Safety and Precautions
The political situation in Zimbabwe is currently fairly stable, but the damage from the lengthy dictatorship and internal strife is still very apparent. Prices have stabilized and basic goods have reappeared on the shelves, but the tourist capital of Victoria Falls has not yet regained its status as a prime international destination. All the activities, shopping, and dining options on offer on the Zimbabwean side can also be enjoyed across the border in Zambia—without any of the uncertainty and potential for sudden political and economic upheavals that could result in cancellations or threats to visitors' safety. The Victoria Falls town and tourism industry has managed to build itself up in a remarkably short time. The political situation is still not 100% resolved, but for now, Zimbabwean lodges offer good value and service.
MARS (Medical Air Rescue Services) is on standby for all emergencies. Dr. Nyoni is a trauma specialist and operates a hospital opposite the Shoestring Lodge. Go to Victoria Falls Pharmacy for prescriptions.
Male homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe—female homosexuality isn’t mentioned in law—and same-sex relationships receive no recognition. Attitudes are improving, but it's advisable to be extremely circumspect.
It's always a good idea to leave ample space in your luggage for common sense when traveling to Victoria Falls. Wild animals abound throughout this area (even in the center of town) and must be given a lot of physical space and respect. You must also remember that Zimbabwe is relatively poor. There are tourism police, but opportunistic thieving still happens very occasionally. Although crime in this area is generally nonviolent, losing your money, belongings, or passport will result in spending the remainder of your trip with various officials in stuffy, badly decorated offices instead of sitting back on the deck of your sunset cruise with drink in hand.
As for the water, it’s always advisable to drink bottled water. Should you develop an upset stomach, be sure to contact a physician, especially if you’re running a fever, in order to rule out malaria or a communicable disease. Do remember to mention your visit to a malaria area to your doctor in the event of illness within a year of leaving Africa.
U.S. Embassy. 172 Herbert Chitepo Ave., Box 4010, Harare, Harare. 04/25–0593; harare.usembassy.gov.
MARS. West Dr., opposite Shoestring, Victoria Falls, Matabeleland North. 013/4–4646; www.mars.co.zw.