break up the journey and spend a night or two in Bulawayo rather than doing it all in one day. Departs Harare and Bulawayo on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Departs Victoria Falls on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. Duration: about 12 hours (unless you decide to spend time in Bulawayo in between, breaking it into two journeys of 6 hours and 6 hours). Cost: $60. This is a day journey but the last 2 hours are in the dark when travelling to Victoria Falls.
- Note: If booking online, you should select “Harare Pathfinder” rather than “Harare” to display the available Harare routes on the Intercape website.
- Link: www.intercape.co.za; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Intercape / Pathfinder international bus routes
- Harare – Johannesburg: With a pickup/dropoff point at Beitbridge. Departs daily.
- Harare – Cape Town: Departs Sundays and Wednesdays.
- Bulawayo – Johannesburg: Departs daily.
- Intercape also serves routes to Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and additional destinations in South Africa. No refreshments are served on Intercape coaches.
Intercape/Pathfinder Zimbabwe booking offices and pickup/dropoff locations
Harare: Cresta Oasis Hotel | Chegutu: Chegutu Hotel | Kadoma: Kadoma Power Fuels/Redan Garage| Kwekwe: Puma Garage, 8430 Amaveni Road | Gweru: Chicken Slice, Cnr Robert Mugabe and 9th Street| Bulawayo: 114 Joshua M Nkomo Street | Hwange National Park: Hwange Safari Lodge | Hwange Town: Hwange Caltex Garage | Victoria Falls: Kingdom Hotel
I’ve travelled with Pathfinder many times between Harare and Bulawayo, and it was usually a pleasant journey on a clean bus with a dependable company. The seats were comfortable, staff were helpful and there was usually room for me to have two seats for myself. The buses are more reliable than Air Zimbabwe for keeping to schedule. A drink and titbits to eat are also served, which is always a plus. VIP options are available.
One of the more established coach/bus companies in Zimbabwe.
Domestic bus routes
- Harare – Bulawayo: With pickup/dropoff points at Kadoma, KweKwe, Gweru. Departs daily. Duration: about 6 hrs. Cost: $35.
- Bulawayo – Hwange: Departs daily. Duration: about 3 hrs. Cost: $20. (Note: Currently not running.)
- Harare – Hwange: With pickup/dropoff points at Kadoma, KweKwe, Gweru, Bulawayo. Departs daily. Duration: about 9 hrs. Cost: $50. (Note: Currently not running.)
- Harare – Musina (Currently not running.)
- Harare – Johanesburg (Currently not running.)
- Link: www.citylinkcoaches.co.zw; email: email@example.com.
City Link booking offices and pickup/dropoff locations
Harare: Rainbow Towers | First Street Chicken Inn | Kadoma: Kadoma Hotel | KweKwe: The Golden Mile Hotel | Gweru: Clonsilla Chicken Inn | Bulawayo: Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel
This is a fairly new bus company and I haven’t had any personal experience with them.
Bravo domestic bus routes
- Harare – Bulawayo: With pickup/dropoff points at Chegutu, Kadoma, KweKwe, Gweru. Departs daily. Duration: about 6 hrs.
- Bulawayo – Victoria Falls: Departs daily. Duration: about 5 hours.
- Harare to Victoria Falls via Bulawayo: Departs daily. Duration: about 13 hours.
- Website: http://bravotours.co.zw. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bravo international bus routes
- Bulawayo – Johannesburg: Departs daily.
- Victoria Falls – Musina: Departs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
- Victoria Falls – Johannesburg via Bulawayo: Departs daily.
Citiliner is a division of Greyhound and they have been operational in Zimbabwe since 1995. They don’t have Zimbabwe-only routes, but their international routes are: (1) Bulawayo – Pretoria – Johannesburg; and (2) Harare – Pretoria – Johannesburg. Their website is: www.citiliner.co.za. Here’s a link to their Zimbabwe booking offices.
A note on international travel: If you are travelling on a coach that crosses the border to a new country, for example from Harare to Johannesburg, remember to keep your passport readily available, as well as a pen to fill out any visa forms. The Zimbabwe-South Africa borderpost gets very busy so delays are likely. I would recommend a coach for journeys within Zimbabwe but would suggest a flight for journeys between Zimbabwe and South Africa, unless you’re self-driving or going via Botswana. See this post for details on flying to and from Zimbabwe.
Also see my posts on the following related topics:
Have you travelled by coach or bus in Zimbabwe? Share your thoughts below!