Zimbabwe :: Mashonaland East
Category: Places :: Country
TOP ATTRACTION: Nyanga National Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Prince Of Wales Viewpoint
TOP ATTRACTION: Tengenenge Sculptors
TOP ATTRACTION: Tsindi Ruins
TOP ATTRACTION: Zambezi National Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Bridal Veil Falls
TOP ATTRACTION: Chimanimani National Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Chinoyi Caves Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Gonarezhou National Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Great Zimbabwe Ruins
TOP ATTRACTION: Hwange National Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Kariba House Boats
TOP ATTRACTION: Khami Ruins
TOP ATTRACTION: Mana Pools National Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Matobo National Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Mutarazi Falls
TOP ATTRACTION: Matusadona National Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Ngomakurira Paintings
Zimbabwe was once an extremely popular tourist destination but the political instability and economic challenges of the past three decades have scared many people off visiting this beautiful country. It is a great pity because Zimbabwe has outstanding natural beauty and some of the best wildlife areas in southern Africa. In fact, if Zimbabwe’s wealth was measured in natural riches, it would be one of the most affluent nations in Africa. Zimbabwe is still an awesome country to visit and remains a top self-drive destination.
Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba have always been amongst the country’s top tourist attractions. A houseboat excursion on Kariba not only offers great fishing but is also the most convenient way to get close to the game in the Matusadona National Park.
Other national parks teeming with wildlife include magical Mana Pools, Gonarezhou, and Hwange. The Eastern Highlands are very different from these dusty plains and the Chimanimani and Nyanga National Parks are better known for their scenic beauty and prolific birdlife than for their wildlife. These areas are a hiker’s paradise.
Matobo National Park is a true gem, it’s best known for the Matobo Hills which feature massive boulders and balancing rocks. Matobo is the oldest protected area in Zimbabwe, declared in 1926. It’s a small park, only 440 km², and was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003 thanks to its cultural and historical significance. Matobo means ‘bald heads’, an epithet said to have been conferred by Mzilikazi, founder of Zimbabwe’s Ndebele nation. Interestingly, both Mzilikazi and Cecil John Rhodes chose to be buried in the Matobo Hills. Numerous caves with Bushmen paintings give clues to the early human inhabitants of the area. At Pomongwe Cave thousands of Stone and Iron Age artefacts are on display. Some of them date back as far as 14 000 BC.
The Zimbabwean nation has a welcoming and kind spirit and the people are incredibly resilient. Despite the hardships caused by decades of political and financial instability, they remain positive and survive with whatever little they have left. They also are crafty and talented people, creating beautiful sculptures from sandstone and wood, as well as embroidered and printed table cloths.
*Cash shortages have often occurred over the past decade. For this reason travellers are advised to bring sufficient foreign currency for their stay in Zimbabwe. USD is the most readily accepted foreign currency. Big safari lodges and activity operators do accept credit and debit cards but most small businesses, restaurants and many shops do not have swipe machines.
Zimbabwe Resource Guide | ZimParks Bookings +263 772432148
Birdlife Zimbabwe. http://www.birdlifezimbabwe.org
ZimField Guide http://zimfieldguide.com
Hubbards Historical Tours. https://www.hubbardstours.com
Mbizo Tours. [email protected] https://www.myguidezimbabwe.com https://www.greatzimbabweguide.com
Road Angels (vehicle): +263(0)77 212 2122, +263(0)73 212 2122, +263(0)71 312 2122, +263(0)71 412 2122 (Bulawayo)
ACE Ambulance Emergency: +263(0)78 299 9901/2/3/4
BORDER POST INFO:
When you’re travelling across African borders in a vehicle, certain documents will be required by all countries:
A valid passport, with at least six months remaining validity before expiry. (Double check that it’s stamped with the correct date of entry at immigration when entering the country).
A certified copy of the vehicle registration papers in the name of the driver. It is advisable to have extra copies.
A letter of authority from the registered owner if the driver is not the owner of the vehicle.
If the vehicle is still being financed, carry a letter of authority from the bank (must include dates of travel) together with the vehicle registration papers.
A yellow fever certificate. Some countries in Africa are endemic yellow fever countries. You will need a yellow fever certificate if you’ve come from such a country.
Also check which vaccinations are required for the countries you intend to visit and carry proof of these.
If you plan an extended trip through Southern Africa, it will be worth your while to get a Carnet de Passage. If you don’t have a Carnet you will need to obtain a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) on arrival at each border post. There usually is a fee payable. Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland only require a Carnet for vehicles entering from outside the Southern African Common Customs Area. However, upon entering South Africa, drivers of vehicles registered in neighbouring countries (Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique) can register their vehicles with customs and get a permit free of charge which allows them access for six months.
Although only Namibia, South Africa and Zambia require proof of vehicle insurance, it’s best to travel fully insured. Double check that your insurance will cover you in all the countries you intend visiting.
All vehicles must display their international licence plate country code (bold block letters in uppercase on a small white oval plate or sticker) near the number plate on the rear of the vehicle.
Insurance: Zimbabwe accepts COMESA Third Party Insurance. Unfortunately you can only buy COMESA insurance when in the country. If you don’t have COMESA insurance you will have to buy the local insurance on arrival at the border.
In addition to Third Party Insurance, the following fees are payable: A Road Access fee as well as Carbon Tax. Rental vehicles must obtain a Commercial Vehicle Guarantee (CVG) from a clearing agent at the border.
Border post officials have the right to search or inspect your vehicle for illegal imports, contraband or imported items which exceed allowable limits. While this right is not often exercised, you should remember that they’re perfectly entitled to perform such searches; getting angry or indignant about it isn’t going to make things better.
Have a list of all your valuable electronic equipment (with serial numbers) available and declare them. If you are a South African citizen, declare it on a SARS ‘Registration of goods to be re-imported’ form when you leave SA, otherwise you might be liable for duties when you ‘re-import’ the equipment into SA. Have the form stamped when you exit South Africa and also at all Angolan border posts when you enter and exit the country.
Foreigners have to declare all valuables such as cameras, electronic and camping equipment (e.g. rooftop tent) when they enter South Africa.
Travelling with pets is challenging. Some countries require an import permit for your cat/dog and all countries require a veterinary health certificate, issued at your point of origin. How long this certificate is valid for varies from country to country, and some might require your pet to undergo a period of quarantine when entering. Such quarantine facilities are not available at border posts, usually only at airports, so it is best to check before travelling.
Restricted goods: Restrictions vary from country to country. The following goods are restricted and may only be imported or exported under licence or permit:
Wildlife and wildlife products; Agricultural produce; Plants and plant products (including firewood), soil medium, invertebrates
Firearms and ammunition; Relics and national monuments; Stills and all apparatus or parts of apparatus capable of being used for the production or refining of alcohol.
The following goods are prohibited in all countries:
Counterfeit money and goods; Pornographic material; Any form of narcotics, habit-forming drugs and related substances; Military firearms, ammunition, explosives and dangerous weapons; Endangered species of plant, live animals and their products are prohibited under CITES.
Zimbabwe has the following further restrictions: Skin lightening creams containing hydroquinone and mercury; Prison-made and penitentiary-made goods; Any goods which might tend to deprave the morals of the inhabitants, or any class of the inhabitants of Zimbabwe.
A special note on meat, fruit and vegetables:
The importation regulations on meat, animal products, fruit and vegetables change frequently because they’re reactive to disease outbreaks in the southern Africa region. Visitors have to declare all plants/plant products and animals/animal products upon entering Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
Unfortunately, there’s no official website which will give you the latest updates on these regulations; it is therefore best to ask on a trustworthy travel forum (www.4x4community.co.za or www.tracks4africa.co.za/community) for an update, rather than relying on the personal experience of just one person.
When in doubt, abstain from taking any firewood, meat, milk, fruit or vegetables into these countries as these products might be confiscated at the border.
Drive on the left side of the road and adhere to British driving rules. The paved national roads in Zimbabwe used to be in good condition but most have become badly potholed and quite dangerous. Be alert at all times as a pothole may appear out of nowhere on a perfectly good paved road.
Expect secondary, unpaved roads to be slow-going with very little maintenance if any. A 4WD vehicle is strongly recommended when driving off the major roads.
Be careful of buses and commuter taxis (the most popular mode of public transport) and heavily laden trucks. Typical of most African countries, commuter taxis are a law unto themselves and you can expect them to act/drive dangerously, especially in towns/cities.
The speed limit is 120 km/h on open roads (100 km/h if you tow a trailer); 80 km/h on roads that are not wide tar and 60 km/h in urban areas, unless otherwise indicated. Speed limits are rigorously enforced by traffic police with radar equipment, especially in peri-urban areas (i.e. when you are approaching a settlement/village/town or leaving it).
Wearing of seat belts is compulsory for front seat occupants of a vehicle, and the use of hand-held phones while driving is against the law. Carefully observe STOP signs at intersections as it’s very common for police to be positioned at intersections to fine vehicles which don’t completely stop behind the white line.
There are many road blocks in Zimbabwe so you should ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy and that you have all the required documents at hand. As long as you are friendly and co-operate, the traffic police usually won’t hassle you. If you are fined and choose to pay on the spot, ask for a receipt.
Note, static police road blocks have to be manned by at least five personnel, and temporary traffic road blocks by at least three officers. Police officers must at all times carry identification cards and wear reflective clothing.
Do not keep your headlights on during the day as this is normally done by unmarked police and security vehicles or funeral processions. Driving at night can be extremely hazardous because of people and animals walking along and on the roads.
Local Zimbabwean drivers use a few signals of which visitors should be aware of:
If you see branches in the road you should immediately slow down as it signals that a vehicle has broken down on the road.
Oil drums in the road signal a check point, most of the times a police check point. Slow down and be ready to stop and answer any questions or produce your driver’s licence and vehicle documents.
Zimbabwe requires vehicles to have the following:
Two warning triangles (plus two more if you tow a trailer or caravan), a 1 kg serviceable fire extinguisher, serviceable spare wheel, working jack and wheel spanner.
Tape reflectors on each corner of the vehicle: white on the front and red at the rear.
Trailers and caravans must display reflective T-signs on a black background: a white T-sign must be placed on the extreme right on the front of the trailer/caravan whilst two red T-signs must be placed on each side of the rear of the trailer/caravan.
If the combined length of your vehicle and trailer is more than 8 m, you must have a continuous yellow reflector strip down the sides of both the vehicle and the trailer.
Pick-ups, twin-cabs and light trailers must have a continuous red reflector strip to within not less than 40 cm of the outer edges at the rear.
Pick-ups and twin cabs are classified as commercial vehicles and must therefore display Gross Vehicular Mass (GVM) and Nett Vehicular Mass (NVM) figures on the left side of the vehicle.
All reflectors must be honeycomb or diamond grade.
A reflective emergency jacket is recommended.
In addition to headlamps, vehicles are not allowed to have more than two pass-lamps, fog-lamps or spotlights.
Your vehicle’s number plates, windscreen, headlights or the driver’s window may not be obscured by mud or dust. A windscreen with a crack that obscures clear vision is also illegal.
If you want to use your footage commercially, you have to obtain a permit in advance. Some countries require permits for recreational drone use as well. These have to be acquired at least 30 days before you enter the country. As new laws may come into effect at any time, it is best to check with the aviation authority of the country/countries you plan to visit.
Fuel is normally available in all major towns but smaller towns may often experience shortages. Thus, it’s advisable to carry additional fuel if you don’t have a long-range fuel tank, and to fill up whenever you can. Fuel may only be carried in metal containers, NOT plastic containers. One can pay by credit or debit card in major towns, but some fuel stations may still insist on cash payment, in spite of the shortage of cash in the country. Fuel is generally cheaper in the major cities.
South African citizens who return to SA are not allowed to bring fuel in containers through the border without paying import duty. Even though officials don’t always check, it’s best to empty the fuel containers into your vehicle’s tank before crossing the border. There is no issue with the fuel carried in built-in long-range fuel tanks.
16 official languages. English, Shona & Ndebele are the most widely spoken.
GMT+2 Central Africa Time.
Visitors from the following countries don’t need a visa to travel to Zimbabwe: Angola, Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Cayman Islands, China, Cyprus, Fiji, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Grenada, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Leeward Islands, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Malta, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Samoa (Western), St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, St Kitts and Nevis, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu and Zambia.
Visitors from the following countries are required to apply for a visa before travelling to Zimbabwe: Anguilla, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Congo Brazzaville, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, East Timor, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, North Macedonia, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Vietnam and Yemen.
It is possible to apply for an eVisa at www.evisa.gov.zw. Visitors from all other countries may obtain visas on arrival in Zimbabwe.
Travellers who plan on visiting both Zimbabwe and Zambia can apply online for a KAZA UNIVISA. This visa allows tourists to obtain one visa to visit both countries multiple times. The visa is valid up to 30 days in any given period of 12 months, as long as the holder remains within Zimbabwe and Zambia. It also covers those who visit Botswana for day-trips through Kazungula Border.
Currently, the KAZA UNIVISA can only be used and is only available at Victoria Falls and Kazungula border posts, as well as Harare and Victoria Falls International Airports in Zimbabwe and Kenneth Kaunda and Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airports in Zambia.
The Vumba Mountains on the Eastern Highlands are possibly Zimbabwe’s best-kept secret. Vumba means mist and the verdant hillsides, moss-clad granite domes and deep ravines are indeed covered in mist most of the time. These evergreen forests are in stark contrast to the dry and dusty plains of the lowveld. The beautiful 70 km circular drive around the perimeter of the mountains takes about four hours.
As empty food shelves can occur from time to time, self-drive travellers are advised to stock up in South Africa, Botswana or Zambia and buy fresh goods from informal markets.
If fuel shortages occur, ask your local host to assist you in organising fuel. Over the years Zimbabweans have learned to make alternative arrangements in these circumstances.
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