Zimbabwe

Quick Facts

Region: Africa

Population:
12,521,000

Religion:

Up to 50% of the population is Christian but this is really a mix of traditional and Christian beliefs. The other 50% belong in some way to the Mwari cult, where ancestral worship and spiritual proxy and intercession are part of the belief system.

Language:

English is the official language of Zimbabwe, however, it is the first language of only 2% of the population. The majority of the people speak a dialect of the Bantu language - with about 76% speaking Shona and 18% speaking Ndebele. In many cities English is spoken and understood but in the rural areas it may be helpful to know a few basic words and phrases.

Area (sq. km):
390,580 square meters

Time:

GMT +2

When To Travel

Although Zimbabwe lies in the tropic zone, the climate of some areas is moderated by high elevation. The average maximum temperature is 16ºC in July (winter) and 21ºC in January (summer). The average annual rainfall is about 890 mm in the Highveld and less than 610 mm in most parts of the middle veld. Most rainfall occurs from November to March. This seldom brings constant rain, but can lead to thundery build-up and showers from time to time. Some game parks are closed during this period; others are little affected by the weather. During this time, conditions are often hot and humid. A rain jacket should be considered for departures early or late in the year. In winter, temperatures during the day are usually in the mid 20s; at night, however, and in the early morning and late afternoon it is possible for them to drop to zero, and you will need to bring adequate warm clothing. This is particularly so when travelling on game drives in open vehicle. In particular, Hwange National Park can be very cold at night during winter months. By September, day temperatures will be back into the mid-30s with mild to warm nights. The Kariba area and lower Zambezi valley can be very hot in October.

Useful Travel Facts

Airports:

Victoria Falls airport is 20 kilometres south of Vic Falls town. A taxi should cost about US$10.

Telephone:

The international dialling code for Zimbabwe is +263. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider; however, charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly. You should also check with your service provider to see if your mobile phone is compatible with the networks used in Africa. Phone calls made from public telephone offices are generally your cheapest option.

Electricity:

The electricity supply in Africa is rated at 220 volts/50 cycles, and appliances requiring 240 volts will work normally. If you bring electrical appliances you should also bring an international adaptor. Round three pin plugs are the most common types in southern Africa.

Shopping:

Curios abound in Zimbabwe, from soapstone hippos to wooden carved African masks to Nyaminyami (the Zambezi River God) neck pendants. Roadside stalls are everywhere selling curios and bargaining is a must.

Visa: Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders currently require a visa for Zimbabwe. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent. For trips to Zimbabwe you may require either a single or double entry visa. Both single and double entry visas are obtainable on arrival currently costing between US$30 and US$60 (depending on nationality).
If you choose to travel to the Zambian side of Victoria Falls your Zimbabwe visa will not expire as long as you do not spend the night out of Zimbabwe.

Useful Words & Phrases

Further Reading

Zimbabwe Lonely Planet

Travel & Adventure in South East Africa-F.C. Selous

Birds of Southern Africa-Newman

The Mammals of Zimbabwe, Zambia & Malawi Smithers