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Diving in Zimbabwe

Diving in Zimbabwe

Quick facts

  • The hot and dry season is from August to October, and the rainy season from November to March. The best months to visit are April to May and August to September. Night-time temperatures can fall below freezing
  • Travellers coming from infected countries require a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
  • Precautions against Hepatitis A, and rabies are also recommended. Other risks include typhoid, polio and bilharzia; a high prevalence of AIDS/HIV exists.
  • Malaria is a risk all year in most of the country. Mosquitoes are chloroquine resistant. Precautions should be taken. Check for up-to-date advice before travelling.
  • BE AWARE: Lariam (mefloquine) is an anti-malarial drug used in regions of the world where chloroquine resistant falciparum malaria is prevalent. e.g. East Africa, South East Asia. Possible side effects of lariam such as dizziness, blurred vision and a disturbed sense of balance are common and could cause problems for divers. These effects can often imitate or even worsen the symptoms of DCI. There could also be confusion between the side effects of lariam and the symptoms of DCI or nitrogen narcosis resulting in a misleading diagnosis.
  • There is a risk of Bilharzia, which is caused by infestation by a type of flatworm, or fluke (parasite). The fluke larvae are released by freshwater snails which penetrate the human skin and mature into adults. Female flukes may lay eggs that cause inflammation. The symptoms (which can take months to surface) depend on the species of fluke. 'Swimmer's itch' develops where the parasite enters the skin, and is often the only symptom. If you think you've been exposed to it you can get a very cheap pill from the local pharmacists that will kill it before it even shows its face.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

Language:
English
Currency:
Zimbabwean dollar
Time:
GMT +2
Climate:
Tropical; moderated by altitude
Natural hazards:
Recurring droughts; floods and severe storms are rare
Diving season:
Year round
Water temperature:
22C
Air temperature:
13°C/55°F (winter) (High Veld)
24°C/75°F (summer) (High Veld)
Temperatures in the Low Veld are about 10 degrees higher

Calendar

For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Zimbabwe is in Southern Africa. It is landlocked and is surrounded by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east and north. Click for the map.

Much of the interior of southern Africa consists of a high plateau known as the Highveld, starting east of the Johannesburg centre. These higher, cooler areas (generally more than 5000 ft [1524m] above sea level) are characterised by flat or gently undulating terrain, grasslands and a modified tropical or subtropical climate. Some surrounding, lower areas, are known as Lowveld and are generally hotter and less intensely cultivated.

Although the country is landlocked, its great rivers are used for transport. The Zambezi forms the natural border with Zambia and when in full flood (February-April) the massive Victoria Falls on the river forms the world's largest curtain of falling water.

Recently, Zimbabwe has undergone a politically induced economic depression. Political activities have caused many commercial farms to be taken out of large-scale production. Press freedom has been curtailed and law and order has been compromised by armed gangs. Check for up-to-date information before you travel.

Diving is dominated by the spectacular Chinhoyi Caves which are are a group of caves near the town of Chinhoyi in Zimbabwe and named after a local chief who used them as a refuge from Ndebele raiders. These caves are the most extensive cave system in Zimbabwe that the public can access. The caves were designated a National Park in 1955 and as such are managed by the Department of National Parks.

The main feature is the limestone cavern that was formed when the ground collapsed into a sinkhole. This hole falls for twenty metres to the surface of a very deep cavern of water. This pool is called Sleeping Pool or Chirorodzira (Pool of the Fallen). In the early 19th century, the locals were often thrown into the pool by invading Ngumi tribes.

Getting there

  • Chinhoyi Caves - swim through a submarine passage leading from the Bat Cave, a subchamber of the Dark Cave to another room known as the Blind Cave. Diving is fantastic in the caves all year round, with temperatures never below or above 22/24C marks with zero thermocline. Visibility is fantastic too, 50 metres and above is not unusual. The caves are protected by National Parks so you are only allowed to dive there if you are with a Zimbabwean registered dive club/centre.
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