Zimbabwe – Travel Guide
Facts to assist you while travelling to Zimbabwe
- The Zimbabwean population currently stands at 15,8 million (2022).
Capital and Largest City
- Harare is Zimbabwe’s largest and Capital city.
- Zimbabwe has several official languages, including Chewa, Chibarwe, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Shangani ,Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, and Xhosa. However, English and Ndebele are the most widely spoken languages. English is also the country’s parliamentary language, and the language of all other formal institutions.
- In Zimbabwe the United States dollar and the South African Rand is used as currency.
- 08:00 – 17:00.
- Saturday – Sunday.
- UTC +2.
- If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.
- Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.
- The Zimbabwean African National Union – Patriotic Front.
- Zimbabwe has a tropical climate with many local variations. The southern areas are known for their heat and aridity, while parts of the central plateau receive frost in winter. The Zambezi valley is also known for its extreme heat, and the Eastern Highlands usually experience cool temperatures and the highest rainfall in the country. The country’s rainy season generally runs from late October to March.
- Zimbabwe’s main airport is Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, situated in Harare. Zimbabwe has rail links with South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Mozambique. Around 20% of Zimbabwe’s roads are paved. Zimbabwe has 196 airports, 17 of which have paved runways.
- Main industries in this country include mining (coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, clay, numerous metallic and non-metallic ores), steel; wood products, cement, chemicals, fertilizer, clothing and footwear, food stuffs, beverages, and cattle.
- When visiting a local’s house in Zimbabwe, it is the norm to arrive with a small gift for the host. Food is usually appropriate as said gift. It is not usually necessary to take off your shoes when entering a home. However, it is important to remember to remove your hat. When visiting a local you will be offered refreshments of tea or coffee, you will be expected to accept the gesture out of politeness.
- Greetings are performed in order of age. So if someone doesn’t greet you, it may be because they are older than you and are therefore waiting on you to make the first gesture. The most common greeting is a firm handshake with the right hand. Some Zimbabweans may also slide their hands up to grasp each other’s thumbs during the handshake. The handshake is usually followed by one of the parties saying; “Makadii,’’ which means ‘‘How are you?’’ in Shona. Women may lower their body briefly, kneel or curtsy whilst shaking hands out of respect, while men may go down on one knee.
- The Zimbabwean dollar (sign: Z$; code: ZWL), alternatively known as the Zimdollar or Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollar, is one of the official currencies of Zimbabwe. It was the only official currency in Zimbabwe from June 2019 to March 2020, after which foreign currencies, such as the United States Dollar and the South African Rand, were legalised again.
- Roadblocks are common throughout Zimbabwe, and often times may without warning. Hence, as an expat, you may want to keep your identification documents, car registration and ownership papers on your person at all times, as these documents will have to be shown when requested by police. Another good thing to know about driving in Zimbabwe is that drivers are often subjected to bribery demands. This occurs frequently, so don’t be surprised and don’t be aggressive.
- Zimbabwe is a fairly safe country to visit. However, it does have a high rate of petty crime, and it’s mainly ridden with street crime. Driving in Zimbabwe is not recommended for expats as the driving conditions are really bad, and the country is filled with irresponsible drivers. The most common crimes in Zimbabwe include pick-pocketers, mugging, and scams.
- Zimbabwe has many different cultures. The largest ethnic group is the Shona people, who are known for their rich oral tradition. Similar to many other African countries, a majority of Zimbabweans depend on staple foods. “Mealie meal”, also known as cornmeal in other parts of the world, is a favourite food, a staple food, and also a part of many traditional dishes in Zimbabwe. Mealie Meal is used to prepare bota, a porridge made by mixing cornmeal with water, to make a thick paste. Cornmeal is also used to make sadza, which is usually eaten for dinner, and by many for lunch too.
- Zimbabwe has numerous modern malls and shopping centres that resembles those of Western countries. While here, be sure to check out Elephant’s Walk Shopping and Artist’s Village or the Avondale Flea Market. There are also many entertainment options such as art galleries and restaurant in Zimbabwe, especially in its capital city.
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Written by Saudika Hendricks
Edited by Eloise Williams