Our recommendation to visit Zimbabwe and neighboring countries
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Zimbabwe Travel advice
Events and festivals in Zimbabwe
The popular festivals of Zimbabwe currently number 10 national celebrations. According to the laws of the country, the president reserves the right to specify the days of national holidays. They are published in December, in the National Gazette. These are the most important festivities in Zimbabwe.
On 25th May, Africa Day celebrates the creation of the OAU, that is, the Pan-Africanist Organisation of African Unity, in 1963. In 2001, the OAU was replaced by the African Union, despite the fact that this real union between all the African states has not yet materialised completely. That is why special events are held on that day to remember the goal of African unity, democracy and peace.
This Christian festival is celebrated in Zimbabwe, although in a slightly different way. Many people attend a special mass and then a family party is held. But instead of staying at home, the Zimbabweans go out and visit all their loved ones, family and friends in their homes, before returning to their own. The houses are decorated with ivy instead of the Christmas tree which is placed in other countries.
Defence Forces Day
The day which is also called "Armed Forces Day" is celebrated every August. This day honours the defence bodies of the nation, whether army or police. It begins with an emotional patriotic speech, after which the flag is raised and a huge parade takes place. At the end of the parade, what is known as the "Flame of Independence" is lit, which is the official symbol of the eternal freedom of the Republic of Zimbabwe. On this day the national anthem called Blessed Be the Land of Zimbabwe is also heard.
About 85% of Zimbabweans are Christians, including Protestants, Anglicans or Roman Catholics. Although there is also a large presence of elements which belong to ancient traditional religions.
During these dates, the children go to the Botanical Garden of Harare to look for Easter eggs, chocolates and sweets. Some dishes from this festival are also prepared. Holy Week in Zimbabwe is one of the most popular festivities in Zimbabwe for tourists since it is very influenced by the local culture, so it is very different from what we know.
National Heroes Day in Zimbabwe is celebrated on the second Monday in August, to remember those brave people who died during their struggle for independence. This day they are remembered in the National Heroes Acre where some of them are buried. The president and citizens come to pay their respects and offer wreaths. Patriotic songs are sung and marches are made to the place of the event. They also usually organise musical performances and dances.
This is a very important day in Zimbabwe, and it is celebrated every 18th April. In 1980 the country finally achieved its independence, after a long process of several decades. To commemorate it, flags are raised, military parades, patriotic speeches and flying displays are held. White doves are also released as a symbol of peace.
Day of National Unity
The Day of National Unity, on 22nd December, commemorates the signing of the Unity Agreement by Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo in 1987. It is common for government officials to deliver political speeches. Different sporting events are held since the sport is an activity which is very present in the culture of Zimbabwe. A football championship is celebrated and the winner is awarded the Unity Cup. On that day there are many concerts with popular music to encourage people to attend. Many Zimbabweans are wary of events which are sponsored by the government because they consider them propaganda.
New Year’s Day
Lighting fills the city and the decoration beautifies businesses, streets and homes, especially Harare, the country's capital. In addition to family meals, cultural shows, live concerts and plays are also held.
On May Day, as in the rest of the world, Worker's or Labour Day is celebrated in Zimbabwe. In recent years in the country, there were frequent protests and strikes to demand an improvement in working conditions. On Labour Day, the protest mood increases and campaigns are carried out for workers' rights. Another way to celebrate that day is to place decorative elements on the posts such as balloons, flowers and streamers, or simply to meet with the family.
National Youth Day Robert Mugabe
This is one of the most popular festivals in Zimbabwe, established in 2017. It is celebrated on 21st February, the birthday of Robert Mugabe. Although he is no longer in power, the government has decided to keep this festivity. Mugabe played an important role in the establishment of Zimbabwe as an independent nation. He also had a significant influence on other aspects of the country's politics and that is why it was decided to create a national holiday in his honour. This event is very controversial, due to many of the decisions made during his time in power.GO TO EVENTS
Food in Zimbabwe
What to eat in Zimbabwe? From worms to chicken stew, peanut butter, and cornbread. The variety of flavors and textures is surprising. As in almost all African countries, Zimbabwe's cuisine is characterized by its intense and well-defined flavors thanks to the use of spices and herbs in most of the recipes they prepare. This country has a very rich and tasty culinary culture whose dishes stand out, in addition to their flavor, also for the ease of their preparation. The trick is to use high-quality raw materials.
Meat products of all kinds predominate in the diet of the people of Zimbabwe. Chicken, pig, cow, goat, and sheep are used to cook different types of stews which are accompanied by various ingredients of vegetables and cereals. The simplest version of these dishes is preparing them fried or grilled.
Another main ingredient in the diet of the Zimbabwean people is fish. Especially freshwater fish. Usually, they are cooked on the grill and eaten with rice or corn. Sometimes they are also prepared with different types of vegetables, both cooked and raw. Another of the most striking features of the cuisine of this country is the result of a balanced combination of British and traditional Zimbabwean cuisine. Vegetarian travelers will find a variety of sub-tropical products and very high-quality options.
It is a star food for the people of the country, essential for them. It is a kind of bread prepared with corn flour. The mixture is molded with the hands to form balls. They can be cooked alone or with peanut butter, one of the most-used products in the region. They are usually accompanied by beef stew and covo. Covo is a type of vegetable which resembles chard and is cooked with onion, garlic, and peanut butter.
One of the foods to try in Zimbabwe are worms. This dish is the one that most tourists tend to reject and only some are encouraged to try it. However, it is considered a real delicacy. Mopane worms are a very particular species which are only found in the tree of the same name. They are prepared in various ways and can be eaten as a stew, fried and crispy. Their percentage of proteins is higher than that of veal, so they are a highly nutritious food.
This consists of a plate of green cabbages prepared with a rich peanut butter sauce. In addition to cabbage, you can use any other green soybean vegetable such as spinach, pumpkin leaves, etc. Sometimes it is accompanied by rice or Sadza. It is a recipe which is very simple to prepare and very cheap.
This is the most well-known and common drink in Zimbabwe. It is made of corn and prepared with the leftovers of Sadza, which is called Munya. It is, therefore, a very cheap drink which can be bought or prepared at home. It brings energy and vitality.
One of the dishes which is most appreciated by Zimbabweans. It is a stew prepared with beef bones. It is cooked with other ingredients such as vegetables or beans and is accompanied by the ever-present Sadza.
One of the typical dishes of Zimbabwe based on meat, in this case, veal. It is usually cooked with leaves of different vegetables or with beans. It has a delicious flavor and its preparation is very simple. It is served with rice or sadza.
It is known as kapenta, a fish of Lake Tanganyika, although it is also frequently found in the Zambezi River, which extends its waters between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is a very small fish which is eaten as a snack while walking through the streets of the city. It can also be included in sauces and served with rice and sadza.
Muriwo na Nyama
This recipe of Zimbabwe's cuisine is also known as "highland stew" or "highfields stew".The idea of this dish was born in one of the high districts of Zimbabwe, hence its name. It is a very popular and homemade dish which consists of a tasty stew of meat and green leaves.
Traditional chicken stew
Another traditional stew of Zimbabwe's cuisine. It is characterized by its enormous variety of flavors, since it is prepared with a lot of different spices. The chicken is cooked in a rich tomato sauce and thus acquires all its flavors. It is almost always accompanied by rice.
Muboora is a soup which is cooked with meat and pumpkin leaves and is a delicious first course to eat in Zimbabwe. The meat and vegetables are prepared as a curry made with fresh cream or peanut butter. It is accompanied with Sadza.GO TO GASTRONOMY
Shopping in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a country full of ancient history, wild nature and craftsmanship. Its name means, in the Shona language, "stone house". It took this name after its independence in 1980, in honor of "Great Zimbabwe", some archaeological remains of the Monomotapa empire, which have been named as a national sanctuary. The art in the country is extremely important, as in the rest of Africa. Artisanship in Zimbabwe plays a very important role, as it serves to promote sustainable development. Raw materials from the region are used and their sale contributes to the livelihood of many families. These are some objects to buy in Zimbabwe.
Textiles are one of the typical products of Zimbabwe where we can find fabrics of striking colours. Geometric patterns, animals and other exotic designs are used. With them suits are tailor-made by tailors in the area. The men and women of the region groom themselves with these colourful fabrics, which shine with the natural elegance which characterises them. The most commonly-used material is cotton which is dyed by a traditional process with leaves from trees, mud or other natural substances.
Raku is a type of alchemy which uses all four elements. The result is exquisite and unique pieces. They are introduced into small furnaces which reach temperatures of up to 900 ºC. Once the enamel reaches the cooking point and is in the incandescent state, it is extracted and placed with great care into a container full of wood chips. The chips ignite immediately and generate a thick smoke which is introduced into the piece and becomes part of it. The enamel with which the piece has been painted provides the necessary oxygen for the combustion of the product, and during this process it is transformed into pure metal. Finally, the object is introduced into cold water to lower the temperature and fix the chemical process. In each one you get a particular colour and texture, so there are never two equal pieces.
Basket weaving is a very old traditional art in Zimbabwe. It is passed down from one generation to another among the women of the tribes. Local materials are used, mainly the leaves of the palm tree, and are braided by hand. As a dye to colour them, vegetable substances extracted from leaves, barks and roots are used. They are wonderful items to buy in Zimbabwe which have great value because they are unrepeatable and take time and dedication, since a basket can be a month of work. Currently, baskets are the livelihood of women in some regions of the country. Several groups of women decided to meet and create a company to produce crafts and baskets to sell to tourists. Thanks to this initiative they receive income which helps maintain the quality of life of their families and invest to improve the situation of the town in general.
Masks are one of the souvenirs of Zimbabwe which are preferred by travellers, as they contain the mystery of ancient African rituals. They can be found with all kinds of representations, from animals to disturbing faces. They have several uses in traditional customs. In some cases they are used in millenary rites to attract fertility and good harvests and to protect against bad luck and evil spirits. They are also used in initiation rituals in which children become adults. For us they are an original and exotic decorative object.
Bronze is also another ancient tradition, with which figures are made with all kinds of representations. It is made by the traditional method of wax moulding. It serves to sculpt bronze figures using a beeswax mould. With this material the figure which serves as a model is carved and covered with a thick layer of bronze. When it hardens, it is introduced into the oven and the wax melts and leaves through some small holes which are made precisely for this purpose. Molten metal is injected through these same holes, which takes the identical form of the model. Then the mould is destroyed and a solid and durable metal figure with many details is obtained.
Jewellery, in all of Africa, is absolutely charged with symbolism, which is why it is so important and varied. Each element used has its own meaning. Bones, feathers, teeth, metals, minerals, colourful beads are used, and with these materials original beads and jewels are designed which the inhabitants themselves wear with pride. They are aware of the attraction which tourists feel for these souvenirs of Zimbabwe, so they can be found for sale in many places. The African tribes give great importance to personal ornamentation, and each design has a function, such as ritual dances, marriage celebrations or bodily decoration to attract the attention of the opposite sex.GO TO SHOPPING
Zimbabwe tourist attractions
More information about Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a southern African country, landlocked by Zambia, South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique. A wonderland for wildlife and natural phenomena, notably the bucket-list-worthy Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe also offers a rich cultural tapestry for those willing to delve deeper beneath the obvious attractions. From huge Lake Karibe to the ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe, reportedly built to replicate the palace of the Queen of Sheba, Zimbabwe is full of surprises. A trip to Zimbabwe also offers the opportunity to discover its rich eco-systems and a notable population of elephants. Hwange National Park is the best destination to spot these gentle giants. Despite its tumultuous recent history, Zimbabwe is famed for the warm welcome its people extend to visitors. A brilliant destination for spotting the Big Five and a safari favourite, a holiday to Zimbabwe deserves a place on your travel list.
History of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe has a long and fascinating history. Thought to be the first established state in the territory, the Kingdom of Mapungubwe emerged around the 11th-century. This was followed by increasingly sophisticated Shona-speaking civilisations in the region. You can discover this captivating time in the nation’s history at the stone ruins of Great Zimbabwe, an unmissable stop on a tour of Zimbabwe.
These kingdoms developed strong trade links across the Indian Ocean, trading gold, ivory and glass among other precious resources and goods. In the 19th-century, Shona dominance in the region was threatened by the influx of Ndebele people, who moved north to flee Zulu violence in South Africa. These communities were shortly followed by European explorers and traders and by 1889, the British South Africa Company began colonising what would soon be known as Southern Rhodesia, named after British mining magnate and politician, Cecil John Rhodes. Settlements of pioneer Europeans sprang up across the newly formed country and a capital city was eventually established in modern-day Harare.
Although Southern Rhodesia became a self-governing colony in 1922 it continued to contribute both resources and manpower throughout both World Wars. In 1965, Ian Smith, leading a white-minority government, declared independence from Britain, sparking a guerillas war in the 70s. It was not until 1980 that the country gained official independence as Zimbabwe, with Robert Mugabe as president. Today, following two decades of economic disaster and political upheaval under Mugabe, Zimbabwe looks towards the future with optimism.
Nature in Zimbabwe
Without a doubt, Victoria Falls tops the lists of must-see attractions for all who visit Zimbabwe. Known locally as ‘the smoke that thunders’, the Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is proudly considered one of the world’s largest waterfalls due to its vast length and height, forming an impressive wall of falling water. Its thundering waters are fed by the Zambezi River. Those who visit Victoria Falls can take in the view from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides of the border, although facilities and views on the Zimbabwean side are considered the best. Many travel to Zimbabwe on day trips from neighbouring countries to see the Victoria Falls, but its certainly worth staying longer to discover more of the country’s natural wonders.
Both Hwange and Matobo National Parks are great choices for wildlife lovers, and perfect for spotting the highly prized Big Five. Matobo has an added appeal as it boasts spectacular granite rock formations. The Matobo Hills are home to ancient rock art painting and archaeological sites as well and offer breathtaking views across the picturesque savannah. If you find yourself craving a little greenery, head to the lush Eastern Highlands, where a cooler climate, scenic walking trails and both tea and coffee plantations offer visitors plenty to explore. Finally, the Mana Pool National Park, in the far north of the country, is well worth a visit during a tour of Zimbabwe. Fantastic for game viewing, this national park is home to plentiful watering holes which attract large game, especially in the dry season when water is scarce.
Culture in Zimbabwe
Discovering Zimbabwe’s rich cultural heritage is a highlight of any trip. The largest ethnic group is the Shona, traditionally known for crafting amazing stone sculptures, a tradition that endures today and is much coveted in the art world. Zimbabwe has 16 official languages, including English and Shona, a testament to the diversity of its people. In Zimbabwe, Christianity and ancestral beliefs are the predominant religions.
To get to know authentic Zimbabwean culture, many visitors choose to visit local villages during their holiday to Zimbabwe, where they can witness age-old traditions and lifestyles in practice, although the capital of Harare also offers plenty of cultural insights. It’s National Gallery and the astonishing wealth of talent on show in its craft markets are provide interesting insights into the nations’ artistic culture. The city of Bulawayo is another must-see for culture vultures. Its colonial architecture makes it a unique and fascinating stop on a tour of Zimbabwe.
Travel to Zimbabwe to see the epic Victoria Falls and to unearth the relics of its ancient civilisations, discover its wildlife-rich eco-systems and experience the infectious warmth of its vibrant cultures. A trip to Zimbabwe is a journey through vast savannahs, lush highlands and villages unchanged by time.
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Zimbabwe.
A visa is required. This is issued on arrival. Price approx. $45.
UTC + 02:00.
Shona is the local language, but English is widely spoken.
Tourist Office websiteVisit website
Voltage: 240 V. Adapter required
Please consult your doctor regarding malaria prophylaxis.
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