Does the thought of organising your travel suitcase (while sticking to those pesky luggage weight restrictions) and getting ready on time without frantically looking for things hours before your flight fill you with utter dread? Then you’ve come to the right place – it pays to plan just a little bit in advance in order to start your holiday off on the right note. This is especially true when you travel to a country with a varied terrain and remote areas, such as Zimbabwe, where temperatures fluctuate and you’ll find yourself walking through the bush one minute and lounging by a pool the next. So if you are asking yourself, “what to pack for Zimbabwe?”, then read on for our nifty little tips – some are obvious, others you might never have thought of!
When it comes to safaris, comfort and neutral colours are key. Pack your layers, including both shorts and lightweight trousers. A word of warning – military-inspired clothing is prohibited when travelling in Zimbabwe, so leave those camouflage tees at home. Next up – sun protection. Needless to say that the sun is strong in Zimbabwe, and you might not always find immediate shade while out in the bush, so a high factor sunscreen and high quality sunglasses are a must, as is a wide-brimmed hat. When you are on a game drive or walking safari it also helps to have a small backpack for all your essentials – as with your clothes, it shouldn’t be in neon or bold colours. Last but not least – swimwear for those cooling dips in the pool after a long day, plus flip flops or sandals and breezy dresses and shirts. We also always pack a kikoi, the African version of a sarong, because of its multitasking prowess – as a wrap-around skirt, headscarf or even as a blanket!
Layers, layers, layers
As in other African countries, temperatures can vary wildly in Zimbabwe, and often change several times within one day. Early morning and late afternoon game drives can take you through a range of temperatures and depending on what trip you take, you might also be lucky enough to find yourself enjoying a sunset on the water – be it at Vic Falls, Lake Kariba or Mana Pools. Meaning that one minute you could be basking in warm sunshine, the next you might be shivering. The solution? Layers! Start with a T-shirt, throw on a long-sleeved top over it, then take light jumpers or cardigans and a lightweight jacket for those cooler mornings and evenings.
These boots are made for walking…
Zimbabwe has some of Africa’s best walking safaris, so a decent pair of shoes should be top of your list. Whether you are looking for close-up encounters with one of Hwange’s 40,000+ elephants or roaming between acacia and mahogany trees in Mana Pools to spot wild dog and buffalo, sturdy, comfortable, closed-toe shoes are an absolute must. Don’t worry about rushing out to buy a brand new pair of walking boots (really don’t, unless you’ve got time to break them in!), even a pair of sturdy trainers will suffice. Whatever you pack, just make sure they’re comfortable and reasonably hardwearing.
Let’s talk gadgets
Next up on our what to pack for Zimbabwe list, we highly recommend a good quality camera as you’ll definitely want to capture those incredible Zimbabwean wildlife sightings and spectacular landscapes! Don’t forget spare batteries (charging capacities can be limited), spare memory cards and a multi-way adaptor suitable for Type G plug sockets. Also remember a charging bank for your phone and a fully loaded Kindle (we love an old fashioned book as well but Kindles are great when you’re battling weight restrictions!). Here are some suggestions of books to read before and during a trip to Africa. You might also want to buy a nice travel journal to jot down highlights along the way – much more romantic than typing notes on your phone!
Ah yes, it’s not only about what to pack for Zimbabwe – you’ll also need to somehow fit all of it in your luggage. If you’re a light packer, congrats; if, on the other hand, you are like me (i.e. wanting to pack everything but the kitchen sink) then luggage restrictions can be a real pain. Now most international airlines have a baggage allowance of at least 20kg (or more) per person – so far so good. BUT – and this is where it might get tricky – those cute little ‘bush planes’ taking you to, say, Gonarezhou Airstrip, usually only allow 15kg per person, and luggage is limited to one soft bag (so no hard-shell suitcases). In which case – think small, rather than big!
Most camps and lodges will have a first aid kit but you might also find yourself travelling to remote areas in Zimbabwe, far removed from any pharmacy or hospital. Be prepared and add a small medical kit including painkillers, malaria medication (chat to your doctor first), insect repellent, nose spray, antiseptic wipes, plasters, and anything else you take regularly to your packing list (not to forget your toiletries, contact lenses etc of course!)