HitchHikers Guide to Zimbabwe

10:30 am


I entered Zimbabwe from Botswana through the Plumtree border gate.
I have spent 2 weeks in the township of Nkulumane, Bulawayo then I spent a week in Vic Falls being a professional groovist.
Few points I'd like to share with budget travelers regarding Zimbabwe. No particular order of importance.

1. Zimbabwe does not have their own currency at the moment, they accept the US Dollar, South African Rand and the Botswana Pula.
The Dollar is most commonly used and the coins are South African Rands. They round off the Dollar to R10 a Dollar regardless the rate of exchange. If you catch a taxi to town for R5 and you pay with a Dollar you will get R5 change, whether a Dollar is R12. I'm not good with this money talk so I hope this made sense.

2. The streets of Bulawayo are just one big giant pothole. You are better off driving on the side of the road. From what the locals say, Harare roads are no different. 
Vic Falls roads are beautiful.

3. This relates to #2: Should you ever decide to use a taxi, do so at own risk. DO NOT sit in the front seat no matter what. The drivers drive at such fast speed and they also trying to maneuver around the potholes. I was clutching my heart and saying a prayer at the same time. I got to a point where I never left the township anymore because I was all prayed out and kept imagining God rolling his eyes at my prayer for safety.
And some taxis have seen better days. Jesus will not be the airbag in that taxi should anything happen. So use taxis at own risk.

3. Cellphone networks in Zimbabwe DO NOT have prepaid data bundles for cellphones. This still doesn't make sense to me. I used EcoNet while there which a friend bought me a sim card then I bought a Whatsapp bundle. Which is just $3 airtime and converting it. Twitter was free so that was great. It's a bit pricey buying $1 airtime every time especially when it only converts to 10MB.

4. I found Zimbabwe to be very safe to walk the streets day or night. But I'm not saying go wander the streets after dark. Like any good traveler, after dark take a cab.

5. Zimbabwean men in Bulawayo do not appreciate women in shorts or mini skirts. Be on the safe side and cover your knees as well. Jeans are good. There was an incident while I was there where a young lady was physically harassed by the men for wearing a mini skirt. You can wear short items, just make sure you are not using public transport. Not all men are barbaric and will harass you for how you decide to dress.

6. Victoria falls is a 5hour bus ride from Bulawayo. This bus stops every 20-50km because someone is getting off or getting on. Bring your own lunch as it doesn't stop for a bathroom break. If you have a pea-size bladder like myself, limit your liquid intake to 0.

7. Victoria falls is a tourist destination. EVERYTHING is overpriced.

8. In Zimbabwe most of the local chain restaurants are fried chicken joints. If you are a picky eater like myself and you are in need of a meal in Bulawayo, go to a hotel.

9. Tap water in MOST of Zimbabwe is safe for drinking. Please note that I am saying MOST OF ZIMBABWE. Bulawayo and Vic Falls is all good.

10. If you are a smoker and like polluting your lungs for whatever reason you tell yourself, Zimbabwe sells their own brand of cigarettes. You'd be lucky to find a packet of Dunhill but it's mostly local brand everywhere you go.

11. During my stay in Zimbabwe police were everywhere. This was great as it is the festive season and some people tend to not think out of excitement. Road blocks were everywhere. The thing about Zimbabwean roadblocks is you don't imagine they could be there, the cops don't have cars. They have traffic cones or big steel drums to close off the road and they carry big guns. You have no opportunity to act a fool because you never know where the next road block is, it could be 2kilometers down the road or 10kilometers or there won't be one.
I confirmed that the police visibility was due to festive season as the cops where everywhere you turned in Vic Falls but after the 2nd January when the Vic Falls streets had cleared, they were nowhere to be seen. Appreciated their presence every time.

12. Most importantly: The people of Zimbabwe are beautiful. Don't believe everything you read or heard about Zimbabwe. Majority of it is not true.

13. From me, only one piece of advise to you about Zimbabwe - #VisitZimbabwe


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