safety in zimbabwe

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Jun 8th, 2004, 05:29 PM
  #1
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safety in zimbabwe

My husband and I are planning on visiting Victoria Falls in August and driving from there to Chobe Chilwero in Botswana. Just got off the US Dept. of State site and have some trepidation. Is it safe? Any thoughts? Suggestions?
Many thanks for your help.
Sandy
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Jun 8th, 2004, 06:17 PM
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Cant speak for any part of Zimbabwe but the area near the Falls. Wife and I were there in May of 2004 and had a wonderful time. The people were friendly and kind although very poor compared to surrounding countries because of the current government there. Had no problems and had the same concerns as you did. We were there for 2 days but did no driving however. Good travels.
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Jun 8th, 2004, 07:20 PM
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We also had concerns when we saw the travel advisories. We still went. Had a great time - were very safe. Spent 3 nights in V Falls Zim. Also spent a day in Zam.
Would go again with no reservations.
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Jun 9th, 2004, 04:12 AM
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sandi
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There have been travel warnings for Zimbabwe for quite sometime (years) now. We visited VFA in '01 and had a wonderful time. Yes, people are poor and there is some begging, but otherwise the people are most friendly.

During your transfer to Botswana, with your driver it's about an hour on paved roads. Once there, you will be met by a transfer driver from Botswana who will take you across the border, stop into the Border Crossing office to have your Passports stamped (no Visa required), then continue onto Chilwero on paved road.

Once you've completed this process, you'll drive around a bend, where you'll stop and have to place your feet (w/shoes on) in a pan of anticeptic of some sort, to be certain you are not transporting anything that might be dangerous to the Botswana environment. Likewise, your vehicle, will drive thru a pit of anticeptic, for the same purpose.

From the border, the drive to Chilwero (passsing turn-off to Kasane) is just short of an hour. You'll love your accommodations here and the wonderful staff. Happy travels.
 
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Jun 9th, 2004, 06:27 AM
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My brother, a white American lives and works in Zimbabwe. He rarely has trouble, but suggests a low profile in crowds. It is important to remember that President Bush has issued sanctions against doing business with a long list of Zim government officials (quite a few of these people & their spouses now own the resort ranches and safari farms). So if you are American just think before you act so to speak. Having been to Zimbabwe, I think it's worth the little extra effort. Chances are very good that you'll be fine.
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Jun 9th, 2004, 07:32 AM
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Like Wulfstan we were only near the Falls area of Zim, also in May '04,but no problems at all. The biggest hassle was all the vendors trying to sell tourists wood carved figurines or bowls. They will even ask to trade for your shoes or clothes. But we took the advice of our Zim hotel staff as well as this Fodor's forum and tried to avoid them as much as possible. Anyway, you'll see all kinds of signs posted advising you not to change money or buy from street merchants who are not at official markets.
Other than that, we felt fine walking the streets. One peculiarity is that the prices of the hotels and restaurants are pretty much what you would expect in any tourist area - despite the obvious low occupancy. I suppose they have to make up for their losses somehow.
It was also interesting that we were able to book a same day night game drive complete with dinner in the bush through our Zim hotel activities office. What surprised us was that we were the only two on the drive yet there was a driver, a guide and a cook available on less than 6 hours notice. It gives you some idea of how much the tourism industry there must be hurting.
Happy travels!
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Jun 9th, 2004, 10:10 AM
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You are totally correct jeorgiagirl, the tourism is really hurting since the "no whites" regime of Robert Mugabe. I am sorry though that you did not take advantage of the great shopping from local people. These people are so poor and really work to make the handcrafted items that you describe. Actually the clothes and shoes are harder to come by than money right now. It is a shame that the hotel
people suggested you avoid these people, because in reality even the "nice" hotel people will take advantage of you. It's a sad fact that things are so bad that everyone is on the take, especially the "Government approved" places. It's nice to hear that you did enjoy your visit to one of the most beautiful places on earth!
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Jun 9th, 2004, 05:48 PM
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When going across the border from Zim to Zam - our travel agent wrote a letter asking for the Visa to be waived. That helped avoid the Visa fee.
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