The Times online held an interesting debate last week on Zimbabwe, the discussion focusing on whether it’s ethical to travel to the country.
Travelling with a responsible operator was a key point raised by many of the expert commentators. This month, we were nominated (for the second year running) by the World Travel Awards, as Africa's Leading Responsible Tourism Company - so aside from almost 20 years of experience on the continent, you can also be assured that we’re committed to ethical travel.
Another burning issue was cost, and with less adventurers heading to the destination you might expect to pay more, but a value led operator will cut out unnecessary flights - a factor that could see your travel budget soar. Our main methods of transport in Zimbabwe are your regular mini-van and of course a 4X4! We also stick to camping, ensuring those expensive safari lodges don't burn a hole in your pocket.
It’s true Zimbabwe still faces many political challenges, but the FCO is not advising against travel to the country, so if it’s top of your list, here’s a quick guide to get you started on what’s sure to be an extraordinary adventure.
- Travel with a company that supports local operators and one that has ethical guidelines and policies. You can usually find an up to date guide on the website.
- You don’t have to volunteer to make a difference. Just seeing the wildlife and staying in the camps will provide employment and funds for conservation - helping to ward off poachers and more importantly feeding families.
- Be aware that on a short stay you might well be able to visit charitable organisations, as opposed to volunteering. For example, our 7-day Rediscover Zimbabwe small group safari, includes an afternoon visit to the Hwange Wild Dog Project. While not hands-on, this is still an invaluable opportunity to gain a personal insight into the work being done, and just by being there you’ll be contributing to the scheme financially.
- As people are still debating the issue in terms of travel to the country, now is the ideal time to book. A safari in Zimbabwe won’t be overrun with 4X4s and you can also expect a few firsts, including the opportunity to go hunting with the King of the Jungle himself, part of a "Rehabilitation & Release Into The Wild" programme being run in Gweru.
- Yes you can travel independently, but it’s wise to opt for a reputable tour operator as they will have close relationships with contacts on the ground and a good background knowledge when it comes to your personal safety.
- Don’t carry huge amounts of cash. USD is accepted in most places and you’ll find ATMs in most of the big cities.
- On your return you’ll have positive personal stories to relay – your first-hand experience helping to change negative perceptions when it comes to taking on an adventure in Zimbabwe. So why not take a sneak peek at Zim and treat yourself to one of Africa's best kept secrets...