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Harare

Travel Guide Africa Zimbabwe Harare

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Introduction

Harare is the capital and also the largest city in Zimbabwe. The city itself has a population of roughly 1.6 million people while the metropolitan area has 2.8 million inhabitants. Harare was founded in 1890 by Cecil Rhodes and his companions, but was named Salisbury at first and only became known as Harare in 1982. The city is located in the central northeastern part of the country at an elevation of almost 1,500 metres above sea level and functions as the administrative and commercial centre of the country. The city is not very popular amongst travellers, not only because of a lack of notable attractions, but also because of ongoing uncertainty about the future of the city and country.

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Sights and Activities

  • African Unity Square
  • Anglican Cathedral
  • Gallery Delta
  • Lion & Cheetah Park
  • National Gallery

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Events and Festivals

Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA)

The Harare International Festival of Arts is held annually at the end of April and is one of the largest events in the country. Featuring both local and international acts in the genres of music, theater, and visual arts, there is also a great arts and crafts market from which unique souvenirs can be purchased.

Harare Jazz Festival

April is a busy month for Harare, at least festival-wise. April 15 to 16 marks the annual Jazz Festival. Famous African musicians take to the stage and there are workshops for budding talent. All of the proceeds go to charity and many students are given free entry.

Zimbabwe International Book Fair

Bookworms will be pleased to know that Harare hosts a topnotch literary event. The Zimbabwe International Book Fair, which takes place every July, is a celebration of the word in Zimbabwe. Nearly 100 publishers take part in the occasion, which is held at Harare Gardens. There is also a great program of talks and workshops by renowned authors for the general public to enjoy.

Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF)

Held in Harare annually every August, the Zimbabwe International Film Festival spans 10 days and showcases the best feature films, shorts, and documentaries the region and abroad have to offer. It also hosts workshops, which are open to all attendees. The event is a non-political, not for profit initiative which aims to develop a network of creative individuals in the region.

Harare International Food Festival

Visitors who are lucky enough to visit in November should make a stop at the Harare International Food Festival. Still in its early years, the event is making an impact on the foodie and gourmet scene. Showcasing everything from international cuisine to regional wine, this festival brings together the best cuisine and chefs from around Zimbabwe and overseas to taste everything from wine and whiskey to paté and pasta, and you are sure to leave full.

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Weather

Harare is located at higher altitude. Here, summers are close to 30 °C during the day, around 15 °C or 16 °C at night. Winters (June - September) are above 20 °C during the day, dropping to a rather chilly 7 °C at night. Most rain falls between December and February, close to 200 mm a month in some places. June to September is almost completely dry.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max26.2 °C26 °C26.2 °C25.6 °C23.8 °C21.8 °C21.6 °C24.1 °C28.4 °C28.8 °C27.6 °C26.3 °C
Avg Min15.8 °C15.7 °C14.5 °C12.5 °C9.3 °C6.8 °C6.5 °C8.5 °C11.7 °C14.5 °C15.5 °C15.8 °C
Rainfall190.8 mm176.3 mm99.1 mm37.2 mm7.4 mm1.8 mm2.3 mm2.9 mm6.5 mm40.4 mm93.2 mm182.7 mm
Rain Days17141052101151016

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Getting There

By Plane

Harare International Airport (HRE) receives all international flights, among which are those withAir Zimbabwe, the national airline of the country. International flights include those to and from Beijing, Blantyre, Dar es Salaam, Dubai, Guangzhou, Johannesburg, Lilongwe, London, Lubumbashi, Lusaka, Nairobi and Singapore. Several other airlines from neighbouring countries fly to and from Harare.

Air Zimbabwe flies between Harare and Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.

By Train

Harare is connected by daily overnight trains with Mutare and Bulawayo. Bulawayo sees departures three times a week at 8:00pm, arriving next morning around 8:00am. $12 for a sleeper and $10 for a seat. Trains from Mutare at the border with Mozambique runs three times a week departing Mutare also at 9:00pm, arrival time in Harare is early morning at 6:00am. $7 for 1st class sleeper. $5 for 2nd class sleeper. There are currently no international trains to Harare except occasional cruise trains.

By Car

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

Buses from Johannesburg are easily available ranging from Eagle Liner (for R330). Greyhound (for R450) and Intercape (R420). The bus takes between 16-24 hours. 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.

Intercape which has the largest intercity network in southern Africa also have buses from Harare to Mutare, Masvingo, Gweru, and Bulawayo.

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 metres 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 Eagle Liner/Greyhound/Intercape) arrive and depart from the modern Roadport terminal at 5th & Mugabe.

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Getting Around

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 at around p.m. although there are a number that offer 24-hour service.

Taxis: 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 you negotiate the price before you get inside the car

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 $0.50c.

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Eat

Zimbabwe's staple food is Sadza: a thick white porridge (a bit like mashed potato), that's made from corn (maize) meal. It's 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 - 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 - an old house converted into a restaurant with a huge garden with a pool, an art shop, gallery etc.

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Drink

Try Chibuku, a popular local beer. It comes in "scuds" - large 2 litre 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.

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Sleep

The city boasts an internationally recognized 5 star hotel (The Meikles Hotel), but also has a significant number of three 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 is now only one cheap backpackers lodge. Harare also has quite a number of bed and breakfast/guest houses, mostly set in former residential houses with extensive gardens.

Upscale

View our map of accommodation in Harare or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -17.8227
  • Longitude: 31.0496

Accommodation in Harare

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This is version 17. Last edited at 3:17 on Aug 2, 17 by sleepBot. 26 articles link to this page.

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