Whither Zimbabwe - to do or not to do
The topic was highlighted in our August 2011 newsletter. Five years hence, we are tracing the developments in Zimbabwe.
In May 2011, I was conducting a site inspection of Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. This was one of the routine inspections we do regularly to the destinations we service.
I had heard of the devaluation of the Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWD) that had taken place a few years back but never realized the seriousness of the situation. President Robert Mugabe’s government has been known to be unfriendly to the USA and the western world. However, when it came to handling the currency crisis that his country was facing, he looked at the US Dollar as the savior. Infact, he went to the extent of making the USD one of the legal tenders in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe has been in power since 1987. However, at the turn of the century, the confidence in the country and more directly on the Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWD), declined drastically. Measures taken by the authorities were rejected by the market and lead to a continuous decline in the value of the ZWD.
Inflation reached 98% on a DAILY basis meaning that it took only 24.7 hours for prices to literally double.
As the ZWD started depreciating in value, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe started to counter by issuing currency bills of higher denominations. So came the ZWD 500 followed by ZWD 500,000 and then ZWD 1,000,000, ZWD 500,000,000 and (now to make it easy to read I will go by words rather than numbers) to ZWD 5 Billion, ZWD 20 Billion, ZWD 20 Billion and for the final denomination I leave you to look here: bestway.com/zwd.php. All this when you compare that at the time of Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, the ZWD was valued at US$ 1.47! ie stronger than the USD.
On April 12, 2009 the ZWD was removed from circulation to be replaced by the USD as one of the the legal tenders in Zimbabwe. Many who had their life savings in ZWD were left with absolutely nothing. The change from the ZWD to USD gave rebirth and confidence in the country, its products and services.
During my visit I bought the entire set of the devalued ZWD bills at a bargain price of US$ 4 and did I feel that I was a rich multi trillionaire?
Come 2016, Zimbabwe is booming in tourism and is the gateway to countries like Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and even South African Republic. The airport at Victoria Falls (city) is expanding and a new runaway is in the works thanks to a US$ 150 million loan from China - a sign of renewed confidence.
The most popular areas to visit in Zimbabwe include the World Heritage Site of Victoria Falls and like other African countries, the unique and renowned game parks. The most well known is the Hwange National Park (home to the Big Five - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) as well as over 400 bird species. The Matobo National Park, also a UNESCO site - well known for the black and the white rhinoceros and home to zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, eland, leopard, hyena, etc.
Zimbabwe however, is best combined with Zambia and the Okavango in Botswana - as well as Namibia and South Africa.
With Bestway Tours & Safari’s over 36 years expertise in organizing small group scheduled and customized private game safaris in Africa, you are in for a treat by contacting us. Some of the exciting and unique safaris we offer in Zimbabwe may be viewed at: bestway.com/zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe - truly an African paradise that offers excellent wildlife, spectacular views and a real cultural experience with very friendly people. One of the few countries that offers a good inter-generational product that will appeal to all ages traveling together.
Your Bestway team bids you Hamba Kahle (the Zulu words for Farewell).
Chief Explorer and your team at Bestway Tours & Safaris.