Zimbabwe – Practical Information

Bulawayo Railway Museum - Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Bulawayo Railway Museum – Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Before you go: A number of nationalities can obtain their visa on arrival. The cost varies depending on nationality. If you are visiting Victoria Falls and wish to view the Falls from the Zambian side (which for me is the better side) it is cheaper to purchase a double-entry visa instead – and thankfully these can also be obtained upon arrival.

Accommodation: Accommodation throughout Zimbabwe is a generally good standard, but do remember that power outages are not uncommon. The cost of accommodation in Harare and other major cities is expensive when compared to the cost of living. Try an alternative like AirBnB or cheaper guest houses instead of hotels.

Food: Food is well priced within the country with international options available.  Self-catering is another good choice and the cost of items within supermarkets is very reasonable. Try to eat at locally run places as they do provide better value than international alternatives, plus more of the money remains in the local economy – and given the state of the Zimbabwe economy, every dollar does count.

Transport: Though train is my favourite form of travel in Zimbabwe, I cannot recommend it due to safety. Whilst I was in the country, a train derailed on the Bulawayo to Harare route which prompted calls from both the railway union and train administrators for the railway to no longer carry passengers. Whilst travelling between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo the train tilted alarmingly on one corner and there were sections of track where rail staff stood by the tracks to carefully monitor the train to ensure it was able to safely continue.

Much better are the buses, with the Pathfinder brand considered to be amongst the best. Other buses can be taken but the quality of the vehicle even within the same company can vary greatly, so best just to arrive at a bus station and choose the newest looking bus.

Money: Due to a prolonged period of hyperinflation, which saw the issue of a 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar note, the currency was abandoned in 2009 in favour of other currencies – most notably the US Dollar (for notes) and the South African Rand (for coins).  Transactions are difficult to follow for one may receive a variety of coinage from different countries in the change. However, it helps to remember that 1 Rand equates to 10 US cents. ATMs are commonly found, with Barclays seeming the best for international card holders.

Tags: