There is no getting around what Zimbabwe has been going through, however, Zimbabwe still remains a beautiful country to visit. It offers the people flocking there the incredible Victoria Falls, glorious wildlife preserves, the medieval ruins of Great Zimbabwe, and the lively capital city of Harare, one of the major tourist gateways in Africa.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in south-central Africa. It lies between the Zambezi River in the North and the Limpopo River to the south.
Taking the name from the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe changed the country’s name from Rhodesia when, in 1980, it moved to black majority rule. Even though the politics is quite turbulent, this country’s parks and attractions are definitely worth the visit.
With all the political troubles, tourism is much needed for the locals and it remains safe in tourist areas.
Why go to Zimbabwe?
* Sundowners and snacks on a Zambezi Boat Cruise
* Victoria Falls water sports
* Afternoon tea at Victoria Falls Hotel
* African meal in a boma
* Canoe around Mana Pools
* Tiger fishing on Lake Kariba
* Safaris for amazing game viewing
* Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Great Zimbabwe Ruins
Weather in Zimbabwe
You can expect a lovely temperate climate with temperatures reaching 28°C in the central Highland plateau. Hwange and the Zambezi National Park are even hotter with temperatures climbing to 31°C. In the Eastern Highlands you will find it is cold with plenty of rain.
Dry season – April to October – Winter:
Ironically Zimbabwe’s Winter has almost no rainfall and the humidity is low.
April and May is the end of Summer where temperatures cool down to about 10°C in the morning and 28°C in the afternoon. The evening brings cooler weather and by May there is there is very little rain.
June, July and August bring cold temperatures of around 6°C in the mornings so if you are heading to Zimbabwe at this time be sure to dress warmly, preferably layering because by the afternoon more pleasant temperatures of 25°C can be expected.
September and October brings hotter temperatures of 32°C. The rains begin to fall during this time which is a relief from the very dry conditions. Humidity is very high which can be uncomfortable if you are not used to it.
Wet season – November to March – Summer:
November is unpredictable with rain in the afternoons. The mornings bring moderate temperatures of 18°C, reaching hot temperatures of 32°C in the afternoon.
December, January, February and March are the wettest months with torrential downpours in the afternoon which can run for days. Mornings and nights are moderate at 18°C with afternoons reaching hot temperatures of 30°C with high humidity.
Best time to visit Zimbabwe
This is obviously an important topic to cover because you want to have an enjoyable tour and if you don’t enjoy being cold and wet then there are times when Zimbabwe can be unpleasant. On the other hand, if the humidity can be unpleasant, then you may want to avoid these months.
This is a broad guideline of when the best time to visit is so that you can make your own decision. If you are unsure, our consultants have plenty of advice to share with you about the areas and the weather at the time. Also keep in mind that the weather over the past few years has become unpredictable with constant changes seen by climatologists.
During the dry season (see ‘Weather in Zimbabwe’ above) there is less vegetation and water. Due to these conditions it is a good time to see game because they are not hidden in the shrubbery and tend to congregate around waterholes. Due to no rain, there are no mosquitoes that breed in stagnant water. You will find clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine. Keep in mind that this is high season so Victoria Falls could be crowded. The best time to view the falls is from June to September when the spray from the flooding waters doesn’t spoil the view.
During the wet season (see ‘Weather in Zimbabwe’ above) the vegetation is green and lush making for some picturesque areas, but the game may be harder to spot. If you love cute baby animals, then this is the best time to go because the animals are giving birth. Birdwatchers can delight in the breeding plumage and the migratory birds. There are only short afternoon showers which won’t ruin your safari and can in fact be quite refreshing. Keep in mind though that this rain can occur everyday. Humidity is very high, so keep this in mind if you are not used to humidity.
How to get to Zimbabwe
Harare International Airport is the main airport in Zimbabwe.
If you are coming from Europe you can get a direct flight with Air Zimbabwe from London. Another option is to fly with South African Airways or Airlink via Johannesburg. If you are coming from South Africa, Kulula.com will get you there at very reasonable rates. If you are coming from Amsterdam KLM will get you directly to Harare.
South African Airways also offers daily flights to the Victoria Falls Airport.
Once you are in Zimbabwe there are numerous domestic flights that will take you to the popular tourist destinations.
Facts on Zimbabwe
Full name: Republic of Zimbabwe
Capital city: Harare
Area: 390,580 sq km; 150,803 sq miles
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +2 ()
Languages: English (official); Shona (other)
Religion: Syncretic (50%); Christian (25%); indigenous beliefs (24%); Muslim; Other (1%)
Electricity: 220V; 50HzHz
Electric Plug Details: British-style plug: 2 flat blades & 1 flat grounding blade, South African/Indian-style plug: 2 circular metal pins above a large circular grounding pin plug configuration
Country Dialling Code: 263
Money matters: Per Capita Income: US$640, Currency: Zimbabwe Dollar (Z$) and USD. Never use credit cards.
Medical matters: Cholera, Malaria, Rabies, Yellow fever, HIV/AIDS, Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia)
Where to go to in Zimbabwe
The awe-inspiring Victoria Falls is a very popular and unique destination as it is the largest waterfall in the world. As you gaze upon this majestic miracle of nature, think back to the time when the explorer, David Livingstone first set eyes on the falls. He aptly named it in honour of Queen Elizabeth, who reigned Britain at the time. Here are a few tips on how to choose your Cape Town To Victoria Falls Overland Tour. Once you have chosen your dream tour, have a look at the many activities available to get your heart racing…
The Mana Pools National Park
The Mana Pools lie in a relatively remote area in the park where you can spot numerous hippos, crocodiles, zebras, elephants and antelopes coming for a drink of water. It is a World Heritage Site due to its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife.
The Great Zimbabwe National Monument
Old stone ruins and winding corridors are the fascinating remains of the Great Zimbabwe National Monument, the greatest medieval city in sub-Saharan Africa. The Zimbabwe Ruins are some of the oldest and largest ruins in Southern Africa with a fascinating history behind it.
The Hwange National Park
Hwange is one of the few African parks where game viewing is consistently good all year round due to the many waterholes in the area. The Park is situated in the west of Zimbabwe, on the main road between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. In the park there are over 400 bird species due to the seasonal wetland and you will spot gemsbok, brown hyena, African wild dogs, lions, leopard, elephants, spotted hyena and cheetahs.
Lake Kariba is the world’s largest artificial inland lake that attracts massive quantities of game, both big and small, including huge Nile crocodiles, elephants and hippopotamus. There is also a wide variety of birdlife, including the African Fish Eagle, an amazing bird to see in action as it swoops down to catch its prey.
Nyanga National Park
This park is private and picturesque, situated 100 kilometres north of Byumba – the main mountains of the Eastern Highlands. Some portions of this Park are somewhat reminiscent of Scotland, while others might remind visitors of Arizona, which only goes to show the diversity of landscapes in this reserve. Nyanga boasts the second tallest waterfall in Africa, with incredible views over the dense Honde Valley and into Mozambique. Most visitors come to this Park to hike up Mt Nyangani, the tallest peak in Zimbabwe. It can take up to three hours to reach the top of this mountain, but there are also three to four day hikes on offer here that continue past Pungwe Drift and into Honde Valley. Near the Park’s headquarters are some intriguing sights, such as old ruins and the Rhodes Museum. Nyangombe Falls is found five kilometres west of the Nyangombe camping ground and two kilometres from Udu Dam. At the southern end of the Park, the magnificent Mtarazi Falls and the smaller Muchururu Falls cascade down a sheer cliff face into the Honde Valley.
World’s View, or ‘Malindidzimu Hill’
This is one of the most awe-inspiring sights of Zimbabwe, offering epic 360 degree vistas of the Park. The tranquility up there is incredible, taking on a spiritual quality that makes it clear why the area is so sacred to the Ndebele folk. This is also the burial site of Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia. Up here, the landscape is surreal with massive boulders covered in multi-coloured lichen, clumps of hair-like grass and rainbow-striped lizards slipping between the rocks – all of which make this feel like an alternate universe.
Zambezi National Park
Made up of 40 kilometres of Zambezi River frontage and a spread of wildlife-rich mopane forest and savannah, the Zambezi National Park is most well-known for its sable antelope herds. However, it is also home to giraffe, elephant and lions. Entrance to the Park is just five kilometres northwest of the Victoria Falls town centre, and is easily accessible by private vehicle. Tour conductors on either side of the border offer wildlife drives, guided hikes and fishing trips.