Welcome back mate!
time immemorial, humans have been travelling from place to place.
Today let’s talk about how it is like to travel in Zimbabwe.
main modes of transportation used around the world are the following:
Rail(On land & Underground trains)
Water transport – Ships, ferries and boats And;
before we dive into the article here are a few words you need to know:
Kombi– A commuter Omnibus
Hiace High Highroof – A commuter Omnibus with more headspace than ordinary Kombis
Mushikashika – A shared taxi. It usually has at least 4 people in it.
Gonyeti – A haulage truck
Rori – A lorry
Well my country is a land-locked country so you aren’t going to use water transport too often. (I have never been in a boat, ship or ferry all my life so that should explain how rarely this mode of transportation is used).
This mode of transport could be used if you are in a dam, lake or river. Not much to write about this so let us move on to the next mode of transportation.
We have the usual tarmac roads, gravel roads and dirt roads. Tarmac roads are the ones that are used in towns and cities. In addition, these roads connect towns and cities together.
For the lesser used routes, gravel and dirt roads are quite common. If you are a frequent visitor to places such as the rural areas, you will need a mode of transport that can travel over these roads without giving you problems.
Public transportation used:
Buses and Kombis.
Buses are mainly used for long distance travel. These are usually comfortable, and you are generally better off boarding a bus when travelling a long distance journey (200Km+) than using alternative public transport.
Now, like everything in life, not all Buses are not equal. Some buses that are available are chicken Buses which provide generally low comfort and have a pertinent risk of the bus breaking down before you get to the destination, and then there are luxury buses that are generally more comfortable and have better customer service than their cheaper competitors. These luxury buses are a good choice when you are travelling very long distance journeys (500Km+).
So are there buses for short distance journeys?
Of course! The most popular buses are ZUPCO buses. These are buses that travel along pre-determined routes, with a pre-determined schedule. To get an idea of what they are like, think of the Zimbabwean version of the Metro Bus that people use to get to work. These buses are generally cheaper than their competitors (other buses, Kombis, and private transportation), and are the choice of transportation for people who commute quite often.
These are quite popular for short-distance transport (anything from 1Km to 100Km). They usually load people quite quickly and also travel a lot quicker than alternative forms of transportation. These do not usually have a fixed time-table, although most (if not all) Kombis have a fixed route. The quality of customer service is much lower than all other forms of road transportation and they are also usually charge more than both public and private transportation. This form of transportation is cheaper than using a taxi.
These are usually Toyota Vitz, Honda Fit, or Toyota Wish vehicles. These, just like Kombis are quite popular for short-distance transport (anything from 1Km to 100Km). They are also quicker than alternative forms of transportation. They usually do not have a fixed time table. The customer service is slightly better than that offered by Kombis. They charge more than both public and private transportation – their fares are usually similar to what is charged by a Kombi.
Just because someone owns a Toyota Vitz, Honda Fit, or a Toyota Wish does not mean that his/her car is a Mushika shika. It is very insulting for a person who owns one of those cars mentioned above for personal use to have it called a Mushika shika. If you are inside such a Car and you get a call and you say you are in a Mushika shika you risk getting kicked out of the vehicle, so don’t assume!
Private transportation used:
Cars & Pickup trucks
Like any other place, we do have Cars and Pickup-trucks. These are used for short, long, and very long distance travel. Popular Car brands here are: Toyota (For 4x4s the Toyota Hilux, reigns supreme, For Kombis the Toyota Quantum and Hiace High-roof, and for the smaller cars the Toyota Wish, Toyota Vitz, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Runnex appear to be popular), Mercedes Benz (For Kombis the Mercedes Benz Sprinter, for smaller saloon cars anything from the C,E, and S class), Honda (The Honda Fit, and Honda CRVs are quite popular here), BMW, Mazda, Nissan.
Of course there are many more cars available here, but those are the most popular in my opinion. Private transportation is a very convenient mode of transportation for workers who commute everyday because there are usually reasonable fares (almost always cheaper than those charged by Kombis), fair customer service and one is able to negotiate on a drop off point (which is closest to where the person commuting wants to get to).
Note: Try to be courteous and avoid eating food in a person’s car. It does take a lot of effort to keep a car clean
We have taxis here! International taxi services such as Uber and lift don’t seem to have made a noticeable penetration in the Zimbabwean market. I’m not even sure if they even operate here. There are local taxi services available which allow the user to hail the taxi using an app. The most advertised ones are are Vaya, and Hwindi. There are also traditional taxis here. It is important to note though, that most taxis here have the “taxi” sign on the doors of the taxi. I am yet to see one with the yellow “taxi” sign on top of it. This is the most expensive mode of road transportation.
Other vehicles & modes of road transportation
Lorries, vans and Haulage trucks (which are popularly referred to as a “Goneyti”). These are mainly used for transporting goods such as food, construction materials, retail goods. These are the cheapest form of personal transportation. They are also the slowest form of personal transportation, so if you are not in a hurry use either a Rori or a Gonyeti!
Bicycles are also used to move people from one place to another. These are used for travelling between short distances (1-5Km). Unlike in countries such as China, bicycles are not a popular choice of transportation to use to and from work.
So which mode of road transportation should I use?
Well it all depends on how much you have, how long the journey is and how often you will travel at the destination you are travelling to.
As a general rule of the thumb, it is a good idea to use either a private car or a luxury bus for long distance journeys and a private car for all other journeys.
What else do I need to know about road transportation?
Well if you are using private transportation, then you will need to have money for tollgates (assuming that you are travelling between two separate cities). For more information about tollgates and their associated fees, visit
In addition, you will need to keep your driver’s license and National Identity Card (or passport for foreigners) just in case you are stopped by the police. It is a good idea to carry these because they don’t exactly like drivers who drive without licenses (mainly
because the drivers do not have a drivers licence at all!).
Some routes are rather dangerous to use in the rainy season when water overflows from dams and rivers and leaves roads and bridges submerged. This is a rather important point to consider when planning a journey.
So what are the payment modes for road transportation in Zimbabwe?
For public transport: Bond notes & coins, and for ZUPCO buses you can also use a Near Field Communication (NFC) ZUPCO Tap Card to pay. Does this mean you can use other NFC technologies to pay? NO!
Do vehicles in Zimbabwe use Petrol, Diesel or are they Electric Vehicles (EVs)?
The majority of vehicles are either Petrol or Diesel vehicles. A few Electric Vehicles are there, but I am yet to see one. I have never seen a charging station for Electric Vehicles yet. Maybe they will be set-up soon.
(a popular network mobile operator which offers other services apart from mobile communications) wants to distrupt the transport sector and introduce Electric
Vehicles. This is quite an interesting development!
This is a popular mode of transport for transporting goods. I don’t know of anyone who uses them as a means of travelling. We have on-land trains (most owned by the National Railways of Zimbabwe – NRZ). We do not have any underground trains.
Oh yes. Glamorous travel. It is a big deal to the average Zimbabwean to board an Aeroplane. The whole family + cousins come to the airport dressed in their best clothes and they take many selfies to upload on Facebook at the airport (so if you see a tiny crowd of people who seem to know each other at an airport, then it is probably just one person who is travelling). The person who is travelling will usually take very many selfies (as it is usually his or her first time or so) and will post the pictures on his/her Facebook timeline for the next week.
Air travel is the best option for really long distance travel (e.g. travelling from Harare, Zimbabwe to Johannesburg, South Africa). It could also be a suitable option for travelling long distances as it is the fastest mode of transportation.
So which airline should I use?
Well this could depend on: how comfortable you want your journey to be
(and customer service), the baggage limits of the airline (you don’t want to end up leaving some of your packed items at the airport!) and your budget. For more information, feel free to research about the airlines available in Zimbabwe.
This is of course the most popular form of transport in virtually any place in the world. We do walk here, and here are a few tips:
If you are in a busy town/city, be sure to check both sides of the road. Even if it is a one way street. Yes. There are bad drivers.
When walking on a pavement, be aware of your environment. Just like in school, there are always naughty people – in this case drivers.
When in a busy town/city, try not to walk with things that can easily be snatched because like any other town/city in the world, pickpockets and thieves are present.
And that is where today’s story ends. Come back next week and I will have another good article just for YOU!
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