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The secret is out - now's the time to safari in Zimbabwe

The best way to see animals is on safari.  No cages, no bars. Get up close and personal.
The best way to see animals is on safari. No cages, no bars. Get up close and personal.
by Doug Bardwell ©2011

The sixth annual Saganai Travel and Tourism Africa Fair just concluded today in Harare, Zimbabwe. What does that mean to you? Reiterated in this afternoon’s press briefing and in recent political appointments, Zimbabwe is making a huge push to increase tourism. They are rolling out the red carpet and they want you…NOW!

How the safari pieces are coming together

After successfully co-hosting the latest General Assembly session of the United Nations World Tourist Organization in August and now successfully wrapping up the Sanganai show in October, all eyes are focused on all the “World of Wonders” that Zimbabwe offers the tourist.

United Nations representatives and their guests were wowed by all the action available in Victoria Falls, right on the shared border with Zambia. With just a stroll across the bridge, you can tick off a second country from your bucket list. From the US, no additional visa, just “come on down.”

Sanganai buyers and media alike were able to meet with dozens of safari lodges and safari operators that are poised for customers right now. Options available cover everything from jeep safaris to walking safaris to elephant safaris. Prefer the water? How about canoe, kayak, and even houseboat safaris. Long safaris – short safaris…well, you get the idea.

So what’s the hurry? Why the rush?

The government of Zimbabwe, recognizing the advantage of hosting meeting and convention business in their country, has founded a new office to promote MICE tourism (Meeting, Incentive, Convention & Events). They’ve added people to promote the country, and at today’s press briefing, they mentioned that they planned to triple the number of people being invited to next year’s show.

Bottom line, that means more people selling tours, more people coming to the country and less open slots for every safari operator in the country. Hence, your best chance for a great rate and the dates you want is now.

[Like lion photos? Check out this lion slideshow.]

Ready to start planning? Here’s your To-Do List:

1) Subscribe to get my latest stories. I’m heading off tomorrow on a one week sweep of the country and you’ll want to hear about some of the great destinations I’ll be photographing. (Click the subscribe button under the photo above.)

2) Get general country information from the Zimababwe website http://www.zimbabwetourism.co.zw

3) Find a travel agent to help you package things together. You’ll want transfers from the airport or perhaps a rental car. Start with the Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents at http://www.azta.co.zw

4) If you’re reading this in Europe or especially in the UK, you’ll want to work with a good friend of mine – Richard Buckley at www.experiencezimbabwe.com. He’s got a selection of tours from one day to four weeks.

Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about travel destinations, photography and tech topics across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at travel.dougbardwell@gmail.com with suggestions for future stories. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here. For travel ideas in Cleveland and around the world, check his Calendar of Events. To see his travel photo collection, see BardwellPhotography.com.