Zimbabwe may have gone through tough times but the locals remain as friendly as ever – and they’re more than happy to share their insider tips with overseas visitors
Zimbabwe’s 16 million or so people have always warmly welcomed tourists to their beautiful country.
Here, three Zimbabweans share their top tips about where to visit, what to eat and drink and more.
“We’re ready to welcome tourists”
Lovemore Chinga, 32, runs a successful hospitality and catering business in neighbouring South Africa. He is Shona and grew up in the town of Mutare in Zimbabwe’s east, near the Mozambique border.
“I want visitors to know that Zimbabwe’s environment is beautiful and safe. Zimbabweans are educated, hard-working and trustworthy – we’re ready to welcome tourists and share our culture,” says Chinga.
“For me, one of the best places to visit is the Troutbeck Resort in the Nyanga district [near the Mozambique border]. The area is known by the locals as ‘Little London’ as the weather is quite damp and cool and you can fish for trout, play golf and enjoy the mountains.
“Visitors might be welcomed with the Shona greeting mauya – this translates literally to ‘hugging a person.’”
“I would recommend visitors to try pap [Zimbabweans’ staple diet, similar to polenta]. I like pap with trout and morogo [wild spinach] – every Zimbabwean has a kitchen garden and grows their own veggies.”
“The Smiley Nation”
Nelly Nkala, 38, was born in Matobo and educated in Bulawayo. She currently works as a cleaner and helper in Johannesburg.
“Zimbabweans are down-to-earth, friendly, open and happy. I like to think of us as the Smiley Nation!”
“I think Zim is just the most beautiful place on earth. Despite economic challenges, our county manages to be organised and clean. That's pretty special in Africa.”
“We are an extremely religious nation with most of us being committed Christians – inclusion and tolerance are encouraged.”
Nkala has some favourite places to visit in Zimbabwe: “I was blown away by my first visit to Victoria Falls. It’s a national icon. Matobo Hills is also sensational and so peaceful – visitors can relax and recharge in the endless space.
And what about food?
“Pap is definitely the most popular local food. Visitors should try it with homemade gravy.”
Juliet Chagwesha, 28, was born in and grew up in the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare. She works as a nail technician in neighbouring South Africa.
“I’m Shona [a Bantu ethnic group native to Zimbabwe] I would welcome a visitor by saying titambire.”
Chagwesha has some great suggestions of places to visit in Zimbabwe: “My top three places to visit are Victoria Falls, Chinhoyi Caves and the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.”
And some food and drink pairing suggestions, too: “Typical Zimbabwean street food is beef stew with pap; ground nuts and pumpkin. Local beers to try are Chibuku [a sorghum beer based on traditional home-made African beers] or Zambezi Lager.”