Bulawayo. Usefull information for independent travellers.

We visited Zimbabwe in January 2015
during a complete trip (8 months) around southern and eastern Africa.

Not too many things to do and see in Bulawayo, the second bigest city of Zimbabwe. 

A few colonial buildings, a couple of museums (but entrance fees there). Not too much painting left on most of the buildings, markets, shops. 
But compared with other towns in Africa, Bulawayo´s center is well organised, there are sidewalks. And it´s just interesting to see Zimbabwe city´s life.

Bulawayo is safe, but the city center gets empty quite early and it´s better avoid walking there when dark... just in case...

Many neighborhoods spread out around the center, in around 8-10 km.

   Public Transport in Bulawayo  
  • From Masvingo to Bulawayo:
Many big vans and a few buses, all day long.
Price: 8 $ (van), around 5 h (280 km). Different stops in the center of Bulawayo.
  • Transport in Bulawayo and surroundings:
No public vans/buses in the center (quite small), you have to reach the commuter stations.
Commuter omnibus stations: for the suburbs, different stations depending of north, west, east, south. Ask people around. 5 R (0.5 $).
Many taxis. The prices are fixed. Center 2-3 $, neighbourhoods 5-6 $.

  • Long distance bus Stations in Bulawayo
- Renkini Bus terminus. It´s the main  bus station, located at the west of town. The buses going to Harare, Mutare, Masvingo, Beitbridge.
- Entumbane bus terminus: to Victoria Falls and northern Zimbabwe.
A van to Victoria Falls seems to be around 15 $ and takes 7-8 hours.
- Nkulumane bus terminus: to Botswana and southern Zimbabwe.

Try to confirm these transport informations first at the hostel, tourist information, drivers, etc.

  • Railway station
Daily departures to Harare and Victoria Falls from Bulawayo (usually at night).

We took the night night Bulawayo to Victoria Falls, recommended, always nice to take the train.

Price for the train Bulawayo-Vic Falls:
12 $ sleeper class. Same price for a cabin with 2, 4  or 6 beds. We got a 2 beds cabin, you have to ask when you buy the ticket.
- 10 $ standart seat 
-  8 $ economy seat. 

Departure time at 19:30. Arrival time around 10:00-11:00, next morning.
Booking office: at the train station, open from 8:00 till 19:30 and Saturdays/Sundays from 16:00 till 19:30.

Old train but fine. The sleeper wagon was not full.
Only bookings on the same departure day. 
Also trains to Harare (newer) with similar prices, travelling at night too.

No more trains to Beitbridge.

More information in the website www.nrz.co.zw

   Cheap accommodation in Bulawayo  

Our couchsurfer´s house!
Not too many cheap options, specially in the center. Try YMCA (youth hostel, at 3rd Townsend rd).
Price, around 10$/pp at the dorm.

Couchsurfing in Bulawayo:

As it´s the second city of Zimbabwe, there´s a small community. We stayed with Marie-Hélène, a French teacher, in the southern suburbs.

   Services in Bulawayo  

As it´s the second city of Zimbabwe, you find everything needed in the center, and also in some neighborhoods: supermarkets, banks, etc.
  • Food
Many supermarkets, butcheries, bakeries, markets. Also plenty of “take away” (inside the main supermarkets, there´s a section too) and small restaurants.
  • Tourist information: called Bulawayo Publicity Association, near the City Hall (municipal car park), from 8:30 to 16:45.

Around Bulawayo, there are a few tourist spots of Zimbabwe. We didn´t go there, but here´s some information we got about the places.

  • Matobo National Park

Starts 30 km south of Bulawayo (Rhode´s grave is 46 km, game park 52 km). Rock formations, painted caves, animals.

Entrance fee: 15 $/pp
Payment done at Pomongwe Cave, Rhode´s grave. 
Also game park (we don´t know exactly if included with the other fee or extra15 $, as we did not go). 
Open from 6:00 to 18:00.

Transport: ask at the local bus stations (south destinations), as there are villages around. 
It shouldn´t cost more than 4 $ to get around Matobo, depends where you stop. Then you will have to walk a little... some people don´t see gates... just visit around without paying... You can always try.

Accommodation: Different campsites (main one at Maleme Dam) and private lodges around. But not too cheap, try camping.

  • Khami Ruins

22 km west of Bulawayo
Entrance fee: 10 $/pp. 
Closed at 16:30.

Transport: ask at the local bus stations (west destinations). It shouldn´t cost more than 4 $.

  • Hwange National Park

Between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. 
Entrance fee is 20 $/pp, plus 5 $/car (10$ is foreign car). For 24 hours.

Different sections in the aprk, different camps inside (Sinamatella, Robins, Main), the park is big. 
There are big mines in the area (it´s not only wild). Trucks.
On the main road, there a lodges and camps. 

Other travellers told us the park is OK, quite diverse, animals around.

Hwange town: connected by van/bus and train with Vic Falls (100 km) and Bulawayo (340 km).
Then you will have to hire a car to get to the park. Around 40 $ from Hwange town.
It´s easier if you have your own car (a sedan car is fine).
Many tours from Victoria Falls (day or 2 days…). At least 100$/pp/day.