Zimbabwe Safety Guide: Essential Tips for Travellers

Home » LIFESTYLE » Leisure & Travel » Zimbabwe Safety Guide: Essential Tips for Travellers

By Frank Dermott on April 18, 2013. No Comments

Zimbabwe is rich with natural beauty, diverse wildlife and fertile land.

Zimbabwe is rich with natural beauty, diverse wildlife and fertile land.

THERE’s always a bit of risk involved any time you travel to a foreign country. However, you can significantly minimize that risk through the proper research and preparation.

Zimbabwe – and Africa in general – poses its own unique challenges. This article offers some practical tips about how to prepare for those hazards and ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe: Brief Overview

Zimbabwe, officially called the Republic of Zimbabwe, is located in southern Africa between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. Harare, with an approximate population of 1.6 million, is the largest city and capital of the landlocked nation.

Zimbabwe is rich with natural beauty, diverse wildlife and fertile land, making it a tremendously popular tourist destination for safari aficionados and nature enthusiasts. However, it is still a developing country with a relatively adverse economic climate. Despite widespread poverty and crude infrastructure, Zimbabweans are some of the friendliest people in all of Africa.

Health Risks

Medical care and health services in Zimbabwe have suffered from a fledgling economy. Unfortunately, the country has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in southern Africa. In addition, there are a number of other health risks in Zimbabwe. These include:

  • Malaria
  • Cholera
  • Rabies
  • Yellow fever
  • Typhoid
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
  • Hepatitis A/B
  • Diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers are up to date on all routine vaccinations (influenza, chickenpox, polio, MMR, DPT). Additionally, you should get vaccinated for typhoid, rabies and hepatitis A and B.

You should also obtain antimalarial drugs to prevent malaria, a potentially life threatening disease contracted through mosquito bites. You should get a prescription from your doctor at least six weeks before you leave. Furthermore, you should apply insect repellent liberally and wear long pants and sleeves to help prevent mosquito bites.

Since HIV/AIDS is prevalent in Zimbabwe, you should be extremely careful if you find yourself dealing with cuts or blood. Additionally, refrain from getting tattoos, sharing needles or engaging in any sexual activity with a stranger during your trip.

Here are some additional health safety tips to consider during your trip to Zimbabwe:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating. If soap and water aren’t readily available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will suffice.
  • Only drink bottled/boiled water or bottled/canned soda. Steer clear of tap water, fountain drinks and ice cubes. If you’re in a pinch, use purification tablets or a portable filter to make water safe to drink.
  • Avoid dairy products (unless you’re completely sure they have been pasteurized) and food purchased from street vendors.

Protecting Your Valuables

The majority of Zimbabweans are good-natured, law-abiding people. Like most places, however, there are a minority of criminals who target tourists. Moreover, Zimbabwe is essentially a cash-only country, so you should be prepared to carry a considerable amount of money on you. For these reasons, you need to be extra careful when it comes to safeguarding your valuables – and that starts before you even set foot on foreign soil. While it’s easy to get carried away when you’re packing for your trip, it’s wisest to pack as light as you can, especially with regards to high-value items. After all, the best way to protect your belongings is to simply leave them at home.

Listed below are some tips and tricks to help you:

  • Use a hidden waist wallet to hold your passport, cash, credit cards and other important documents. These wallets, which can be picked up for less than $20 in most online stores, can be discreetly strapped underneath your clothing.
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewellery, carrying high-tech electronic devices or dressing in a way that could make you stand out as a tourist.
  • Make two copies of every important document, namely your passport, airline tickets, itinerary, credit cards, driver’s license, etc. Leave one copy with a close friend or family member and store the other in a different location than the originals. This way, you will be much better off if any of these documents are lost or stolen.

***Don’t forget to sufficiently secure your home before you leave. This is best accomplished by installing a professionally monitored security system. Consult ADT, Vivint or another creditable home security provider to find a protection package that’s right for you. You can also find helpful information, including plans and pricing, on each company’s website.

Having several missionary family members and being a bit of a jetsetter, himself, Frank Dermott understands a thing or two about cultural differences. A freelance writer, by trade, Frank finds his work most rewarding when he is helping travelers and business people alike travel safely – no matter the destination.