The eighteen different conservancies in the Savi private conservancy all have good hunting opportunities. Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve is good for hunting, bass fishing and animal safaris. Gonarezhou National Park is famous for the extremely aggressive elephants. These elephants are aggressive because of poaching and this behaviour has been taught to the baby elephants who are also aggressive and will chase hunters. Hunting elephant in Gonarezhou is more dangerous and full of adventure. The elephants in the northern area and western hunting areas of Hwange, Ma na Pools and the Zambezi Valley are more approachable.
The mentality of the animals depends on whether the area that they are in has high levels of hunting and poaching. The hunting safari areas have more hunting and this means that the animals are more aggressive and wary of humans. Zimbabwe has less mass tourism like Kenya and South Africa. Tthis means that the animals are more wary of humans so this makes the hunting more adventuresome.
Lions are especially dangerous in the early morning, night and the late evening and this behaviour does not change in any part of the country.
Rifa Safari Area will soon become a non-hunting area.
Campfire areas are in areas where local Zimbabweans have their homes. There are agreements with the hunting operators to hunt the animals. In exchange the local people get some of the trophy fees and the meat of the killed animals.
National Parks are unfenced areas of land that are used to protect animals. No hunting is permitted in these parks. These areas are owned by the government but operated as a parastatal.
Safari areas belong to National Parks and are on the borders of the parks. There are no fences between safari areas and National Parks. In these areas hunting is permitted.
Private conservancies are fenced areas of land that are privately owned. They are very well operated and allow hunting and photographic safaris.
Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Bubiyani Conservancy and the Savi Conservancy have all got good numbers of the big five. Rhino cannot be hunted in Zimbabwe and only in South Africa can this be done. These areas are good for hunting of the big five for two reasons:
1. They each have good anti-poaching units
2. There are privately owned and have better management than National Parks or Campfire areas.
The Gache Gachce Campfire area on the eastern part of Lake Kariba is also good for the hunting of the big five as well as the hunting of crocodile and hippo. Campfire areas do have villages of local Zimbabweans so hunters will be likely to see the local people. This also allows the hunter to interact with the local people and experience the local culture.
National Parks of Zimbabwe will give individual hunting operators a quota for each animal that can be legally hunted. The hunting operator will then do a pre-hunt form based on what animals the client wants and this is submitted to National Parks for approval. This process applies to private conservancies, private ranches, safari areas and Campfire areas.
Some operators and professional hunters will apply for twice the number of animals than what the client has asked for in the rare event that an animal is shot but the body is not discovered. The professional hunter will then offer the client the choice of paying for the second animal.
If an animal is shot but the body is not found on the day but is found later after the client leaves, the trophy is still legally the ownership of the client up until 14 days after his/her day of departure from Zimbabwe.
Professional hunters will either have a full or a restricted licences. Restricted licences means that the professional hunter is limited to what he or she can hunt with a client.
National Parks regulate the age that a lion can be hunted at, normally 5 years or older. The professional hunter is responsible for deciding the age of a hunted lion. This is very difficult as the age of a lion can only be determined by a close examination of the colour of the nose and condition of the teeth. Photos of the hunted lion need to be done and posted to National Parks. National Parks will determine the age of the lion based on the hunt and if the age is too young then the professional hunter will be given a big monetary penalty. This is to prevent the hunting of young lions.
The type of firearms that can be imported into Zimbabwe depends on the kind of animal that will be hunted. Profesional hunters would advise to import a .375 bolt-action rifle as this will allow the hunting of any animal. For shooting of birds a shotgun will need to be imported. If a client is buying a new gun, he/she should familiarise with this rifle to see if the recoil can be handled. This will avoid problems with bruising around the eye from the scope, known as scope eye. Scope eye can affect the hunt as the client will flinch when pulling the trigger and this will affect the accuracy of the gun shot. Big recoil is common with heavier calibre rifles.
It is advised that clients bring heavier weighted bullets with heavier calibre rifles if they want to hunt bigger animals. With this equipment there is less chance of sticks, stones or branches that are not always seen in the scope of the rifle deflecting the bullet.
Zimbabwe is one of the easiest countries to import rifles temporary into the country as it only requires that an application form be done and submitted to National Parks. The gun will need to be transported in a secure gun case. It is advisable to transport your ammunition and the bolt of the rifle separately to the rifle. There have been rare cases of the bolt of the rifle been stolen in some airports in Africa during transits. The other option is to rent a rifle from the professional hunting or hunting operator.
Any automatic or semi-automatic rifle is illegal in Zimbabwe.
It is advised that bullets be bought outside of the country as it can be very difficult to find the bullets in Zimbabwe or very expensive. It is also advisable to consult your chosen professional hunter on what kind of bullets to buy depending on what animal will be hunted. Most professional hunters will advise bringing the same weight of bullet and a combination of expanding bullets and solids. The kinds of bullets will also depend on what kind of rifle they will be used in. 450 or 500 bullets are the most preferred for the bigger animals with smaller bullets for the smaller animals.
Most professional hunters will advise against importing a handgun into the country unless the client has specifically requested to use it in a hunt and he/she has experience with it. Handguns are also an unnecessary weight on the client when hunting . Even a slight deviation in the angle of the gun when aimed will result in a very different direction of the bullet and potentially shooting an animal that cannot be shot by law. Some professional hunters will carry a handgun as additional security if there is a close encounter with a dangerous animal.
Where is the best place to do bird hunting
Cawston Ranch near Bulaway is a very good place to hunt a wide range of birds. Cawston Ranch and other hunting areas have a quota for birds but this kind of hunting is not very well known and so the chances of a quota not being available are very low.
Yes. This is a very difficult animal to hunt as the amount of feathers makes it difficult to know where to aim for the heart or lungs. It is not ideal to aim for the head as this ruins the head.
A 270 or a 308 will be fine for this animal. Use smaller bullets. The ostrich can be hunted with a shotgun. This is dangerous as the client will need to be close to the bird and ostriches are well known for attacking humans.
The skin can be used to make very expensive shoes and bags. The meat can be dried with salt to make very tasty dried meat.
Bowhunting is legal in Zimbabwe. There needs to be a video of the hunt and like with normal hunting there needs to be a National Parks officer on the hunt to ensure that the correct hunting protocol is observed. Bowhunting is not allowed in National Parks. It can only be done in Campfire areas and private conservancies.
Also hunting with a bow requires that the hunter and client are very close to the animal as the bow makes a noise when the arrow is released and this gives an animal a second to move and the arrow can hit the wrong body part.
A special permit needs to be issued for bowhunting to be done. The bow needs a draw weight of at least 100 pounds and the arrows need to be 780 gram, 2 broad-head blades These kinds of arrows and bows are especially important for the hunting of buffalo becuase the buffalo has a thick rib cage that overlaps. So aiming for the hearts or lungs requires a very strong bow.
Bow hunting is less common in Zimbabwe and some hunters do not have experience with it. It will be hard to find replacement bows and arrows that are suited for hunting with a bow.
It is possible to buy a traditional African bow, very similar to an English longbow, that is fully functional but may not be used in a hunt. It is solely for tourist interest.
There is one bow group in the capital city of Harare who practice on a Saturday afternoon.
For National Parks the offical time for hunting is the 1st of March to the 1st of November. This is because the rainy season is from the middle of November to the end of January.
In the rainy seasons the grass grows very thick, the animals will disperse away from the main rivers and lakes and the roads become very muddy. This makes hunting and driving very difficult.
The private conservancies generally allow hunting throughout the year.
This depends on a number of things:
1. The level of health, age and fitness of the client. Some professional hunters will observe the colour of the urine of the client to make sure that the he/she does not have dehydration problems.
2. The summer season from September to February is very hot. Hunting doesn’t normally happen between 11am and 4pm.
3. The kind of animal that is being hunted. Lions are normally baited, a dead hippo is hung from a tree and the lion approaches with the hunter waiting nearby in a hideout. There will be lots of walking to find the right buffalo or elephant.
A number of tour combinations can be organised.
For travellers who are prepared to pay for domestic flights then a popular combination is to fly into Harare and take a connecting flight to Victoria falls. Two to three days at Victoria falls will allow a traveller to see the famous waterfalls, white water rafting and bungee jumping. The next part of the journey would be to fly from Victoria falls to Lake Kariba and hire a houseboat for 4 nights. After this would be a journey to Mana Pools, a World Heritage Site, that is famous for allowing tourists to walk freely amongst the animals without a ranger (this is very rare in Africa).
Clycling tours can be organised in the mountains of the Eastern Highlands where there is less traffic and fantastic views. It is possible to have a connecting flight to Victoria Falls and cycle amongst the animals. Both road and mountain biking can be done. The paved roads that are less used are in decent condition.
As mentioned previously there are places like Mana Pools and Chimanimani National Parks where tourists can hike freely without a ranger in places where very few people will be seen.
A new option is to enjoy a customised combination of Zimbabwe’s ancient monuments, national parks or private conservancies with selected smaller animals for a small hunt. These trips are cheaper and the client can enjoy exploring the rest of the country without spending lots of money on a full hunting safari.
There are numerous varieties of fish in Zimbabwe some of these are: tiger fish, cat fish, trout and bass. These are found in different parts of the country and so there are tours that let tourists enjoy both the mountains and safari areas whilst fishing. These tours will be done under experienced guides.
Ten-day survival camps are run under experienced survival experts who were trained to survive in nature for months. One of these experts rewrote the survival courses for the USA Marines Participants will only have a knife and shorts. The ratio is six people to one survival experts. Each camp is unique depending on the season and the area in the private conservancies that the camps are done in. Skills like learning how to make traps, shoes, hats and which plants can be used for medicine will be taught.
These courses are also very important for character building and creative thinking. It is also a good way to lose weight as participants will have to find food from nature without using a rifle.
This is generally not the responsibility of the hunting operator or professional hunter. The cost for using a taxidermist who does the mounting is the responsibility of the client. There are professional taxidermists in Zimbabwe and they will do one of two things to the animal trophy:
1. A full job of the animal trophy (cleaning, sterilising and mounting the trophy of the animal), organise the paperwork needed to send the trophy to the country of the client and organise the shipping.
2. They do a “dip and pack” of the animal trophy. This involves protecting the trophy from going rotten, killing bacteria and preparing it for transport to a taxidermist in the country of the client for a full mounting job.
Some hunting operators will do a dip and pack at an additional cost per animal trophy.
It is advisable to use a taxidermist in Zimbabwe as they do have access to parts required to fix damages to a trophy caused by the bullet or caused in the transporting of the trophy.
If a client wounds but does not kill the animal then the professional hunter will make a decision whether to allow the client to shot the animal again or to kill the animal with his own rifle. This is to avoid the animal from suffering unnecessarily and to ensure that the client gets his/her trophy.
Buffalo are the most hunted animals in Zimbabwe and this means that this animal is the most encountered animals of the big five, which are all very dangerous.
Some professional hunters can speak Spanish or French. The rest will know the keywords need to instruct a client on a hunt or will hire a translator. There are three English words that every professional hunter will have their clients understand that are “do not” and “shoot”. These two words will never be used together as they can cause misunderstandings.
Some private conservancies will allow this but National Parks will only allow hunting during the day time. National Parks considers day to be 30 mins before sunrise and 30 mins after sunset.
National Parks considers night-time hunting to be an ¨unfair chase¨ as the bright lights from cars and torches will freeze most animals. This will make the animals easy to kill. African cats like lions, cheetahs and leopards are not affected by lights. Professional hunters will use red or filtered lights as this doesn’t affect animals.
8X10 is very useful for looking at animals and bird watching. Be very careful of using powerful scopes on a gun as small sticks and stones will be blurred and this can affect the gunshot. Long distance shots with powerful scopes are also not considered proper hunting. Real hunting requires the hunter to stalk and crawl towards the animal to get very close to it.
Use good walking shoes that have not been purchased recently from the store and have been used for a few months. This is because new shoes will likely cause blisters on the foot and will make tracking the animals very painful.
Camouflaged clothes are banned in Zimbabwe. If a client does wear them then they will be arrested either by police or army.
Green or brown khaki clothing should be worn. Do not bring white or light brown clothing as this will shine in the light and make a person very visible to animals. Also the clothing should be loose. This will avoid sweat sticking to the clothing and make it easier for a person to crawl around on the ground.
If a client has purchased new boots then he or she should soak the boots and walk in the boots until they are dry. This will often make the shoes stretch to the right size of the foot
A professional hunter will do his best to make sure that the wind is coming from the hunted animal to the client. This will prevent the animal from smelling the suncream. It is better to buy water-based suncream as this is less likely to be smelled by the animals in comparison to oil-based suncream. It is very important that clients with lighter skin to use suncream when on a hunt.
Most safari operators will have a food caterer of the camp, generally a woman, who will entertain the partner and help the wife of client with personal medical requests.
Normally one or two clients, the professional hunter, one tracker and another assistant who carries water, food and anything that the clients don’t want to carry like a jersey.
Ideally the gun should be held like a baby in crossed arms with the end being at a 135-degree angle towards the sky. It is not safe to have it balanced on the shoulder as the end will be pointed straight ahead.
These animals are extremely rare as the genetics of these kinds of elephants have been slowly decreased over the years due to hunting and poaching.
Yes. But normally the animals that are hunted are more mature and the meat will be more tough to eat. A client can also eat the meat of hunted lion, cheetah, etc but this meat is not very tasty.
Any additional services or trips outside of what has been agreed on are to be paid for in addition by the client.
For safari areas under National Parks management the client will pay for the cost of the animals that he/she has asked to hunt in addition to the daily rate prior to the safari. The client will not get a refund if the animal is not shot as the hunting operator would have paid National Parks in advance for the right to hunt the requested animals.
This is different for private conservancies as the client will pay the daily rate and will only pay for the animal if it is shot.
The fee for the animal trophy is paid separately.
Normally on the camp a client will interact most with the tracker of the hunt and the professional hunt. There are other people who are involved in the running of the camp that the client does not see. The client can ask the professional hunter or operator of the camp to divide the tip equally amongst all the staff. The professional hunter is normally tipped separately. The amount of the tip is to be decided by the client and is not compulsory.
The client has to pay for the animal under the following conditions:
1. The animal is shot but the body cannot be found.
2. If the bullet just grazes the animal drawing blood.
3. If the bullet made contact with the animal in any way and the body is not found.
4. If the animal is shot and body is found the next day half eaten by animals.
5. Basically if any blood is found then the client must pay for the animal.
Elephants without tusks are becoming more common and because they do not have tusks they are cheaper to hunt. These elephants are generally female with baby elephants and so will be very aggressive towards hunters. They will also hide in dense forest making them very difficult to see.
No vaccinations are legally required for entry into Zimbabwe. If you have been to a country where yellow fever occurs then you will need to present your yellow fever certificate. Regardless, we advise that you get vaccinated for yellow fever.There is a public hospital near Avenida de America in Madrid that provides the advised vaccinations for visits to African countries
It is advisable to consult your doctor for malaria and sleeping sickness medication as the low lying places of the country are high risk areas. However using insect repellent greatly reduces the exposure to either illness. In addition, make sure you bring a high SPF sun cream (50 is good) to protect against the sun.There is also a decent hospital about a 1 and a half hour drive away from the conservancy.
Medical air rescue services cover can be arranged to the private hospitals in Harare or Bulawayo, the two biggest cities, for the duration of your stay at either Humani or Sango.
It is also recommended to arrange private medical insurance suitable for the activity that you intend to do that includes relocation to the destination of your choice. Lastly ensure that you bring any prescription drugs or OTC requirements with you from your home country.
For very remote parts of the country, for example Chimanimani Mountains, helicopter rescue can be arranged but at a very high cost.
If you are using a Econet SIM card then you can contact 112 or if you are using Netone then 114 for emergency medical assistance. Also ask your health provider for recommended numbers.
Be careful of swimming in contaminated pools of water as you may become sick with bilharzia and eating unwashed foods, which can pass on Hepatitis A. However proper precautions prevent travelers getting either illness.
Should you encounter any difficulties at Zimbabwe International Airport, either with your documents or health problems, we do have Spanish speakers in the city who can come and give assistance. There is also a Spanish embassy in the capital city of Harare, see (https://www.embassypages.com/missions/embassy13811/) for contact information.
You can either take a private plane to your chosen hotel or ask for private transport to be arranged. Should you wish to drive personally to the destination then please see the section below on Driving in Zimbabwe. If you require a few nights in Harare then we would advise booking in at the Bronte Hotel.
Contrary to the news, Zimbabwe is a very safe place to travel in. Violent crimes are virtually unheard of and incidences of petty crime are rare. However, just as in Europe keep your personal belongs near as there are pickpockets.
Be advised that any criticism of the Zimbabwe government and its president is a punishable crime and avoid using your camera outside of tourist areas and national parks especially in cities and towns near government buildings and civil servants, if in doubt just ask your guide for advice on this or contact us directly.
Also homosexual acts or displays of affection are illegal in the country so we advise that you be discreet in public. Lastly avoid walking at night in the cities and towns. However, Zimbabweans are famous for their friendly personalities and kindness so just being polite towards them will generally result with a similar response.
For those who are travelling by car please note that the police are very corrupt and will attempt to extort heavy fines for obscene offences. This can be easily avoided by having a list of the official fines with you and patiently refusing to pay. It is suggested that tourists travel using transport provided by the lodge.
The United States dollar is the favourite legal tender under the multi-currency system that was adopted in early 2009. Whilst it was easy to withdraw US dollars (USD) from ATMs using international debit cards after 2009 there is now a severe lack of dollars at ATMs, making USD withdraws impossible.
It is best to take physical money notes into the country with you, and declare them on arrival at the border/airport. We advise that you bring numerous small bill notes, e.g. $1, $5 and $10 into the country as notes of small value are not very common cannot be easily exchanged for large note sizes, e.g. $50 and $100. Do not bring in USD and Euro coins as these are not used at all. If you run out of hard cash then you can resort to using the international money exchanger Mukuru. Euros and Pounds are not used in most parts of the country so avoid bringing these currencies into the country.
In the main cities and hotels both credit and debit cards are accepted but outside of these areas it is unlikely that you can use them.
Zimbabwe uses 240V, 50Hz with sockets and plug Type D and Type G. Type G is more common.
There are numerous direct flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Addis Ababa, Harare and Nairobi. For those on a tighter budget have a look at the budget airline Fastjet which does flights between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls.
You will be able to transport local art, pelts, etc in your trophy box but you have to state what is inside the box. No ivory products are allowed in the box though.
Preserved foods can also be taken out of the country but please check with your destination country that you can bring them in and/or have to be declared at customs.
If you are bringing new clothes into the country with the price tags still on them it is advisable to remove the price tags. The reasons being is that some airports will charge you duties on these.
Bringing your personal rifles into the country/ hiring rifles
Please see the attached letter regarding the entry of firearms into Zimbabwe and write in the required information and show it to customs upon entrance into the country. The customs officials will check the serial numbers, etc. You may also hire a rifle at your chosen ranch.
Due to the deteriorating roads in Zimbabwe and increased number of unlicensed drivers it is advisable to hire a local driver. If you wish to drive yourself around the Zimbabwe then it is advisable to rent a 4X4 vehicle from either Europcar and Avis.Please be advised that the price of renting a car is very high, that in Zimbabwe they drive on the left hand side and you will need to have a credit card to rent a car.
In addition, you need to bring a valid International Driving Permit (IDP), your local identification document (ID), your European drivers licence and passport. For further information on documentation needed to drive in the country please see the downloadable file FOREIGN DRIVER’S LICENCE IN ZIMBABWE.pdf
Frequently the president and other powerful politicians will drive in big convoys often preceded by police motorbikes with sirens. If you should hear this then get off the car off the road immediately.
The Zimbabwe republic police (ZRP) are very corrupt and will attempt to extort heavy fines for obscene offences. This can easily be avoided by having a list of the official fines (see the downloadable file Schedule of Deposit fines.pdf) with you, ask for proof of the law you broke and if you are innocent then patiently refuse to pay. It is suggested to avoid this that you use the transport provided by the lodge. Further information on how to deal with Zimbabwe police can be found on the document
ZRP Contact List (Mar-17).pdf and RUA Roadblock Checklist revApr17.pdf
Another option, but only to be used last, is to contact ZRP Traffic Public Relations on the numbers provided on the CONTACT DETAILS – ISSUED BY ZIMBABWE REPUBLIC POLICE.pdf file. Be warned that this can make the situation with the police worse.
We would advise that you contact Road Angels on 00 263 713 122 122
If you are considering to drive to South Africa with a hired car then know that most car hire companies will not permit their vehicles to cross the border except for some of their smallest models. Also there are numerous documents which need to be obtained to enter the country with a vehicle. Lastly, the conditions of most of the main roads are very bad making driving very difficult. With all these difficulties we would advise that you do not consider this option.
There is no public transport system in the country.
Light clothing is recommended in natural colours with a warm jacket for evenings and early mornings. A pair of comfortable, worn-in, walking shoes will be an useful on your safari. Bring binoculars, a camera with extra memory cards and batteries, sunglasses, sun lotion and a hat/cap.
Do not bring in army camouflage into the country as it is illegal. Preferably use clothes which are khaki/light brown in colour.
Zimbabwe can be visited any time during the year, however the rainy season is between December and February with possible rains in November and March, some lodges are closed during this season. The hot, dry season is from May to November with the cooler season starting in June and ending in August, the cooler season is the advised time to visit Zimbabwe’s safari areas.
Due to the country’s excellent education system most Zimbabweans, European and African, speak a high level of conversational and business English. Most local Europeans speak English as their native language with a very British sounding accent. There is also the two local languages belonging to the two main tribes, Shona and Ndebele.
It depends on the lodge and the type of activities your children enjoy doing. If they enjoy the city life with cinemas and shopping centres, then Zimbabwe is not ideal. Most lodges do not provide video game facilities and many have a minimum age requirement, generally 7 years old. However, if they enjoy outdoor activities and adventure then Zimbabwe is the place to be for young people.
Depending on your cellular provider, some mobile phones will receive a signal in most towns and some safari lodges. Expect that you will get a weak signal, either EDGE or 2G in more remote places. You should also ask your cellular provider if your phone will work in the country. Another option is to buy a local SIM card, preferably Econet due to its wide coverage. But be aware that phone calls and use of mobile data is very expensive at present so avoid streaming videos.
Citizens of Spain are able to purchase a single entry visa upon entry into the country at the current price of $30 but should you want to enter another neighbouring country and return to Zimbabwe then purchase a double entry visa for $45. Your passport should also have a minimum of 4 blank pages and be valid for at least 7 more months after entry into the country.