Visiting Zimbabwe Advice

Information for visitors to Zimbabwe: here are some FAQs and answers. You should also check with your GP and nearest embassy for official health and consular information.

Zimbabwe is roughly double the size of the United Kingdom, with a huge amount to offer visitors. Let’s get started on the practical information! Click on the links below to jump to the answers.

Zimbabwe FAQs:

Click to jump to a specific topic …
1. Do I need a visa for Zimbabwe?

2. What currency is used in Zimbabwe?

3. What language is spoken in Zimbabwe?

4. What health precautions do I need to take when visiting Zimbabwe?

5. Is it safe in Zimbabwe?

6. What’s the weather like in Zimbabwe?

7. Which airlines fly into Zimbabwe?

8. What transport should I use in Zimbabwe? / How do I travel around Zimbabwe?

9. What do I need to pack for Zimbabwe?

10. What time zone is Zimbabwe in?

11. Is Internet access/Wifi easily available?

12. What’s the international telephone dialling code?

13. Do people usually give tips?

14. Is it ethical to visit Zimbabwe?
Answers are below … But first, a map! Note that “South Africa” is the name of a country, not a region of Africa. South Africa and Zimbabwe are different countries.
Map practical info Zimbabwe and Africa

Do I need a visa for Zimbabwe?

There is a full article dedicated to this question in my post Visa requirements for Zimbabwe, but here is a summary:

1. For most visitors, the good news is that the visa process is simple and doesn’t require much planning. There are three categories of nationalities which have different visa requirements. The first two categories are the easy ones. A quick summary is below:

  • Category A: Citizens of SADC  countries as well as Hong Kong and Singapore do not need a visa or pay a fee to enter Zimbabwe on holiday. Show your passport upon arrival and you will be allowed to enter Zimbabwe.
  • Category B: Countries in this category include Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Ireland and USA. Countries in this category get a visa upon arrival in Zimbabwe. This is doesn’t require much planning: When you arrive in Zimbabwe, you will be given a form to complete (take a pen to speed it up), and you will need to pay the visa fee in cash (US Dollars cash). Fees are as follows:
    • For most Cat B countries: Single Entry US$ 30; Double Entry US$ 45. Payable in cash.
    • Britain (UK) and Ireland: Single Entry US$ 55; Double Entry US$ 70.
    • Canada: Single Entry US$ 75 – Canadian Passport holders can ONLY get a Single entry Zimbabwe Visa at the port of Entry.
  • Category C: Citizens of some countries, such as India and Mexico, need to apply for a visa in their home country before travelling. Contact the Zimbabwe High Commission in your country to do this, or apply online at www.evisa.gov.zw. More details can be found in the article Zimbabwe visa requirements.
    • Fees: Single Entry US$65 to US$100. Category C nationals can only get a single entry Zimbabwe visa.

Useful links: the official Zimbabwe visa website www.evisa.gov.zw, the Zimbabwe Ministry of Foreign Affairs visa website, the UK GOV Zimbabwe entry information and the Zimbabwe Embassy in USA website[Back to top]

What currency is used in Zimbabwe?

2. Zimbabwe Dollars, South African Rand and US Dollars are legal in Zimbabwe (as of July 2021).

  • Prices and transactions are mainly in Zimbabwean dollars, but US dollars and South African Rand are widely accepted. When you see a price that just shows the dollar symbol, that probably means that it is in Zimbabwe dollars. You can then ask what the price would be in US dollars, if that is how you plan to pay. Here is a link to the official RBZ exchange rates for USD to ZWD so that you can have an idea of this in advance.
  • Hotels, tour operators and higher-end restaurants will be aware of the exchange rates and will happy to advise on currencies. Informal marketplaces, street vendors and businesses away from tourist areas will be more likely to quote a bad exchange rate, so be aware of the rough rate in advance.
  • The golden rule is: If you’re coming from abroad, pay for as much of your holiday BEFORE you get to Zimbabwe as you can. This includes accommodation, activities, transfers, parks fees and meals. That way, you won’t need so much cash when you get there.
  • You will however need to take some cash with you, in particular for the visa fees (in US dollars), plus tips, meals out, informal markets, extra parks fees etc.
  • If you’re self-driving, you’ll need cash for tolls.
  • If you’re in Victoria Falls only, this town is very tourist-friendly and there will be facilities to get limited amounts of cash.
  • There are bureaux de change in towns and cities.
  • There are Automated Teller Machines in towns and cities that you could use if absolutely necessary. However in Harare and Bulawayo the queues may be long.
  • International debit cards are more widely received than credit cards. It may be difficult using an international card at a ‘swipe’-style machine in Zimbabwe. Where possible, email the businesses in advance to check that they can accept your specified card.
  • Work with your hotel or tour company to ask about paying for most of your holiday in advance, so that you don’t have to carry as much cash with you. Also ask them of any extras that they are aware of that you would need to pay in cash. If you need to pay the remainder of your fee by card, check with them first about their credit card policy.
  • It’s illegal to leave Zimbabwe with more than USD $2,000 (or equivalent) in cash, unless it is left over from funds which you have brought in yourself and declared on arrival. You should keep the proof of declaration to avoid problems with officials on exit. It’s illegal to exchange foreign currency anywhere other than at officially licensed dealers (e.g. banks or bureau de change).
  • Carry small denomination notes, as change is not always available.

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Mana Pools Zimbabwe elephants

What language is spoken in Zimbabwe?

3. English is one of the official languages of Zimbabwe. It is used in business, education and many areas of Zimbabwean life. Most people are bilingual in both English and their regional language.

  • The two dominant regional languages are Shona in the north, and Ndebele in the south, but it the population is diverse: there are 16 official languages spoken in Zimbabwe.
  • Read about specific parts of Zimbabwe: Harare | Bulawayo | Great Zimbabwe (Masvingo) | Victoria Falls.
  • My five main cultural suggestions for visitors to Zimbabwe are as follows:
    1. Greeting are important. Greet people by saying, “Good morning/afternoon/evening; how are you?” and then wait for their response, and you reply to it to say how you are. If you see someone again the next day, greet them again each day or time you see them. Then you can proceed with your question or conversation. There are few reasons to rush kindness in Zimbabwe.
    2. Be courteous. Start with “please” when asking for something. Say “thank you” often, for example when you are brought your meal, or have finished an activity with a guide.
    3. Be particularly polite and respectful of older people.
    4. Do not ask a Zimbabwean direct questions about their political affiliations unless they talk about it first. This is a complex issue. Tourists are not usually affected by political violence, but local people are more vulnerable.
    5. Try to remember the difference between Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and Botswana in your conversations with locals. These are all different countries with their own identities, much like Canada vs USA; or Australia vs New Zealand.

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What health precautions do I need to take when visiting Zimbabwe?

4. Malaria and sunstroke are the biggest health factors for tourists to consider.

  • Prophylaxis medication for malaria, and staying hydrated, are the main two ways to protect yourself against malaria and sunstroke, respectively.
  • Ebola is not currently a threat in Zimbabwe because the country is situated so far away from West Africa: around 9000 km or 6000 miles!
  • The town of Victoria Falls has a 75%+ vaccination rate for Covid-19.
  • Read full details on how to stay safe in Zimbabwe in the Health information article.

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Mana Pools buffalo 1Is it safe in Zimbabwe?

5. Zimbabwe is one of the safest African countries, as long as you’re as aware of your surroundings as you would be in your home town.

  • The people of Zimbabwe have a well-deserved reputation for being among the most easy-going, welcoming and hospitable in Africa (and, in our biased opinion, the world).
  • Read full details in this article dedicated to the topic: Safety in Zimbabwe.
  • Our five main cultural suggestions for visitors to Zimbabwe are as follows:
    1. Greeting are important. Greet people by saying, “Good morning/afternoon/evening; how are you?” and then wait for their response, and you reply to it to say how you are. If you see someone again the next day, greet them again each day or time you see them. Then you can proceed with your question or conversation. There are few reasons to rush kindness in Zimbabwe.
    2. Be courteous. Start with “please” when asking for something. Say “thank you” often, for example when you are brought your meal, or have finished an activity with a guide.
    3. Be particularly polite and respectful of older people.
    4. Do not ask a Zimbabwean direct questions about their political affiliations unless they talk about it first. This is a complex issue. Tourists are not usually affected by political violence, but local people are more vulnerable.
    5. Try to remember the difference between Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and Botswana in your conversations with locals. These are all different countries with their own identities, much like Canada vs USA; or Australia vs New Zealand.

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Victoria Falls ZimbabweWhat’s the weather like in Zimbabwe?

6. It’s usually sunny and warm during the day, but temperatures can drop at night. A hat, suncream, sunglasses and a fleece jacket are essentials.

  • The best time to visit Zimbabwe is between April and September.
  • Rain usually only falls between November and March, in the summer.
  • The hottest months are September and October. Zimbabwe is at a high altitude, which means the heat doesn’t usually feel as oppressive as in coastal countries.
  • In June and July (winter), it gets frosty at night but stays mild, beautiful and warm during the day.
  • Zimbabwe is a year-round destination, but some times are better than others if you have something specific to do in mind, such as white-water rafting.
  • See our detailed climate and weather post for more information on this.
  • Read about specific parts of Zimbabwe as the temperatures do vary: Harare | Bulawayo | Great Zimbabwe | Victoria Falls.

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Which airlines fly into Zimbabwe?

7. The number of airlines flying into Zimbabwe is increasing again, which means that you have a number of options.

Main airlines are: Emirates, Ethiopian Airways, British Airways (codeshare), Virgin Atlantic (codeshare), RwandAir, Kenyan Airways, Qatar Airways, KLM (codeshare) and South African Airways.

See a list of airlines, as well as information about Zimbabwe airports here: Flights to Zimbabwe.

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Kariba ferry sealionWhat transport should I use in Zimbabwe? /  How do I travel around Zimbabwe?

8. If you’re coming from abroad, all-inclusive operators will usually organise all transport for you (a list of operators is here).

  • The options are: all-inclusive packaged transport, self-drive using a hired vehicle, local flights, local coaches, or private road shuttle service.
  • See full details in our post on Transport within Zimbabwe.

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What do I need to pack for Zimbabwe?

9. Must-packs are sunscreen, hat, walking shoes and a fleece jacket.

  • See a full packing list in our post on What to pack for a Zimbabwe holiday.
  • Note that Zimbabwe sockets are mainly square 3-pins (type G), but check with your accommodation first.

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More below the picture, keep reading …
FAQs about visiting Zimbabwe, Africa

What time zone is Zimbabwe in?

10. Zimbabwe is 2 hours ahead of GMT.  It’s in the CAT (Central African Time) zone; same as South Africa. This means that depending on the time of year, it’s 1-2 hours ahead of London and 6-7 hours ahead of New York. [Back to top]

Is Internet access/Wifi easily available?

11. In a word, yes, there is Wifi in the cities and towns.

  • Many hotels and guesthouses in Victoria Falls, Harare and Bulawayo will have internet of some form.
  • Many coffee shops also have Wifi, although you may need to buy prepaid top-up cards from the venue to do so.
  • Note that Zimbabwe sockets are mainly square 3-pins (type G), but check with your accommodation first.
  • If you’re going outside of the cities into the countryside/wildlife park, the likelihood is that there won’t be internet – however, that will be the last thing on your mind when you’re in the bush, believe me.
  • Zimbabwean websites usually end in the domain extension ‘co.zw’, but some use the South African ‘co.za’.
  • If you’re visiting on a packaged holiday with transport pre-arranged, your transport provider will have a local cell phone/communication with them at all times in case of emergency. You can still use your international phone for photos, and for Wi-fi based services such as WhatsApp and email. When you arrive in Zimbabwe, your phone will ask whether you want to connect to the local cell networks or not: this is your choice based on your home cell/mobile roaming fees. If connecting, Econet, TelOne and Telecel are the biggest cell networks in Zimbabwe. Alternatively, keep your phone on airplane mode until you’re in a spot that has Wi-fi, such as your accommodation. Then you can connect to wi-fi to connect to the Internet and communicate with family and friends until your next activity.

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What’s the international telephone dialling code?

12. The international dialling code for Zimbabwe is +263. This is the number people from outside the country need to dial to phone Zimbabwe. They will also drop the first ‘0’ of the telephone number.

  • You can buy a SIM card in Zimbabwe and use your international cell phone with a local line if the phone is unlocked for international use.
  • You only really need a local line if you’re self-driving and need to stay connected in case of emergencies. If you’re phone is not unlocked for international use, buy a cheap basic unlocked phone in advance, like this Samsung E1050, and buy a local SIM card when you get to Zimbabwe.
  • If you’re visiting on a packaged holiday with transport pre-arranged, your transport provider will have a local cell phone/communication with them at all times in case of emergency. You can still use your international phone for photos, and for Wi-fi based services such as WhatsApp and email. When you arrive in Zimbabwe, your phone will ask whether you want to connect to the local cell networks or not: this is your choice based on your home cell/mobile roaming fees. If connecting, Econet, TelOne and Telecel are the biggest cell networks in Zimbabwe. Alternatively, keep your phone on airplane mode until you’re in a spot that has Wi-fi, such as your accommodation. Then you can connect to wi-fi to connect to the Internet and communicate with family and friends until your next activity.

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Do people give tips at restaurants/hotels?

13. Yes, people usually tip about 10% at sit-down restaurants. For hotels, see below.

  • Standalone restaurants: Check the restaurant’s bill to see if the tip has already been included. If not, you can leave cash of 10% on the table or hand it to the staff member with a handshake.
  • In-house restaurants at hotels and safari lodges: Tips after pre-packaged meals are not usually given.
  • At the end of a stay in a hotel or lodge: Guests sometimes give a tip to the guides and/or other members of staff if they feel they have done a good job. Perhaps put a small amount of money in an envelope and give it to the member(s) of staff in person, with a hearty handshake and a ‘thank you’. This is not a requirement if you are financially not able to do so. Just by purchasing your holiday you have continued to support the jobs of those employed in Zimbabwe’s tourism industry.
  • Tip boxes: At some hotels and lodges, there is simply a box in reception where guests can give a tip if desired, which is shared between staff.
  • When tipping: When a Zimbabwean receives a gift or tip, they might softly clap their hands together and bend at the knee. They may also touch their left forearm with their other hand. This is a customary way of saying thank you in Zimbabwe. Do not be alarmed at this expression of gratitude. You could respond by clapping your own hands together too in the way that they have done, or simply by shaking hands with them.
  • Customs: If you’d like to get a rough idea of Zimbabwean customs, this page on Culture Atlas may be helpful. Bear in mind that locals understand that visitors are not aware of all their customs, so you don’t have to stress about this at every turn. However, see our guidelines below.
  • Our five main cultural suggestions for visitors to Zimbabwe are as follows:
    1. Greeting are important. Greet people by saying, “Good morning/afternoon/evening; how are you?” and then wait for their response, and you reply to it to say how you are. If you see someone again the next day, greet them again each day or time you see them. Then you can proceed with your question or conversation. There are few reasons to rush kindness in Zimbabwe.
    2. Be courteous. Start with “please” when asking for something. Say “thank you” often, for example when you are brought your meal, or have finished an activity with a guide.
    3. Be particularly polite and respectful of older people.
    4. Do not ask a Zimbabwean direct questions about their political affiliations unless they talk about it first. This is a complex issue. Tourists are not usually affected by political violence, but local people are more vulnerable.
    5. Try to remember the difference between Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and Botswana in your conversations with locals. These are all different countries with their own identities, much like Canada vs USA; or Australia vs New Zealand.

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Rural area ZimbabweIs it ethical to visit Zimbabwe?

14. There’s so much to say on this one! There has been a lot of media debate about the role of tourists in Zimbabwe’s politics. Some say that tourists should avoid visiting Zimbabwe to make a statement against Zimbabwe’s political violence. I don’t think this avoidance solves Zimbabwe’s current problems.

Zimbabwe needs tourists, so that local businesses can grow, so that regular Zimbabweans can support their families, and so that the wildlife and their habitats can be financially supported.

Find out more about my thoughts on this question in my post about the ethics of visiting Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe Travel Quick Access List

Read about specific locations and topics about Zimbabwe:

Victoria Falls travel guide

Harare travel guide

Bulawayo travel guide

Great Zimbabwe monument travel guide

Bradt zimbabwe guideFor more in-depth information, read the 2013 edition of Bradt’s Zimbabwe travel guide by Paul Murray.

(Last updated July 2021)

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