Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Zimbabwe – Just As Expensive As It Can Get…
Type Of Travel
We did a 3 week Self-Drive Safari through Zimbabwe’s National Parks. It was an expensive trip, no beating around the bush!
Itinerary & Time Of The Visit
In July 2012, after traveling 5.700 kilometers in three weeks in cars, boats and even a canoe, we got a bit of a feel what Zimbabwe is like, at least from a tourist’s perspective…
- Starting in Johannesburg in a rented car, driving straight to Beitbridge & crossing into Zimbabwe,
- Bulawayo & Matobo National Park,
- Hwange National Park (Main Camp & Sinamatella Camp),
- Victoria Falls (only Zimbabwe),
- Ferry from Mlibizi to Kariba on Lake Kariba,
- Canoe Safari in Mana Pools National Park,
- Harare (as a stop-over),
- Gweru & Antelope Park,
- Masvingo & Great Zimbabwe,
- Gonarezhou National Park (Chilojo Cliffs),
- And last but not least driving up north to Mutare to drop Heidi & Jason at the Mozambique Border,
- Back to Johannesburg via Beitbridge.
Zimbabwe is a very expensive African destination, if you decide to make the most of its highlights. The two biggest expenses were renting a 4WD and the 4 day canoe safari on the Zambezi. All the fun stuff around Victoria Falls or Antelope Park adds to the bill.
And it was a stiff one! In 22 days we spent in total 4.400 USD per person, not including the intercontinental flight.
|Costs per Person per Day in €|
|Long Distances’ Transport||€ 70,70|
|Short Distances’ Transport||€ 0,00|
|Total Transport||€ 70,70|
|Restaurants & Food||€ 12,40|
|Drinks & Going Out||€ 0,00|
|Every Day Life (& Souvenirs)||€ 7,50|
|Total Living||€ 43,30|
|Visits & Tours||€ 51,30|
|Total Tours & Activities||€ 51,30|
|Total Country:||€ 165,30|
Hostels & Hotels
There is good news, though… In all major cities, you can find excellent Backpacker Hostels offering dorms and cheap rooms, plus kitchen facilities and good communal areas. They are much better value and even more comfortable than mid-range hotels. Expect to pay 40 to 45 USD for a double room.
|City||Name||Type of Accommodation||Type ofRoom||Price per Night (€)||Evaluation(1 to 5 Stars)|
|Musina||Limpopo River Lodge||Hotel||Double Room||50,00|
|Bulawayo||Grey’s Inn||Hotel||Double Room||40,00|
|Matopo National Park||Lodge Maleme Rest Camp||Lodge||Double Room||65,22|
|Hwange National Park||Lodge Main Camp||Lodge||Double Room||65,22|
|Hwange National Park||Lodge Sinamatella Camp||Lodge||Double Room||86,96|
|Victoria Falls||Shoestrings Backpackers||Hostel||Double Room||25,00|
|Mlibizi||Camping: Mlibizi Resorts||Camping||Rooftop Tent||11,67|
|Mana Pools||Camping Canoe Safari||Camping||Tent||33,33|
|Chinhoyi||Chinhoyi Caves Inn Motel||Hotel||Double Room||50,00|
|Harare||It’s A Small World Hostel||Hostel||Double Room||33,33|
|Gweru||Camping: Antelope Park||Camping||Rooftop Tent||13,33|
|Masvingo||Great Zimbabwe Lodge||Hotel||Double Room||50,00|
|Gonarezhou||Chilojo Cliff 1 Camping||Camping||Rooftop Tent||41,67|
|Mutare||Anne Bruce’s Backpackers||Hostel||Double Room||25,00|
|Polokwane||Tuscan Lodge||Hotel||Double Room||55,00|
Restaurants & Food
Restaurants in Zimbabwe are expensive as well: 6 to 12 USD for a breakfast, and 15 to 30 USD for a dinner in a midrange restaurant. Even the ubiquitous fast food (Chicken-Inn / Pizza Inn / Cream-Inn) features European / American price levels, with a regular Cheeseburger selling for 3.5 USD!
Drinks & Going Out
We have no detailed information on this, since we certainly did not party. Drinks are included in our Restaurants & Food Budget.
Of course the 4WD was the main budget killer, but there is no public transport to and inside the national parks. A smaller / cheaper car might do, but if you want to get to the more remote bits in Hwange and Matobo National Park, a 4WD is strongly advised. For Mana Pools and Gonarezhou National Park, it is simply a must. On the other hand renting the Toyota Hilux with a rooftop tent can help you seriously reducing your budget for sleeping and eating. To bring down costs even further, fill her up! The car can be equipped with two rooftop tents and easily seats four people. And this is what we did. Via the Lonely Planet ThornTree Forum, we found fellow travelers for the entire trip to share part of the 150 USD per day for the jeep. However, we were lucky, since only very few people travel to Zimbabwe.
|From||To||Type of Transport||Distance (km)||Duration (hours)|
|Hwange (Dete)||Victoria Falls||Car||175||03:00|
Tours & Activities
National park fees are also extremely moderate, at least compared to other African countries like Tanzania. Entrance fees are generally 20 USD per person plus 10 USD for the car, no matter how long you stay. Camping fees in the national parks range from 8 to 15 USD per person per night, but climb to 25 to 50 USD for the “Wilderness Campsites” and reach 200 USD in Chitake / Mana Pools. Indeed!
The Canoe Safari in Mana Pools with was another big chunk, with 990 USD in total per person for 4 days / 3 nights. Actually our first choice in Mana Pools was the most secluded campsite in Chitake, but it was booked. Despite the hefty 200 USD a night! Nevertheless, we have no regrets, the canoe safari was one of the very special experiences we had in Zimbabwe and actually traveling in Africa.
How come one of the poorest nations on this planet, where the economy and the tourism industry collapsed in the last decade, can be that expensive for visitors? Well, all of the above expenses are not a must. Of course you could travel the country quite differently. The question is how long it would take you and especially what you would miss out, but on the other hand gain.