Zimbabwe? A bit random for me, you might think. But in fact, I have been thinking about traveling to Africa for couple years now.
I’ve never been, and often I, like most of us, think of Africa as a country. But it’s not a country, it’s a continent like Europe or Asia, full of different, unique countries that can’t be categorized under one headline.
There’s Egypt with it’s amazing history, Rwanda which is the cleanest country on Earth, and the fastest evolving African success story, Ghana. All very different and all full of unique travel experiences.
I remember the first time I became properly aware of Africa and its travel potential. When we were teenagers my best friend expressed a wish of traveling to some poor African country to volunteer as an English teacher, as someone who helps build houses and wells, or do any sort of volunteering work.
For me holidays had always been experiences where you wail away time on a beach, visiting famous sights and emptied your wallet in the shops and restaurants. But she made me aware of a different way to holiday; volunteering.
Volunteering in developing countries has raised popularity for a decade. Volunteering opportunities in Africa vary from dedicating a period of your time to teaching, to working with wildlife, to volunteering at orphanages, and the list goes on.
Any way of volunteering on the vast continent is extremely beneficial when it comes to some of the deprived areas in there. And for you as well!
I know people who have been involved in building schools and wells in various countries in Africa, and they have said that it is the best thing they have ever done! They have all stated that it changed their lives, or at least the way they look at living a life.
I’m on a mission to find ways to make travel more sustainable, and volunteering is definitely one such option. I mean, what could be more sustainable than ensuring even a little improvement in the quality of life for a dozen or even a hundred people somewhere?
As I’ve mentioned, I’m on the lookout for my next holiday destination. I want to go further than Europe, so why not Africa? After a quick search on Google I came across a country called Zimbabwe.
Positioned in the center of the continent, Zimbabwe has been a route for trade and migration for centuries. The name that probably rings bells for many is Zimbabwe’s former, authoritarian president, Robert Mugabe, who finally gave up power in 2017.
Mugabe plunged his country into economic decline and multiple hyperinflations leaving the people hungry and sick. In the past Zimbabwe had an abundance of forests and extraordinary wildlife but deforestation and poaching have left a nasty mark on the country’s landscape.
From this brief summary we can already deduce that there are multiple areas where Zimbabwe needs help, from wildlife to building infrastructure. So, if you’ve ever wanted to contribute something to the larger community on your holidays, volunteering in Zimbabwe could be just the thing.
Things to consider
There are couple things to take into account, though; first up, volunteering is unpaid work. So, make sure you have a bit of money put aside before you embark on this kind of a vacation. Secondly, accommodation can be a bit trickier to find than logging into Booking.com.
There are hotels, of course, but what I would ask myself is how unfair and uncomfortable I would feel if I slept in 5-star conditions and spent my days digging wells smelling of vanilla and lavender. Maybe it’s just me, but I would rather immerse myself for the whole experience.
You can find good accommodation in Zimbabwe for a mere $5 per night, but don’t go expecting too much. This sort of accommodation is what I would rate as ‘good enough’; you’ve got a roof, bed, and a bathroom, which is much more than many people on the planet have.
Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t enjoy your stay or that you shouldn’t be comfortable. You have options to choose from, when it comes to accommodation; a hostel type accommodation with either a communal bathroom or your own room with an en-suite, for example. The ninny in me would definitely go for an en-suite.
Thirdly, security is a crucial factor. It is imperative to feel safe when you are visiting any new country, let alone a tad unstable one. When searching for accommodation pay attention to where the options are located and whether they offer security services. Obviously, check out the photos as well.
The best way to make sure your accommodation is safe, read the recommendations that former quests have written. This is the best way to get an honest assessment regarding the level of quality and how enjoyable the stay was.
What were the hosts like? Did the make you feel welcome? Did the place live up to the details that were given on the website? Did the showers have hot water? This is easy to do; just a few minutes searching online can save you from a month or three of hell.
Writing this article and researching the volunteering options that Zimbabwe has to offer has really got me excited! I’m particularly interested in participating in animal-related projects and planting trees and such.
I wonder if any of my friends back in Finland might be interested in joining me on a tad different holiday experience… Or what about you?
Would you ever even consider spending a holiday in a developing country helping out locals for free? I’d love to hear your views on this, both for and against! ♥