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How To Plan a Successful Trip To Zimbabwe On a Budget!

Vacation in Zimbabwe.

In this first blog of my Zimbabwe series, I will show you how to plan a successful trip to Zimbabwe on a budget using my experience.


Black woman travelling
At Robert Mugabe International Airport

Introduction

Zimbabwe is fast becoming one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in the world. So, if you're contemplating your next adventure, Zimbabwe should be on your bucket list.


Now more than ever, travelling has become possible and more affordable. For most, all that is needed are the desire to travel and good planning. And if you're thinking, 'My job does not pay me enough,' you are not alone. That's how I felt before I decided to buy my ticket to Zimbabwe.


How To Plan A Successful Trip To Zimbabwe On A Budget

The Steps

1. Decisions Decisions

First things first, before you can do anything, decide if you're ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Because a trip to Zimbabwe is exactly what it is - an adventure.


Whenever I pick a holiday destination, I consider factors such as the kind of experience I'm seeking, my budget, the level of safety in that country, and the weather, among other things.


Zimbabwe is one of the safest and most peaceful countries in Africa, and the locals are friendly and welcoming.



My December trip to Zimbabwe was long overdue, so the decision had already been made. More so because I regard December to be the best time to visit Zimbabwe. Besides being the festive season, December is also the mango season, and I am really into mangoes. I also get to partake in fresh maize, mazhanje, masawu and so on.


Woman in Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls, One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World - View from Zimbabwe.

If you're planning on seeing the mighty Victoria Falls, one of the world's seven natural wonders (I know you most certainly are), and thoroughly enjoy the experience, then you need to decide when you want to go because Victoria Falls flows is at its maximum volume during certain months. But regardless of when you choose to go, the mighty Smoke That Thunders is always breathtaking. You are guaranteed some spectacular scenes that will remain on your lips for years to come.



This trip back to the Motherland would be my first time seeing Victoria Falls, so I knew I needed to budget carefully.





British passport
Passport

Travel Requirements

Passport

Most countries require a passport valid for at least six months, depending on your nationality. Also, depending on your circumstances, you may need a visa, vaccinations, and travel insurance. So, to avoid any glitches and for peace of mind, check with the Zimbabwean Embassy for guidance, as requirements may change occasionally.


Book in Advance

Once I decided to go to Zimbabwe, I saved and booked my ticket well in advance. It is always wise to book your flight in advance, especially if you intend on travelling during peak season.

Occasionally, you may get a last-minute deal, but that is not always guaranteed.


If you're strapped for cash, you can use certain reputable agencies that will allow you to pay for your trip in instalments. Or you can compare prices online and secure the booking.

 

Securing my ticket months in advance was the best decision I ever made because when I checked the cost of flights to Zimbabwe nearer my travel date (out of curiosity), the prices had doubled. Therefore, it is always worth purchasing your ticket early if you are on a strict budget.


Furthermore, when you buy your ticket early, it is worth purchasing a flexible ticket, which allows you to alter your travel dates as plans may change due to unforeseen circumstances.


Accommodation

The accommodation in Zimbabwe ranges from Air BnBs to Five Star hotels. Also, book early. If you're going to Zimbabwe, you can find good deals using sites such as booking.com, trip advisor and hotels.com. You can get decent accommodation for 50 dollars a night.



woman looking at sculpture
Looking at the Sculpture Outside Bronte Hotel

Your choice of accommodation does not have to be set in stone at the time of your booking. These reputable sights allow you to make a reservation with the option to cancel for free forty-eight hours before your arrival date in case you change your mind or cancel your plans.


If you're not a planner, you can always book your accommodation on the spot when you get to Zimbabwe. But since we're talking strict budget, your best bet is to book in advance.


black woman walking by the pool
Surveying the Grounds At Bronte Hotel in Harare

To choose my accommodation, I always consider location, location, location. I want to know how convenient the location is. For example, does it have easy access to the town centre, the market and all the places I want to explore? Is there transport nearby, and everything that would make my stay as comfortable as possible?

All the places I stayed in Zimbabwe had all my essentials which included a pool, restaurants, and entertainment.




Budget Money to spend

On Food

Zimbabwe uses the US Dollar and the local currency, RTGS. Before you set out on your journey to Zimbabwe, do a little digging and find out the average cost of food and how much money you will need to spend in a day and then add a little extra to that amount. This is because you do not want to restrict yourself too much, especially on holiday.


burger in a restaurant
Enjoying a burger at a restaurant in Victoria Falls

For example, if the amount of money you will need for food in a day is 30 dollars, add another ten extra or five and multiply by the number of days you will stay in Zimbabwe. This gives you a little buffer because you may want to indulge in some of the local delicacies that you are guaranteed to come across while vacationing in Zimbabwe.


Some people, especially in some street markets, may not have change, so I'd advise taking smaller denominations (one-dollar notes, five-dollar notes).



However, you can still use your international Visa or Master cards for a small charge.


Remember, you do not always have to wine and dine or eat out. You can buy food from the local supermarket to keep in your room.


Excursions


Feeding elephant At Victoria Falls
Feeding the elephant

As this would be my first time to visit Mosi-a-Tunya (The Smoke That Thunders), otherwise known as Victoria Falls, I had to do some research online. By visiting Trip Advisor and other sites, where you also get to secure early deals with the option to cancel 48 hours before the tour date, I learned that there were many activities to do in Victoria Falls - from half-day to full-day trips. So, you can pick your activities depending on your interests, time constraints and budget. And there is something for everyone.


Games drive, Victoria Falls
Buffalo - Games Drive, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

I'd advise you to go for block bookings, i.e. choosing full-day tours that take you to more than one place of interest. It's a more convenient way of exploring Zimbabwe and saving time.


Examples of full-day tours in Zimbabwe include the Victoria Falls Full Day Tour, which ends with the crescendo Boma Dinner and Drum Show, The Zambezi River Sunset Cruise and the Game Drives, where the expert guides will take you on a ride to remember.


If you're lucky, during your Games Drives, you will get to see all the BIG Five. Sadly, Mr Lion wasn't in the mood to be seen when I visited!


Woman on a boat
Zambezi River Sunset Cruise

NB: If you are travelling for the first time in Zimbabwe, I recommend planning your tours and booking the ones you feel confident you want to go on before leaving your destination to avoid panic booking later. Also, consider leaving a day or two open for spontaneous activities, some of which may be for free. This also gives you room to be flexible and to breathe as you enjoy the vacation without feeling tied down by rigid planning. You are on holiday, after all.


Transport

You will need transportation to get around. In Bulawayo, a taxi or Uber costs $3 and a little more for longer trips. You can opt to travel by bus, and there are plenty to choose from. My bus trip from Harare to Victoria Falls cost 30 dollars. But for convenience, I'd advise flying, which will cost a little more.



Packing

Depending on the season or weather conditions, find out what kind of clothes and shoes you will need for your vacation and have one set for each day. Comfort should be your top priority, especially if you intend to go sightseeing. In addition, some places require a specific dress code for the evenings during dinner and other special events.


A Black woman
Cresta Sprayview Hotel Reception, Zimbabwe

For me, packing light is still a challenge as I tend to overpack every time. Perhaps it's because I like to have options. However, the most important thing to note is that the weather in Zimbabwe is predictable. Therefore, if you're going in summer, then pack summer clothes because summer is what you will get.


Rule of thumb: Pack light, go for comfort and only have the basics. You are on vacation for the experience, after all.


Communication

What makes a holiday more fun and relaxing is being able to communicate and share your experiences with your loved ones back home. So, pick a hotel that offers free WiFi.


There was free WiFi in all hotels I stayed in in Zimbabwe, including many other public places in and around different towns.


Another option in Zimbabwe is to buy a local SIM card to make phone calls to avoid roaming charges.




Research

It is always prudent to understand the place you're visiting. Do a little digging before you set out on your journey to Zimbabwe. Educate yourself about the people's culture and what might be expected of you.


Zimbabwe Traditional dancers in Victoria falls
Traditional Dancers at Victoria Falls

For example, do they have a strict dress code? Some countries do. The last thing you want is to insult other people's cultures. Zimbabwe has no strict dress code, but a modest dress code is often encouraged.



Lastly, prepare your heart and mind. Always visit a new place with an open heart and mind. If you are travelling to Zimbabwe for the first time, the people you will meet in Zimbabwe are most likely to be different from you. They will talk and do things differently. But I can assure you that they will give you the warmest welcome. Furthermore, take the time you spend in Zimbabwe as an opportune time to expand your horizon and grow as you experience a different culture and see life from a different perspective.


black woman
Me

I wish you a pleasant journey to Zimbabwe! Feel free to leave your thoughts.


Click here to watch my Zimbabwe Vlog Playlist.








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