The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that all visitors to Zimbabwe obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance. Travellers should also note that the Irish government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
We advise that visitors should exercise caution when travelling to Zimbabwe. The situation on the ground is calm and there are no reported tensions in tourist destinations such as Victoria Falls. But the political and economic environment remains unpredictable. The situation could deteriorate quite quickly. Visitors are advised to monitor the situation ahead of their visit and keep abreast of developments prior to and during their visit.
Because of uncertainty in the political and economic situation, we strongly advise against independent travel (particularly backpacking). Public transport and services, including internal flights with Air Zimbabwe, may be cancelled or not run on schedule.
There are frequent and prolonged power cuts throughout Zimbabwe and mobile phone service outside the main towns can be poor.
We strongly advise against all travel to high density, low-income suburban areas at any time; and all but essential travel to rural Mashonaland, rural Manicaland and farming areas.
All Irish citizens intending to travel to Zimbabwe are strongly advised to register their details with the Department of Foreign Affairs. You can access the Travel Registration system here
Safety and Security
We strongly recommend that Irish Citizens resident, or long term visitors, in Zimbabwe should also contact the Irish Honorary Consul in Harare. See below for contact details.
Irish Citizens resident in Zimbabwe should keep a low profile, exercise a high degree of caution, monitor local media and avoid all areas where demonstrations may be held, or where there are large gatherings of people.
You should ensure that you are content with your own and your family’s security arrangements and keep yourself up to date with developments, including regularly monitoring travel advice issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
You should ensure that your travel documents are up to date and readily available in case you need to leave the country at short notice. You are advised to have your own contingency plan and to regularly review its viability in the light of changing circumstances.
President Mugabe has called a national election for 31 July. Currently the political situation remains generally stable. There have been no recent reports of intimidation against foreign visitors. Given the instability and unrest associated with the last elections held in 2008, the Department strongly advises Irish travelers to avoid all political events or meetings. You should stay away from demonstrations or other large gatherings of people. If a demonstration or disturbance is taking place, you should leave the area as quickly as possible. You should not stay to watch or attempt to photograph it, even from a distance.
You should avoid engaging in partisan political activity, or in activities which could be construed as such, including political discussions in public places or criticism of the President. You should also be aware that an open hand is the political symbol of the main opposition political party, the Movement for Democratic Change, and a friendly wave may therefore be misinterpreted as a provocative gesture. The carrying of the main independent newspapers (the Financial Gazette, the Independent, the Standard or the Zimbabwean) and books by banned authors, or the wearing of T-shirts with slogans of the main political activist organisation, can provoke a hostile reaction from ZANU (PF) supporters.
Visitors are advised to avoid situations or areas where they feel unsafe. You should ensure that your place of accommodation is secure at all times as armed robberies targeting foreign residents have increased.
Armed car-jacking has become a cause of concern in the major towns in recent years and the number of incidents is increasing as the economy deteriorates. Thefts and smash-and-grab robberies from vehicles are increasingly common. Drivers should keep their vehicle doors locked and windows closed, and exercise a high degree of caution when travelling, particularly at night and at filling stations.
The incidences of opportunistic theft, especially of visible jewellery, handbags etc, is high and passports are at particular risk. You should take care with baggage in public places, and at reception desks when checking in/out of hotels. Particular care should be taken at Harare International Airport where there have been a number of such thefts.
Local Laws and Customs
You should always carry your identity documentation or a copy of your passport.
Photography of government offices, airports, military establishments, official residences and embassies, in addition to other sensitive facilities, is illegal without special permission from the Ministry of Information. Taking photographs of members of the security services (police and armed forces personnel) and of demonstrations and protests is not permitted. L aws are strictly enforced.
The simultaneous holding of a Zimbabwean and a foreign passport is prohibited. The Zimbabwean authorities may prosecute people found to be in possession of both a Zimbabwean and an Irish passport.
Journalists are legally obliged to obtain a visa before travelling to Zimbabwe. Requests for visas by journalists are often refused by the Zimbabwean authorities. It is strongly recommended that journalists do not travel without a valid visa. Journalists who travel to Zimbabwe without a visa are liable to be arrested and prosecuted.
The Zimbabwean Dollar has been suspended indefinitely. The most widely used currencies are the US Dollar and the South African Rand. Visitors should bring notes in small denominations as many businesses do not offer change when items are purchased and coins are not accepted in Zimbabwe.
Natural Disasters and Climate
The climate in Zimbabwe is tropical. There are variations in climate as a consequence of the varied altitude. The rainy season runs from November to March.
Drought is common in Zimbabwe. Floods and severe storms are rare.
Additional Country Info
You should exercise extreme caution when travelling. You should not travel unnecessarily, especially at night. Where possible you should remain in built up areas. If you are driving, you should think carefully before setting out on long distance journeys and keep your tank topped up as much as possible. You should also be aware that the frequent power cuts and shortage of drinking water and fuel affect the whole country.
Traffic accidents are a common cause of death and injury and traffic lights are increasingly out of order. Roads are poorly maintained and deep potholes are common. Driving at night is particularly hazardous. Unlit vehicles are often parked in areas where there is no street lighting. It is also extremely difficult to see pedestrians and other road users after dark. Outside the towns, wildlife and stray livestock can pose a serious hazard.
The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly advises all visitors to Zimbabwe to consult a GP or Travel Health Clinic before travelling.
The standard of Health Care, even in private hospitals in Zimbabwe varies widely. Private Health Care facilities are expensive and the cost of evacuation can be high. Visitors on medication should bring with them sufficient quantities of their medication to last them for the duration of their trip as their particular medication may not be available from local pharmacies.
Malaria is prevalent in most parts of the country, particularly in low lying border areas including the Zambezi Valley, Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park in the low lying parts of the Eastern Highlands and the Vumba, around Mutare.
Cholera outbreaks continue to be reported in various regions in Zimbabwe. Although it is difficult to quantify, it is clear that hundreds of deaths were associated with the outbreak in 2009. We advise you to drink water only from known safe sources (eg bottled, chlorinated or boiled water) and to maintain strict hygiene standards while travelling in Zimbabwe. Further advice on cholera can be found on the World Health Organization (WHO) (link to http://www.who.int/ith/en/) website.
Other water-borne, food-borne and infectious diseases (including hepatitis, tuberculosis, measles, typhoid and rabies) are prevalent, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Travellers are advised to use good personal hygiene practices and take all necessary precautions; boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food.
The level of HIV and AIDS infection in Zimbabwe is very high. Irish visitors to Zimbabwe should exercise necessary caution if engaging in activities that expose you to possible infection. If you suspect that you have been exposed to possible infection, you should seek immediate medical attention.
For more information on Irish Aid's Programme on HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe and worldwide please visit the Irish Aid website, www.irishaid.ie.
DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS
The Irish Embassy in South Africa is accredited to Zimbabwe. For contact details, please click here.
Honorary Consulate of Ireland in Zimbabwe
Mr. Garrett Killilea
2 Robert Mugabe Road
P O Box 10424
Tel: +263 (0) 4771
Fax: +263 (0) 4750 780
British Embassy in Harare
7th Floor, Corner House
Leopold Takawira Street
P.O. Box 4490
Tel: +263 4 772990/774700
Fax: +263 4 774605
Emergency Numbers for Zimbabwe
Emergency (from landline) 999*
Emergency (from mobile) 112*
Police Emergency 995
Medical Emergency 994
Fire Emergency 993
*Note: these numbers will connect you to all three emergency services. The numbers are the same in both Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Ambulance: MARS, 9 Phillips Avenue, Harare
Telephone No. +263-(0)4-750445/753677
Medical Emergency: Trauma Centre, 15 Lanark Road, Avondale, Harare
Telephone No. +263-(0)4-707072/700667
Ambulance: MARS, 90 West Drive, Victoria Falls
Telephone No. +263-(0)13-44764/42268
Medical Emergency: Victoria Falls Medical Centre, Victoria Falls
Telephone No. +263-(0)13-40880