Zimbabwe Travel, Tours, Gap Year & Volunteering
Zimbabwe is located in a spectacular setting situated between two rivers and with the incredible Victoria Falls located on it's border. Zimbabwe is full of colour, culture and history with exotic wildlife, friendly locals and also a spectacular coastline. Find unique trips where you can see the highlights of the country in a safe way.
Trips, Tours, Gap Year & Volunteer Programs in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Travel Guide
Travel to Zimbabwe with One World 365 and search our amazing activities and trips. Get information, tips, itineraries and inspiration for visiting Zimbabwe.
- Capital - Harare (population 1,600,000)
- Currency - US Dollar (de facto)
- Country Area - 390,750 km2
- Population - 12,500,000 (2009 Census)
- Language - English, Shona, Sindebele + local languages
- International Dailing Code +263
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Zimbabwe has a tropical climate that is very dry and warm throughout the year apart from November to April when it can be humid and also rainy. Temperatures can be very high well in the 30's so be aware of this. Winter can be the best time to visit Zimbabwe if you are interested in seeing wildlife but sometimes this period can get very cold and frosty at night so you will need to pack accordingly.
Health & Safety
You will need to check about vaccinations before departing, we recommend you contact your local doctors in advance to get advice. Due to the recent political problems and poverty, medicines can be in short supply at hospitals so pack a first aid kit. Going to be checked or treated at a private hospital / medical centre is your best options as these places have a higher standard of facilities and treatments available. We recommend searching for a good medical insurance before departing, this should cover you for any problems or emergencies.
HIV and AIDS are both big issues in this country and malaria can be contracted in some areas of the country, it is up to you whether you take medication to prevent malaria but take precautions like using repellent, a net and cover your body at night. You might also want to get a jab for rabies. If you get seriously ill you might want to consider crossing into South Africa where hospitals and healthcare facilities are generally a higher standard.
Zimbabwe is a lot safer than you might think but its always best to read up before leaving, also be prepared for the sunny weather, it is advised to pack light with plenty of sun cream.
These are some recommended hospitals and clinics in Zimbabwe:
- Harare: The Avenues Clinic, Cnr Mazowe Street & Balines Avenue. Tel: 251180 99
- Harare: Trauma Centre, Lanark Road, Belgravia. Tel: 7000666/815)
- Bulawayo: Central Hospital. Tel: 72111
- Galen House Emergency Medical Clinic. Tel: 540051)
Travelling & Backpacking in Zimbabwe
Most internationals arrive by flying direct into Harare or crossing the border from a neighboring country. Our authentic holidays will provide you with the chance to travel like a local, meet new people and learn more about the places you visit. You will get to see spectacular wildlife in their natural habitat.
Here are some of the best places to visit and add to your Zimbabwe travel itinerary:
- Victoria Falls
- Kariba Lake
- Lake Mutirikwi National Park
- Gonarezhou National Park
- Matobo National Park
- Nyanga National Park
- Hwange National Park
- Mana Pools National Park
- Matusadona National Park
Zimbabwe Tours & Safaris
On an organised group tour you will get to see the natural beauty of the country for yourself and get close to wildlife on off the beaten track tours, nothing compares to seeing lions, elephants and giraffes in the wild. This really is a thrill seekers paradise. Search small group tours in Zimbabwe for all budgets, options include family tours, active hiking, trekking, cycling and adventure trips and more. Zimbabwe has has a very turbulent recent history and you will need to check latest travel advice before departing.
- Get the chance to get up close to elephants, lions, leopards, black and white rhino and buffalo on this exhilarating trek
- Get an authentic insight into the contemporary culture and lifestyle of the average rural Zulu person whilst having the opportunity, through a meaningful livestock
- See Victoria Falls
- Eat delicious, wholesome meals together with your hosts in the great hut, and sleep in traditional Zulu huts
- Cultural exchange, teaching how to share and be happy with almost no material possessions
"I booked a tour with Oasis Overland and Zimbabwe took me by surprise, as it is such a beautiful country and everyone was so friendly, and there is just something for everyone! Matobo National Park where you can go trekking on foot to see rhino, a safari like no other, where you come back feeling you have learnt so much. Great Zimbabwe Ruins gives you a chance to explore the stone walls and remains of the old Capital City. A few days are spent at a Private Game ranch, where elephants stroll past your tents and you can go on a night time game drive and so much more! And of course there is Victoria Falls, where you can get drenched from the mist of the falls, get the adrenaline pumping by doing a gorge swing (yes that’s me taking the leap!), take a sunset cruise down the Zambezi or fly over the Falls!" - Katie, UK
Gap Year in Zimbabwe
View ideas for taking a gap year in Zimbabwe - this country is safer to visit than what you might think. Zimbabwe is easily accessible from international airports and you can also cross the border from neighboring countries so getting here also isn't too difficult.
When looking to take a Africa gap year, a lot of people sometimes overlook Zimbabwe but there are so many fantastic programs available including traveling, working with animals, teaching or coaching sports. Most gap year programs we have listed on our website will require you to be aged 18+ and be in good health - no previous skills are needed for most placements although if you want to work in veterinary or medicine you might be asked to provide certificates or a relevant degree before you are allowing hands on work. programs are open to students, non students, career breakers and anyone who wants to help make a difference in Zimbabwe.
Best Gap Year Programs in Zimbabwe
Popular Zimbabwe gap year programs can include working with wildlife including rhinos and elephants on rehabilitation projects. Rhino and lion numbers in the wild are decreasing at an alarming rate and you can get close to these incredible creatures on a gap year conservation project.
A lot of wildlife efforts in Zimbabwe have the ultimate aim of rehabilitating the animals and setting them free back in their natural environment. If you have a passion for working with animals, either in the field of veterinary medicine or in a more general animal care-oriented role, then these are a perfect way for you to gain some knowledge or put your skills into practice, with some work experience in the developing world.
Projects open all around the country with new ones starting all the time, some are located in remote areas for example one of the wildlife orphanages we have listed on our website is located 45 minutes away from Bulawayo (Zimbabwe's 2nd City). Types of tasks and activities include preparing animal food as well as feeding the animals....and yes that does include lions. Other activities include maintaining the animal enclosures, educating the public and day visitors about the animals and their habitats in the wild. One of the most rewarding tasks you might get given is the once in a lifetime opportunity to hand rear orphaned animals that are brought into the wildlife orphanage. You are able to play, feed and nurture them or maybe just give them a little cuddle if they get a little 'jumpy' at all the new found attention.
You could help educational and community outreach gap year programs providing assistance in schools. As a participant helping on these types of programs you might find yourself teaching English, helping educational activities, working with local families and assisting general daily activities. Spending time working in underpriviliged pre-schools or within communities is really rewarding, you will be able to see the difference you can make.
Types of daily tasks will include helping lead educational / English lessons, working to encourage recycling, helping a support group set up for local women and new mothers, teaching children about the benefits of eating healthy, teaching about HIV / AIDs issues, creating new fun interactive projects and also working on team / sports programs.
Another popular option for gap years in Africa is to sign up to protect elephants and rhinos in locations like Wedza. Rhinos and elephants are facing a tough future with the every present threat of poaching. By applying to help you will get to help research efforts with elephants and also work at a rhino breeding program. These placements are very hands on where you will work alongside local staff and international participants working to educate the local population and also directly help animals.
Volunteer in Zimbabwe
Some large international charities and organisations stopped directly working in Zimbabwe due to political and security problems over the past two decades but now a lot are returning and have re-opened programs to international participants. Spending time being more than just a tourist and volunteering in Africa will be a real eye opening learning experience, you will be able to live in a new country and really get to understand the local culture and way of life.
Past participants fall in love with Zimbabwe once you have experienced this country you will too. There are also so many attractions to see and the local people although generally very poor are very warm and open to foreigners. A lot of local people speak English too which makes this country easier to navigate and get around. Placements can be joined with international charities, humanitarian organisations, sending agencies and also local NGO's.
You can join programs in places like the capital Harare, Rusape, Bulawayo and more rural areas. If you join programs with wildlife you will probably be based in a remote area of the country usually in Southern Zimbabwe which is where a lot of National Parks, nature areas and sanctuaries are located. In Northern Zimbabwe there are programs running around Lake Kariba and the Lower Zambezi but generally this area is more industrialised than the rest of the country. We wouldn’t be so excited about these projects if they really weren’t worthwhile! Get ready for the most incredible experience of your life.
If you are worried Zimbabwe might be a little bit off the beaten track then you might want to apply to volunteer programs in South Africa which is more touristy and where there are similar placements.
Volunteer with Animals in Zimbabwe
Help rhinos, elephants, crocodiles, snakes, birds and more species. Some animals in Zimbabwe like black rhinoceroses are facing a bleak future with extinction looming, but you can play a part in trying to help these beautiful creatures. Animals used to have large numbers in Zimbabwe, but in the 1980's and 1990's poaching was rife and war ravaged the country which meant than rhinos become extinct in the Zambezi Valley where they were once in their thousands.
After rhinos became extinct in the Zambezi Valley the remaining rhinos in Zimbabwe were moved into conservation areas where they would be safer, and hopefully away from issues like poaching. Other animals like elephants have really suffered from drought and poaching in recent years and their numbers are extremely low.
When signing up to volunteer with wildlife in Zimbabwe you will be helping local staff with daily activities like collecting food, feeding the animals, cleaning enclosures, helping create new housing and more. You might even be part of rescue teams who go out and save injured animals. There are lots of wildlife rescue centres and orphanages in Zimbabwe and which need help from international participants all year round. Wildlife orphanages care for animals which have been injured, abandoned or can't look after themselves in the wild.
Some will be released back into the wild whilst others will need human assistance. Sometimes when lions are either young, injured or being nursed by to health you will be able to touch and walk with them - this is an unbelievable experience and one of the most amazing things you can do in the whole world.
The best thing about some projects is you live on site and work on site so you are always at one with the animals. In some cases with previous volunteers they have actually slept above a wildlife pen looking up into the starry sky! Now that’s something to write home about! On outreach projects this is your chance to travel into the spectacular National Parks to rescue wounded and orphaned animals to bring back to the centre to house and also to nurture the wildlife back to health.
Please note some of these animals are from wild backgrounds and some are quite dangerous, for this reason you might not get hands on contact. With others it might be different you could be nursing them back to health or rehabilitating them back to the wild. The animals who you might not be able to get close to you will see be able to watch which is an exhilarating experience, and amazing if you have affection for wildlife. Very rarely do you actually get the opportunity to touch a wild African lion or feed such a wide variety of animals all in one place.
Community Development Projects in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe has a population of around 12 million people and approximately 65% live in poverty and the average life expectancy is only 51 years - both are quite a shocking stats. On our website you can find short and long term community programs where you can work on the ground and help people in need. You might sign up to help educational efforts and teach in community centres or at schools working with children from poor backgrounds. This can be really rewarding where you will get to help students learn, seeing them improve their English and literature will be a magical experience.
Coach Sports in Zimbabwe
Join a cricketing experience that you will not forget. Experience the lifestyle of an overseas cricket coach, the rewards are that you will gain a rich understanding of the Zimbabwe sporting culture and way of life. Sport plays a vital role in children’s lives. Whether at a social or competitive level, it is fundamental in the development of one’s personality, co-ordination, discipline and social development. It provides one with the opportunity to develop one’s interpersonal skills, self-esteem and create a positive self- image.
On there programs you will not only have the opportunity to play cricket with one of the local cricket clubs in Zimbabwe, but you will also use your skills and passion for the game to contribute to some on-going sport coaching community initiatives.
- 07:00 Get up, eat breakfast of cereals, toast, tea/coffee, and start getting ready for your project.
- 07:45 Head off to your coaching placement.
- 08:30 Start your morning coaching session.
- 12:30 Lunch break.
- 14:00 You will leave for your afternoon coaching session at one of the local schools.
- 16.30 End of the working day. Head to club practice.
- 18.30 Dinner, followed by free time to do as the please.
Medical Volunteer Programs in Zimbabwe
You could also work in a medical capacity, Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world with around 14% of the population suffering. You could apply with the National AIDS Council to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS by raising awareness of the problem within local communities and also looking to care and offer support to affected people. Helping local Zimbabweans overcome the daily struggles they face will be an experience which will stay with you forever.
Volunteers can also be placed in local rural community schools on projects such as AIDS awareness, teaching self-sufficiency skills, English conservation and environmental issues. People are always needed on these types of projects, you will need a willingness to help and do your bit to raise awareness of the issues and provide assistance on the ground. You will work in teams alongside local staff, whilst there will also be other international volunteers helping.
Most organisations accept anyone aged 18+ and do not require experience in a specific field of work. If you are already working in a veterinary capacity you will be able to find skilled placements to join. Please research all opportunities before applying to see if they are right for you. You will aslo need to check the weather, there is a warm climate all year round so you will need to pack light. Even thought a lot of local people speak English you might still want to learn some local Ndebele and Shona phrases especially if you are going to be working with local people.
There is no best time to apply but this destination is increasingly popular and so get you application in early to secure a place. Also remember on most projects you will be working in the outdoors, so if heat isn't your thing then we don't really recommend joining during the peak of summer when this country gets extremely hot. Winter is a great time for wildlife conservation projects in the bush as during this period animals can be seen more often around the watering holes.
Volunteers will be accommodated in a comfortable shared house or at a farm in more rural locations with one dormitory and two twin rooms so sharing may be necessary. There are usually communal living rooms with fireplaces for evening socializing and three full meals a day are provided. On Sundays volunteers are asked to cook for each other and there is a vegetable garden that provides most of the fresh vegetables. Sometimes when working in outreach teams you might be camping out in the bush - this is an amazing experience. Home stays and more comfortable private accommodation can also be arranged.
How to Apply
On some volunteer programs you might need to pay a fee to participate, this is to ensure the project can continue to function throughout the year - most operations have little of no funding. If you apply through an organisation they might provide a package which includes:
- All airport transfers from Harare International Airport upon arrival and departure
- Comprehensive orientation program
- Full board and lodging which includes 3 meals a day
- Weekly laundry service during your stay
- Assistance with the projects by our various staff and Project Managers
Prices can vary depending on where you are placed, what project you join and also how long you stay. The project fee goes directly back into the project that you are involved with. This fee facilitates funding for items such as sporting equipment, etc. It can be extremely difficult to find paid positions in this country, you need to apply in advance for a work permit which can be complicated unless you are a skilled professional.
Volunteer in Zimbabwe for Free
There are some free and low cost opportunities with local NGO's but you will usually need to pay for your board, meals and also transport getting to the location. You can search our featured programs today to enquire for more information or book a spot.
Zimbabwe Volunteer Reviews
"l volunteered at Progressio under Restoration of Hope in Zimbabwe. lt was a culture exchange program for three months where we were helping children. lt was an excellent experience." - Tsitsi
"I spent a couple of weeks volunteering in Imire Rhino and wildlife conservation centre and had the most amazing experience" - Mary, Ireland
"I went to volunteer in Zimbabwe with Conservation Travel Africa which was easily one of the most fun experiences of my life. I made close friends, met amazing people, got to live in the African bush and was able to help wildlife." - Kate, USA
"I worked at a wildlife sanctuary helping elephants and rhinos. This is a fantastic chance for anyone person wanted to build your skills and make a difference in a sunny climate. It is heartbreaking when you see up close the devestating effects of wildlife poaching and more volunteers and funds are needed to help." Andy, conservation volunteer from the UK
"I helped at a rural school and it was an incredible experience. Some days can be hard, working conditions are basic to say the least but the smiles from the local children made the whole placement the best time of my life." - Lucy, teaching volunteer from the UK