The political and economic strife in Zimbabwe over recent years understandably led to a collapse in tourism. This is now recovering strongly as the camps and lodges in Zimbabwe represent excellent value for a safari experience against those in the neighboring countries of Botswana and Zambia.
Where Zimbabwe isn’t always as competitive or convenient is on the internal transfers, whether by light aircraft or road, particularly when there are just one or two guests travelling together and sometimes this can balance out any savings achieved elsewhere.
Our advice if wanting a good value safari in Zimbabwe is to be as flexible as possible with dates to fit in with existing internal flight schedules (some routes aren’t daily). Otherwise you will be forced to book a private charter, which generally only becomes cost effective with a small group of guests. Also bear in mind that your flight may operate a set routing to drop off and pick up other passengers and is unlikely to be direct. There is a circuit of scheduled flights servicing the camps in Hwange, Kariba / Matusadona, Mana Pools and Victoria Falls.
For other areas in Zimbabwe, including the Matobo Hills, Malilangwe / Gonarezhou, Great Zimbabwe and the Eastern Highlands it is necessary to organise road transfers or air charters on a private basis as there are no scheduled tourist services at present. This becomes more economically viable for groups of 4 or 6 guests.
Of all the safari experiences in Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park is the most accessible and is either a short flight or a road transfer from Victoria Falls. This can easily be added on to a Botswana, Zambia or South Africa itinerary. A popular Zimbabwe circuit would include Victoria Falls, Hwange, Mana Pools and Matusadona National Parks. A few days in the Matobo Hills could also be added.
Guests who are considering including Mana Pools in their itinerary (highly recommended) should be aware that the flight is relatively long and can also be quite bumpy. So if you suffer from motion sickness remember to bring some anti-nausea tablets with you!
As with other safari destinations, the air charter companies in Zimbabwe impose strict regulations over the size and weight of luggage (and often the weight of guests). These restrictions are necessary for safety reasons and on most flights you will be limited to 20kg (44lb) of luggage per person, to include your camera equipment and hand luggage. Any guest weighing over 100kg (220lb) must inform us in advance as they may need to purchase an extra seat for safety and comfort. The other crucial restriction is that bags must be soft (no wheels, frames or rigid structures can be transported) and the maximum dimensions of the soft bags which can be accommodated are: 25cm (10 inches) wide x 30cm (12 inches) high and 62cm (24 inches) long.
For most first-time visitors to Africa the imposition of such luggage restrictions is daunting…you may not have a suitable bag and the idea of packing so light can be very stressful. Our section on Pack for your Safari aims to provide practical advice to assist.