Great Zimbabwe. Usefull information for independent travellers.

We visited Zimbabwe in January 2015
during a complete trip (8 months) around Southern and Eastern Africa.


Great Zimbabwe is one of the main archeological sites in all black Africa

Many stone walls, spread out around a flat valley and a hill, in a beautiful countryside area with huge granite rocks. We liked the place for the atmosphere, a nice and relaxing place, quiet, with birds and monkeys, more than the for the old ruins themselves. 


The entrance fee to Great Zimbabwe is quite expensive compare with other historical and amazing archeological places in the word, but this is Africa and it´s an interesting and different visit if you travelling in Zimbabwe or around southern Africa. 

The good point is that there´s cheap accommodation in Great Zimbabwe.



We´ve done this Great Zimbabwe map to explain how it is really inside, sometimes it´s hard to understand.



   Transport from Masvingo to Great Zimbabwe  

From Masvingo to Great Zimbabwe, there are kombis and taxis.

By kombi (van): and walking...
In MAsvingo, in front of the supermarket Pick´n Pay.

Price: 1.5 $, around 30 min (25 km).  
They stop at the crossroads before the Great Zimbabwe area and you ´ll have to walk a little (more if heading to the dormitories). Passing Great Zimbabwe Hote, then the main entrance-information center and finally you reach the campsite-chalets-dormitories (in this order). It´s around 3 km from the bus stop to the dormitories. But after all the night on the bus (short sleeping), the sun and the backpack, we felt the way longer.
The bus road passes just in the back area of the campsite, you can always take a shortcut and wait for the bus there. 

By taxi (cheaper if sharing): quicker and better.
You can try to arrange private transport if there´s a group of travellers (4-5 in total), specially for the way back (probably easier). This is what we did, we asked for a cheap taxi at the Great Zimbabwe Hotel, bargained and got it for 12 $ (4 people). They came and pick up us directly at the dorms drove us til the bus stop in Masvingo.
A private taxi from Masvingo will cost around 25 $ (return, visit time included).


   Cheap accommodation in Great Zimbabwe  

This is the good point, there´s cheap accommodation just close to the ruins managed by the goverment, National Monuments:
  • Campsite: 5 $/pp
  • Dormitories: 7 $/pp. 
  • Rondavels (chalets): 15 $/pp
  • Family rooms, etc. 
Campsite with Pepe and Alegria and their van, from Spain!
Basic but OK even if maintenance is low. Cold shower only. Very relaxing and quiet place to stay. We spent there 3 nights.

We stayed at the dorms (empty, no more people). The place doesn´t have maintenance, the mattress are broken, no linen...  Toilets aren´t too clean...
Camping can be cleaner...

The nice staff let us use one of the family lodges to cook (kitchen inside) and take the shower there. Tanks!




Great Zimbabwe Hotel (2 km from the goverment cheap area) is a “luxury” hotel, with swiming pool, colonial style (even if it looks really old). Rooms cost more than 100 $ (but possible in low season to get a 50% discount, try to ask if interested).

 Near the lake (10 km away at least), other lodges, but not too many cheap options. You can try camping at
Norma Jeans Lodge.

Note: if you just want use the accommodation, relax and not visit the ruins,  you don´t have to pay the Great Zimbabwe entrance fee.

   Food and Services in Great Zimbabwe   

No shops, no ATM.
Only at the local small village, some km away from the ruins, you will find small shops. 
Keep it in mind before leaving Masvingo, and bring cash and food (there are big supermarkets there).
Water is safe to drink.
Restaurant only at Great Zimbabwe Hotel (not too cheap!). And a small tourist shop in the ruins (just a few expensive snacks and drinks).
There´s wifi in the Great Zimbabwe Hotel but vouchers (expensive) only for guests.


   Visit of Great Zimbabwe   

Price for the entrance: 15 $ (foreigners) and 5 $ (locals and residents).
If you stay and sleep around, you can enter the ruins several days without paying a new fee.
There´s a small museum (included).

Two parts: the Hill ruins (2 different accesses, Old and Modern paths) and down in the flat valley the Great Enclosure/Valley ruins, a small museum and a traditional (tourist) village (you will hear the drums).



There´s a map at the entrance and signs. Easy! It´s not too big.
From the hill, you have good views of the ruins, coutryside and lake.
The visit takes half day… but if you have time, it´s nice to stay longer, just to relax and enjoy the place more.
Very quiet place, mysterious stone walls, walks, monkeys.

Around Great Zimbabwe:

Kyle Lake. It´s better if you have a car, otherwise it´s a bit far and not too much public transport. You can always try to hitch-hike (but not too many cars maybe). We didn´t go.
The southern part of the lake can be reached from Great Zimbabwe, just around 10 km away. Some accommodation around. 

Access to the northern part of the lake (game park with entrance fee) is via Masvingo-Mutare Road (gate is 15 km off the main road). You will need a car.


   MASVINGO   

We just used the town to transfer to/from Great Zimbabwe. Kombs or public vans usually stop near the supermarket Pick´n Pay.

Many buses/vans going to Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo, etc. (from Crocos Motel area) and South Africa´s border (from a garage outside town).

Difficult to find budget accommodation so better to continue to Great Zimbabwe directly (only 25 km away).
Supermarkets, banks, etc. but nothing to really stop you here.

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