Travelling To Zimbabwe: Helpful Tips

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Travelling to Zimbabwe as a tourist or visitor is neither cheap nor affordable despite economic dollarization.  The article addresses questions and concerns by prospective visitors including Zimbabweans in the Diaspora about travelling there.

Harare International Airport, Zimbabwe © 2016 Great Zimbabwe Traveller

Harare International Airport, Zimbabwe © 2016 Great Zimbabwe Traveller

If you thought travelling to Zimbabwe is cheap and affordable, you couldn’t be more wrong!  Life as a foreign tourist or visitor is expensive.  From the moment of arrival to the moment of departure, be prepared to spend beyond your initial travel budget unless one has friends, family or colleagues in the country. 

Always Count Your Pennies

From the moment you land at Harare International Airport, start counting your pennies and if possible, divide your funds according to the number of days or duration of your stay.  It is also important to collect small currency denominations like $1, $2 and $5 to avoid change issues in Zimbabwe.  If necessary, avoid using $20 and $50 notes for payments as some unscrupulous operators and businesses might take advantage of the situation and use the “change” card to hold on to the funds.  Always protect yourself and your funds by thinking ahead before travelling.

Entry Into Zimbabwe

Arrivals, Harare International Airport, Zimbabwe © 2016 Great Zimbabwe Traveller

Arrivals, Harare International Airport, Zimbabwe © 2016 Great Zimbabwe Traveller

Entry into the country by foreign Passport holders may require a Visa and in certain instances, other requirements.  Depending on current status, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora travelling home to visit may be subjected to a Single Entry Visa ranging from $30 to $75 at the Point-Of-Entry depending on the originating country or country of residence.  The fact that you are a Zimbabwean or have in your possession Zim identity documents (old Passport, ID or Driver’s License) is irrelevant.   What is considered by Customs and Immigration is the document used at the point of entry.

Transportation

Unless you are being picked up by someone at the airport, a local taxi ride to the city costs $15.  However, airport taxi operators tend to take advantage of unknowing foreign and non-local travellers by charging $35-$40.  If you are booked in a hotel, contact them upon arrival so that they can send a local taxi they work with to pick you up for $15.  Travelling within the city costs between $2 and $5 depending on the distance.  However, it is advisable to use hotel taxis to avoid falling victim to unscrupulous operators who are after making a quick buck from unsuspecting travellers. Some hotels and lodges offer shuttle service to and from the airport, including the city.  Verify with them or your booking agent.

Accommodation

Booking online is much cheaper than paying on arrival. © 2016 Great Zimbabwe Traveller

Booking online is much cheaper than paying on arrival. © 2016 Great Zimbabwe Traveller

For those who prefer booking accommodation online prior to travelling, it is advisable to also make payment online to avoid unnecessary extra charges when you pay upon arrival.  While local hotels advertise that they accept credits cards for payment, most prefer cash.  However, doing so forces one to use cash reserved for daily survival, an unnecessary inconvenience.

Cost of Living In Zimbabwe

Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that due to dollarization the cost of living in Zimbabwe is cheap or affordable.  Everything costs money and those small amounts spent without paying attention to like a $1 tip, $2 over there or $3 on a local cab can quickly add up and before you realize it, you may have either depleted or almost run out of the funds before your trip has even begun.  Pay attention to every dime spent and ensure you don’t exceed your overall daily limit.

Cash Situation: Is there a Cash Problem in Zimbabwe?

Although the economy is mostly dollarized, a basket of currencies like the $US, British Pound, South African Rand, Botswana Pula and local Zimbabwean Bonded Coins are used side-by-side.  However, most businesses including hotels prefer the $US to other currencies.  When travelling to Zimbabwe one should bring enough cash for daily survival for the duration of the stay including change in small denominations ($1, $2 and $5). The last thing one needs is to run out of cash as local commercial Banks have imposed cash limitations on daily withdrawals.  A $5 fee applies to all credit card cash transactions on local Bank ATMs.

As a Zimbabwean in the Diaspora, do I need an Entry Visa?

If you are Zimbabwean living in the Diaspora and travelling to Zimbabwe using a foreign Passport, you may be required to pay a Single Entry Visa fee ranging from $30 to $75 at the Point-Of-Entry depending on the originating country or that of residence.  It does not matter that you are Zimbabwean by birth or have your old Passport and IDs with you at the time.  What Zimbabwe Customs and Immigration consider is the Passport used at the time of entry.

Getting A Local Mobile Line

Getting a local mobile line is possible with the right documentation. © 2016 Great Zimbabwe Traveller

Getting a local mobile line is possible with the right documentation. © 2016 Great Zimbabwe Traveller

Anyone can get a local mobile line with appropriate documentation.  Foreign visitors including Zimbabweans from the Diaspora require a Passport or ID plus a certified copy of the document to be retained. You can bring your own certified copy to save time and money. Otherwise, the cost to photocopy and certify a document is $0.20 per process for the total of $0.40.  It is advisable to get a mobile line and connection from a registered Dealer than from street vendors who might sell you a used, recycled or someone else’s line.

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory but like elsewhere in the world, doing so is a sign of gratitude towards the service one is rendered.  However, restraint is also key as some waiters, servers, bell-boys or room attendants might make it blatantly obvious in their expectation of a tip, a situation which can easily land one in financial distress sooner than they thought.  Only tip when necessary and never feel ashamed to ignore otherwise you may become an easy target.

Overall, Zimbabwe remains a very beautiful country that is peaceful and still deserving of more tourists than at the current moment.

 

Ready to explore?  Unleash the wanderlust in you!  Explore, experience, discover Zimbabwe.

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