Zimbabwe at 390,000 km2 (UK 243,000 km2) is larger than Germany. It has a population of 13,000,000 (UK 62,000,000) and a population density of 33.3 per km2 (UK 255 per km2).
A landlocked country bordered by: Mozambique for 1231 kms; South Africa for 225 kms; Botswana for 813 kms; Zambia for 797 kms; and Namibia for a few metres. Formerly Rhodesia
Low point = 162 metres at confluence of the Runde and Save (or Sabi) Rivers in south-eastern corner on Mozambique border: High point = 2592 metres Mount Inyangani in the Eastern Highlands on the Mozambique border.
Capital – Harare
Shona and Ndebele are spoken by vast majority although English is the official language.
Entry issues: Passports with 6 months remaining after departure date; 2 blank pages required. Visas required by UK Nationals for stays up to 90 days. Single entry cost = US$55. Customs suspicious of vehicle contents value and use; insisted on deposit or inspection; soon got bored of inspection. Entry at Beitbridge was a frenetic and stressful crossing; charged 100R for gate exit pass (70R according to internet!). The exit to Botswana at Plumtree was the exact opposite to Beitbridge and very relaxed by comparison. Must get gate pass signed by immigration, carnet desk and customs on exit.
The Kazungula crossing from Botswana for Victoria Falls was very relaxed and used to tourists. Had to pay US$55 visa for each single entry. The time we took the vehicle the Insurance and Road Access Fee was still current but had to pay Carbon Tax but only 50 Pula
Checks - We were stopped at many police checks, the most being 8 in one day. Checks often included military checks for weapons. Low level attempts at corruption from a few officials.
Vehicle issues: Carnet de Passage required. Photo driving licence or international licence required. Drive on left. Insurance, third party = 200R approx; Carbon Tax for 30 days = 270R approx, depending on engine size; Road Access Fee = 270R approx, depending on vehicle size.
2 white reflective strips on front and 2 red on rear as for Zambia. ‘T’ plates front and back required for towing. Many major roads have toll barriers at US$1
Petrol and Diesel; most large towns had garages and petrol and diesel was generally available in at least one of them. Sensible to fill up as and when. All garages are cash only, all attended and usually with a screen washer – small tip usual. Will take US$ and most will take Rand at either 8 to 1 or more often 10 to 1. As with all of Africa, will squeeze as much in as possible, usually leading to spills!
Average cost of diesel = £0.63
Banks; ATMs; Credit Cards
We only used the ATMs in Harare and Bulawayo but other than that not widely available. We were able to withdraw US$ up to our card maximum of US$400 although the machine maximum was US$500. Credit cards accepted in the larger supermarkets in the larger towns but we only came across one in Harare.
(Situation has probably changed since our visit)
Telephones: International dialling code +263. We didn’t buy a Zimbabwe SIM as the street sellers wanted US$40; very expensive and of unknown coverage. Prices are now reducing with three service providers existing.
Time (UTC = Coordinated Universal Time, equal to GMT) = UTC+02
Currency & UK£ rate at time of visit
Since early 2009 US$ adopted as official currency although as there are no coins, smallest denomination is US$1; Rand coins, where available, accepted and given as change but most often change given in sweets!. Rand also generally accepted at either 8 to 1 but more often, 10 to 1 for ease of conversion; therefore best to use US Dollars.
£1 = US$1.66: US$1 = £0.60
Dates: 27th October 2009 to 13th November 2009
Zimbabwe miles = 2084 miles (3333 kms)
Trip miles = 22336 miles (35738 kms)
Shell Garage Karoi
Coordinates - S16 49.135 E29 41.128.
Oil leak from overdrive breather spraying all underneath. Disconnected pipe plus split in breather. 2 litres gearbox oil = US$20 + US$20 labour.