African Travel Tips For Visiting Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s biggest draw is undoubtedly the majestic Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. But the country also has other natural and historical advantages to captivate travellers and beckon them to return. Wildlife, fish and birds abound including a number of unique, rare and endangered species making game viewing, bird watching, fishing and hunting popular activities.

Home to four World Heritage Sites, Zimbabwe has a rich history of ancient civilisations that makes its friendly people stand proud, despite hardship. From the refreshing spray of the Falls on your face, to a Lake Kariba sunset, a lush mountain escape to a river rafting adventure on the Zambezi, Zimbabwe is sure to leave you with memories as indelible as those of Livingstone and Rhodes when they witnessed the country’s riches.

CAPITAL: Harare

CLIMATE: Subtropical. The best time to visit is Apr-Oct when weather is mild with little rain. Winter (May-Aug) is dry and sunny. Rainy weather is Nov-Mar/Apr.

CURRENCY: 1 Zimbabwe Dollar = 100 cents. You may take 15000 Zimbabwean dollars out of the country. There are no restrictions on foreign currency brought in. If you don’t declare the foreign money you bring in, you’ll only be able to take out 500 US dollars. You may be asked to account for foreign currency exchanged/spent in country. Hotel bills must be paid for with credit cards or in foreign hard currencies e.g. US dollar.

Users of credit cards are subject to a surcharge of about 3 percent on the total value of goods purchased. US dollar traveller’s cheques are recommended. Avoid street money changers who promise “no commission, best rates”, but then cheat on delivery. There are strict penalties for illegal foreign currency trading. Several of the city’s large stores don’t accept American Express cards; travellers’ cheques are the most convenient means of payment.

HEALTH: Yellow fever immunisation is essential if you arrive from an infected country or area. Visitors are also advised to take pre-arrival precautions against hepatitis A, polio, typhoid and malaria (depending on the area visited especially those outside of towns). Other health concerns include bilharzia (don’t swim in the rivers/dams or drink the water from them as it may be infected), sunburn, limited medical facilities and supplies outside of towns, AIDS and influenza (risk extends throughout the year).

LANGUAGE: English is the official language. Chishona and Sindebele are widely spoken.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:

1 January New Year’s Day

12 April Easter Monday

18 April Independence Day

1 May Workers’ Day

25 May Africa Day

11 August Heroes’ Day

12 August Defence Forces Day

22 December Unity Day

25-26 December Christmas

SHOPPING: Shona soft-stone carvings; woodcarvings; T-shirts; safari clothing; pottery; leather goods; basket ware; sculptures; textiles. Nail polish and old clothes can sometimes be swopped for carvings.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS: Christianity is the main religion, but in rural areas people have traditional beliefs. Western/European courtesies are observed. Return invitations are appreciated. Handshaking is the common form of greeting. Dress is casual, but most hotels require more formal wear, e.g. tie and jacket; business meetings require suits.

TIME DIFFERENCE: GMT+2

TIPPING: Ten-fifteen percent is common.

TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS DESCRIPTION:

Victoria Falls:

Called by locals “Mosi-oa-Tunya” – the smoke that thunders, Victoria Falls is a World Heritage Site and undoubtedly the most majestic waterfall in the world; popular activities include walking through the rainforest, white water rafting, bungi jumps, flights over the falls, river cruises, and much more.

Lake Kariba Unique scenery of dead trees rising from the depths of this huge man-made lake is especially beautiful during sunset; a popular way to enjoy the lake is on a houseboat with friends viewing the large numbers of crocodile and hippo, going game viewing at the Matusadona National Park or Tiger fishing – the largest Tiger fish ever was caught here and weighed 15.5kg.

Harare:

The capital city offers sightseeing at the National Gallery; National Archives; Queen Victoria Museum; Queen Victoria National Library; National Botanic Garden; Mbare Market; Chapungu village; tobacco auction floors; Mukuvisi Woodlands; Museum of Human Sciences; Harare Gardens; Cecil House; National Handicraft Centre; Africa Unity Square and The Residency.

Kame Ruins:

22 km west of Bulawayo is Kame Ruins, one of southern Africa’s magnificent Late Iron Age ruins, now a World Heritage Site showing the area was the seat of government of earlier civilisations.

Great Zimbabwe National Monument:

Ruins of an ancient African city, believed to have flourished between the 13th and 15th centuries AD, is the only one in existence south of the Sahara and a World Heritage Site; the country has taken its name from it and the famous Zimbabwe birds found at the site has become the national bird and been incorporated in the flag; visit the museum on the site, the Kyle recreational park and do game viewing by car or horseback nearby.

Hwange National Park:

The country’s largest national park, both in size and variety of wild game and bird life; also one of the few remaining elephant sanctuaries in Africa, with herds of up to 100 strong seen; the only area in the country where gemsbok and brown hyena occur in reasonable numbers and where the population of wild dog is thought to be the largest surviving in Africa today.

Mana Pools National Park:

Part of the Middle Zambezi Valley, Mana Pools is host to some of the biggest concentrations of large mammals to be seen in Zimbabwe; it is also renowned for its varied and colourful birdlife and forms one of the last remaining strongholds of the black rhino; game viewing, hunting and canoe safaris are popular.

Bulawayo & Matobo:

Zimbabwe’s second largest city which stands on the site of the royal kraal of Lobengula, last of the Ndebele Kings; view the Natural History Museum, Railway Museum, Mzilikazi art and craft centre, Centenary park, central parks and National Art Gallery; 30 km from the city is Matobo National Park, a unique area of some 2000 square kilometres of gigantic wind-sculpted rock formations. Cecil John Rhodes’ burial site and thousands of ancient rock paintings can also be found here.

Eastern highlands:

Luxuriant natural surroundings characterise this region with mountains, grassy plains, streams, waterfalls, mountain flowers, rare birds, etc. contributing to panoramic views of exquisite beauty attracting nature lovers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts; visit the Nyanga National Park, Mutare, Mutarazi Falls, Bunga Botanical Reserve, Bvumba Botanical Gardens and the wilderness of the Chimanimani National Park.

Gona-re-Zhou park:

This park adjoins the Kruger National Park in South Africa and is home to some of the rarest bird and animal life in Africa. The bat-eared fox, suni, Liechtenstein’s hartebeest, nyala and roan antelope are to be found along the famous African elephants of this park, which are unlike any others in the world.

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Africa Namibia Travel & Tips Information

In Namibia, upon the parched palate of a vast and contradictory land, the realities of thirst have created a plethora of idiosyncratic societies. The shifting dunes of the Namib Desert are honeycombed with the greatest variety of living creatures of any dunelands around the world.

The desolate Skeleton Coast, monument to by-gone maritime disasters, contrasts with the vibey holiday atmosphere of the quaint German settlement of Swakopmund. Within the precincts of Etosha Pan, the lake of a mother’s tears, where perimeter waterholes enclose the salt expanse, great herds of game are on a perpetual pub-crawl. This provides some of the most magnificent gameviewing opportunities anywhere.

Inland, in surrealist Damaraland, you’ll encounter various social curiosities, including the Petrified Forest; Welwitschia Mirabilis, the thousand year old underground tree; the statuesque Kokerboom; and the diminutive Damara Dik Dik, with its twitching nose.

Namibia – big sky country.

A place where undulating deserts fold down to meet a tempestuous coastline, Namibia offers a diverse range of highlights: Scenic beauty including the Skeleton Coast – untouched and untamed, this desolate and uninhabited landscape is home to the rare Brown Hyena and Desert Elephants, seal colonies and is the burial ground of many ships; the Kunene River – the source of one of Africa’s greatest waterfalls, the Ruacana; the splendour of abundant bird and wildlife; unusual geological formations including Fish River Canyon, Brandberg, Spitzkoppe and the unique star-shaped dune mountains at Sossusvlei;

pristine wilderness including Etosha Pan – an oasis in the centre of a vast semi-desert region, the Namib Desert – the only desert that harbours elephant, rhino, lion and giraffe; the diverse and friendly nation – vibrant African cultures blended with the architecture and traditions of the Germans, British and South Africans; Adventure opportunities – from sand boarding, canoeing, white water rafting to hot air ballooning and The Desert Express Train.

Welcome Tourism Services offers a comprehensive variety of escorted tours; self-drive tours and fly-in safaris; special interest and adventure packages; tailormade tours and safaris throughout this exciting and unique region. We cater for individual travellers, groups, conferences and incentives.

Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city, is set in the Central Region. With its international airport, Windhoek is a convenient point to begin or end your tour and provides a good base for local excursions. The northern part of the Central Region has an astonishing diversity of bird, animal life and mineral wealth while to the west is the Namib Desert and the Kalahari to the east.

The majestic Auas mountains, the Eros mountains and the rolling Khomas Hochland surround Windhoek. Mineral springs offer an oasis in this very dry region and holiday resorts are located close to Windhoek. The national parks, fascinating little towns, out of the way mission stations and cattle ranches all have their own unique attractions.

The Namib Region stretches from Oranjemund in the south up through the Skeleton Coast to the Angolan border in the north, mostly consisting of national parks. The Namib-Naukluft Park is considered the fourth largest in the world, covering 49 768 km sq. Hardy desert plants and the variety of landscapes make this a magical place for scenic photographers.

The ancient Namib Desert features many of Namibia’s tourist destinations and is home to one of the world’s oldest plants – the prehistoric Welwitschia Mirabilis and a large number of endemic dunedwelling creatures.

The Skeleton Coast National Park reaches from the Ugab to the Kunene River. Hardy desert animals congregate around the intermittent watering places, while in the distance craggy mountains and vistas of sand dunes enhance its beauty.

The popular coastal resort of Swakopmund has many buildings dating back to the turn of the century, these national monuments represent the town’s German colonial past. With its numerous excursion possibilities, Swakopmund is rapidly becoming Namibia’s groups and conventions destination. Walvis Bay is 31 km south of Swakopmund, another principal port of entry and has a flourishing fishing industry.

The Walvis Bay lagoon is one of Africa’s most important wetlands and hosts large flocks of flamingoes, pelicans and other water birds. West of the Naukluft mountains is the Sesriem Canyon gorged out over centuries by the Tsauchaub River. 63 km away is Sossusvlei, a dry clay basin surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world. Lüderitz, between the desert and the coast, was the first German settlement in Namibia and the base of the South African diamond industry in 1908. This sea-side resort is the centre of Namibia’s crayfish industry, renowned for its oysters and the ghost town of Kolmanskop is not far away.

The fertile Northern Region is the largest region in Namibia, with vast areas under cultivation, sustained by underground lakes. The highlight of this region is the Etosha National Park, one of the major wildlife sanctuaries in Africa and an official game reserve since 1907. This 22 270 km sq park ranges from dense bush to open plains and houses prolific bird and wildlife.

Two attractive towns in the centre of a rich mining area are Otavi, sheltered by the Otavi Mountains and Tsumeb further north. Damaraland offers contrasting desert, rolling grasslands and high mountain ranges with unusual geological features, rock paintings and rare animals. It is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Skeleton Coast National Park.

The volcanic landscapes around Khorixas bear footprints of dinosaurs and the Petrified Forest (massive tree trunks up to 30 m in length) lies scattered across the plains with Welwitschias and other hardy desert plants growing among them.

Twyfelfontein (Fountain of Doubt) is south-west of the Petrified Forest offering spectacular rock paintings and engravings dating back thousands of years. South of Twyfelfontein is a desolate landscape of volcanic rock called Burnt Mountain. Nearby are the Organ Pipes, a formation of perpendicular basalt. The Brandberg Range contains the highest mountain peak in the country (the Kunigstein 2 573 m) and many rock paintings including the famous White Lady of Brandberg.

The Caprivi Strip is an exciting destination for the adventurous traveller with rivers, forests, swamps and waterways – it is a total contrast to the arid grandeur of the rest of Namibia. Activities in this area include hiking, fishing, gameviewing, birdwatching and mokoro trails. The beautiful landscape of the Southern Region is stark, desolate, hot and dry. Earthquakes and storms have carved the land into wonderful sculptures. Brukkaros, an extinct volcano, looms over the plains north of Keetmanshoop.

The Fish River Canyon – a ravine 161 m long, up to 27 km wide and almost 550 m deep and the hot spring resort of Ai-Ais are popular attractions.

The Kokerboom, an aloe capable of surviving years of drought, and the Quiver Tree Forest, a protected area 23 km north-east of Keetmanshoop, are found here. Although agriculture (dominated by livestock production) provides a livelihood for an estimated 70% of Namibia’s population, mining provides the backbone to the economy.

Diamonds, gold, silver, uranium, copper, lead, zinc, magnesium, cadmium and other base metals are all produced. Having developed rapidly since independence, tourism is currently the country’s third most important foreign exchange earner.

Travel Destination Tips

Destination tips serve as a guide for a luxury vacation. Always remember the reason as to why you want to travel. Remember that travelling is always a good idea. It helps you see the world in a new and different perspective. You get a glimpse of their must try and to die for cuisines and the different tourist destinations.

Remember these travel destination tips when planning a trip.

Be open-minded. Try to learn about the place that you want to go to. With Internet access, it is very possible to get a grasp of what to expect from that place.

Be creative and consider underdogs: Try to pick locations that aren’t very familiar with tourists and be a little creative when visiting their tourist spots.

Be decisive: Don’t let peer pressure get to you. If your friends tell you that they’re going to visit the Eiffel tower and you’ve plan to visit the Maldives go for your first choice. Never regret so you don’t miss out on what you could experience in a certain place.

Ask yourself why: Remember to ask yourself the reason why you want to go there. Is it because you want to do some soul searching? Are you trying to reconnect with an old flame? Whatever maybe your purpose you always have to be definite because this will help you choose the perfect places to travel to.

Remember to remember: When travelling to a different place don’t forget to research about their culture and traditions. Furthermore, keep your valuables handy. Don’t let them out of your sight when travelling so better make sure that all of your must haves are in your travel pack.

Safe choices aren’t bad choices: If you want to travel but are having second thoughts about your safety and the location of your chosen place. Don’t worry and stop bugging yourself. If you feel like going to a different location is a perfect fit for you then try to choose the location where your heart is set in.

Go solo: You may wish to travel in groups but sometimes you must not be afraid to go alone. Going alone doesn’t mean you’re desperate or lonely. It will help you discover your abilities to be independent. You get to explore more places on your own without the hassle of worrying about your companions.

Don’t miss out on the backyard: Different places have different must try locations. They might offer pretty souvenirs or trinkets, their delicacies, and everything else in between. These little backyards will help you learn more about the place you are in.

Budget options: It doesn’t necessarily mean that when budget is tight you would not be able to enjoy different places and attractions. Try to choose the places where you spend less but enjoy a lot more. There are a lot of destinations right now that are not too expensive but have a wide array of travel and tour packages.

These travel destination tips are only guidelines for you to follow to have a stress free travel.

5 Travel Tips to Save on Your Next Vacation

Traveling to a new destination for a vacation can be fun and exciting, but also a little stressful. There are plenty of things to consider in the process of planning the travel itinerary and finding the best possible deals. Let’s take a look at a few of the options to help control costs on your next travel adventure:

Travel off-season

A simple solution to get the best prices on travel and the hotel is to travel off-season (also referred to as low season). Beyond the best prices for flights and a luxury hotel or resort, there will be a lot less crowds to interrupt the sightseeing tours. For instance, a trip to Europe can be delayed until September for the low-cost travel experience and the weather is still quite favorable in most parts.

Be flexible with flights

An indirect flight can take longer to arrive at the intended destination, but a flight with a stopover often leads to the most cost-effective travel option. Also, the day you fly can have a noticeable impact on the price. In most cases, a midweek flight will save a lot of money for a family vacation compared to flying at the weekend. Simply making a few minor changes like this can save literally hundreds of dollars.

Avoid high baggage fees

Make sure to weigh the luggage before leaving home to avoid the often over-inflated charges associated with exceeding the baggage limit.

If any extra items are left over with no space in the main luggage, there are plenty of ways to get creative by using a decent hand-luggage bag or even a luggage jacket. A stylish and practical luggage jacket is much like a normal jacket, but gives the extra room to conveniently pack in a few extra items to help control baggage charges.

Avoid the most popular places

A simple strategy to cut costs is to avoid the most popular places. For instance, a European city like Paris can be so expensive, but there are other great alternatives that can be just as charming, such as Athens and Budapest. Alternatively, a trip to Costa Rica is typically quite pricey, but a neighboring country like Nicaragua may be a more attractive option.

Book last-minute

Booking last-minute can help to score a great deal in certain areas of the travel market. While it isn’t likely to be helpful with airfare costs, there are plenty of tours and cruises that give great discounts if able to leave things very late. An empty ship or tour is never a good thing, so these companies will do whatever is necessary to bring in extra customers. Typically, the booking needs to be left until one or two weeks before the departure date to get the price discounts.