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Zimbabwe Travel

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.
Ryan Schmidt
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.

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