Gap Year in Zimbabwe

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After a decade of political disaster, Zimbabwe is emerging from its struggle as an incredible tourist destination once again. With its crowning jewel and natural wonder of the world, Victoria Falls, this landlocked country is a unique sight to see and has more gap year opportunities than you might expect.

With an airport opening up in Livingstone the tourism market is about to boom. If you choose to take a gap year in Zimbabwe now, you'll have the opportunity to observe incredible biodiversity (including the "Big 5"), archeological sites, and majestic landscapes. Adventure await in this land of emerging opportunity and cultural resilience.

Photo Credits: Sara&Joachim

Community Based Volunteering

There's a wide range of community volunteering available in Zimbabwe. These range from teaching English, working in nursery schools, global health, community development, and women’s empowerment.

With the general lack of development, there is a great need in the country at the moment. It’s always a great idea to capitalize on your skillset and use your travels to give back in a way that can really make a deep impact.

Adventure Travel

Zimbabwe is an adrenaline junkie’s paradise with opportunities to bungee jump, swim in the Devil’s Pool, see micro lighting, and go white water rafting.

Note that February through April are typically the best times to see the falls in their glory as the rainy season will have just past in surrounding countries where the mighty Zambezi river flows. It doesn’t always happen, but the falls can completely dry-up from November - December.

Wildlife Conservation

As one of Africa’s traditional wildlife capitals, Zimbabwe maintains many of the country’s national parks and rehabilitation facilities. As a volunteer, you can work at one of these rehab centers and care for infant or injured wildlife. This is a wonderful opportunity if you are interested in veterinary work, although you don’t have to have any qualifications to participate.

Alternatively, you can join a group of researchers and park rangers to study the wildlife populations in the field.

Safety and Health

Zimbabwe still has a long way to go in order to recover from its massive economic depression. However, during your visit you will discover a country of people known for their friendliness, generosity, and incredible resilience.

Purchasing travel insurance before you go is essential, as clinics will require immediate payment for services. Most travelers also choose to drink bottled water as a safety precaution.

Zimbabwe is still considered relatively unstable by most governments, however there hasn’t been any documented violence against foreign travelers.

All tourist destinations such as Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba are considered very safe. Just like any unfamiliar country, it is advised to avoid traveling alone at night and to take taxi and private car hires in large cities.

Cultural Customs

Note that in Zimbabwe it is illegal to criticize the government and take pictures of political buildings. Additionally, homosexuality is illegal and citizens are not allowed to wear camouflaged clothing. Generally take caution around political events and discussions. Be aware of your surroundings; it wouldn’t hurt to read up on the political history of Zimbabwe before you go either.

Visas

Most travelers must pay a $50 visa entry fee. If you are staying less than six months you won’t have to go through any further formalities.

Vaccinations

Be sure to speak to your personal physician or travel clinic at least six months before you travel to make sure that you have all the appropriate medications and vaccines for your stay.

Responsible Travel

As a traveler or volunteer, it is important to be aware of your impact. Especially in a recovering economy, individuals can be quick to make an extra buck off of their own natural resources.

One of the issues found in Zimbabwe involves predator breeding for tourism. Read up on lion walking and cub cuddling before you go and form an educated opinion on the game hunting industry. You will be more respected by your fellow travelers and feel confident that your time and money are spent making a positive impact.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Zimbabwe is generally affordable. Because of a massive currency inflation, the country now operates on the US Dollar. Be aware that the cost of adventure activities can be quite expensive in the Victoria Falls and Livingstone area. Although as a once in a lifetime opportunity – most of these offered are well worth the investment.

Be prepared to spend at least $100 on each activity and know that you will need to pay visa fees when entering any neighboring countries. Toiletries may also be expensive and hard to come by as most familiar brands are imported from South Africa - otherwise travel, food and living are very affordable.

Contributed by Lauren Locke

Showing 15 Programs

Zimbabwe

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Join IVHQ and volunteer abroad in Victoria Falls! Highly affordable programs are available for anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks. T...

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African Impact
African Impact offers a range of amazing volunteer opportunities in Zimbabwe, one of the adventure capitals of the world. Joi...

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Love Volunteers
Join Love Volunteers in Zimbabwe and experience the stunning beauty of the Victoria Falls! Helping local communities to escap...

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Frontier
Join projects working to protect the African wilderness and work within a team of volunteers to make a positive impact in the...

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Conservation Travel Africa
An absolute must for horse-lovers everywhere. Combine hands on rhino and elephant conservation with horse safaris, cattle ran...

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Kaya Responsible Travel
Kaya Responsible Travel offers ethical and sustainable internship programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America and in a wide va...

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Kaya Responsible Travel
Kaya Responsible Travel offer a wide range of ethical and sustainable volunteer placements abroad in Africa, Asia and Latin A...

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Conservation Travel Africa
Enjoy an African adventure as you spend time living and giving in Southern Africa, immersing yourself in local communities an...

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Acacia Africa
This overland adventure and beach safari tour offers the renowned Big 5 game parks, the friendly laid back beaches of Lake Ma...

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Acacia Africa
Experience game park and beaches on this overland safari tour! Search for the Big 5 in some of Africa's best game parks. Rela...

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Acacia Africa
A great week long overland to introduce you to some of what Southern Africa has to offer. Take in the excitement of Big 5 gam...

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Musha Care Trust
We're looking for volunteers to give us a hand in our preschool and child support centre. The centre supports the less privil...

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Acacia Africa
This overland adventure and beach safari tour offers the renowned Big 5 game parks, the friendly laid back beaches of Lake Ma...

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Musha Care Trust
Physical education, is an ideal destination for volunteers who want to coach Physical Education (PE) to children. By taking p...

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Acacia Africa
On this overland safari visit the oldest desert in the world with the highest sand dunes experiencing a stunning sun rise! Sp...