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Zimbabwe Country Information

A country is offering travel and tourism a wide variety of major & top tourist attractions, well known attractive spots with things to, Zimbabwe is proud with Victoria Waterfalls falling in its African borders. To travel the countryside of Zimbabwe from Zambezi River to the Eastern Highlands will picturesque landscapes. The facts about this mysterious ancient Great Zimbabwean Ruins draws one back into the past, while the abundance of wildlife in the game-parks matches any of those its neighbouring countries. For travelers seeking adventure thrills, Zimbabwe is home to the most favorite white water rafting, worldwide, not to mention a frightening 11 m high bungee-jumping down to the stormy river.

Some Basic Facts is that, although the economy of Zimbabwe is on the brink of collapse and the government is constantly under political attack, it is still an extremely popular travel destination - it is relatively cheap, beautiful, friendly people, warm, plenty tourist attractions - the stuff a dream holiday is made of.

Quick Facts:

Zimbabwe Info

Area size: 390 580 km2
Capital: Harare
Currency: Zimbabwe Dollar
Official Language: English
Other Languages: Shona, Ndebele
Time: GMT + 2
Telephone Country Code: + 263
Electricity: 220/230 round 3-pin plugs

History

The countries name, Zimbabwe, comes from Shona, the language of the Mashona people meaning 'stone houses.' It is applied to any of the 200 stone ruins scattered throughout southern Rhodesia. The largest of these is known as Great Zimbabwe, located at the head of the valley of the Mtilikwe River, a beautiful and magnificent setting.

It covers 60 acres and includes three separate buildings built of granite stones. First there is a series of high walls, labyrinthine passages, steps and corridors, now known as the Acropolis. Second is a large elliptical enclosure, known as the Temple. It is more than 100 meters long and 70 meters wide. In between them is the ruins of smaller buildings known as the Valley Ruins.

Geography

Landlocked between Mozambique in the east and north-east, Zambia and Botswana in the west and South Africa in the south. Zimbabwe is situated on a high plateau and is covered in grasslands and woodlands. The central region is known for its hills and granite rocky outcrops and the eastern part is elevated by high mountain ranges. More than 11% of the country is set aside for conservation areas, although it is suffering from overgrazing caused by huge numbers of elephants. In the north of the country lies Africa's biggest man-made dam, Lake Kariba, fed by the Zambezi and other smaller rivers.

Climate

Required Clothing

Medium clothing for the day and warm clothes for the cooler nights and Zimbabwe cold winter nights should be taken along. Certain restaurants will only allow semi-formal dress. Long sleeved shirts and long trousers in the evening are essential for protection against mosquito bites.

Health and Safety

Generally speaking this is a safe country to visit, but crime, like elsewhere in the world, is on the increase especially around tourist areas like Victoria Falls and Harare. Muggings have been reported on hiking trails in the Eastern Highlands. The municipal campsite in Victoria Falls is notorious for theft and valuables should be locked away out of sight. A lot of the so-called war veterans have been causing trouble throughout the country, fuelled by the president of the country. Although unlikely to see any of these riots as many occur in the farming areas, it is possible that it can spread to tourist destinations. Be informed about the situation before entering the country, stay away from these riots and use common sense. Fuel shortages can also hamper the independent traveller. However, the country is still so amazing beautiful, that it will be a shame to cut it out from any Southern Africa itinerary, therefore we recommend to stay on the outskirts of the country like the south or Victoria Falls.

Money Matters

1 Zimbabwe Dollar is equal to 100 cents.

Major foreign currency (travellers' cheques and cash) can be exchanged at banks and some hotels, but for the best exchange rates and less commission use US Dollars and British Pounds. Do not participate in black market dealings, as con-artists are extremely well-practised in cheating. All cash must be declared upon entry, otherwise only a limited amount of US$200 in cash can be re-exported. Credit cards like Visa, Diners Club and American Express is accepted in hotels, car hire agencies, restaurants and other tourist shops with Master-Card having limited acceptance.

Accommodation and Food

Hotels are graded to a maximum of 5 stars for the most luxurious accommodation available. Within the major tourist centres there are many top hotels with outstanding service, but cheaper hotels and camp sites can be found throughout the country. One must often pay for accommodation in hard currency. For additional information on Food and Accommodation in Zimbabwe contact the Hotel and Restaurants Association of Zimbabwe in Causeway, Harare. Their telephone number is +263 4 733211 and fax is +263 4 708872.
Food is prepared according to Western standards and various restaurants provide a variety of relatively cheap food. Traditional dishes include sadza, a stiff maize porridge, accompanied with meat or gravy.

Social Behaviour

Handshaking is customary when greeting and western culture prevails in the urban areas. Although informal, casual wear is normal during daytime, some hotels and restaurants might require jacket and tie for men and smart casual for women.
Tipping is normally between 10 and 15%.

Useful Addresses

For visa details one can contact various diplomatic missions around the world and these are but a few:

England

High Commission for the Republic of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe House, 429 Strand,
London WC2R
Tel: +44 171 8367755 or
call +44 891 600172 for a recorded message (50p/minute fee)
Fax: +44 171 3791167

Canada

High Commission for the Republic of Zimbabwe
332 Somerset Street West, Ottawa,
Ontario K2P 0J9
Tel: +1 613 2374388/9
Fax: +1 613 5638269
E-mail: zim.highcomm@sympatico.ca

USA

Embassy of Zimbabwe
1608 New Hampshire Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: +1 202 3327100
Fax: +1 202 4839326

Entry Requirements

A passport (valid for 6 months beyond intended stay), a visa (for some nationalities), tickets and documents for return or onward travel and an International Certificate of Vaccination for yellow fever if arriving from an infected area within the last 5 days are required for entry.

Attractions & Activities

To mention all the attractions and activities will be impossible in such a short limited space, but be sure to return to www.getawayafrica.com in the very near future for an in-depth coverage of all the treasures awaiting your arrival.

There is a huge selection of activities in Zimbabwe including many water sports like kayaking, sailing, canoeing and fishing. Hiking in the lush Eastern Highlands is extremely popular and various hiking trails are set out.

Cities & Towns:
Bulawayo - The second largest city in Zimbabwe with a typical small town feel. It has huge tree-lined boulevards covered in flowers especially during spring. Noteworthy attractions include the National Museum, the Railway Museum, the nearby Khami Ruins and the weird Matopos landscape and National Park south-west of the city.

Chinhoyi  - The big attraction in this town located on the road from Harare to Lusaka, is the Chinhoyi Caves with a wonderful underground lake some 50 meters below the surface.

Harare - The capital of Zimbabwe, formerly known as Salisbury, does not have the chaotic manner of other cities like Johannesburg and Nairobi. The city is filled with lush green trees during the summer months. Interesting places to visit include the Larvon Bird Gardens and the beautifully arranged landscaped gardens of aloes and cycads at Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens, a short 30 minutes drive outside the city. Visit the busy Mbane Musika market for a variety of products including curios and other handcrafts, and a traditional village called the Chapungu Kraal especially during weekends when traditional dances are performed.

Mutare - This is the main town of the Eastern Highlands region and forms an ideal base to explore this region covered in natural forests, grandiose mountains, deep gorges and a huge array of activities. The town itself is very pretty and for those interested in Zimbabwe's past, visit the Rhodes Museum, while a stroll in the Vumba Botanical Gardens will calm the anxious spirit. This town and surrounding areas like Chimanimani (with its wonderful pools, waterfalls, mountains and tropical forests) are definitely worth a couple of days' exploration and relaxation.


Tourist Attractions and Places to visit:
Victoria Falls - This world-famous Waterfalls, (Victoria Falls), known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya or "Smoke That Thunders" is a must-see when visiting Zimbabwe. At the waterfalls tourist will witness 5 million litres of water dropping every second over a mile long edge into a chasm of white foam 128 meters below is an awesome experience.

When David Livingstone visited the falls in 1855, he named it in honour of the then queen of England. One stands small along the edge overlooking this natural wonder and the sound of the thundering roaring waters is sometimes deafening. The thundering waters are deafening and the view of this extraordinary sight makes one feel small and insignificant, and is certainly is not surpassed by many other in the world. Bring along a light rain coat for a heavy mist hangs above the Falls rising often up to 150 meters, and creates a spectrum of rainbows while watering the nearby small forest.

Zimbabwe WaterfallsThe best time to visit the Zimbabwe Waterfalls are halfway between the rainy and dry season (July and August) when it is not so full that the mist obscures the view or too empty not to appreciate its might. But it does not matter when you see it, you will still be dumbstruck by it all. One can see it from above by joining tour operators and flying with microlights, light aeroplanes or parachuting. Any of these activities will be money well spent.

The Town of Victoria Falls is a busy centre attracting visitors from across the world to arrange all activities on and around the Zambezi River, including horse-riding, the 111meter high bungi-jump at the waterfalls bridge and some of the best and wildest white water rafting. There are also various craft markets in and around the town, and one is treated with various performances of local tribes during dinner at some restaurants.

Great Zimbabwe Ruins - The impressive stone complexes called the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, was built between the 13th and 15th century during the period when the ancient Kingdom of Munumatapa was ruling this area. To this day the reason for their demise is unknown. What is known is that this an impressive and ingenious building style (not using any kind of cement and using primitive tools) made up of cylindrical walls and an enclosing wall (6 meters thick, up to 8 meters high and nearly 230 meters in circumference). It is essential to visit the nearby museum first, use a guidebook or hire a guide to explain the finer detail of the ruins. The closest town is Masvingo, but there is a camp site close to the ruins.

National Park and Game Reserves:

  • Matopos
  • Hwange
  • Chinhoyi Caves
  • Mana Pools

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