Harare is the capital and the largest city of Zimbabwe and serves as the gateway to the country’s many attractions. It is also the center of industry, trade and gold mining. Previously known as Salisbury, the city was founded by the British in 1890, and it was renamed Harare in 1982.
The city has a compact city center where visitors can easily find interesting landmarks such as African Unity Square, the Anglican Cathedral, the peaceful and scenic Harare Gardens, and the cafeterias and craft shops of First Street Mall. Also the National Gallery, which houses a major collection of African art and Shona stone sculpture, is a must.
Zimbabwe is home to some spectacular natural sights and Victoria Falls is one of the world’s most stunning spectacles in nature. Zimbabwe also has some of Africa’s best wildlife parks.
Harare is blessed with a pleasant subtropical highland climate. Its average annual temperature is 18° C, which is quite moderate for a tropic region, and is due to the city’s high altitude.
There are three main seasons: the wet season, from November to April, is marked by hot sunny days and afternoon thunderstorms; the dry season, from May to August enjoys warm dry days and cooler nights; and the hot, dry season is during September and October.
The coldest month is July when the average temperatures range from 7° C to 20° C. The hottest month is October when temperatures can run from 13° C to 28° C.
January average temperature 20 deg Celsius 193 mm rainfall February average temperature 20 deg Celsius, 178 mm rainfall March average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 107 mm rainfall April average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 33 mm rainfall May average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 10 mm rainfall June average temperature 12 deg Celsius, 3 mm rainfall July average temperature 12 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall August average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 3 mm rainfall September average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 5 mm rainfall October average temperature 20 deg Celsius, 33 mm rainfall November average temperature 20 deg Celsius, 94 mm rainfall December average temperature 20 deg Celsius, 173 mm rainfall
Harare International airport is the country’s major gateway, located 12 km from the city center. It is the hub of Air Zimbabwe, and also serves other airlines from around the world including British Airways, Emirates Airlines, Lufthansa Airlines and several domestic airlines.
The easiest way to get around the city is by car.
Always remember to negotiate the price before entering the vehicle.
There are numerous services running throughout the city.
Victoria Falls is certainly among the world’s most stunning natural phenomena, and is often listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, along the Zambezi River and forms the largest sheet of falling water in the world. It is twice as tall as Niagara Falls and several times longer.
One of the most famous features of the falls is the Devil’s Pool, a natural basin formed at the very edge of the fall, where it is perfectly safe to swim, usually during the months of September and December.
Zimbabwe has some of Africa’s best wildlife parks. There are also dozens of safari ranges, as well as botanical gardens and reserves. The most popular spots are Victoria Falls, Hwange, Matobo, Kariba, Gonarezhou, Nyanga, and Mana Pools.
Harare caters well to the sports enthusiast:
Superb golfing courses can be found in the city and its suburbs; as well as a wide range of sports clubs for games like tennis and cricket; and jet-skiing, sailing and fishing are catered for at Lake Chivero.
The National gallery houses Zimbabwe’s contemporary and historical art, including a stunning collection of Shona soft-stone carvings. The gallery also hosts traveling international exhibitions.
This is one of the city’s most famous flea markets and baskets, masks, soapstone carvings, spears and beads share space with food, clothing, gemstone bargains and other souvenirs. Other open-air flea markets are dotted amid several neighborhoods around the city.
Address: Borrowdale Road, Gunll Area
The National Archives were established in 1935, with the aim of documenting the nation's history. It houses a collection of original diaries, notebooks and reports of various famous explorers and missionaries.
National Botanic Garden
Address: Fifth St Alexandra Park
The Botanical Gardens encompass 68 hectares and nurtures over 900 species of wild trees and shrubs and native plants from all over the country.
This is a wildlife sanctuary on the outskirts of the city and is home to elephants and other animals of the plains.
Harare has a great selection of restaurants and cafés for tourists and expatriates, where visitors can sample traditional Zimbabwean food such as sadza, which is a type of cornmeal porridge mixed with vegetables and/or meat. American and European food are also available.
Many outdoor cafés are also equipped with wireless internet and serve good coffee.
The city has many high-quality international restaurants offering Thai, Indian, Chinese Greek, French, and Italian cuisines.
HIFA is a six day annual festival and workshop program that showcases the very best of local, regional and international arts and culture in a comprehensive program of theatre, dance, music, circus, street performance, spoken word and visual arts.
Harare Jazz Festival
Date: April 15 – 17
The Harare Jazz Festival is a one day event that took place for the first time in 2009 in Harare. The program features renowned African jazz artists who also take part in music workshops a day prior to the festival. The proceeds benefit a charity organization and as part of its community outreach program, the festival invites high school students to attend for free.
Date: October (annual)
Once a beauty contest, the rebranded festival now features art displays, carnival and children's activities with the aim to raise money for charity organizations.
The violence in Zimbabwe after the 2008 elections has abated but travelers should remain cautious as some tensions still remain. The situation may deteriorate without much notice.
Although the process for accreditation has been eased, journalists are strongly advised to obtain proper authorization and documentation before filming or reporting on any political or controversial subject.
Visitors should also note that fuel shortages can sometimes occur. Electricity, water, phone networks and health services can also be patchy.
Comprehensive travel and medical insurance prior to departure that covers all intended activities are vital.
Crime, especially opportunistic theft, can occur especially in Harare and main tourist areas such as Victoria Falls. Visitors should not display anything valuable in public, keep passport, tickets, cash and the like in a hotel safety deposit. Furthermore, armed robberies muggings, pick pocketing and jewelry theft are common in the city center, especially after dark.
High crime areas are in downtown Harare, as well as Pungwe Falls, Mterazi Falls and the Honde Falls. Be especially cautious when leaving banks and ATMs at night, and at Harare airport.
In case of political demonstrations leave the area as quickly as possible. Please note that voicing doubts, or any opinions, about the existing political system is highly unadvisable.
Tourist centers have been largely unaffected by political and social unrest, however, extreme caution is necessary for independent travel. Visitors should not travel alone.
Emergency Phone Numbers
Zimbabwe Police 04-777-777 Fire Brigade 04-783-983 Ambulance, MARS 04-771-221 Ambulance, EMRAS 04-250-011