We chatted to our hospitality interns, Nick and Cordelia about their thoughts on Zimbabwe.
In the media, Zimbabwe has been portrayed in a negative light in the eyes of the media, following recent political protests in January and the current economical situation.
However, this is not what Zimbabwe is all about. Zimbabwe still remains safe and welcomes visitors with open arms.
Check out what Nick and Cordelia found out about what it’s really like to be in Zimbabwe.
Separating the facts from the fiction
We arrived in Zimbabwe in February 2019. Our families were apprehensive as during January there were protests and civil unrest.
However, these were short-lived and we have found Zimbabwe to be one of the most welcoming countries in Southern Africa.
Some current facts about Zimbabwe that we found:
- Zimbabweans are very friendly. They are undoubtedly some of the friendliest people we have come across having travelled extensively across Southern Africa. We noticed this when we first visited the country in 2009 and we have found the same this time.
- There are two currencies: Foreigners transact in USD and locals largely in the Zimbabwean Bond. The exchange rate changes daily between the two currencies.
- There is fuel: Prices have at least doubled from a couple of months ago, supply is sometimes low and there are sometimes queues. However, it is definitely possible to get both petrol and diesel, even if a little patience is required at times. So airport pick-ups, activities around the park and excursions are running as usual.
- Food and drink is readily available at reasonable prices: We have been to a number of supermarkets in different cities and they are all well stocked with goods, fresh fruit and vegetables. Prices can be high in the supermarkets if you are paying in USD however prices are not as high as some stories make out. For example, a bottle of beer or cider is only $2 or $3 USD at the Antelope Park bar.
Is life in Zimbabwe easy?
Let’s be clear, this does not mean that life is not hard for the locals.
Average salaries are less than a hundred dollars a month and some estimate that up to 95% of people are unemployed (not including the informal sector).
But by visiting Zimbabwe, you do not only help those directly employed in the tourism industry but help support their families too.
What is Antelope Park doing to help the community?
In fact, Antelope Park has an active community teaching programme, as well as undertaking other outreach work.
This includes providing education to the local community about living alongside wildlife and the benefits of this; encouraging kids from the surrounding rural areas to become passionate about protecting and preserving the African Lion as well as other incredible wildlife.
The community programme also supports local schools, clinics and assists with feeding the homeless.
We have found this work extremely rewarding and it has given us a fascinating insight into local community life.
Why should I visit Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe is not only open to visitors, but it also needs visitors.
Tourists help keep its lodges open so that staff can be employed, communities supported, helping the economy to improve.
And with attractions such as the amazing Victoria Falls, national parks where you can walk with wild Rhinos and contribute towards the future of conservation and community development at Antelope Park, why would you not want to go to this beautiful friendly country?