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Political Situation in Zimbabwe

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Apr 13th, 2005, 05:57 AM
  #1
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Political Situation in Zimbabwe

We are traveling to South Africa, Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls) and Botswana in June. My husband has been reading the paper about much of the political unrest in Zimbabwe and wonderilg if it is still safe to go there. We REALLY want to see Victoria Falls so we won't change plans unless we absolutely have no choice. Wondering if anyone has been there recently who can tell us how safe/unsafe it is.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 07:14 AM
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If you are doing typical safari/tourist activities, I believe it is as safe as anywhere else. However, I have not been there for 7 years, nor am I planning a return in the near future. So my thoughts are not as relevant.

You can see Victoria Falls from Zambia also. I've only viewed it from Zimbabwe, but many itineraries are including the Zambian side of the falls instead of Zimbabwe. I believe the change may be for reasons you have raised.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 08:45 AM
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We stayed in Livingstone, Zambia for our visit to Vic Falls in July 2004, but crossed over to Zimbabwe for the day to see the falls from that side and check out Victoria Falls Hotel. We did not wander around too much, and were accompanied by our guide, a former Zimbabwean, except when we were inside the park grounds at the Falls. There was only one place where the guide suddenly said, OK - let's going, and ushered us into the van quickly; the locals where we stopped to view the Big Tree (1000-year old baobab tree) made him a little nervous.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 08:50 AM
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jcasale - The Zambian side of Victoria Falls is very impressive and very accessible. There are two hotels, Zambezi Sun and Royal Livingstone, on one property on the Zambian side within easy walking distance from the Falls.

The situation in Zimbabwe slips further into chaos every day. That being said, tourism is so important that every effort is being made to create a calm and safe area near the Falls.

Here is another Zimbabwe site to see what I'm talking about:
http://www.zwnews.com/index.cfm
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Apr 13th, 2005, 02:32 PM
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We were in VFA in 2001, and surprisingly, walked everywhere without a guide. Granted the situation wasn't as chaotic as has been these last few years, but VFA is rather safe compared to the countryside. A friend has been in Harare three times since '01 and felt perfectly safe, as he was driving thru the country from SA onto Zambia.

Yes, many are choosing instead to stay on the Zambia side; cross into Zimbabwe to see the Falls from this side, but remember that tourism is still what keeps many of the world's hot-spots from completely boiling over. And many are still visiting Hwange for safari. Your being in Zimbabwe, even for a day or two gives the people some sense that they haven't been forgotten and maybe someday - soon - Mugabe will die!

Much of the unrest is further afield, but the choice has to be yours - Zim or Zam... but don't miss the Falls.
 
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Apr 13th, 2005, 05:04 PM
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I was just at Vic Falls 2 weeks ago staying at The Royal Livingstone Hotel.
We did all of our viewing from the Zambia side as we refused to cross the border as our US Sate Dept doesn't want Americans in Zim. That being said, you can of course still go and to cross into Zim; if what we heard is correct, there is now a $120 RT fee to cross the border. This fee is in effect even when just walking across the bridge to view the falls. While enjoying the falls from the Zambia side, we did not hear of anyone crossing over into Zim as a protest of the exorbinant fee now imposed. We were perfectly safe at the Royal Livingstone and I would also say the Zambezi Sun (sister hotel) would also be a good choice. Being able to walk to the falls, craft market, Boma dinner was wonderful.....having a herd of zebra outside my hotel patio door was next to being in heaven!
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Apr 13th, 2005, 05:09 PM
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i was in zimbabwe in january. i could tell very little difference between it and botswana in terms of how we were treated. i would maintain you current plans and enjoy zimbabwe and u can feel good knowing you are helping some very needy people.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 05:46 PM
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I was in Zimbabwe in October 04 and it is fine...the people are great, and they need USD--take some USD in cash--they much prefer that to travelers checks...as long as you are in good hotels/safari camps you are fine. Went for over a week, and enjoyed it as much as Botswana
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Apr 13th, 2005, 05:51 PM
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I will be traveling to Zimbabwe in September, and am wondering what a RT fee is? I just want to be prepared for any unexpected costs. Thanks
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Apr 13th, 2005, 07:10 PM
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Thanks for all of the info. I think I will rely on bigcountry and kata1 and leave things as they are (unless the situation gets worse). Our travel agent (who is based in Cape Town) also suggested bringing US dollars to use there. I like the idea of helping people who need it. We just got back from Rio which also has horror stories about it (more related to crime and corruption rather than political unrest, but same stuff). We never felt unsafe and found the people there to be wonderful. Of course we we careful about not flashing alot of cash or walking around at night alone. But it was a very positive experience. I also wonder what the RT fee is. Anyone know? I know that US citizens need a Visa to enter Zimbabwe which is issued upon entry - maybe that's it? But the guide books and my travel agent indicate that the Visa only costs about $30 for a single entry.
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Apr 14th, 2005, 04:25 AM
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When you refer to fee R/T - gather you are referring to airfare? From where? JNB? When we visited when the USD was stronger the r/t fare was about $300. Your travel agent should be able to advise the current fare.

The Visa is obtainable upon entry and is USD$30 unless it's been increased. And upon leaving there is a USD$20 Departure Fee (not included in the air ticket).

Your TA should be able to arrange a package including air, hotel and tours (the Falls, maybe an evening cruise on the Zambezi).

When we visited, we spent only 1nt as the following day we were heading by road to Chobe in Botswana. On our return from Chobe, we had about 4-hours till our return flight to JNB and spent that time on our own, in town, shopping and just enjoying ourselves. While there are touts and sadly, beggers, we still felt safe.

Hope this helps.
 
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Apr 14th, 2005, 05:14 AM
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Zimababwe now charges a 20$ "Falls viewing fee". You also need a visa: $30 for single entry or $45 for double entry. If you're from the UK it's even more: $55 single entry and $70 double entry.

If you're staying at a Zambian recognised property (Royal Livingstone, Zambezi Sun, Taita Falcon Lodge, Tongabezi, The River Club, Islands of Siankaba, Sussi and Chuma, Lost Horizons, Stanley Safari Lodge, Natural Mystic and Thorntree Lodge) and have booked in advance there is no Zambian visa charge.
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Apr 14th, 2005, 06:50 AM
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jcasale,

Have you seen the movie "City of God" yet, set in Rio De Janeiro's slums? It is an excellent movie and a long way from the postcard view that Rio De Janeiro is often thought of by potential visitors. It is one of the best movies I have seen in recent years.
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Apr 14th, 2005, 10:47 AM
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I have not seen it, but it's been recommended by one of the friends who went with us. They also just got done watching Fitzcarraldo (we also went to Manaus) which they said was slow going, but amazing since we had seen the Opera House. Guess I'll have to get to the library or video store soon! Any recommendations of movies to watch prior to a trip to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana?
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