Here’s some travel advice to keep you informed and safe when it comes to travel to Zimbabwe…

Personal Security 
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Zimbabwe because of the high level of criminal activity and absence of the rule of law, especially in rural areas, resulting from deteriorating economic conditions and the ongoing political tensions throughout the country. Zimbabwe is experiencing chronic shortages of basic commodities, including fuel and food, hyperinflation and mass unemployment. These conditions are creating desperation, and have led to a sharp increase in crime.

Muggings, bag-snatching, car-jackings, and pick-pocketing occur frequently, particularly in urban centres and tourist areas. Theft from vehicles is common. Armed robberies and car-jackings, assaults, and other violent crime are also common. Security risks are heightened at night, especially on city streets, and in or near parks and the city centres.

Tourists have been robbed and occasionally killed while visiting national parks. A comprehensive indemnity is often required by Safari operators before they accept clients. To help minimise the security risks we suggest that you travel in groups, preferably with an organised tour group, and check the security situation before visiting national parks and farms, including game farms, lodges and hunting areas.

Commercial fraud scams are common in Zimbabwe. If you receive a message that sounds too good to be true, don’t be fooled it probably is.

Civil Unrest/Political Tension 
The ongoing economic crisis has increased the risk of civil disorder. There have been incidents of indiscriminate violence and intimidation by police and security forces against the civilian population in general and perceived opponents of the government in particular in the medium and high-density suburbs of Harare, and large cities such as Bulawayo as well as rural areas. The continuing (“clean-up”) action by authorities against part of the urban population and the scarcity of basic commodities is likely to increase the risk of civil unrest.

Unlawful occupations of farms, looting of crops, theft of cattle, poaching of game and violent acts against farmers, their families and workers are common. Foreigners, including Australians, have been targets of racially motivated violence.

You should avoid large public gatherings or demonstrations, especially in Harare and other urban areas, as they have turned violent in the past.

Local Travel
There is a general shortage of basic food commodities throughout Zimbabwe. Power outages and water cuts are common everywhere, including the cities. However, these shortages do not generally affect tourists staying at hotels and lodges.

Fuel shortages, sometimes severe, occur. We recommend that trips by road to national parks and tourist attractions such as Mana Pools, Victoria Falls, Matopos, Hwange and Lake Kariba be taken with tour operators who can guarantee fuel supplies.

Driving at night is hazardous as roads, particularly outside major cities, are poorly lit, animals roam on to roads and vehicles sometimes operate without the use of lights. Dangerous driving habits contribute to the high rate of traffic accidents.

Police road blocks are common throughout Zimbabwe. Identification documents, including car registration and ownership papers, must be shown when requested by police. Drivers are often subjected to bribery demands by police officers.

Public transport systems, including trains and commuter buses, can be dangerous due to overcrowding, poor maintenance and reckless driving.

The safety standards you might expect of tour operators are not always met, especially when undertaking adventure sports such as rafting. Sufficient life jackets for boats and rafts are not always provided.

Unexploded landmines are found in parts of the border area with Mozambique.

Natural Disasters
The rainy season is November to April when flooding may occur. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Local Law and Customs 
Travellers are reminded that when overseas, they are subject to local laws. Local laws and legal processes can be very different from those at home. A violation of local laws may result in a jail sentence, served in a local prison. Consular assistance cannot override local law, even where local laws may appear harsh or unjust by your standards.

Homosexual activity is illegal in Zimbabwe.

Visitors should avoid offers to exchange foreign currency at rates above the official bank rate of exchange, especially if approached by money-changers in the street. Such transactions are illegal and can result in imprisonment for both parties.

An open hand is the political symbol of the main opposition political party and a friendly wave may therefore be misinterpreted as a provocative gesture. It is also a criminal offence in Zimbabwe to make any derogatory or insulting comments about President Mugabe. Any person making such comments is liable to arrest and prosecution.

It is illegal to photograph around military establishments, government offices, the President’s Residence (State House) and airports without special permission of the Ministry of Information.

It is an offence to continue driving when the President’s motorcade goes past, no matter which side of the road you are on.

Entry and Exit Requirements 
Visa conditions change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Zimbabwe for the most up to date information.

US dollars hard currency cash (in very small denominations) may be required for visa and departure tax fees.

A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for all passengers over one year of age who arrive from an infected yellow fever area/country. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides a list of yellow fever countries.

Health Issues
Medical facilities outside Harare and Bulawayo are limited. Medical supplies throughout Zimbabwe are limited and some prescription medicines may not be available. Malaria is prevalent in the lowveldt and outbreaks of cholera and dysentery occur, especially during the rainy season.

The level of HIV/AIDS infection in Zimbabwe is very high

Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about immunisations and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers for staying healthy while travelling overseas.

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you’ll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

Source: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade

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