How are things at street level?
The situation on the ground in Zim has changed little since my original 2013 posting. The American Dollar is still the favoured currency on the street and the original Zim currency has been replaced with Bond notes linked to the US Dollar. The shops are still full of goods, people are still smiling and the sun is still shining! The irrepressible entrepreneurial nature of the local people has led to an increase in the number of street traders setting up on the pavement but there is no hassling or pressurised sales patter if you just want to look and some of their presentational techniques, particularly in the case of fruit and veg, could teach our supermarket display teams a thing or two!
Out of pocket spending.
It is not always easy to draw cash money out so be prepared to carry enough cash with you to cover anticipated out of pocket expenses. Major businesses such as Hotels, Filling Stations and Tour Operators will probably all be able to take credit cards so check with your providers before you go that your particular cards will function in Zimbabwe.
What kind of facilities can I expect?
The tourism part of my trip (the first part, up to and including Hwange), for which I was one of the drivers, involved a mixed tour group of 12 adults and children ranging in age from 9 years old to 74 years young. Other than in the remotest locations facilities have improved greatly to cater for all age groups and many disabilities. We all enjoyed a wonderful trip without any of those "best forgotten moments" that recently seem to have spawned their own range of TV "Fly on the wall" disaster programmes. Locations such as Victoria Falls are rapidly becoming "up there with the best of them" facilty-wise. Due to the rocky nature of some sites and sheer "out of the way-ness" of some of the lodges, access for wheelchairs and those with ambulatory problems can occasionally be somewhat problematic. However I am happy to advise on a case by case basis so please feel free to contact me if you are concerned.
Do I have to travel with a group?
The Company I was travelling with, and working for, has a comprehensive range of tour opportunities by land, air and cruiseboat, (of which they have several operating on Lake Kariba), on offer, and I would be delighted to forward itinerary details or advise on suitable trips for anyone so interested. Just let me know your sphere of interest and, based on my experience of a great many trips to the area, I will happily advise you which trips might best suit your needs or, indeed, answer any other questions that you may have.
Internal Travel Options.
Internal travel options are changing constantly and a number of light aircraft operators now offer an alternative to some of the previously lengthy and arduous road journeys. The availability of this form of internal travel seems to be on the increase as many lodges, game reserves, and places of interest are clearing and/or resurrecting their own airstrips, thus allowing you to fly directly in to your chosen stop-off.
What about the political situation?
Whilst news of political jockeying still seems to occasionally excite the media there was little or no obvious ill effect of it at normal street level and it had no apparent influence on our thorough enjoyment of the Tour through what is rapidly becoming one of those "must go to" Real Africa destinations.
Will there be anyone watching over me?
All tours, whether private or part of a group, will be accompanied by a fully qualified Guide who is responsible for your well being. (In Zimbabwe this is a much sought after position so you should be in good hands). On this subject the news gets even better!!! - as I have arranged to accompany many of the Tours on offer as a host, so please feel free to pick my brains, and establish a connection prior to your trip, via the "Contact" page on this website.
Medical advice and "things" to take with you.
I am in no way qualified to offer medical advice but am happy to pass on my own Modus operandi. This is best, and comprehensively covered, by two chapters in my Book - Wildlife Photography on a Budget. For those of you who have the Book please refer to Chapters 8 - Foreseeing the foreseeable, and 26 - Photographing on Safari. Order your copy here>
For others my quickie advice is to check the current situation with your doctor's surgery or a travel clinic before you go. Obviously the health situation is ever changing, whatever part of the world you travel to, and so it is important to obtain up to the minute advice. Your Tour Operators will be able to offer some advice but don't leave it to the last minute. Malaria is a common problem in more than one country and continent and Africa is one of these. Some courses of Malaria prevention start sometime before your trip so find out what the current best advice is well before you go. For what it is worth neither I, nor, to the best of my knowledge, anyone I have travelled with to Zimbabwe, has contracted Malaria. We have all, however, taken sensible precautions and, as far as possible, tried to prevent being bitten in the first place - which is the best and easiest "cure". If you are on regular medication take enough with you for the duration of the trip, and some extra to cover you for any unforeseen return delays.