Vegetation & Climate
Zimbabwe is beautiful and stunning country with contrasting landscapes and sceneries. There are a range of mountains known as the Eastern Highlands which form the border between Mozambique, ancient woodlands in the middle of Zimbabwe and even a touch of tropics along the mighty Zambezi River. The countryside of Zimbabwe is dominated by vast tracks of native trees and indigenous species including Mopane, Baobab and Msasa. Huge areas of Zimbabwe are declared as National Parks or Wildlife Sanctuaries that support a great variety of bird and animal life. The country is also home to the “Big Five”, lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino. The country’s climate is dominated by three distinct seasons, the hot season from September to October, the rainy season from November to April and the cool, dry season from June to August. Particularly during the cool and dry season temperatures may drop very low at night. Droughts can be a problem for the whole population and their livestock.
Before you travel to Zimbabwe you should consult your local doctor and ask for necessary vaccinations such as Yellow Fever and Tetanus. We strongly recommend taking Malaria prophylaxes for the entire duration of your stay. Water from the tap is not drinkable even though you may see that many locals do. Boil your water before drinking! The medical infrastructure used to be in very good conditions but through Zimbabwe’s crisis hospitals are understaffed and suffer a shortage of drugs, medical treatment and equipment. If volunteers are on medication we advise them to bring their own medical supplies for the duration of their stay. Malaria and HIV/AIDS are the most widely spread diseases and estimated every third person is HIV positive.
People & Culture
The population of Zimbabwe is friendly, courteous and belongs to different ethnical and cultural groups. There are Shona, Ndebele, Nambya, Tonga and a variety of other tribes which preserve their own traditions, beliefs and languages. Many Zimbabweans mix their native language with the official language English, which becomes a sort of dialect and varies depending on the area the tribes are dominating. Catholicism is the most common and biggest religion throughout Zimbabwe although many people still believe in spiritual doctors, witchcraft and ancestor veneration. The family for most Zimbabweans is very important, the members stay close together, men are the expected leader and the elders are highly respected and treated like a family treasure. Even in times of misery visitors may be surprised by their hospitality and generosity. Dinner is the most important meal of a day, where Zimbabwean families share their food together. Washing hands is a ritual before the meals because Zimbabweans, particularly in the rural areas, eat the food with their hands.
Zimbabwe is a very open-minded and friendly country despite its challenges through the last couple of years. Like in many other African countries mugging and pick pocketing are common so you should not leave your possessions alone. We advise all volunteers to copy important documents and travel papers. Walking after dark should be avoided, not only because of the higher risk of muggings, the danger is also caused by wild animals. However, there are several police officers in mainly in Victoria Falls town positioned to help tourists. Please be informed that it is illegal to photograph governmental offices, airports, military establishments, police or armed force staff members, official residences and embassies without a special permit. The possession of narcotics such as Marijuana and any pornographic material is criminal.
Money & Currency
The national currency in Zimbabwe was the Zimbabwean Dollar but through the immense loss of value, the currency has been replaced by the US Dollar, South African Rand, Botswana’s Pula or any other “hard” currency until further notice. The possibility of paying with Credit Card is also available in some parts of the country if you need to withdraw money, Victoria Falls being one of them. The Zimbabwean dollar has returned in circulation and currently at par with the US-Dollar. Cash remains a challenge but we do have ways of helping our volunteers through our offshore accounts. We however encourage volunteers to bring a little more cash for the day to day expenditure.
For most of the European countries a visa is required. All volunteers with a placement of 30 days and below should take a business visa. Volunteers who wish to also visit Zambia have an opportunity to take a UNIVISA which cost roughly USD50.00 and allows for multiple entries between the two countries. Visa fee will be paid on arrival at the border or the airport. Volunteers with a European Union passport are required to pay 30 US$ single entry for a business visa. Passport holders of United Kingdom of Great Britain are an exception with a payable fee of 55 US$. These fees might change after publications so we advise you to contact the Zimbabwean Embassy in your country to confirm.