Zimbabwe Information

Zimbabwe has had a troubling past filled with violence and hyper-inflation. After 2009, there was finally a lift of the ban on the US Dollar. After this the country has slowly been making its way back to being a friendly and safe African country. Today, you can easily find ATMs that dispense USD and your credit cards will work fine. However, always carry ZAR with you in case you run into a situation where you need to use it because of how hard it is to come across US change for smaller denomination bills.

Zimbabwe has a decent bus and train scene, which makes it fairly easy to connect to different cities. The most popular train will take you from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo via Hwange National Park and from Bulawayo to Harare. The next best option, in my opinion, is to hire a car, especially if you have a group of people, as it will save you money if you want to visit Matobo National Park or the Great Zimbabwe ruins.

Youll find accommodation in Zimbabwe similar to other countries like South Africa as it has a decent network of backpacker hostels. However, you many find many are closing their doors because of a reduced number of travelers. When you do find an open hostel you can expect a fair price and a friendly owner. They will typically be white and some of the hostels may just be private homes that people open up for travelers. Theres also the option to camp and national parks have decent accommodation and camping. Price-wise youre looking at about $20-30 USD for a bed.

You shouldnt have a problem eating and drinking what you like here. If youre looking to eat like the locals ask for sadza and tsunga. Sadza is a thick ground corn paste which will resemble polenta and has the consistency of extra thick mashed potatoes. Tsunga is a stew. The locals eat it virtually every meal, because its cheap, tasty and filling. During the wet season you need to be careful of malaria (especially in the valley). During the dry season the malaria risk is very low.

Recommended Adventures

  • One of the most popular tourist destinations in Zimbabwe is Victoria Falls and its located in the western corner of the country. There are many things to do and places to stay depending on your budget. Accommodation ranges from budget (Shoestring Backpackers Lodge) to ultra-swanky (Victoria Falls Safari Lodge).
  • Great Zimbabwe is where you can see and learn about the vast empire known as the Munhumutapa through the archaeological remains of this ancient city, which was built from stone. The word Zimbabwe means house of stone.
  • If youre looking for beautiful landscapes and views then head to the Easter Highlands. You will be on the border of Mozambique. Look for the village, Chimanimani, which is a popular destination, especially if youre into walking.
  • If you like nature then head to Kariba, in the north. Here you have the opportunity to watch African wildlife in the closest to pure natural environment that you can find. Its also the largest source of hydro-electric power for Zimbabwe. If you have the time/money you could rent a houseboat for a few days, which will give you fantastically unique experience.
  • Matobo has some beautiful rock formations that seem to be impossible. They were caused by the wind blowing out the sand between them.

Tanzania Adventures Climbing, Safaris and Zanzibar

Climbing

If youre looking to climb, youre most likely interested in climbing Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro is one of Africas most famous symbols, it also happens to be the highest mountain on the planet that you can climb with next to no mountaineering skills. What this means is that there isnt any technical climbing, its more of just a 4-6 day uphill battle of determination. Although it is iconic, its also quite expensive and physically exhausting, even for someone who is fit and experienced.

If youre die-hard set on climbing Kilimanjaro you need to have at least $1,000 US, although it will probably end up being closer to $2,000 US. This price does include the new park fees and rates for your sherpas/guides/cooks. One of the reasons its so expensive is because of the recent government park fee increase over the past few years. The fees are priced on a per day and night in the park so the longer you take to climb the more you will end up paying. In my opinion its a pretty poor value for your money considering all the other options you have in this country. If you cant afford it, but are into climbing, you still have the option to head north and climb mount Kenya or Meru. The mountains can be both cold and hot in the harsh sun and can even be wet depending on what time of the year it is. Most of the equipment you need will be supplied or can be hired in Moshi, however, I advise bringing a few of the essential items so you can make sure they are up to par.

I mentioned Mount Meru above, its less popular than Kilimanjaro but, in my opinion, a much better option. Its the fifth highest mountain in Africa, so your excursion will be shorter (usually 2-3 days), cheaper, prettier and far less traveled by the average tourist.

Do your proper research and decide what is more important for you before deciding on an option.

Safaris

There are hundreds of options in Arusha for booking a safari and the competition is pretty intense. In all this competition you have good and bad tour companies. Here is my advice for you: get there at least a day in advance and start talking to as many different tour operators that you can. Dont be intimidated if they try to pressure you into booking a trip by telling you its your only chance. The key to a great safari is a good guide/driver and some luck.

After youve talked to multiple companies, pick whichever one offers what you need and you feel the most comfortable with. If you want the full package, which could include Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Manyara and Tarangire then youre looking at a 5 day minimum with 7 days being the optimum length.

Never be afraid to ask for a deal when it looks like business is slow, youre a walk-in. Another good idea is to pair up with other travelers to try and get a group discount. Note that the high cost is also a reflection of the increasing park entry fees. To read more about Tanzania National Parks and the fees that are associated with them.

Zanzibar

The best way to get to Zanzibar is from Dar-es-Salaam as there are many ferries from there to Zanzibar that take turns making the trip (so about three trips a day). This means you dont really need to book in advance, unless you have a very strict schedule on your traveling. All of the ferries charge around $35-$40US. Sometimes the trips can be rough depending on sea conditions and they even have cheaper nightly journeys (though Id avoid the night trips personally). You can also fly using the travel agencies in the area like Kangaroo Travel. Kangaroo Travel offers 15 minute flights, which include transportation at both ends for not much more than a ferry ticket.

When youre coming back to Dar-es-Salaam there is a night ferry that is quite comfortable in first class (which is the only class a tourist is allowed to take). Make sure you get there early so you can claim an entire couch to lie on. The nice thing about the night ferry is that its cheap and will save you from having to get a hotel for the night, although Id highly recommend to try and not use the bathrooms.