Best time to visit Zimbabwe

Best time to visit Zimbabwe


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

A year round destination, the best time to visit Zimbabwe depends on whether you like heat, rain, or more temperate conditions. From a safari point of view, the ideal time to go is from May to November, though the latter part of this season sees temperatures soar into the 30s and July-Aug bring cooler mid-20s weather, but can get pretty chilly at night. Some of the camps around Hwange close during the rainy season (Dec-Mar), but the animals are still very much there to be seen, as are the guides that need their jobs.

Things to do in Zimbabwe


WHAT TO DO IN ZIMBABWE & WHAT NOT TO

Things to do in Zimbabwe


A mile long raging waterfall and one of the Earth’s most marvellous spectacles, going to Zimbabwe and not seeing Victoria Falls is like going to Paris and foregoing the Eiffel Tower. No amount of superlatives can describe what it’s like to be stood in front of its full force and power, and now there’s a handy Univisa allowing travelers access to the Falls from both the Zimbabwean and the Zambian side, you can spend hours gawping at them from various viewpoints.
You may feel slightly nervous canoeing close to an enormous hippo, or watching a croc slide into the water on which you’re floating, but that only adds to the excitement of a canoeing trip along the Lower Zambezi. The local guides are expert in predicting animal behaviour and will keep you safe on the river as you study the incredible life along its banks.
Most first time Zimbabwe goers tend to head north to pair Victoria Falls with a safari in Hwange, which makes for an amazing vacation. If you’ve been to Zimbabwe before, however, and have already ticked those off your list, the less frequented parks like Matobo and Gonarezhou – a national park tucked right down in the south of the country that resembles the Okavango Delta in places, and is overlooked by massive pink cliffs - are well worth returning to the country for.

Things not to do in Zimbabwe


Don’t bother with the towns. You don’t go to Zimbabwe to check out the commerce, you go to escape into its untouched wilderness. Zimbabwe’s towns have deteriorated from the country’s tourism heyday during which time they were kept clean and neat. These days there really isn’t a lot of money, the streets, parks and museums have deteriorated.
Don’t avoid it because of worrying news reports. Luckily for us, vast and untouched areas of wilderness are a wonderful feature of Zimbabwe unaffected any social strife, yet it's often hard to imagine what lies beyond the ubiquitous news reports about the ‘harsh’ actions of the police and the government. Once you’re on the ground, however, you’ll soon see how much Zimbabweans understand the value of tourism – they're a friendly bunch. Even the police roadblocks are pleasant and polite; they’re just doing what they have to do. It’s a welcoming country and one that is keen to see more visitors.
A key piece of advice is not to try and "do" all of Zimbabwe in one go. Specialist tailor made vacation companies are fantastic when it comes to planning the logistics. The roads around Lake Kariba, for example, are now so deteriorated roads that a journey along its banks will take you two days instead of half a day, and unless you have the luxury of a very long break, it’s unrealistic to think you can cram the Falls, Hwange and Gonarezhou into one trip too – a journey that by road takes at least 20 hours. Spend quality time exploring one part of Zimbabwe properly and save the rest for next time.

Zimbabwe travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN ZIMBABWE

Making the most of Vic Falls


Simon Mills, from our supplier, Native Escapes, shares his Zimbabwe travel advice: “There are some great safari areas in Zimbabwe, but the country’s main draw is Victoria Falls. 90 percent of the falls face Zimbabwe front on with one corner turned into Zambia, and there are about 2km of gardens in front of the falls that you can pay to go into with lots of different vistas and viewpoints to explore. You don’t need to have a guide to access the park, you just pay to wander round there and spend all day in there for about $30. There are warthogs and other small game running round.”

Crossing borders


Bruce Taylor, from our supplier Sunway Safaris, discusses different viewpoints: “There’s now a Univisa between Zambia and Zimbabwe, which is the same price for visitors to either side and means you can visit the Victoria Falls from both countries, multiple times, only paying the park entry fee for the side you’re not staying on. In May and June when the Falls are high and there’s lots of water in the river, the Zimbabwe side is very impressive, but at times there’s such a deluge of water that you can’t see across the actual falls through the spray and mist, although you can get a great view if you go and stand at Livingstone’s statue. At that time of year, if you want to go through the rainforest and look at the falls directly in front of you, the Zambian side is preferable.”

Discover Zimbabwe’s history


Bruce Taylor, from our supplier, Sunway Safaris, shares his advice on what to see in Zimbabwe: “I would recommend that people see the Great Zimbabwe Monuments, which are a collection of ancient ruins – they aren’t on the same scale as European archaeological sights, but it is a fascinating visit and the local guides are excellent, so you get a really good insight into what they are and what their background is. It’s a lovely walk and you can clamber all over the place too, and it’s a great experience to go and stand up on the hill and have a look down at all of the different structures in the valley below.”

Zimbabwe travel advice


Tips from our travelers in Zimbabwe

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Zimbabwe travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.



“Remember that this is Africa and everything does not work all the time. Be patient and positive and make friends along the way.”Louis Carroll

“Take thermal underwear with you when going on this trip in Africa's winter. The temperature at night was sub-zero and morning and evenings were cold as well.”Sigrid Pach

“Make sure you have a good zoom camera - we bought a new one en route! And try a monocular if you can't use binoculars.”Heather Gratland

“Be prepared for some very early starts.”Christina Monson

“Do it! Money well spent.”Katrin Nyman

“You'll make the most if it if you go prepared, but with an open mind and relaxed attitude. This is Africa, not Europe... but that's why you go!”Catharine Coleman
Photo credits: [Temp chart: frankdoylezw] [Making the most of Vic Falls: Meraj Chhaya] [Discover Zimbabwe's history: Ross Huggett] [Review 1 - Kelly Towle: Mike] [Review 2 - Diana Fentiman: Grant Peters]

Written by: Polly Humphris
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