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Zimbabwe Travel Guide

Zimbabwe

Overview

Parks & Reserves

Wildlife

Birds

Best Time To Visit

Weather & Climate

Popular Routes

Getting There

Malaria & Vaccinations

Safety

Overview – Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe stands out as an exceptional safari destination. Its main parks are impeccably maintained and teem with wildlife, including Africa’s second-largest elephant population. Experiencing the mist of Victoria Falls, the world’s largest curtain of falling water, is truly breathtaking. Hwange National Park, which hosts all the Big Five, is a must-see, while Mana Pools National Park offers fantastic canoeing safaris on the Zambezi River. Despite past challenges, Zimbabwe remains a welcoming and well-organized place to explore.
zimbabwe (3)
zimbabwe travel guide
Rates (USD)
$116 to $803 pp/day
Best Time To Go
June or July to October: High Season in Most Parks
High Season
July to October: Peak Season at Victoria Falls Only
Size
390,757km² / 150,872mi²
Pros & Cons
Superior safari guide
A Top Destination for Walking Safaris
Best for Victoria fall views
Lower tourist crowds
Regions in Africa with the Highest Concentrations of Elephants
English is commonly spoken and to a high standard
The chance to discover Great Zimbabwe, a medieval stone city in ruins.
A country without a coastline, thus lacking beach vacation opportunities
Political unstable
Wildlife

Hwange and Mana Pools are Zimbabwe’s top spots for wildlife viewing, but don’t overlook the remote yet equally impressive Matusadona and Gonarezhou National Parks. These parks teem with elephants, buffalo, hippos, zebras, warthogs, and various antelope species. Lions and spotted hyenas are commonly seen, especially in Hwange, while leopards, cheetahs, and African wild dogs are more elusive. Rhinos are rare but can be tracked on foot in Matobo National Park, offering a unique experience.

Weather & Climate

Zimbabwe is a fantastic destination for safaris. While game drives in Hwange and other national parks are a highlight, many private lodges also offer exhilarating guided walking safaris in Mana Pools, Gonarezhou, and Matusadona. Other popular activities include viewing the stunning Victoria Falls by foot or from the air, bungee jumping and white-water rafting near the Falls, and exploring the ancient ruins of the Great Zimbabwe stone city.

Best Time To Visit

While the Wet season (November to March) offers lush landscapes, the best time for wildlife viewing is during the Dry season (April to October), especially from June onward. Victoria Falls is stunning throughout the year, but its peak drama occurs from February to June when the water flow is at its highest. From July to September, the falls are still spectacular, with less spray and clearer views.

Premier Parks, Reserves & Wildlife Areas
- Walking, canoe and classic safaris
- Classic safaris
- Classic and walking safaris
- Walking, boat and classic safaris
National Parks & Game Reserves – Zimbabwe
All Parks & Reserves
Wildlife & Animals – Zimbabwe

Hwange National Park is a prime destination, home to the iconic Big Five and conveniently located near Victoria Falls. It offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Mana Pools National Park is an adventurous and less-visited wilderness area, renowned for its superb walking safaris. For a truly off-the-beaten-path experience, consider the remote Matusadona and Gonarezhou National Parks. These parks are witnessing a growth in elephant, buffalo, lion, and other wildlife populations, making them hidden gems for safari enthusiasts.

Wildebeest
Zebra
Buffalo
Hippo
Giraffe
Elephant
Wild Dog
Hyena
Leopard
Lion
Black Rhino
White Rhino
Wildlife Highlights

Zimbabwe’s parks are renowned for their dense elephant populations, with Hwange being a standout. During the Dry season (April to October), hundreds of elephants often gather around a single waterhole in Hwange, providing a remarkable sight. The park is also known for its unique wildlife, including sable antelope, brown hyena, bat-eared fox, and springhare. Zimbabwe is a great destination to spot buffalo, hippos, lions, and the endangered African wild dog. For rhino sightings, head to Matobo National Park, known for its reliable encounters with these magnificent creatures.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing

For the best wildlife viewing experience, plan your visit during Zimbabwe’s Dry season (April to October). The middle to end of this season, particularly from June or July to October, is ideal, as animals tend to gather around the few remaining water sources, making them easier to spot. In contrast, the Wet season (November to March) is characterized by afternoon showers.

Recommended Wildlife Books
The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals
Not a field guide but a fascinating intro to mammal behavior by Richard D. Estes
Tracker Manual: A Practical Guide to Animal Tracking in Southern Africa
Covers tracks, scats and other spoor for 160 animals by Alex van den Heever, Renias Mhlongo and Karel Benadie
Stuarts’ Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa
Top choice if you’re traveling in southern Africa only by Chris Stuart and Mathilde Stuart
Stuarts’ SA Mammals (app)
Recommended app version of ‘Stuarts’ Field Guide’ by Chris Stuart and Mathilde Stuart
The Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals (book and app)
Definitive guide for serious Africa wildlife enthusiasts by Jonathan Kingdon
Wildlife Photos
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Birds - Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe boasts an impressive array of over 700 bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. While the country doesn’t have any birds unique to its borders, several near-endemics can be spotted in the globally important Eastern Zimbabwe Mountains Endemic Bird Area (EBA). What sets Zimbabwe apart for birding enthusiasts is the exceptional standard of guiding in its national parks and the abundant opportunities for walking safaris, providing an immersive birdwatching experience. Migratory birds visit from November to April, enhancing the already phenomenal birdlife in the country.

Notable Birds in Zimbabwe

Southern carmine bee-eater
common
African skimmer
common
Boulder chat
common
Southern yellow-billed hornbill
common
Livingstone’s turaco
common
Endemic & Near - endemic Birds
Zimbabwe has no endemic birds.
(NE) near-endemic = also lives in neighboring countries
Best Time for Bird Watching

Zimbabwe truly comes alive for birdwatchers during the Wet season from November to April. This period sees the arrival of migratory birds, showcasing all species in their full breeding plumage. The lush scenery is stunning now, offering a picturesque backdrop for birdwatching. However, for the best overall wildlife viewing experience, including mammals, the middle and end of the Dry season from June or July to October are ideal.

Recommended Birding Books
Sasol Birds of Southern Africa
Another excellent, complete field guide; app available by Ian Sinclair et al.
Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa
Complete guide with lifelike illustrations; app available by Kenneth Newman and Vanessa Newman
Pocket Guide: Birds of Southern Africa
Useful but limited beginner’s guide by Ian Sinclair
Roberts Bird Guide (2nd edition; book)
The pick of several complete field guides for southern Africa by Hugh Chittenden, Greg Davies and Ingrid Weiersbye
Roberts Bird Guide (2nd edition; app)
Comprehensive, with birdcalls and extra info not in the book by Hugh Chittenden, Greg Davies and Ingrid Weiersbye
Facts & Figures

Bird Species

550+

Migratory Birds

Oct to Apr

Best Time To Visit – Zimbabwe

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

To make the most of your visit to Zimbabwe, aim for a trip between June or July and October. During this period, wildlife viewing is exceptional as animals gather around rivers and waterholes, creating prime viewing opportunities, especially in Hwange National Park where artificially pumped waterholes attract large herds of elephants. While Victoria Falls is stunning throughout the year, the most breathtaking experience is from February to June when the water flow is at its peak. Even from July to September, the falls remain spectacular with less spray and clearer views.

Best Time
June through October (Peak Season for Most Parks)
High Season
July to October (Less Crowded, Except at Victoria Falls)
Low Season
November to April (Parks Are Least Crowded)
Best Weather
April to September (Comfortable Temperatures with Infrequent Afternoon Rains)
Worst Weather
October to February (Extreme Heat in Low-Altitude Parks; Peak Rainfall from December to February)
April to October – Dry Season – Winter
Vegetation is sparse and wildlife congregates near water, simplifying animal spotting
Minimal Rainfall, Clear Blue Skies, and Abundant Sunshine
Reduced mosquito presence lowers the risk of malaria
High Season with Uncrowded Parks, Except at Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is at its most magnificent from February to June, when water levels peak
October brings intense heat in low-lying regions, with temperatures exceeding 32°C (90°F)
Nights and mornings can be chilly, so pack warm clothes
From March to May, large spray clouds may obscure some views of Victoria Falls, though many consider this part of the experience
November to March Wet Season – Summer
The landscape is more verdant
Low season brings reduced rates
Optimal Period to Observe Newborn Wildlife
Bird Watching Peaks with Birds in Breeding Plumage and Migratory Species Present
Rainfall typically consists of brief afternoon showers that rarely disrupt safari activities
Wildlife spotting becomes challenging due to denser vegetation and animals dispersing from waterholes
High humidity and temperatures in low-lying parks can lead to uncomfortable heat
From October to December, the Zambezi River reaches its lowest flow, diminishing the spectacle of Victoria Falls
Wildlife Photos
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​Weather & Climate – Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s climate is delightful, offering a variety of temperatures across its regions. The central Highveld plateau enjoys temperatures up to 28°C/82°F. Lower-lying areas like Hwange and Zambezi National Parks are consistently warmer throughout the year. Parks like Mana Pools, Matusadona, and Gonarezhou, situated even lower, experience hotter temperatures, sometimes reaching 35°C/95°F.

During the Wet season (November to March), rainfall is common in the afternoons. The Dry season (April to October) brings cooler temperatures, with nights and mornings dropping to around 5°C/41°F. However, daytime temperatures remain pleasant and sunny.

Wet Season – April to October – Winter
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Wet Season – November to March – Summer
zimbabwe view
Popular Routes – Zimbabwe
zimbabwe travel guide
​Getting There – Zimbabwe
Main Park Map
zimbabwe travel guide
Flights & Airlines to Botswana
Domestic Airlines & Flights in Zimbabwe
Passport, Visa & Other Entry Requirements
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Malaria & Vaccinations – Zimbabwe
Vaccinations
Malaria Risk
More Info
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Safari Tours to Zimbabwe

$5127 to

$11424 pp (USD)

Kenya:

Private tour,

Luxury,

You Visit: Nairobi, Lake Naivasha, three days Masai Mara, three days Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater & two days Amboseli.

$2840 to

$6527 pp (USD)

Tanzania:

Private tour,

Luxury,

You Visit: Arusha (Day 1), Tarangire NP, Lake Manyara NP, Two days Serengeti NP & Ngorongoro Crater: 24/7 Service – All Accommodations & Round trip airport transfer

$15729 to

$8976 pp (USD)

Kenya:

Private tour,

Luxury,

You Visit: Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park, Amboseli National Park, Ol Pejeta Conservancy & Masai Mara Game Reserve

Things to know before traveling to the destination

What currency is used in Zimbabwe?

The currency in Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwean Dollar. While cash transactions are accepted in foreign currency (Forex), the most widely used and accepted foreign currency is the US Dollar, with the South African Rand (ZAR) also being accepted.

 

What time zone is Zimbabwe in?

Zimbabwe is in the Central Africa Time Zone (CAT), two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2), the same time zone as the rest of Southern Africa.

 

Can I use my credit cards in Zimbabwe?

Unfortunately, credit card facilities are not widely available in Zimbabwe. However, payment can be made in cash, and debit card transactions are accepted.

 

What power sockets are used in Zimbabwe?

In Zimbabwe, power sockets are 220V. If you have devices that require 110V, please bring a converter. Additionally, it’s advisable to bring universal travel adaptors and extra batteries.

 

What should I pack for a safari in Zimbabwe?

When packing for a safari in Zimbabwe, consider potential luggage weight or size restrictions. Consult with your Travel Designer for personalized advice based on your itinerary. Generally, pack warm clothing for cooler months and light clothing for summer. Avoid bright colors and white clothing.

 

What is Great Zimbabwe?

Great Zimbabwe was a medieval African city renowned for its large circular wall and tower. It was part of a prosperous African trading empire that controlled a significant portion of the East African coast from the 11th to the 15th centuries. Archaeologists have discovered Chinese and Persian pottery, as well as Arab coins, among the ruins, making it a fascinating destination to explore on your journey through Zimbabwe.

Do I need a visa to travel to Zimbabwe?

Please consult your Travel Designer to determine if you require a visa to enter Zimbabwe. Some nationalities need to apply in advance, while others can obtain a visa upon arrival at the port of entry.

Do I need a yellow fever vaccination for Zimbabwe?

If you are traveling to Zimbabwe from a yellow fever-infected area, a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required. We also recommend that guests have up-to-date TPD (tetanus, polio, diphtheria) and hepatitis A vaccinations.

 

Do I need to take malaria medication when visiting Zimbabwe?

Please consult your Travel Designer or a travel clinic a few weeks before your departure. Some malaria medications need to be started in advance of your visit to Zimbabwe.

Photo Gallery of Zimbabwe

Map of Zimbabwe

Photo Gallery