Nicola Mawson


Harare - When I told family I was heading to Zimbabwe, as a journalist and not a tourist, I was warned to be careful.

I was told to be careful because Zimbabwe had recently erupted in violence, although it turns out this was rather overstated.

I had absolutely no problems, and felt safer than I do at home. I could walk around the streets with my camera at the ready (not a smartphone) and nobody seems to be overly concerned about crime.

Harare, however, is a dusty city that belies the beauty that can be found a few hundred kilometres away. Sadly, having flown there for two days, I didn’t get to see much more of Zimbabwe, but I’d certainly like to go back!

Despite the country’s proximity to South Africa, it’s not a cheap place to vacation because all the prices are in dollars.

In addition, the hyper-inflation situation that wracked the economy just a few years ago is still fresh in the minds of many retailers, so they tend to mark up substantially.

That period, when bread cost quantum times more between when a citizen started queuing in a shop and when they finally paid, is one Zimbabweans hope to never see again.

As a result, Zimbabwe is an expensive country. A dinner at a hotel can cost anywhere between $13 and $25 (about R200 to R350). A cheap lunch at the airport is $6.

You’re looking at double the price of what you would pay in SA.

And Zimbabwean don’t earn all that much. Entry level is between $300 and $500 a month, while middle management gets to add a nought to that figure.

It’s also not the sort of country you’d annoy the cops in – they were everywhere, pulling cars over and checking for licenses that ranged from drivers’ to radio.

It’s a country I’d like to visit again. And I’d like to see all the attractions it has to offer – from game parks to Kariba to Vic falls.

A trip to Zimbabwe is well recommended. Even if only because of the warm reception.