Thursday, January 14, 2016

Packing for Your Zimbabwe Safari

Packing a mini skirt in June or July when you are travelling to Nyanga, will leave you wishing you had packed extra socks. A heavy jacket in October when you plan to travel to Victoria Falls, Mana Pools or Kariba will not make much sense either. So how do you decide? When packing for your safari trip to Zimbabwe, there are a few things to consider: where you are coming from, when and where you are going, what you will be doing, how you will get there, where you will stay, and health concerns, among other things.

Nationality - Will your passport need a visa?
Depending on what passport you are using, you may need to obtain a visa before you travel to Zimbabwe. Some nationalities will not be required to apply for a visa in advance, but may need to pay for one at the port of entry. For more information about visa's, visit this Zimbabwe Visa page.

Time of year - Are you going in winter or summer? Which summer - dry or wet?
Basically, Zimbabwe is either hot and dry, hot and wet, or cold and dry at any time of the year. There are places that do get a bit of mist and light precipitation during the cold months (mostly the eastern highlands and surrounding areas). Make sure you know the type of weather you will be getting so that you pack accordingly.

Activities - Will you be out in the sun or in the shade? Will you be getting wet or not?
Victoria Falls activities such as the gorge hikes, rafting and abseiling will require good hiking shoes for you to climb in and out of the Zambezi gorges. You most certainly will want to pack your swimming gear if you're going to be swimming under the falls or on top of the falls in the Devil's Pool. Most hotels and lodges in Vic Falls will have a swimming pool too, so pack your swimsuit anyway! If you are doing such activities as the Royal Livingstone Express Steam Train, you will need to dress smart-casual. Otherwise, it is casual dress all the way. Bare in mind that with most safari activities, you are advised not to wear bright coloured clothing, to wear comfortable clothing, and to avoid dangling and shiny accessories. You don't want a cheeky monkey or baboon to snatch your favourite earrings right off your lobes.

How to get there - Are you driving, riding the bus(es) or the train, or flying?
Riding buses, trains or flying normally will not require you to pack extra. However, for overnight travel, an extra pillow and a small blanket will make your trip slightly more comfortable. Certainly those who wish to drive into Zimbabwe will have the most to pack. Apart from needing lots of water and extra fuel, driving into and around Zimbabwe will also require valid vehicle documents and drivers' license. Read more about Zimbabwe vehicle regulations here.

Accommodation - Will you be camping or opt for reserved lodging?
Make sure that you have all your camping equipment if you're going to be roughing it out. If not, we recommend that you make your hotel or lodge bookings well in advance, especially for busy times of the year so that you avoid spoiling your holiday. Visitors from outside the country need an address when they enter Zimbabwe anyway. In addition, bear in mind that most lodges and safari camps offer basic toilet amenities, so you may not need to pack some of your own toiletries, unless you really want to.

Health - Will you need vaccinations or certificates?
Zimbabwe is not considered a risk zone for Yellow Fever, but if you have been to an area that is, you will need to pack your Yellow Fever Certificate with you. You will find a list of the Yellow Fever countries here. Regions around the Zambezi are a concern when it comes to mosquitoes and Malaria. During the rainy season, the mozzies really come out, and this is when it can get uncomfortable. Malaria can be prevented, and it can also be treated. Please see your medical advisor about preventative measures for malaria. You most certainly will need repellant to avoid getting bitten.

Some visitors travel with school supplies, sporting equipment, gadgets, etc. that they want to donate to schools, projects and communities in Zimbabwe while they are on their trip. You can contact your travel agent to get more information about what is needed in Zimbabwean communities, or visit Pack for a Purpose.

To assist with your Zimbabwe safari packing, download this checklist to get started.

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