Hiring a car and driving in Zimbabwe can be an option for travelers who want to explore the country. Driving in Zimbabwe can present challenges, but with proper awareness and precautions, many visitors successfully navigate the country by hire car. Here's some information to help you on your journey:
General Rules of the Road:
- Drive on the left-hand side of the road.
- Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers.
- The speed limit in urban areas is usually around 60 km/h (37 mph), while on highways, it may range from 80 km/h (50 mph) to 120 km/h (75 mph).
- Be cautious of wildlife on the roads, especially in rural and national park areas.
Traffic and Terrain:
- Traffic in Zimbabwe can vary. In urban areas like Harare, traffic congestion can be common, especially during peak hours.
- In rural areas and on highways, traffic is generally lighter.
- The terrain in Zimbabwe is diverse, with flat plains, highlands, and rugged landscapes. Weather conditions can impact road conditions.
Best Type of Vehicle to Hire:
- The type of vehicle you should hire depends on your travel plans. For general road travel and city exploration, a sedan or compact car is suitable.
- If you plan to explore national parks, wildlife reserves, or remote areas, consider renting a 4x4 or an SUV, as some roads may be unpaved or in poor condition.
- Ensure your vehicle is well-maintained and equipped for long journeys, as service stations may be limited in rural areas.
Distances from Airports to Main Cities:
Please note that distances can vary depending on your specific destination within Zimbabwe.
1. Safety Concerns:
Crime: While carjacking is not as prevalent in Zimbabwe as in some neighboring countries, it's still a possibility, especially in urban centers. Keep doors locked, windows up, and be especially vigilant when driving after dark.
Police Stops: It's not uncommon to encounter police roadblocks. Ensure all vehicle and personal documents are on hand and valid. Always remain calm and respectful. Some travelers report having to pay fines for reasons that might seem unclear; carry small denominations to facilitate this if needed.
2. Road Conditions:
General: Many major roads are tarred and in decent condition, but secondary roads (and some primary ones) can be in poor shape with potholes and ruts. Traveling after heavy rains can be challenging due to flooding and mud.
Animals: Livestock and wildlife crossing roads are common, especially in rural areas and near national parks.
Fuel Shortages: Zimbabwe has experienced periodic fuel shortages. It's crucial to fill up the tank when possible and carry extra fuel in jerry cans.
Payment: Credit card acceptance is not universal at fuel stations. Always carry enough cash, preferably in smaller denominations.
4. Mobile Connectivity:
- While urban areas have relatively good mobile coverage, it can be patchy or non-existent in remote places. Consider getting a local SIM card for better rates and ensure you inform someone of your travel plans if heading off the main routes.
5. Maps and GPS:
- While major routes are well-marked, signage can be lacking on secondary roads. A GPS device or smartphone map app can be beneficial.
Emergency Number: In case of emergencies, dial 999.
In summary, while there are challenges to driving in Zimbabwe, many visitors have fulfilling and incident-free experiences by taking necessary precautions and staying informed about local conditions. Always stay updated on the current situation, especially if political instability arises, as conditions can change.
Ensure you have all necessary documentation, including a valid driver's license and insurance, when renting a car. It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with local road conditions and safety guidelines, especially if you plan to drive in rural or less-traveled areas.
*average daily rates based on 7 day rental, search for today's best prices.