Zimbabwe

While there is no official warning from the Canadian government regarding travel to Zimbabwe, the advice is to travel with caution as the situation here "remains unpredictable". The country has experienced some serious issues since independence in 1980, and even more so since the end of white-minority rule. The biggest bone of contention, of course, is land. Who owns it, who has the right to own it and what can and should be done on it are all issues that have been swirling around this once agriculturally robust nation since 1979. Things have gotten significantly worse since President Robert Mugabe initiated a faster track version of the existing land reform program - in earnest - in 2000. These divisive issues, which have been known to cause the country to erupt in sporadic violence, have naturally had an impact on tourism. Zimbabwe reported nearly a million and a half visitors in 1999, a number which had diminished to a few hundred thousand by the end of 2000, and even fewer the following year. Getting to the country could be tricky as a number of international airlines no longer fly into it, and with hundreds of jobs lost throughout the industry due to the downturn, getting around it may not be too easy either. If travellers do decide to go to Zimbabwe, however, there are plenty of exciting things that await them. Two of the biggest highlights, of course, are the Zimbabwe side of the Victoria Falls National Park it shares with Zambia, and the Hwange National Park, home to a rapidly growing population of elephants. Those who do visit this sometimes troubled country - providing they do so responsibly after consulting a number of sources - are sure to leave with fond memories and a number of stories to tell. ~ WBB Staff Writer


Ten tips: Surviving a Canoe Trip on the Zambezi

Watch out for lurking hipposHerds of elephant, zebra, gazelle and giraffe grazing on the river bank, lurking crocodiles, charging hippos and lions chasing down young buffalo. Camping on the bank in pink sunsets, listening to not so distant lions roaring from the 'safety' of your tent and protecting your food from cheeky monkeys. It all sounds like a National Geographic special, perhaps, but it can all be on the menu for a journey into Africa.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll experience all this while paddling your canoe on the Zambesi River, but witnessing even one of them would make the trip more than memorable. Following my own paddling sojourn down the great river, I put together the following ten tips that will hopefully contribute to a enjoyable - and safe - trip.

1. Stock up on drinking water. Sure it can be a heavy load when lugging it all on board but you can never have too much of it. The local guides we used didn’t seem to mind when ours ran out with still a day and a half to go as they were partial to Coca Cola. Either they had a secret camel's hump hidden somewhere or they scored the secret advantage of having local DNA that enables you to go without water. There are no shops along the way for replenishing stocks so you will have no choice but to boil the Zambezi itself. Once suitably cooked, even with the floaty bits, it won’t actually do you any harm.

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 Full name: Republic of Zimbabwe

 Population: 12.62 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Harare

 Largest city: Harare

 Area: 390,757 sq.km. (150,872 sq. mi.)

 Major languages: English, Shona,  Sindebele, Other Tribal Dialects

 Major religions: Mixture of Christian and  Indigenous Beliefs, Other

 Monetary unit: Zimbabwean Dollar

 GDP per capita: US $500

 Internet domain: .zw

 International dialling code: +263

 Source: CIA World Factbook