From thrilling game drives and walking safaris accompanied by world-class guides to scenic rivers, national treasures, and a myriad of species, your Zimbabwe adventure can be as versatile as you want it to be!
How would it feel to be just meters away from some of the world-famous African predators? What if you could enjoy stunning rainbow views at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s watery paradise?
How about bird watching with fellow travelers? If the answer to all three questions is a resounding yes, all that’s left for you is to determine when to pack your things and head to Zimbabwe.
However, this is when things get tricky for many, as they struggle to determine when the best time to visit Zimbabwe is.
We help you with these burning questions and so much more in our detailed guide, so make sure to stick to the end. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Why You Should Visit Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is home to a myriad of stunning sites. From national parks to the powerful Victoria Falls, this land-locked country never fails to amaze travelers. And there’s a plethora of reasons to visit this African gem right away!
Here are some of the most relevant ones to inspire you:
- Memorable national parks. Running zebras, relaxed elephants, powerful lions, and stunning cheetahs. No, this isn’t Discovery Channel — you can see such spectacular animal views with your very own eyes in one of the country’s most famous national parks, such as Hwange National Park or Gonarezhou National Park.
- Well-educated guides. Zimbabwe is said to have one of the most knowledgeable guides on the continent. These people undergo rigorous training before they’re allowed to guide travelers. This means you can feel safe in their presence, learn a lot about a vast number of species, and get insights into history-related matters.
- Historical heritage. History buffs may appreciate the guides’ insights, but they won’t have the whole picture unless they visit specific historical sites on their terms. A must-see archeological site is the Khami Ruins. Situated west of the Khami River, the ruins used to be a major center for trade.
- Stunning nature. Many travelers visit Zimbabwe to enjoy its vibrant nature. Given its breathtaking savannas and highlands, as well as the world-renowned Victoria Falls, the country boasts its beauty with pride. And rightfully so — just head to the Eastern Highlands and get ready for the scenery to take your breath away. The Matobo National Park is also underrated, where various erosion processes have led to mesmerizing formations.
- Recreational activities. Zimbabwe is more than just wildlife viewing or looking for the next safari experience. Travelers can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, such as sailing, when visiting Lake Kariba — the largest man-made lake in the entire world!
- Welcoming locals. Do you know Zimbabweans are some of the friendliest African people? They’re welcoming to travelers and want to help visitors have an unforgettable stay in their country. Who knows? You might even make a friend or two during your stay!
All in all, a holiday in Zimbabwe allows you to combine safari adventures, nature views, and historical findings. There’s never a dull moment.
Overall Best Time to Visit Zimbabwe
We believe the best time to visit Zimbabwe is during the country’s dry season, which lasts from April to October.
In May, the capital city, Harare, sees temperatures fluctuating between 51.1°F and 74.7°F. Rates are already higher, so make sure to book your stay well in advance. Also, wildlife viewing conditions slowly become better during the month.
Still a pleasant month, June has temperatures ranging between 71.4°F and 47.8°F. The month has the shortest days of the whole year. July has agreeable weather, with temperatures varying between 46.9°F and 71.2°F.
That said, while the temperatures may be agreeable, this is also the coldest month. July also marks the beginning of Zimbabwe’s peak season — dry conditions perfect for top-notch animal viewing. The month is ideal for canoe safari too.
In August, the temperatures are in the range of 50.5°F and 77.9°F, whereas going in September means preparing for temperatures that fluctuate between 83.8°F and 55.2°F.
August and September are the two months with the least rainfall, hence the dry season. Want to go rhino-tracking in Matobo Hills? See large elephant herds in the Hwange National Park? This is the time to plan it.
Also, in September, the annual game count in Hwange attracts both locals and travelers alike, so it’s perfect for visitors not only to enjoy a one-of-a-kind Zimbabwe experience but also to interact with Hwange rangers.
In October, the temperatures vary between 86.9°F and 60.4°F. To avoid the intense heat, plan game viewing in the early morning or late afternoon. Trekking enthusiasts should consider Nyanga National Park.
On the whole, the dry season is great not only because of the not-so-extreme weather conditions but also because of the possibility of a relatively malaria-free stay.
Cheapest Time to Visit Zimbabwe
The cheapest time to plan your Zimbabwe journey is in April. A moderately hot month, April sees temperatures in the range of an average high of 75.9°F during the day and an average low of 55.4°F at night.
The relative humidity is around 73%. It’s also the month with the least sunny days in Harare. But it’s also the month when the landscape is greener than usual as the rainy season comes to an end.
Most lodges and campsites start reopening, and it feels like the entire country is waking up from a deep “wet season” sleep. As this is the last month to see the migratory birds, we suggest this as the prime April activity.
Those keen to explore some of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites can also visit the Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe’s oldest national park. The Mana Pools National Park also reopens in April.
If you want magnificent views accompanied by secluded nature and an iconic safari thrill, this park is for you. Those who go to Victoria Falls in April are in for a treat.
The surging waters bring about spray and mist — in other words, there’s a good chance you’ll see some stunning rainbows if you go this time of the year. What’s more, to visit Zimbabwe on a budget, plan an affordable safari experience as well.
For starters, stick to fewer destinations instead of trying to fit as many areas as you can into your journey. Also, if you wish to join different tours, book with one company — you’ll get more attractive package deals and/or discounts.
Adding extra nights to your trip can prove to be a good value for money — many lodges have a “pay for five nights, stay six” or “pay for seven nights, stay eight” kind of policies.
All in all, keep your eyes peeled for special offers both before your departure and once you have arrived!
Least Busy Time to Visit Zimbabwe
The least busy time to go to Zimbabwe is in November, and this is probably due to this month’s unpredictable weather.
Although it’s still spring, if the rain begins “when scheduled,” it gets very wet; if “late,” the month shocks visitors with fierce heat and dryness. In a nutshell, in one month, there are two uncomfortable climate scenarios.
But not everything is lost if you go in November. In fact, going in the least busy month allows you to engage in birdwatching, as a plethora of birds migrate with the upcoming rain.
There are also many knowledgeable guides with valuable insights, and the fact the country’s so quiet this period gives you enough time for extensive one-on-one interaction with them (not to mention you get to explore nature and experience superb game viewing without the crowds).
Travelers wanting to slightly “urbanize” their Zimbabwe itinerary can visit Bulawayo and explore its nearby areas. Being the last spring month, November welcomes travelers with temperatures varying between 62.6°F and 84°F.
Worst Time to Visit Zimbabwe
As a year-round destination, Zimbabwe is always a great idea, but most travelers aren’t up for the challenges that come with the wet season.
This runs from November to March in the country, we suggest that you avoid visiting in that period. December, the first summer month, has average temperatures fluctuating between 80.6°F and 63.3°F.
A vast number of lodges and parks may be closed, but visitors can enjoy bird watching, as migratory birds arrive in large numbers. Also, visiting Harare is highly recommended.
Heading to Victoria Falls at this time of the year isn’t the best idea, as the falls resemble a trickle. Being the wettest month in the entire year, January sees temperatures ranging between 61.9°F and 78.4°F.
In February, the temperatures range between 60.6F and 77.9°F. With 81%, February It’s also the most humid month in Harare. With all the rain these months and dense greenery, wildlife viewing is tough, however, safari is still possible.
That said, note that many tracks may be waterlogged, so moving around might be somewhat challenging. If you wish to visit Victoria Falls during this period, opt for a helicopter ride to fully experience this iconic landmark.
Otherwise, the spray and mist present at that time as a result of the water levels might obscure the view. A relatively warm month, March has temperatures fluctuating between 77.9°F and 59°F.
The rain begins drying up a bit, although March is still officially part of the country’s wet season, so the same horrendous weather conditions apply.
Things to Consider
Your Zimbabwe escapade will be an out-of-this-world experience, but you do need to prepare.
Here are some things all travelers should take into account before visiting Zimbabwe:
- Don’t walk alone at night. Keep your accommodation locked at all times. Stay away from political protests and large crowds when you aren’t sure what’s going on. Don’t carry easily-snatchable bags. Avoid swimming in lakes/rivers — the risk of waterborne disease is much higher than people realize (not to mention the risk of getting attacked by wildlife).
- Ensure your accommodation is insect-proof. Take anti-malaria medicine and use insect-repellent.
- Make sure all your vaccinations are up to date.
- For an enjoyable safari experience, pack comfortable footwear, long-sleeved shirts to protect you from the heat and mosquitos, and jackets for early morning drives (or late afternoons). Stick to clothes in natural, khaki, or beige colors.
- Try to avoid any actions that may put you in a situation that requires medical assistance, as the infrastructure of most medical facilities is unfortunately poor, and health services may be limited in some areas. For example, avoid undercooked or raw food.
- Tour providers don’t quite follow all the necessary safety protocols. This matters if you engage in activities such as bungee jumping or other types of adventurous recreation. If an operator isn’t registered, adequate safety gear isn’t to be found, and you aren’t sure if your travel policy covers such activities, look for another provider or simply forget about it altogether.
- Approach road travel in Zimbabwe with extra caution. Traffic lights are often out of action, which means drivers need to navigate road crossings on their own. Many roads are poorly maintained, badly marked, and unlit. Also, floods may make roads inaccessible.
- If you’re bringing any medicine in Zimbabwe, check whether it’s legal first. If it is, take enough to last you through your trip.
- Get acquainted with local laws. For instance, same-sex sexual activities are prohibited and may result in penalties. Also, taking photos of the President’s premises, military buildings, and airports is considered illegal.
- If you go during the rainy season, note that flooding can occur. If you find yourself in such a natural disaster episode, double-check if your passport is in a waterproof place. Monitor media announcements and follow local advice. Sign up at the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System website and receive notifications.
- Don’t forget to get travel insurance!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are 5 interesting things about Zimbabwe?
Here are five interesting facts about Zimbabwe:
- Zimbabwe is a landlocked country. Its neighboring countries feature Namibia, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, and Botswana.
- Zimbabwe holds the Guinness World Record for being a country with the most official languages. Here are Zimbabwe’s 16 official languages: Chewa, Chibarwe, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, English, Kalanga, Khoisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, and Xhosa.
- The country is home to the following five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Khami, Matobo Hills, Great Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls, and Mana Pools.
- Zimbabwe is Africa’s top tobacco producer and one of the top ten producers in the entire world.
- Zimbabwe is one of the last African countries to gain independence. It wasn’t until April 1980 that the country gained its independence from the UK, which makes Zimbabwe a relatively young nation.
Is Zimbabwe safe for a holiday?
On the whole, Zimbabwe is a moderately safe holiday destination. That said, exercising a high degree of caution is always advisable.
Here are some situations which require you to do so:
- Crime typically includes pickpocketing, mugging, jewelry theft, armed robberies, as well as smash-and-grab vehicle robberies.
- Invasions of commercial farms are at times followed by threats and violence. Make sure to look after yourself when visiting local farms as a nice experience can turn into an unpleasant one in a matter of seconds.
- People may be attacked by security forces when they don’t follow road protocol. For instance, if the President’s motorcade is on the road, you mustn’t continue driving. Doing so is seen as an offense. Double-check police signals and road requirements to ensure absolute safety when you find yourself on any Zimbabwean road.
- Pay attention to the ongoing political situation. Many demonstrations or protests can quickly turn violent or have an unpredictable turn of events. Avoid engaging in any political activity or events that may put you in danger. Even seemingly small comments, such as bad remarks about the president, can be considered an offense.
- While there haven’t been any recent terrorist events in Zimbabwe, such attacks can never be fully ruled out.
Is Zimbabwe cheap or expensive?
This answer is entirely subjective, as it depends on your country of origin. However, to help you get a general idea of how much it costs to live in Zimbabwe, consider this: on average, the cost of living in Zimbabwe is 44.9% lower than in the US.
This makes Zimbabwe an affordable country for most travelers around the world. Your expenses will also largely depend on your travel style. However, below we’ll share some estimates to help you plan accordingly.
The average price of a three-day weekend getaway in Harare costs:
- $1077 for a solo traveler;
- $1831 for a couple;
- $2370 for a family of four.
Hotel prices range between $168–$420, while Airbnb costs $53 for a whole apartment. You should plan $61 per person per day for going to restaurants and paying for transportation.
Finally, keep in mind that the above-mentioned figures are simply approximations and, as such, are subject to change.
How many days should I spend in Zimbabwe?
This is a tough question, as it depends on your budget, travel expectations, and in general, the kind of trip you want. For instance, do you hope to visit Victoria Falls, embark on a safari adventure, and perhaps even visit some Zimbabwe towns?
If yes, we suggest that you stay for at least 10 days. If you have less time (say a week or less), stick to one shorter safari, spend time in nature, and see Victoria Falls.
What kind of food do they eat in Zimbabwe?
As one of the most special African cuisines, Zimbabwean food astounds with exotic meat, fresh ingredients, and indigenous recipes.
What makes this cuisine so special is that Zimbabweans are highly resourceful and imaginative when it comes to food — they can create mouth-watering dishes, even from the most basic of ingredients.
Here are some of the most popular foods we recommend trying during your stay:
- Sadza, usually consumed with a wide range of relishes or stews;
- Bota, accompanied by margarine, peanut butter, sugar, and salt (some recipe versions even include fresh cream);
- Umxhanxa, a seasonal dish combining yellow watermelon and sun-dried maze;
- Mutakura, a mix of maize, peanuts, and beans dish;
- Hohwa, wild African mushrooms;
- Matumbu, which may feature kidney, liver, intestines, and tripe;
- Nhopi, an interesting pumpkin pudding;
- Madora, edible Mopane worms (only for the bravest, we dare assume!).
What are Zimbabwean traditional beverages?
Here are some Zimbabwean traditional beverages worth trying:
- Maheu, a refreshing non-alcoholic drink;
- Masese, African beer;
- Umumbu, roasted maze;
- Mukuyu wine.
Does Zimbabwe have clean drinking water?
In some Zimbabwe areas, you can drink the water; in others, not so much. For instance, tap water is more or less safe in low-density suburbs in cities such as Bulawayo or Harare. Hotels also provide guests with clear water.
That said, just to be on the safe side and eliminate any potential worries, you can always opt for bottled water during your stay instead.
What are the environmental disasters in Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe experiences numerous environmental disasters such as floods, storms, droughts, cyclones, and landslides, which often translate into health epidemics.
Namely, in the 1900-2017 period, the country endured: seven droughts, 22 epidemics, 12 floods, and five storms, all of which led to the deaths of approximately 7,000 individuals and more than 20 million affected.
Do most Zimbabweans speak English?
Yes. Most Zimbabweans have a solid command of the English language. What’s more, many people are surprised when they learn standard English is the country’s primary language used in media, government, commerce, and education contexts.
How do people get around Zimbabwe Africa?
Besides driving their own cars, people use public transport services in Zimbabwe. That said, it’s worth noting they’re highly unreliable and at times unsafe.
For example, so-called commuter omnibuses are frequently overcrowded, poorly kept, and, the worst part — recklessly driven. Taxis should be fine as long as you book them via your hotel or any other accommodation.
Zimbabwe’s rail system isn’t the best option either. Not only are trains poorly maintained, but also level crossings aren’t marked the way they should be. This often leads to fatal accidents.
To check the latest information regarding passenger services, check the National Railways of Zimbabwe. Boat travel is responsible for a fair share of accidents as well. If you have to use boats or ferries, make sure these are providers with a respectable reputation.
So, When Should You Travel to Zimbabwe?
- The overall best time to visit Zimbabwe is during the dry season, that is, anytime from April to October. This is when you can enjoy recreational activities and diverse landscapes without fearing sudden showers. It’s also when you may have to pay the most, as it’s the peak season.
- If you want to show your money you’re in charge, consider visiting in April. It’s a month with attractive airfare deals, and it’s your last chance to enjoy the migratory birds. It’s also the month with the least sunny days, so factor this in alongside your money criteria before you go.
- Travelers who wish to avoid large crowds and have Zimbabwe’s nature to themselves should go in November. That said, having Zimbabwe all to yourself comes at a price — highly unpredictable weather.
- Finally, the worst time to visit Zimbabwe is during the country’s wet season, that is, in the November–March period. Many parks or campsites are closed, and roads may be inaccessible due to mud or high water levels.
On the whole, regardless of when you visit Zimbabwe, chances are you’ll have some trouble with the weather, either because the season will be too dry or too wet.
While both come with a set of challenges, they’re also rewarding in their own ways, especially for travelers who understand that such destinations require a certain level of flexibility and constant adjusting.
So, stop overthinking, stick with the season which resonates with you more, and begin planning your Zimbabwe voyage today!