Culture Shock: Tips for Travel to Zimbabwe

Culture Shock: Tips for Travel to Zimbabwe

Concepts of time, money matters and more to consider on your next trip to Zimbabwe

By: Emma Weissmann
<p>There is a cash shortage in Zimbabwe, so most vendors prefer U.S. dollars. // © 2017 Getty Images</p><p>Feature image (above): Victoria Falls // ©...

There is a cash shortage in Zimbabwe, so most vendors prefer U.S. dollars. // © 2017 Getty Images

Feature image (above): Victoria Falls // © 2017 Getty Images

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The southern African country of Zimbabwe (dubbed “Zim” by locals) has all the makings of an unforgettable Africa vacation. And when it comes to acclimating to this country’s culture and customs, it pays to be prepared. Here’s what to know.

Time Is Relative
We’ve been taught that it’s polite to be punctual — especially in a professional setting — but in Zimbabwe, schedules are relaxed. In fact, although we take the word “now” to mean “immediately,” Zimbabweans have three variations on the word. There’s “now now,” which most closely relates to our definition of the word; “just now,” which translates to “in a little while”; and, finally, the singular “now,” which means you’ll probably be waiting for a few hours — or until tomorrow. 

Money Matters
Zimbabwe is experiencing a cash liquidity crisis, so clients should plan to arrive with all the cash they’ll need throughout the trip. ATMs are few and far between, and banks often have long lines, so it will be difficult to withdraw money. Although Zimbabwe has its own currency, most businesses prefer U.S. dollars. 

Respect the Rules of the Ruler
You can expect to see Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe’s portrait almost everywhere you go — including in hotels, at the airport, in restaurants and more. However, if you drive past the Zimbabwe State House in the capital of Harare (where he resides), be warned: Cars can’t slow down; passengers shouldn’t gawk; and taking photos of the area — or government officials — is strictly forbidden.

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