Thrifty Travels: Exploring Zimbabwe’s Natural Wonders on a Budget

Zimbabwe is known for its incredible natural beauty and diverse landscapes, making it a popular destination on many travellers’ bucket lists.

Don’t fall under the misconception that safaris in Zimbabwe will break the bank. While some safari experiences can be expensive, there are plenty of options available for thrifty travellers who want to experience the beauty of Zimbabwe on a budget.

The Concept of ‘Thrifty Travel’

‘Thrifty travel’ is a concept that has become very popular in recent years, as more and more people want to experience various corners of the world but need to stick to a tight budget. While not all countries offer wallet-friendly travel opportunities, Zimbabwe is more affordable than most!

Thrifty travel means staying in basic accommodation and finding ways to save money when possible. It doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy all of the natural wonders that Zimbabwe is renowned for. You can still make unforgettable memories and have loads of fun without spending a fortune.

Budget-Friendly Activities 

Let’s explore some of the country’s most popular attractions, suitable for thrift travellers:

Victoria Falls

Not only is Victoria Falls one of the largest waterfalls in the world, but it is also a UNESCO world heritage site. If you wanted to, you could spend a pretty penny on things like microlight flights, river cruises and high tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel. 

But if you are on a budget, you may want to shift your focus. Fortunately, there are plenty of free viewing decks that allow you to view the majesty of the falls without paying a cent. These locations serve as the perfect spot for a picnic and offer the perfect photo opportunity for travellers looking to remember their trip for years to come. 

Hwange National Park

The entrance fee to Hwange National Park for international visitors is 30 USD per day. Once inside the park, you have access to a range of world-class facilities, as Hwange is the biggest and best-known national park in the country. 

You can drive through the park in your own vehicle to save on game drive costs. But we do recommend spending a little extra to experience a guided safari at least once during your trip. 

Doing so will ensure you see as many animals as possible because the guides are experts in knowing where the animals hang out throughout the changing seasons. When it comes to safaris in Zimbabwe, it doesn’t get much better than Hwange National Park.

Mana Pools National Park

Set alongside the Zambezi River, Mana Pools National Park makes for some truly incredible game-viewing experiences. Most of the camps are set up near the river so that you can watch elephants bathing without even having to get out of bed. 

Walking safaris are relatively affordable and are what the national park is best known for. The expert guides ensure you see a diverse range of mammals, reptiles and bird species.

Matobo Hills National Park

If you’re a nature lover, you should not miss out on visiting Matobo Hills National Park during your time in Zimbabwe. As the park doesn’t have any lions or elephants, you can walk around freely, thus saving you money on a guide or game drive. 

The park is also home to some very interesting rock formations, so make sure you remember to bring your camera.

Eastern Highlands

The most affordable activity you can participate in when visiting Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands is hiking. All you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes and enough water. You don’t need to have a hiking guide, although it is a nice added extra if you want to learn more about the local fauna and flora and avoid getting lost. 

Minimising Food Costs

Eating out is usually one of the biggest expenses on any trip abroad. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways in which you can stretch your food budget.

Try Local Zimbabwean Street Food

While Zimbabwean street food may be unfamiliar to you depending on where you’re from, your taste buds will relish in the unique local flavours. Things like samosas, sadza, nyama and mielies are all readily available from street vendors. The best part is that this local cuisine is usually very affordable!

Buy from Supermarkets

Buying fresh produce from markets and supermarkets is a great way to save money when visiting Zimbabwe. If you’re staying at self-catering accommodation, then you’ll easily be able to prepare your own meals with the groceries you purchase. Supermarkets are also great for buying ready-made meals and snacks. 

Support Small Restaurants

Zimbabwe is filled with small, family-run restaurants. The food served at these restaurants is typically basic local cuisine made from fresh ingredients. 

Not only will you get to enjoy an authentically local culinary experience, but you’ll also spend way less than if you were to eat at a restaurant geared towards foreigners. Just remember that tipping is considered customary. 

Additional Tips for Budget-Friendly Travel in Zimbabwe

Research Currency Exchange Options

Don’t waste money unnecessarily on currency exchange. The US dollar is the country’s official currency, so it should be fairly easy to obtain. Consider arriving with enough cash instead of having to swipe your card and deal with the hefty charges constantly.


Bargaining is another tool you can use to reduce the overall cost of your trip. Before your trip, research ‘fair’ prices for taxi rides and souvenirs to ensure that you don’t ever overpay. Just keep in mind that bargaining is not appropriate in all situations, and there are many products and services that will have set prices.

Don’t Forget to Pack Essential Items

Don’t forget the basic essentials, forcing you to purchase them at tourist prices. Here are some of the items that you should definitely bring with you when visiting Zimbabwe:

  • Light clothing
  • Swimming costume
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Binoculars
  • Camera

Create a detailed packing list and tick off each item before you close up your suitcase.

Plan Ahead of Time

Last-minute trips often end up being more costly. If you begin planning your Zimbabwe safari well ahead of time, you’re likely to come across flight and accommodation deals. Planning ahead will also give you more time to save towards your trip.

Choose Accommodation Wisely

Accommodation often ends up being the most expensive part of Zimbabwe safaris. There are plenty of amazing accommodation options available, but it’s important to consider your options and determine the level of comfort you deem necessary. If you want to save on accommodation, you may want to stay in tented camps over luxury lodges.

Get on The Same Page 

It can be difficult to stick to your budget when travelling with someone who is not as conscious of their spending as you. Before you leave on your trip, it’s important that everyone is on the same page regarding budget constraints. This may mean that they participate in certain activities without you, but it is always better to be upfront.

Are you interested in going on a safari in Zimbabwe? No matter your budget, the safari experts at Tailormade Africa can come up with an exciting custom itinerary that suits your budget. We’d love to help plan a memorable, thrifty holiday for you and your travel companions. Contact us to plan your dreamy African safari vacation.