Zimbabwe - A travel destination again ?
Hidden Trails has been offering its "Zambezi Deluxe Horse Safari" for the last 10 years. In recent years there were many outcries about -- why do you support this corrupt and inhumane government ? Our point of view has always been - we DO NOT support the government of Zimbabwe, but the people and wildlife that live there. If Zimbabwe would have collapsed completely - can you imagine the human disasters (much worse than what happened in the past few years) and not even to talk about the wildlife .. most likely without some of the tourists still visiting - there would be very little left.
So we feel proud that we have supported the local communities with our riding guests over the years and our guests were
privileged to witness these wonderful Zimbabwe people.
Recently I came across an article that one of the leading tour companies in Europe wrote about "Today's Zimbabwe"
It is very encouraging and we hope that more people will start to visit this beautiful country again.
owner of Hidden Trails
Here is the article:
Zimbabwe - Back on the map
by Frank Glettenberg, Executive Director of Kuoni’s Destination Management unit,
recently decided to visit Zimbabwe and see if the nation as a whole was ready to
be placed back in his company’s portfolio of premier African destinations. What
he found may surprise you.
While being a firm favorite for thousands of travelers until the late 1990s,
Zimbabwe has all but dropped off the tourism map in recent years. We at Kuoni
have continued to feature Victoria Falls as a short add-on to trips in the
region, but promoting the entire nation as a destination in itself has not been
in the cards – sky-high inflation rates, a lack of resources and the
unpopularity of its government all ensured this. With the formation of the
coalition government and the American dollarisation of the economy, I thought
now was the right time to rate the country’s current tourism potential. How had
the tourism infrastructure survived its dormancy? Were there still animals
aplenty in the national parks? Would people be happy to see tourists? And most
importantly, would I feel safe?
Roadblocks are frequent, which adds a bit of
travelling time, but police are courteous and anything but intimidating. Once
realising that we were on holiday the officers all wished us a safe journey,
asking us to spread the news at home that Zimbabwe is back
This July and August I travelled across Zimbabwe, 1600km of it by road, the
remainder covered by two internal flights. I found the main roads tarred and in
a better condition than some of those I’ve experienced in the UK. International
car-hire companies are well represented and offer a solid network – the
selection, however, is understandably limited.
Roadblocks are frequent, which adds a bit of travelling time, but police are
courteous and anything but intimidating. Once they realized that we were on
holiday the officers all wished us a safe journey, asking us to spread the news
at home that Zimbabwe is back. Forgotten are the days of empty supermarkets and
a lack of petrol and diesel. The dollarization in April 2009 has ensured the
shops’ shelves are filled with everyday and luxury goods, and every fuel station
is well stocked. A common expression of waiters during this trip was, “… and I’m
proud to say that everything is available on the menu tonight!” Some South
African chain stores have already opened their doors, and Visa credit cards are
again being accepted as payment. Besides US currency, the South African rand is
also widely circulated – the Zim dollar has been suspended. Hotels and lodges
have miraculously survived the last couple of years. Some need a bit of
investment and refurbishment, but all were kept up to international standards by
dedicated staff and management. The hospitality industry offers a wide range of
products: from 3-Star hotels geared towards the tour market to intimate lodges
in the wild for the up market independent traveler. International hotel chains
are already investing in their properties again to bring them back to their
former glory. While the damages to Zimbabwe’s wildlife from poaching have been
considerable, the game reserves are well managed and I was able to see an
abundance of animals including the Big Five. And whoever thinks that these
animals will all be skittish, thinks wrong. Overall Zimbabwe today presents
itself as a stunningly diverse destination for escorted groups, escorted
independent travelers and self-drive visitors. While the Zimbabweans are
rebuilding their country and their tourism industry, the only ingredient now
missing is the international traveler. We hope to change this soon with some
exciting offers from Kuoni.