MOZAMBIQUE ZIMBABWE Highlights Language The offi cial language of Zimbabwe is English. The local languages of Shona ( most prominent in the east, central and north) and Ndebele ( mainly in the western areas) are also widely spoken. Although English is the fi rst language for only two per cent of the population, English- speaking visitors will have no trouble communicating in Zimbabwe. Time zone GMT + 1 International dialling code + 263 Visas Visas are required by nationals of most countries. These are available upon entry, at land crossings and airports. The cost of a visa is dependent on nationality. British nationals pay £ 35 ( single- entry) or £ 45 ( double- entry). It's £ 5 more expensive to acquire a visa from the London embassy. Duration is subject to immigration, but it's normally 90 days. Health Malaria is present throughout the country so prophylactics should be taken by all visitors. Bottled water is widely available. Safety For travellers, Zimbabwe is one of the safest and most hassle-free countries in Africa. Much as at home, the biggest risk is probably from car accidents. Money The US dollar and South African rand are both widely accepted in Zimbabwe. In late 2009, exchange rates for the rand were: UK£ 1= ZAR12.40, US$= ZAR7.50 and ? 1= ZAR11.21. Costs Zimbabwe's wide range of transportation and accommodation options caters to travellers on all budgets. Getting there Air Zimbabwe ( www. airzimbabwe. com) and British Airways ( www. britishairways. com) both fl y direct to Harare from London. South African Airways ( www. fl ysaa. com), Kenya Airways ( www. kenya- airways. com) and Ethiopian Airlines ( www. ethiopianairlines. com) all connect Europe to Harare via their respective hubs in Johannesburg, Nairobi and Addis Ababa. Getting around With an extensive network of surfaced roads, Zimbabwe is a great self- drive destination. For those on a smaller budget, local buses are a good way to get from city to city. Light aircraft also connect Harare and other cities to camps within the many national parks. Books The only English- language guidebook currently featuring Zimbabwe is Lonely Planet's Southern Africa ( 4th edition, 2007). The Painted Caves - An Introduction to the Prehistoric Art of Zimbabwe, by Peter Garlake, does just what it says on the cover. Songs to an African Sunset: A Story of Zimbabwe, by Sekai Nzenza Shand, offers a great insight to Shona culture and traditions, as well as an interesting look into middle- class life in urban Zimbabwe. Find out more Zimbabwe Tourism Authority ( www. zimbabwetourism. co. zw) Zimbabwe fact fi le December 2009 Travel Zimbabwe 45 Great Zimbabwe The ancient site from which the nation takes is name, these important ruins date back to the 11th century, making them the oldest structures in southern Africa. Built entirely of stone, the city is believed to have once housed up to 25,000 people. Artefacts suggest the civilisation here was part of a trading network stretching as far as China. Gonarezhou National Park Three rivers - Save, Runde and Mwenezi - cut through this 5000- square- kilometre park and form natural oases for hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife. As implied by its name, which means ' the wilderness of elephants' there are plenty of trunks and tusks patrolling its vast landscape. Eastern Highlands Comprising the mountain ranges of Vumba, Chimanimani and Nyanga, the Eastern Highlands is a trekker's dream. The lush vegetation and botanical gardens dotted along its length also make it a haven for the botanist in you. A web of ruined settlements are easily accessed by car. Harare The nation's capital, Harare is not a city to rush in and out of. Not only is it the site of the National Archives, National Museum of Human Sciences, National Gallery and National Botanic Gardens, but it is also a window into the heart of the nation. Harare offers visitors a chance to interact with the diverse people of Zimbabwe. Mavuradonha Wilderness Area The mountains of Mavuradonha form the eastern part of the Zambezi Escarpment in Zimbabwe, and are a great place for walking and horseback safaris. Elephant, buffalo, sable, kudu, zebra and eland are just some of the species which make this protected area home. The gorge cut by the Musengezi River is particularly beautiful. Antelope Park Home to the African Lion Environmental Research Trust ( ALERT) and the world's fi rst programme rehabilitating lions for release into the wild, this park offers you the chance to walk with lions, or even accompany them on a hunt. Opportunities also exist to swim with elephants.