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Harare

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Harare, 1995

Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe.

Harare is home to some two million people, with most in central Harare but some 500,000 in the surrounding districts of Rural Harare, Chintungwiza and Epworth.

Once a city of modern buildings, wide thoroughfares, numerous parks and gardens, it suffered from increasing disrepair thanks to Zimbabwe's economic downward spiral. However, there have recently been a few signs of improvement as the decision of the country to adopt the US dollar as its currency has begun to facilitate some investments.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Harare's airport is the major gateway for flights into the country. Air Zimbabwe also operated a small network of domestic flights before ceasing operations. However, an increasing number of foreign airlines are flying into Harare these days. They include South African Airways with direct flights from Johannesburg [1]. Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa [2], Kenya Airways from Nairobi [3] TAAG Angola Airlines from Luanda. [4] and Egypt Air from Cairo via Dar es Salaam.

Taxis from the airport to the main hotels cost $25. This exhorbitant fixed price, given the relatively short distance and great age of the taxis, is caused by the drivers' high fees required to the airport authority.

By train[edit]

Train services have been badly hit by the economic troubles in Zimbabwe during recent years but most domestic trains are now running daily once agian. Bulawayo sees departures every night at 9 p.m., arriving next morning around 8 a.m. Trains from Mutare at the border with Mozambique runs three times a week departing Mutare also at 9 p.m., the arrivial time in Harare being 5:20 a.m. There are currently no international trains to Harare except occasional cruise trains.

By car[edit]

A good road from Johannesburg allows easy access. However, be careful of the sometimes frightening drops at the side of the roads, at the edge of the tarmac, particularly with oncoming trucks at night. In fact, night driving is not advised.

By bus[edit]

Buses from Johannesburg are easily available ranging from Greyhound and Intercape to the local ones. The bus takes 16-24 h. Delays at the border are very common and typically range 3-8 h, but they can be as much as 20 h at Christmas time.

Most ordinary long-distance bus services arrive at the Mbare Terminal, located 3 km southwest of the Central district. The terminal itself is giant, hectic, confusing, and dangerous. There are several disconnected regions of the terminal, and finding something as simple as a taxi can require walking over 500 m through markets and alleys.

Although minibuses to Mbare depart from the 4th Street Terminal in Central (located at 4th and Mugabe), it may be worth taking a taxi, which will be able to find a bus to your destination for you. "Luxury" buses (including Greyhound/Intercape) to Johannesburg and most other international destinations arrive and depart from the modern Roadport terminal at 5th and Mugabe.

Get around[edit]

By car[edit]

Harare is very spread out. The best option to get around is by car, which is easier now that dollarization has made fuel shortages a thing of the past. Fuel is freely available at most outlets for cash or through a coupon system. Most operators now import fuel by themselves and prices are independently set. Most service stations close early, but a few that offer 24 h service. Be prepared for frequent police roadblocks, in which the police will solicit a bribe for "something" that is wrong with your vehicle.

By taxi[edit]

In 4+1 style taxis, it is very common to fit as many as 8 people inside. Rides around town should cost about $5 for the entire cab at night, typically $2 or $3 during the day, unless you are going to the suburbs. Make sure to negotiate the price before you get inside the car

By minibus[edit]

Minibus taxis are readily available with frequent services between central and all suburbs. Ask around for the terminal for your destination. Typically, the fare is about $1.

See[edit][add listing]

There is a strong appreciation for the city's cultural and historical heritage and a number of the older buildings have been preserved.

The Mining Pension Fund Building at Central Avenue and Second Street is one example and many more are to be found along Robert Mugabe Road between Second Street and Julius Nyerere Way.

  • The National Gallery [5] houses not only a valuable and interesting national collection but also hosts travelling international exhibitions and has a permanent display of some outstanding Shona soft-stone carvings.
  • The priceless collection of Rhodesiana and Africana in the form of diaries, notebooks and reports of various origins, are housed in the National Archives. Some of the original works of some of the greatest names in African exploration and missionary can be viewed.
  • Other institutions which are well worth visiting include the Queen Victoria Museum and the Harare City Library (formerly the Queen Victoria Memorial Library), both at the Civic Centre in Rotten Row.
  • The city was laid out with large open spaces like the 68ha National Botanic Gardens, with more than 900 species of wild trees and shrubs from all over the country. The Mukuvisi Woodlands is 277 ha of remarkably preserved natural woodland that straddles the banks of the small Mukuvisi stream. A variety of bird and of wild animal species such as giraffe, zebra, impala, tsessche, wildebeest, bushbuck, steenbuck, reed buck and eland can be viewed.
  • The Kopje, a granite hill rising above the southwest corner of central Harare, is a great place to go for views of the city.
  • Chapungu Sculpture Park. The vast number of rocks of black serpentine stone found around Zimbabwe, and noticeable even as you drive in from the airport, have encouraged the development of stone carvings by Zimbabwe's talented artists. This large area has exhibitions by numerous artists.

Do[edit][add listing]

The Book Cafe has a wide variety of live music throughout the week (Mondays are for amateur musicians only), and there is another club that plays Afro-jazz right next door.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Virtually all purchases in larger stores are made with US dollars, which is de facto the national currency. Rands are accepted, but you should check the exchange rate at the place first. Many accept rands (or give them in change) at a R7 or R8 to $1 ratio less favourable than the official rate.

Anything made locally is inexpensive. Everything imported is relatively expensive compared to South Africa. Cans of Coca-cola typically cost $1, for example.

If you wanted to experience shopping the way that it is traditionally done in many African countries, you could stroll around at the open flea market at Mbare.

Here tourists could feast their eyes on a colourful array of baskets, food, clothing and other items.

ATMs give US dollars. The ATMs at Barclays will accept most international Visa cards; other banks generally take only local cards.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Zimbabwe's staple food is Sadza: a thick white porridge (a bit like mashed potato), that's made from corn (maize) meal. It is eaten at every meal, accompanied by vegetables or meat in some form.

In Harare, there are many westernised restaurants serving European or American style food, but far more exciting are the outdoor cafes:

  • Cafe espresso on Cork Road, Avondale, Harare has a brilliantly landscaped garden and a wifi spot with excellent coffees.
  • 40 Cork Road, Avondale, Harare is an outdoor cafe, art gallery, and sculpture garden. Very much the place to be seen.
  • 167 Enterprise Road, Chisipite, Harare, is an old house converted into a restaurant with a huge garden with a pool, an art shop, gallery, etc.

With the dollarisation of the economy, there has been a big increase in the number of restaurants and coffee shops in Harare.[6] The Zimbabwe Tourism website has also recently been upgraded.

  • Amanzi Restaurant, 158 Enterprise Road, Highlands, Harare, (+263 4) 497768 or (+263)(0)912 336 224 (), [7]. Generally considered Harare's best restaurant, Amanzi is a long ($10-15 each way) drive out of town into the upmarket suburbs but it is worth it. A booking is essential, or you probably will not get past the gatekeeper.  edit
  • Coimbra, 61 Selous Avenue, corner 7th St. ($5 taxi ride from the main hotels), +263-4-700237 (), [8]. This Portuguese restaurant has invested little in the decor but that is no problem. You go for the food, not the wall decorations, and the food is very good. Quick Service - Half a Chicken and Chips only $10 $25.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Try Chibuku, a popular local beer. It comes in "scuds", 2 L brown plastic containers. The beer is lumpy and opaque beige, but is good and painfully cheap.

Shake-shake is prepackaged sorghum beer (brewed in the traditional African style) and is very thick and filling, and comes in milk cartons.

The locally brewed Castle, Lion, Zambesi and Bohlingers are definitely worth trying.

Harare has a vibrant club scene that goes on until the early hours. Note that if you must walk around after dark, be prepared for the frequent blackouts that will occur without warning. Try to carry a working flashlight whenever possible (like from a phone), and be very careful where you step as many sidewalks have uncovered manholes and gaps that can be very dangerous if you step in the wrong place.

  • Stars, located next to the Rainbow hotel, is a high class bar/club/lounge that plays hip hop and house music. It can be expensive but is a lot of fun.
  • Symphony is a hip hop club/lounge very similar to Stars.
  • Globe Trotters, also known as GT, is a much less expensive club.
  • Balcony is very similar to Globe Trotters.
  • Beverlino Restaurant, 100 Nelson Mandela Corner Fourth/Nelson Mandela (Opposite Quality International Hotel), 704741. Beverlino Restaurant, well known for its baskets, offered a wide range of food and beverages prepared to your taste. Wherever, you are in town, the warm savoury food will be brought to your door step. Place an order for food now.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

The city boasts an internationally recognized five-star hotel (The Meikles Hotel), but also has a signficant number of three-star to four-star hotels that offer affordable accommodation without compromising on quality. These include The Crowne Plaza Monomotapa, The Cresta Lodge and The Holiday Inn. There are several cheap backpackers guesthouses, particularly in Selous Avenue (doubles with shared bathrooms in the $20 range). But be wary when walking alone at night in the Selous Avenue area.

Harare also has quite a number of bed and breakfast/guest houses, mostly set in former residential houses with extensive gardens.


  • Imba Matombo (Imba Matombo), 3 Albert Glen Close (Travel up Enterprise Rd to Glen Lorne), +263782555123, [9]. checkin: 11; checkout: 11. Perfect for Business Travell - Upmarket Lodge - 5 Barrel Award - 5 Star for Lodges. $250 Double.  edit

Budget[edit]

  • Palm Villa Lodge, 39 Selous Ave, dorms. Friendly and centrally located.
  • Mundawanga lodge, 94 Selous Ave.
  • Hillside lodge, 71 Hillside Street.
  • Small World Lodge Avondale, Ridge Rd 25, in Avondale, [10].
  • Small World Lodge, on the corner of Fife Avenue and Ninth Street, in Center, [11].

Mid-range[edit]

  • Bowood Lodge, Guest House, 8 Bowood Road, Mount Pleasant, North Harare [12] +263 430 4613, info@bowoodlodge.net, has 4 double rooms. It is set in beautiful grounds and has internet and a pool. Very peaceful. Costs are around $75 per night for bed and breakfast. Evening meals are also available.
  • Cresta Oasis, Nelson Mandela Way, +263 1 790861 (fax: +263 1 790865). Three-star hotel just to the east of the Central Business District (walkable during the day, not advisable at night). Around $100.  edit
  • Simba Harare, Guest House, 522 Westgate, New Adyllin, North Harare [13] +263 77 4647549, simbaharare@accomodation-harare.dk, has 8 double rooms, and a large swimmingpool. Own watersupply (borehole) and electricity (solar energy). Internet. Safe. Costs are from $20 per night (cabin) to $50 (main house) for bed and breakfast. Larger groups have been accomodated. Airport pickup arranged per request.
  • Imba Prestige, 54 Carrick Creagh Road, Borrowdale, Harare - call 0782 555 123 to make reservations. [14]

Splurge[edit]

  • Crowne Plaza Monomotapa, 54 Park Lane (Northwest corner of the Central Business District), 263-4-704512-30 (fax: 263-4-791920), [15]. Backing onto the Harare Gardens park, this moon-shaped hotel provides comfortable accommodation. $120+.  edit
  • Holiday Inn, Samora Machel Avenue, 263-4-795611 (fax: 263-4-738956), [16]. $120+.  edit
  • Meikles Hotel, (In the city center), 251705 (, fax: 707753), [17]. Despite the problems experienced in Zimbabwe in recent years, Meikles has managed to maintain its standards as one of Africa's best hotels. All the usual amenities and excellent service. Rack rate is $250 but you should be able to get a room for $150..  edit

Contact[edit]

  • Internet is available in hotels and at one or two internet cafes, but the service is slow and irregular.
  • Cell phone coverage around Harare is good. SIM cards can be easily purchased at a low price. Problems can be experienced with international calls, however. International landline calls are also still unreliable.

Cope[edit]

Walking around the town after dark should be avoided. If you leave your hotel to visit restaurants, take a taxi. Also, it is illegal to walk on the sidewalks around the President's palace after 6 p.m. If you do so, you will be on the wrong end of a large gun and threatened with a large fine and/or imprisonment by the guards. If this happens, keep calm. You will probably have to pay a massive bribe.

Embassies[edit]

  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, [40].  edit
  • Us-flag.png United States of America, [41].  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Epworth Balacing Rocks are located on Chiremba Road, 10 km southwest of Central. Looks for the signs on the left. The 4th Street Terminal has frequent minibus services to the Balacing Rocks: the driver will know where to let you out. Be careful of your personal safety inside the park. The cost is $2-10 per person, depending on the situation.

The condition of the roads in Zimbabwe has deteriorated dramatically in recent years, as the government has failed to maintain them. Most of the country is now without street lights. The main highways are still in a good state of repair outside of the cities: traffic is so light now that damage from trucks is minimal. You should be all right without a 4x4, unless you go to rural areas and game parks. If you enter from South Africa, be sure that your insurance waiver is valid for travel in Zimbabwe.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!




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