Why you should Visit Zimbabwe

via Why you should Visit Zimbabwe for a holiday right now  via email by Luke Brown November 22nd, 2013

When Suzanne and I travel the world and tell people that Zimbabwe’s tourism is on the rise and that it’s at the beginning of a boom, almost everyone we speak to is shocked and surprised at first.  The fact is that most people out there think that Zimbabwe is somehow in reverse as a destination.  This is certainly not the case when it comes to tourism and its only when we show people pictures and video clips of the country, often with us in them that they start to believe.

Think Zimbabwe and draw up a 7 point list of things that come to mind! You may come up with a whole lot of things and more than likely there wont be the word holiday on either your own or most others’ lists.  So why then should you be convinced otherwise?  Here are 7 good ‘myth busting’ reasons why you should be putting ‘holiday’ right at the very top of the list when you think of Zimbabwe.

1. Peaceful, intelligent people with a ‘special smile’ philosophy that is infectious

How wrongly portrayed across the world are we as an unsafe destination?  Zimbabweans on the whole are peace loving people with the highest literacy rate in Africa that simply adds to their already innate intelligence.  It is part of a Zimbabwean’s nature to endure good times and tough times with the same ‘special smile’ approach to all they do.  This is ‘special smile’ philosophy is embodied in daily lives that are more often spent appreciating what one has and focusing on the good things, as opposed to whining and whinging about any negative aspects of life here in Zim.  That ‘special smile’ ability I’m saying Zimbabweans possess is infectious when people visit the country.  So much so that I’ll bet you that, almost invariably, anyone who visits Zimbabwe for the first time will arrive with caution, but leave with a peace of that philosophy in their hearts. We see it time and again with our international guests that come here for the first time with trepidation and leave as totally different people that have a new outlook on life.

2. Internationally accessible and domestically flyable

We don’t have a Heathrow/JFK or an Easy Jet, yet, but the quality of our airports has been maintained and improved to cater for rising numbers.  Harare International Airport is a modern, clean and efficient point of entry.  Bulawayo’s new Joshua Nkomo international terminal has just been opened.  Victoria Falls International Airport will have a new terminal and an extended runway by 2015.  Emirates have increased their Harare flights to seven days a week and put on a bigger aircraft to service the route.  I’ve just flown on Emirates into and out of Harare twice in the last month and it was a joy.  KLM, Kenyan, Ethiopian, SAA, BA Comair all fly in frequently, some twice a day.  Our national airline, Air Zimbabwe, not without its challenges, is making every effort to meet world class standards with its new local and regional services.  Modern embraer aircrafts service the Harare-Bulawayo and Harare-Vic Falls legs daily.  Privately owned charter companies continue to fill the gaps and also service most of the popular routes with affordable ‘seat-in-plane’ rates.  You can even charter a really fancy new Helicopter called a Eurocopter to fly around the country in.

3. Navigable on the ground & communication/technology friendly

Once you are here you’ll be able to move around with relative ease.  The road from Mutare through Harare to Bulawayo and on to Plumtree has nearly been completely resurfaced to first world standards.  It’s as good as any main road in South Africa.  Other main roads are following suit, but, even as they are currently, remain completely navigable wide tarred roads suitable to all types of vehicle including two wheel drive hatchbacks.  Rental car companies are competing for business where they haven’t done so before.  Fuel stations are plentiful, most shops and venues accept credit cards and have shelves full of internationally recognized and well priced items. New maps are readily available, google maps and navigation devices all work here. Cellphone signal is accessible in almost every corner of the country along with data capability with 4G connections now possible in Harare and Victoria Falls. Police road blocks are frequent, but it is a very rare occasion if you are not waved on through and if you are stopped at all you will most likely encounter that ‘special smile’ we spoke about earlier.  If you are not into driving yourself around then there are a wide choice of bus services available, some of which have an excellent on board service including teas, coffees and entertainment.

4. Incredibly diverse offerings from varied landscapes to shopping to culture

Aside from not having an ocean on one of its boundaries or a mountain to ski on there is not much else that Zimbabwe can’t offer. Victoria Falls of course tops the list of things to see, but the idea that it ends with that is completely false.  Hwange, Gonarezhou and Mana Pools are big game areas offering incredible safari opportunities where one can get regular up close encounters with animals like lion, elephant, wild dog and leopard.  Lake Kariba is a slightly softer safari destination, but what you might lose in game sightings you gain in vistas, fishing paradises, birding hot spots and ultra-relaxation, whether in a lodge on the lake shore or on one of the many houseboats available.  Great Zimbabwe and the Matobo Hills are cultural world heritage sites for good reason.  Great Zimbabwe contains the largest ancient city ruins south of the pyramids in Africa.  Matobo Hills is a mystical and natural rock kingdom that has been the meeting point of cultures for centuries and remains a spiritual, environmental and geological area of distinct significance.  Visit Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands and you won’t believe the change in scenery.  Alpine type landscapes exist in parts, whilst other areas are dominated by thick forests with tall canopies.  There are many hiking trails, lakes to trout fish in and there are even some really challenging golf courses to play on, the finest of these being Leopard Rock in the Vumba, although my personal favourite is still Troutbeck in Nyanga.  Talking of golf courses: Royal Harare, Chapman Harare, Elephant Hills Vic Falls and the course at Triangle in the loweveld are all MUST plays.  Back to the highlands – above all, the far reaching views among the fresh water streams, that stretch from the mountains across the lower lands are the most rewarding element.  Zimbabwe’s two main cities, Harare and Bulawayo offer up many activities too, ranging from great places to eat out, shopping malls to sample, traditional markets to explore, as well as specialist craft and curios centres, all of which are tasteful and un-contrived.

5. Great accommodation, great products and on top of this these are both conservation and community focused

To compliment the vast array of diverse and accessible landscapes are a multitude of world class venues from Hotels and resorts to boutique lodges and B&Bs.  The amount of investment going on in the accommodation sector is amazing.  There are at least seven new lodges in Hwange.  Major hotels in Harare are being planned and existing ones are being refurbished, some to the tune of millions of dollars.  In Victoria Falls, Gonarezhou, Matobo Hills, Mana Pools and Kariba it’s the same story.  And its not only accommodation that is getting attention.  There are new sunset cruise boats in Victoria Falls designed specifically with the modern traveller in mind, as well as new road networks in Gonarezhou.  Zimbabweans are mindful about the environment and this is why you will find a sustainable and green ethos being widely adopted.  One of our biggest resources is a our wildlife and how this relates to community.  That is why initiatives like Friends of Hwange, the Tashinga Initiative, the Malilangwe Trust and many many more are being driven on the ground by locals and get so much support regionally and internationally.  Clive Stockil recently won the Prince’s Passion Award, presented to him in London by Prince William.  He competed with the best in Africa to top the list.  What does that tell you about how seriously Zimbabweans are about conservation,community and sustainability?

6. Affordable

Zimbabwe is certainly not the world’s cheapest country to visit on holiday, but it’s by far not the most expensive either.  In fact, since we adopted the Unites States Dollar, it probably averages out somewhere in the middle.  There is space for all budgets here.  In Harare, for example, when you go out for a cappuccino you’ll probably pay USD$2.- and you’ll get a slice of cheesecake with that for an extra $4.-  You’ll pay $2-3.- for a 330ml beer of which there is a large variety of decent local and international lagers to choose from.  On average a main course at a restaurant will cost about $20.- And the places you’ll find to wine and dine in are plentiful and tastefully appointed, especially in Harare and Victoria Falls, although Bulawayo has some great spots too.  The average B&B rate for a night’s stay in a really good hotel or boutique guest house ranges from $150.- to $200.-  If you are staying in a lodge the packages are typically all inclusive of meals, local drinks and two activities per day and this will often cost you somewhere between $300.- and $400.- per person per night sharing for an upmarket experience.  Compare that with some of our neighboring countries.

7. Superb service

This goes hand in hand with the first point above.  Zimbabweans by nature are fantastic hosts.  You’ll almost invariably find that nothing is too much trouble for them.  Whether you are arriving at Harare International, catching a bus, bargaining at a craft market or climbing aboard a helicopter to fly above the falls that special smile is likely to greet you!

Check out our social media links below to follow the continuously unfolding story about Zimbabwe’s flowering tourism and don’t forget to put ‘holiday’ at the top of your list when you think Zimbabwe.

Twitter: @lukebrownzim, @vayenitravel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vayenitravel?fref=ts

LinkedIn: zw.linkedin.com/in/lukebrown/

Google+: www.gplus.to/vayeni

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/vayeni/


  • comment-avatar
    Charlie Cochrane 10 years ago

    The police and their ‘special smile’………..not the same one I experienced in 2000 when I was severely assaulted by police and then made to kneeldown, had a shotgun put in my face and was threatened with summary execution for carrying young MDC members to a demonstration in the city.
    NO Luke! You haven’t mentioned that just having a white skin can cost you your life in a racist country like zimbabwe or that taking a photograph can see you arrested or mentioning that mugabe has made a real mess of the place can see you imprisoned. …… candy coating it to attract people to a dangerous country is negligent and you should be damn well ashamed of yourself!
    No tourism without a new, non racist, egalitarian government, police force and people!!!

    • comment-avatar
      Maje Lije 10 years ago

      Charlie, how thing have changed, and after your very bad experience we’ve had HYPER-INFLATION to contend with …. but that’s all in the past and there is a very strong sense of optimism and brotherhood amongst us locals of all colours, creeds and genders, Yes there were some serious atrocities in the past and we all hope and pray that the present up beat situation continues and is here to stay.

  • comment-avatar
    chilimanzi 10 years ago

    .As long as zanu is in power i d rather be in diaspora independence gained me nothing i tred

  • comment-avatar
    chilimanzi 10 years ago

    .As long as zanu is in power i d rather be in diaspora independence gained me nothing i worked very hard lost my money in two banks to date i dont know what happened Gono even went to court so to make sure he did nothing wrong and what happened the court ruled in his its not worth visiting.

  • comment-avatar
    Peter tosh 10 years ago

    That’s what zpf does, destroying whats good and taking advantage of the good nature of Zimbabweans. Zim is rich but it’s in wrong hands of government. Mi nah go back deh.

  • comment-avatar
    Donal Mac Cormaic 10 years ago

    I disagree on point 6. The prices quoted for coffee US$2, and cake US$4, and meals US$20 and beer US$3 are not affordable but are expensive, especially considering the penury most Zimbabweans endure. The prices quoted for accommodation US$150-US$400 for B and B is ridiculous and highly overpriced. Zimbabwe: don’t you know that there is an economic recession in Europe since 2008? Slash your prices and tourists will return.

    • comment-avatar
      Boss MyAss 10 years ago

      EVEN IF THEY SLASH THE PRICES, TOURISTS WILL NOT RETURN BECAUSE:the condition of roads and traffic control devices continue to deteriorate, and repairs are taking longer, if they are made at all. These factors, along with the increased presence of improperly maintained vehicles, poor road quality and street lighting, and corrupt/ineffective traffic enforcement create an environment highly conducive to traffic accidents.If you add the power and water cuts, all these beggars on the roads, the high level of uncertainty and sense of insecurity, the lack of transportation, the corruption everywhere, do you REALLY consider this place attractive for tourists ?

  • comment-avatar
    mucha 10 years ago

    Luke Brown, thanx for putting Zimbabwe on the World Map. I hope that many skeptical Diasporas would appreciate the good side of Zimbabwe and stop the hullabaloo propaganda of destroying their own country in exchange for the so-called “political asylum” .

    • comment-avatar
      Diego Zhaba 10 years ago

      @ Mucha – please give us rest. We know what’s good and bad in Zimbabwe. We live here on daily basis and there is nothing spectacular on Brown’s article. In essence Luke Brown is misleading people in some sections of his article. He is singing glory of our airports yet some of them are in a very bad state.

      You can’t even get flight info on Harare Airport,and looking at the developments regionally Harare is more of domestic ariport than an International One, it’s far from that – It’s jst and accord given to it but is terms of astute it’s way way behind.

  • comment-avatar
    JakeM 10 years ago

    Very nice article Luke… I however remember the poor Farmer David Stephens who went to ask for help after being pursued by Mugabe’s thugs to the Murewa Police station. Those jelly spined police handed him over to the thugs be laid down and shot twice with His own shotgun…once in the face once in the chest just outside the fence while the Police looked on! Did you know this story before you came here ? Let alone then many other stories too terrible and not told ?

  • comment-avatar

    This naivity was actually penned by that notorious child rapist karikoga kaseke. Don’t try fool an old expert like me

  • comment-avatar

    I have not heard one positive thing from anybody that has visited zimbabwe.The cost of the fines by greedy unerpaid police that are before every town and after every town and sometimes in between 2 towns demanding 20 us dollars for every possible concocted infringement. speeding with no justification and no proof.not the correct stickers, loose batteries under bonnet (new vehicles included) etc etc.There is a bribe to be paid no matter what.If you have to pay all the fines how do pay for fuel $1.50 litre or your accommodation etc etc.

  • comment-avatar

    Actually we are going back to Zim for a holiday early next year. First time since 1999. We are certainly looking forward to the sights as mentioned above but I feel the writer is certainly using rose tinted spectacles above. We are part of a large party from all over but it is being planned and co-ordinated by one of our friends in Zim. This will provide the security, making the holiday relaxing and pleasant as holidays should be.
    If Zim wants tourists they need to ensure everything is in place around security and safe travel eg cops are not wanting back handers. That certainly happened to friends two years ago when stopped at a police road block.

    • comment-avatar
      chris 10 years ago

      We just came back from 20 days of holidays in zim.
      I travelled a lot in harare and around hthe country (3000 km) and paid 10$ of fine .
      I agree with the general comment : zim people are peacefull.
      Go evrerywhere, i have never feel unsecured.
      Look forward to visit again

  • comment-avatar
    Welshman 10 years ago

    Why is this website publishing such misleading drivel ?
    Hiring a car in Zim is exorbitant and you will be unlikely to pass through a police roadblock without being ripped off. Hotels ? have you tried a night at the Plumtree hotel ? You’d be better off sleeping in the car which you’ve paid so much to hire.

  • comment-avatar
    Boss MyAss 10 years ago


  • comment-avatar
    nyashanu 10 years ago

    Zimbabwe is very good but as long as bob and zanu are there please do not visit

  • comment-avatar

    I must say that after travelling frequently between SA and Zim by road in the last 2 years and the latest return trip being Monday 25th back to SA that I must disagree with your article. My wife and I have had several bad experiences at both the Border post as well as roadblocks The latest being bad enough to ensure that the business we have started in Zim will be closed and we will not return there again. The threats , bribery and corruption are just too much and as a visitor to the country where there is no protection for us as the organisation meant to provide protection is actually the one committing the acts, it has just become too much.

    I urge caution to all people considering travelling there… Be aware .

    • comment-avatar

      Having recently spent the worst 3 weeks holiday in zimbabwe I can only have pity on the zimbabwe people. From a tourist point of view zims has the most corrupt and thieving police force in the world.I did not feel at all comfortable with their persistent intimidation and threatening attitude to every south african I saw up their.We were fined $20 US at nearly every roadblock(and there are plenty on the main routes)The worst was when we were pulled over by 4 ZRP BABOONS in harare and fined $200 US (over R2200) for not stopping at a zebra crossing.We reported this at a harare police station and the response was very layed back as if all of these excuses for human beings were in it together.It is very clear that the election was stolen as stealing from people by zanu pf and the “goon” police force is mandatory.Food and most things are approx 3 times more expensive than SA so the so called private sector is in on it aswell.It is my intention to alert every forum magazine of this most pathetic country in africa.I heard the odd rumour etc about this police state but never imagined I would be treated like this as an african tourist.All I hope for is for every policeman that stole my money will be cursed for the rest of his life for ruining a hard earned holiday.South Africans take plenty of cash to pay these zim police force vultures.They will find something to fine you with and if you argue they accuse you of threatening them.

  • comment-avatar

    Zimbabwe is seen as a racist violent anti-white state by the rest of the world – none of us will come there until Mugabe is publically executed