- Days: 17 days
- Period: end of March / beginning of April
- Weather: In general it was warm and humid (even very hot and humid in Mana Pools NP). We had nice days with lots of sun but also days with lots of rain. Officially this period is the end of the rainy season. In the north we had so much rain that we did not visit Hwange NP as all the animals were hiding.
Currency: During time of visit the US Dollar was the official currency.
Internet: available in most lodges (not for free and sometimes even expensive)
ATM's: Widely available
Creditcards: Widely used and accepted
Safety: Despite it's reputation Zimbabwe is much safer than South Africa. We never felt unsafe and were suprised by the kindness of all the people we met. On the other hand, also this is Africa, so always be careful.
Prices (per March 2015)
Value Money: €1 = 1,04 USD
Fuel: diesel is 1,30 USD (about € 1,20 ) per liter
Camping: between 20 and 25 USD per night for 2 persons (some parks are more expensive).
Prices: As a result of the USD Zimbabwe is an expensive country. Almost everyting is more expensive than in neighbouring countries. However unlike 2008, when Zimbabwe experienced a huge crisis, the supermarkets are full again and you can buy anything you want.
- National parks and activities: visits
to parks and activities are relatively expensive
Visa (per March 2015)
valid = 30 days from date of entry (single entrey and valid for 6 months in total).
A single entry visa can be obtained at the border and is quick and easy. Doubly entry visa must be applied for in advance.
- 30 days single entry (available
on the border) = 30 USD per person (only cash) 45 days
double entry (application in advance) = 45 USD per person
Entry: Coming from Mozambique we entered at Mutare. We obtained our visa and insurance at the border. Whole procedure took about one hours.
Costs you have to pay on entry are: Border tax (10 USD), Carbon tax (30 USD for vehicles over 3000 kgs) and Insurance (30 USD for 30 days). Both, carbon tax and the insurance, must be paid in cash at the customs counter.
Exit: We left Zimbabwe at Kazungula (going to Botswana). Procedure was quick and easy and no costs charged.
General: all the main roads we drove were sealed and in pretty good condition. The only off road tracks we drove were in the National parks.
Mana Pools NP: The track leading in and out of the National Park is very bad. The first 35 kms are the worst and heavily corrugated. This stretch took us about 1,5 hours. After passing the second gate the road got a bit better (less corrugation). However dried up pools showed that this second part would be a hell of a drive when raining.
- Matobo NP: The main road inside the park is sealed. The only really bad part was the conservartion area where the rhino's are living. The offroad tracks in this part of the park were rough with rocks and huge holes and mud pits.
Fees for Toll roads, briges, tunnels and ferries
Toll has to be paid for most main roads. The prices however are low (mostly 2 - 6 USD). During our stay we passed 9 toll gates and paid a total of 31 USD.
Highlights or not
The Farmhouse, Chimanimani: Old colonial farmhouse located in the Chimanimani area. Staying here really gives you the "ouf of Africa" feel. The view of the surrounding mountains is awesome. Place is ideal for hiking and when the owner is in, you can do horse riding here as well. Wonderful place to stay a few days.
- Great Zimbabwe Ruins: Less spectacular than the ruins of the Middle East, but nevertheless a special place and definitely worth a visit. When it is hot, go here as early as possbile. Entry fee is 15 USD per person.
- Antelope Park, just outside Gweru: Privately owned lodge with some great and reasonably priced campsites. Park is most famous for it's lion breeding programm and wildlife activities. The most famous activity is "walking with lions". Two times a day tourists can join the keepers in their daily walk with a few, in captivity born and raised lions cubs. Price USD 78 per person.
- Mana Pools NP: Entry fee & conservartion fee = 20 USD per person per day. Car fee is 10 USD (for any amount of days). Camping = 23 USD per person per night (price is for the cheapest site). Site no. 1 is the best of cheapest public sites. According to stories Mana Pools should be teemed with animals but this is not always the case. The amount of animals you will see really depends on the season and some luck. We had hippo's, impala and an elephant walking through our campsite but we did not see any lions. In general we saw less animals than we expected. Also getting here is quite a struggle as it is far and only reachable by a very bad track. Camping on the banks of the Zambezi however is wonderful. The campsites are not fenced so be careful. Also there is no shop or anything nearby so you must bring everything you need. Only firewood can be bought at the park office nearby the campsite. When you want to visit Mana Pools you must make a reservation with Zimparks in advance. Without a reservation they will not let you in. Before getting in you also need a permit. The office is located a few kilometers before the first gate (see our list of waypoints). Here you show your reservation and then you get the permit. Without this permit you cannot pass the first gate. To make sure you have enough time to reach the campsite you must be at the first gate before 3pm.
- Motobo NP: Small park but very beautiful. Small park covered with huge boulders, some game and rock paintings. Another activity you can do here is walking with Rhino's. We did not do this. We only tried to track them by car but the tracks in this part of the park were too bad for a game drive. At least when we were there. Camping inside the park was nice but nothing special. Entry fee: 8 USD per person per day and an additional 10 USD per car (for the whole stay). On entry the time you arrive is not registered. So when spending at least one night inside the park (8 USD per person per night) you can stay 2 days and pay only one. Just get in early on day 1, spend the night and leave late on day 2.
- Rhodes Grave: located inside Matobo NP. For us this was the best part of Matobo NP. The view is amazing but most stunning were the colours. When in the right season the huge boulders on the top are covered with bright coloured mosses. This was breath taking. To visit Rhodes Grave you must pay an additonal fee of 10 USD per person (on top of the entry fee to Motobo NP).
- Hwange NP: As is was raining heavily for day when we were there we skipped Hwange. However we heard great stories about this park.
- Ivory Lodge and Tuskers campsite: Located on the edge of Hwange NP. This campsite is much nicer than the campsite near the entrance of the park. As the park is not fenced alle animals from the park can also come here and they do. Especially the elephants as the lodge had a lit waterhole and salt licking spot. One night we watched a group of at least 60 elephants coming here to drink and lick for salt. This was amazing and as the hide is very near to the waterhole you can watch them from very close.
- Painted Dog Rehabilitation Center: Small center on the way to Hwange NP. Not very special. When we visited it there were only two old dogs that would never be released. Entry was free of charge.
- Victoria Falls: One of the most famous falls in the world. In 2008 we visited them from the Zambia side but from the Zimbabwe side they are much nicer. Also the season play a role. In 2008 we visited them at the end of the dry season and the were nice but not spectacular. In 2015 we visited them at the end of the wet season and that made a huge difference. The falls were magnificent and the thundering sounds and clouds of water were impressive. Entry fee is 30 USD per person. Also nice is the view from the bridge on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. In order to visit this bridge you need a special stamp which you can get at the immigration office free of charge.
Zimbabwe is know for it's police checks. On a trip of 200 km you might be stopped 10 times. Sometimes they just want to know where you are going, but other times they do check your car. Make sure you wear your seatbelt, stand still for a few seconds when approaching a stop sign at a junction (we got a fine for not doing so), watch your speed (the police like using their speed guns) and make sure your car is equipped with all the right safety items (fire extinguisher, hazard triangles, reflective vests, in case of a left hand drive car a sticker on the back saying "LHD", white reflector tape on the front, red reflector tape at the back and in case of towing a trailer you also need the blue and yellow triangle shaped stickers. It seems over the top, but they do check and if they find something missing you will be fined. We got a few fines mostly for speeding and they costs around 15 - 20 USD each.
- http://www.zimparks.org/ , official website of the Zimbabwe Wildlife Authorithy. All information on the National Park can be found here. Also for reservations.
Grid: Lat/Lon hddd°mm.mmm"
|ZW-BATA - S19°28.517 E29°47.672
Gweru, Bata shoe factory outlet store ZW-BW S17°48.900 E25°15.949 Kazungula border post. Border between Zimbabwe and Botswana.
ZW-CAMP01 - S19°48.166 E32°52.761
Chimanimani, The Farmhouse. Wonderful place. Old colonial home that was ours to use for the time we stayed here. We camped on the grass in front of the house, used the old kitchen for cooking and relaxed at the fire place during the chilly evenings. Place has stunning views of the surrounding mountains. costs 10 USD per person per night
ZW-CAMP02 - S20°15.083 E31°00.098
Near Masvingo. Norma Jeane's Lakeview Resort. Well maintained campsite with modern ablution (like in a luxury hotel). There is wi-fi on the campsite (not for free). Campsite is near to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. Place has good water to fill up you drinking water tanks. Costs 10 USD per person per night.
ZW-CAMP03 - S19°30.350 E29°43.265
Near Gweru, Antelope park. Good reasonably priced campsite with a nice views and the sound roaring lions during the night. In the afternoon sometimes the staff bring out the elephants for a swim. Wi-Fi in the bar nearby (not for free). Good ablution, laundry service and lots of (expensive) activities. You can walk with lions here. Price for camping is 10 USD per person per night
ZW-CAMP04 - S17°48.164 E31°01.783
Harare, It's a small world. Backpackers place in a safe neighbourhood. Although very small there is a secure parking were you can camp. Ablution is fine and place has good Wi-Fi (not for free). Price for camping is 9 USD per person per night.
ZW-CAMP05 - S15°43.204 E29°21.830
Mana Pools NP. Nyamepi Site 1. Public campsite in the NP. The nicest of the cheapest. There is not much difference between the expensive ones. Campsite is not fenced and located at the Zambezi River. Basic ablution nearby. As there is nothing in the NP you must bring everything yourself. Firewood available at the NP office nearby. Be carefull when walking around as the area is not fenced. You will be camping in the wild here and dangerous animals can visit the campsite at any time. Price for camping is 23 USD per person per night (excl. entry fee for the NP)
ZW-CAMP06 - S17°21.470 E30°11.147
Chinhoyi. Orange Grove Motel. Camping on the grass behind the motel. Place is not an official campsite but they allowed us to stay for only a few Dollars. Secure, quiet and friendly staff. Ablution is bad.
ZW-CAMP07 - S20°32.508 E28°30.099
Matobo NP, Maleme Campsite. Quiet campsite In the center of the NP. Empty when we were there but a good place to stay. Ablution is basis but will do. The time you enter the NP is not registered. So if you get in early on day one, spend the night and leave in the afternoon on day 2. You have two days and only pay for one. Price for camping 5 USD per person per night.
ZW-CAMP08 - S20°11.262 E28°38.120
Bulawayo, Southern comfort Lodge. Nice lodge with a small campsite as well. Good ablution, a nice bar and free Wi-Fi. Price for camping is 10 USD per person per night (had to bargain for this price)
ZW-CAMP09 - S18°37.053 E27°03.490
Near Hwange NP. Ivory Lodge and Tuskers campsite. Great lodge with an amazing waterhole that is often visited by large groups of elephants. From the hide you can view them from very close. Ablution is good and fire wood is included. Wi-Fi availbable in the bar (not for free). Price for camping is 15 USD per person per night
ZW-CAMP10 - S17°55.588 E25°50.304
Victoria Falls Restcamp. Huge campsite in the centre of town. Crowded, very noisy and expensive but your best bet when you want to stay close to town. From here you can walk to the Falls. Price for camping 35 USD per night for 2 persons and a car (we had to bargain for this price).
ZW-GREATZI - S20°16.201 E30°55.815
Great Zimbabwe Ruins
ZW-HWANGE - S18°43.922 E26°57.323
Hwange NP, Main camp. Neary Ivory lodge and Tuskers campsite is much nicer.
ZW-MALL1 - S17°48.172 E31°02.303
Harare, Avondale shopping center. Good supermarket here.
ZW-MALL2 - S17°48.474 E31°02.055
Harare. Kensington shopping center. Hair dresser here.
ZW-MANAGA1 - S16°11.359 E29°09.768
Mana Pools NP. First gate to the park. Bad roads from here. You must be here before 3 pm.
ZW-MANAGA2 - S16°03.356 E29°24.557
Mana Pools NP. Second gate to the park. No time limit at this gate and from here the road will get a bit better (i.e. When not in the wet season)
ZW-MATOBO - S20°23.691 E28°30.703
Matobo NP, main entrance.
ZW-PICKN1 - S19°58.019 E32°10.333
Nice big baobab. Good picnic spot
ZW-SHOPS - S20°11.671 E28°35.752
Bulawayo. Spar and good specialty shops for meat, cheese and wine.
ZW-SUPER1 - S20°09.451 E28°34.778
Bulawayo. Large Pick and Pay supermarket
ZW-WILDDOG - S18°37.925 E26°59.801
Hwange NP, Wild Dog rehabilitation center. Small center that only sheltered two dogs that will never be released when we visited.
ZW-ZIMPAR1 - S20°04.473 E30°50.139
Masvingo, Office Zimparks. Reservations for Hwange and other National parks here.
ZW-ZIMPAR2 - S16°13.387 E29°09.680
On the way to Mana Pools. Obtain here your permit before going to the first gate. If you do not have it they send you back here. Permit can only be obtained if you have a reservation from Zimparks.