giraffe on brown grass field during daytime
water falls on brown rocky mountain during daytime
a bridge over a river with a waterfall below

Is Zimbabwe Safe?

Zimbabwe has a moderate risk of crime, with petty theft and robberies being common, especially in major cities. Political tensions and sporadic civil unrest can occur, so monitoring local news is advisable. While terrorism is not a significant threat, violent crime rates are relatively high. Malaria and other insect-borne diseases pose health risks, necessitating preventive measures. Travelers should exercise caution, remain vigilant, and follow local advisories for a safe visit.

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Safety & Security

Zimbabwe is generally considered safe for travelers, but there are some risks to be aware of. Petty crime like bag snatching and pickpocketing occurs in major cities and tourist areas. Violent crime rates are relatively low, but armed robberies and carjackings do happen, especially at night. Scams targeting tourists are also common, so exercise caution when dealing with strangers.

  • Political tensions and civil unrest can flare up, leading to protests and strikes that may disrupt travel plans. Monitor local news and avoid demonstrations.

  • While terrorism is not a major threat, there is a risk of attacks against Western interests and public places frequented by foreigners.

  • Disputes over land ownership between locals and private game reserves or commercial farms sometimes turn violent. Avoid getting caught in the middle of such conflicts.

  • Scams like artificially inflated prices, tour guide scams, and fake police officers extorting bribes are prevalent. Only use registered guides and be wary of unsolicited offers.

  • Petty crime like bag snatching, pickpocketing, and theft from vehicles is common in cities like Harare and Bulawayo, as well as at tourist sites. Remain vigilant and don't leave valuables unattended.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Zimbabwe should be aware of certain health risks and take necessary precautions. While the country has made progress in improving healthcare facilities, some challenges remain.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, including those for hepatitis A, typhoid, and yellow fever (required for entry). Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for most areas.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases: Malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever and Zika virus are prevalent in some regions. Use insect repellent and wear protective clothing.

  • Water and Food Safety: Drink only bottled or purified water and avoid undercooked meat, raw vegetables, and unpasteurized dairy products to prevent waterborne and foodborne illnesses.

  • HIV/AIDS: Zimbabwe has a high prevalence rate. Take precautions to avoid exposure through unprotected sex or contaminated needles.

  • Medical Facilities: Major cities have adequate medical facilities, but resources may be limited in rural areas. Comprehensive travel health insurance is advisable.

  • Air Pollution: Urban areas like Harare and Bulawayo can experience high levels of air pollution, which may exacerbate respiratory conditions.

Consult a travel health professional for personalized advice based on your specific itinerary and health status.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are not a major concern for travelers in Zimbabwe. The country experiences occasional droughts and floods, but these are typically localized and do not pose a significant risk to tourists. However, it's advisable to stay updated on weather conditions and follow any advisories issued by local authorities.

  • Droughts: Zimbabwe experiences periodic droughts, particularly in the southern and western regions. These can lead to water shortages and crop failures, but are unlikely to directly impact most travelers.

  • Floods: Heavy rains during the wet season (November to March) can cause localized flooding, especially in low-lying areas and near rivers. Flash floods can disrupt transportation and damage infrastructure.

  • Cyclones: Zimbabwe is occasionally affected by the outer bands of cyclones originating in the Indian Ocean. These can bring heavy rains and strong winds, but the risk is generally low compared to coastal areas.

  • Wildfires: Dry conditions and human activities can lead to wildfires, particularly in national parks and rural areas. These are typically well-managed and pose minimal risk to tourists.

While natural disasters are not a major concern, it's still advisable to check weather forecasts, follow local news and advisories, and heed any warnings or evacuation orders issued by authorities during your stay in Zimbabwe.


Transportation in Zimbabwe can be challenging for travelers. While public transportation options like buses and trains are available, their reliability and safety standards may vary. Privately-operated taxis and ride-sharing services are generally more dependable but can be expensive.

  • Road Safety: Roads, especially in rural areas, are often poorly maintained with potholes and lack proper signage. Driving at night is not recommended due to poor lighting and the risk of encountering stray animals or pedestrians on the roads.

  • Public Transportation: Buses and trains are affordable but can be overcrowded, unreliable, and lack proper maintenance. Petty crime is also a concern on public transport.

  • Private Transportation: Renting a car with a driver or using ride-sharing services like Uber or Bolt is a safer option, but costs can add up quickly. Ensure vehicles are in good condition and drivers are licensed and reputable.

  • Traffic Laws: Traffic laws are often disregarded, and reckless driving is common. Pedestrians and animals frequently cross roads unexpectedly, posing additional risks.

  • Road Conditions: During the rainy season, many roads become impassable due to flooding or mudslides, especially in rural areas. Check weather conditions and plan accordingly.

Cultural Norms

Respecting the culture in Zimbabwe is essential for travelers to have an enriching and respectful experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Greetings: Zimbabweans value politeness and greetings. It's customary to greet people with a handshake, and it's considered rude to walk past someone without greeting them.

  • Dress Code: While casual wear is acceptable in most urban areas, it's advisable to dress modestly, especially when visiting rural areas or religious sites. Avoid revealing clothing and remove shoes when entering homes or places of worship.

  • Gestures: Be mindful of gestures, as some may be considered offensive. For example, pointing with the index finger or beckoning someone with the palm facing down is considered rude.

  • Photography: Always ask for permission before taking photographs of people, especially in rural areas or at religious sites. Some communities may have restrictions or taboos around photography.

  • Respect for Elders: Zimbabwean culture places a strong emphasis on respecting elders. It's considered polite to address older individuals with honorifics like "Baba" (father) or "Amai" (mother).

  • Local Customs: Be open to learning about and participating in local customs, such as traditional dances, music, or ceremonies, if invited. However, respect any restrictions or boundaries set by the community.

  • Language: While English is widely spoken, learning a few basic phrases in Shona or Ndebele, the two main local languages, can go a long way in showing respect and appreciation for the culture.

By being respectful, open-minded, and willing to learn, travelers can have a more meaningful and culturally enriching experience in Zimbabwe.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Zimbabwe can be limited and unreliable, especially outside major cities. The availability and quality of emergency services vary greatly depending on the location. In urban areas, there are ambulance services and fire departments, but response times can be slow due to limited resources. Private ambulance services are generally more reliable but can be expensive.

  • Police Response: The police force is understaffed and underfunded, leading to slow response times, especially for non-violent incidents. Travelers should exercise caution when dealing with the police, as corruption and unprofessional behavior have been reported.

  • Medical Facilities: Major cities have decent public and private hospitals, but facilities in rural areas are often ill-equipped and understaffed. Travelers should consider purchasing comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical evacuation in case of emergencies.

  • Tourist Police: Some major tourist destinations have dedicated tourist police units to assist travelers. However, their presence is limited, and their effectiveness can vary.

  • Embassies and Consulates: Travelers should register with their respective embassies or consulates upon arrival in Zimbabwe. These can provide assistance in case of emergencies or legal issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Zimbabwe safe for tourists?

Zimbabwe is generally safe for tourists, but caution is advised. Avoid isolated areas, especially after dark. Remain vigilant for petty crime in cities. Check travel advisories and register with your embassy. Hire a reputable guide for safaris and outdoor activities.

Is Zimbabwe safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers should exercise caution in Zimbabwe. Avoid walking alone at night and be cautious of unwanted attention. Dress conservatively and respect local customs. Consider joining group tours or hiring a guide for added safety.

Is Zimbabwe safe for families?

Zimbabwe can be a family-friendly destination with proper precautions. Ensure children's vaccinations are up-to-date. Avoid remote areas and stick to tourist hubs. Book family-friendly accommodations and activities. Malaria prevention is crucial for children.

Is Zimbabwe LGBTQ+ friendly?

Same-sex relationships are legal in Zimbabwe, but LGBTQ+ individuals may face social stigma and discrimination. Public displays of affection should be avoided. Research LGBTQ+ travel resources for the latest updates on local attitudes and safety.

Do you need a visa to go to Zimbabwe?

Most visitors require a visa to enter Zimbabwe. Citizens of the US, Canada, and EU can obtain a visa on arrival for up to 90 days. However, it's advisable to check the latest visa requirements with the Zimbabwean embassy before travel.

Can you drink tap water in Zimbabwe?

Tap water in Zimbabwe is not safe to drink. Stick to bottled, filtered, or boiled water. Avoid ice cubes and raw foods washed with tap water. Bottled water is widely available, but check seals for safety.

What is the currency in Zimbabwe?

The official currency in Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwean dollar (ZWL). US dollars are widely accepted, especially in tourist areas. Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and establishments, but cash is preferred for smaller transactions.

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