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  • Overview

    Known as 'the sunshine city', Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe and a gateway to the country's many attractions, including Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba. Turmoil in Zimbabwe has cast a dark shadow on the city, with fuel and food shortages affecting tourism and day to day life throughout the country.

    Foreigners should note that the country is still struggling with many hardships; violence is seldom aimed at tourists but travellers should be sensitive to the political situation and exercise caution in the big cities, such as Harare. The tourist enclaves like Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba remain virtually untouched by any sort of upheaval.

    Beautiful residential areas surround the city centre of Harare, the most developed being Borrowdale, Chisipite, Mount Pleasant, and Avondale. There are some interesting galleries and museums in and around Harare showcasing local culture and heritage, some of the most popular being the National Gallery, the Dendera Gallery, and the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences (formerly the Queen Victoria Museum).

    Borrowdale Village is a quaint complex offering a variety of shops, restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs. Other Harare shopping centres include Westgate, which has a great movie theatre, and the Eastgate Shopping Mall, located in the CBD.

    When not sipping cappuccinos at a café in the village, the local residents often go to the Harare Sports Club to watch cricket, or to Old Georgians (OGs) for rugby. Golf is another favourite pastime, with some fantastic courses as well as a couple of fun putt-putt courses based in the city.

    For nature lovers, visiting the Lion and Cheetah Park is a must when in Harare, and the Chriemba Balancing Rocks are also good to see. The National Botanical Garden is another good outdoor attraction in Harare. Horse riding and walking safaris are offered in the nearby Mukuvusi Woodlands, while Lake Chivero is great for jet-skiing, sailing, and fishing.

    There are a number of parks in Harare - in particular the Mukuvisi Woodlands Environmental Centre is a popular spot for family picnics and birdwatching. Two thirds of the 260-hectare reserve is natural parkland, while the remainder is a small wildlife park.

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    Harare has a sub-tropical climate with a summer season from October to April. The summer days are generally hot and sunny, with average high temperatures reaching around 81ºF (27ºC), and there are often afternoon thunderstorms.

    Rain occurs mostly between November and March. The winter climate is pleasant with warm, dry days from June to August (temperatures drop more extremely at night) and the average low temperature is around 42ºF (6ºC). The city boasts pleasant, sunny weather year-round.

    The capital city has a number of business headquarters, government offices, and international embassies, and as a result there are some excellent restaurants in Harare. Whether you're looking for a quality pub like Cory's Bar and Grill, top-quality steakhouses like Chop Chop, fine-dining establishments like Amanzi and Victoria 22, or a number of good coffee shops like Shop Cafe, you'll find something to suit your tastes.

    Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated around nine miles (15km) from Harare.
    Time: Local time is GMT +2.
    Getting to the city: Taxis and shuttle buses are available to the city centre.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies include Europcar and Avis, among others.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis to central Harare are available.
    Fascilities: Facilities include a bank, bureau de change, smoking areas, medical services and a pharmacy, restaurants, bars, duty-free, various shops, and post office.
    Parking There is parking close to the terminal.
    Website: www.caaz.co.zw

    Useful Contacts:

    Fuel shortages in Zimbabwe have made travel difficult in the past but this seems to be on the mend and the most effective mode of transport in Harare is still hiring a car. There are rental car companies based throughout the city, and taxi cabs and minibus taxis are also widely available.

    The minibus taxis favoured by locals are cheap and go everywhere, however they are not particularly safe. Road conditions in Zimbabwe have deteriorated dramatically in recent years but the main highways are still functional.

    Bus services are also available but they are more practical for intercity transport than journeys within Harare itself. Parts of the city can be explored on foot, but walking after dark in the city is advised against.

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