Few airlines fly directly to Zimbabwe. Most people fly to Johannesburg and from there connect to Harare, Victoria Falls or Bulawayo on the same day. Most tourists fly to Victoria Falls Airport (VFA), located 11mi south of the town of Victoria Falls and continue from there by vehicle or charter planes. Hwange, Zimbabwe’s most popular park, is situated within driving distance of Victoria Falls. However you choose to travel, in most cases your local tour operator will arrange pick-up from the airport and further transportation as part of your safari package.
Zimbabwe enjoys a lovely temperate climate. The central Highveld plateau has temperatures coming up to 82°F. Lower-lying parks like Hwange and Zambezi NP are warmer year-round and temperatures can reach 31°C/88°F. Mana Pools, Matusadona, and Gonarezou are even lower and get hot, with temperatures soaring to 95°F. The Eastern highlands are much colder and receive significantly more rain.
During the wet season, from November to March, rains usually fall in heavy afternoon showers, but they can sometimes be lighter and continuous for a couple of days. The dry season, from April to October, is pretty much rain free and colder. Nights and mornings can be as cold as 41°F to freezing, but daytime temperatures are still pleasant with a great deal of sunshine. Zimbabwe experiences winter and summer in opposite times as Europe and North America and they correspond to the dry and wet season.
April to October – Dry Season – Winter
- Vegetation is less and animals concentrate around waterholes and rivers, making wildlife easier to spot.
- Virtually no rain, clear blue skies and lots of sunshine. There are fewer mosquitoes.
- Although it is high season, the parks won’t be crowded, except for Victoria Falls.
- Victoria Falls is most spectacular from June through September when the water is mid-to-low and the spray doesn’t block the view to the falls.
- October can get very hot in the low-lying areas, with temperatures well above 32°C/90°F.
- It gets cold at night and in the mornings. It’s recommended to pack warm winter clothing for morning game drives in open vehicles during the months of June, July and August.
- From March to May the flow of the Zambezi river is at its peak, but the massive clouds of spray will block the view to Victoria Falls.
November to March – Wet Season – Summer
- The scenery is greener and it’s low season, resulting in lower rates.
- Many animals give birth in the wet season, so this is the best time to see newborn animals.
- Birdwatching is at its best, many birds are in their breeding plumage and migratory birds are present.
- Rains are mostly short afternoon showers and seldom have a negative impact on your safari. However, rains can be continuous for days.
- Game viewing is more difficult since there is more vegetation and animals no longer rely on water holes.
- The humidity combined with the higher temperatures in the low-lying parks can make it feel uncomfortably hot.
- From October to December the flow of the Zambezi river is at its lowest and Victoria Falls might just be a trickle.
Health & Safety
Zimbabwe is a safe country to visit, in general. All the more so if your visit is primarily an organized safari. Zimbabwe’s political-economical situation is volatile but has slightly improved in the last years. This situation, however, rarely affects tourists. As with many third-world countries, theft and muggings are relatively common. Most incidents are in cities, Harare in particular. Walking about the city alone and driving at night is not recommended. An overnight stay at a reputable hotel or an organized visit to one of the attractions in or around the city should be fine.
High risk throughout most of the country, including Victoria Falls and Hwange NP. The highest risk of transition is in the rainy season from October to May. See websites below for more detailed advice.
Vaccinations are recommended, see the websites before for more detailed immunization advice.
Australia – www.travelclinic.com.au
Canada – www.iamat.org – Vaccinations / Malaria
Ireland – www.tmb.ie
New Zealand – www.iamat.org – Vaccinations / Malaria
United Kingdom – www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk
United States – wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel