The Zim-Zam UniVisa – should you bother?
In April of 2016 the very popular Zim-Zam visa was reinstated. This specific visa allows you to move between Zimbabwe and Zambia on the one visa and avoids having to get multiple entry visa's for both countries.
Please note that this article is assuming you are traveling on an Australian passport. While this was current at the time of writing, prices and conditions can and do change, especially within Africa, so please check before you plan your trip.
A single entry eVisa for Zambia for Australian citizens has a $80 USD application fee and to be clear, is a single entry visa only. These visa's were originally available for tourists landing into one of Zambia's airports, however I've been told that now they are accepted at most land border crossings. Please don't trust this though – I would check to be sure. To use these eVisa's you don't get anything in your passport, you are supplied with a letter confirming your Visa status which you must keep on hand or you effectively have no visa.
!! It would be a good idea to make a few copies so that if they take your letter on entry you have a copy to prove you are entitled to be in Zambia. I did meet someone last year who hadn't done this and was “fined” $100 USD for not having a copy of the letter. I would assume there is no such fine (as he did) and that this was a badly disguised bribe to a local police officer. He could have got out of it with a copy of the letter, or maybe not – you never really know.
You can stay for 90 days in Zambia on these visa's and have to enter the country within 90 days of receiving your visa approval. UK passport holders have the added benefit of these visa's being valid for six months after the issue date, with US passport holders getting 3 years to use their visa. I'm not sure I trust this info so again – worth checking.
At The Border
You can purchase a visa at almost all entry points into Zambia however it must be paid in USD and you must have the correct amount. I would recommend having a few different USD notes in case the price has changed. If the visa is $80 USD and you only have $100 expect to kiss the other $20 goodbye. It's pay what you have or don't get a visa. The Kenneth Kaunda International Airport does have debit and credit card facilities, however make sure you aren't relying on your debit card as they can be tricky to use in a few places in Africa.
!! Your bank debit card (especially the ones from smaller banks) might not be recognized by international ATMs so its always good to have a real credit card you can use.
ZAMBIA VISA FEES
Single Entry – US $50
Double Entry – US $80
Multiple Entry – US $80
Zimbabwe also has an eVisa application process however they are less clear on costs and duration of the eVisas. Their eVisa is valid for three months after the date of issue, however its not clear what the term of stay is. Business visitors only have 30 days but I can't find anywhere the length of time a tourist can stay in Zimbabwe. I would assume that it is also 30 days.
The Zimbabwe eVisa website tells me that there is a $45 USD application fee, but it also says that you could be asked to pay for your visa at your port of entry. What isn't clear however is if that is in addition to your $45 fee or if the application fee is the visa cost (provided you can pay the fee online).
Multiple Entry visas cannot be obtained at the port of entry into Zimbabwe. You will have to enter Zimbabwe on a single use visa and then apply at the passport office for a multiple entry visa. There was passport offices in Harare, Masvingo and Bulawayo when I was there but they were manned sporadically and might now be closed. I wouldn't rely on anything outside Harare in this current Zimbabwean climate.
Victoria Falls guide website has more info and tells me that the Zimbabwe visa fees are as below:
ZIMBABWE VISA FEES
Single Entry – US$ 30
Double Entry – US$ 45
Multiple Entry – US$ 55 Multiple entry visa's seem to be the only ones that state you can stay for 90 days.
At The Border
You can also secure a visa for Zimbabwe at a port of entry, Again, I can't seem to find a cost associated with this so I would have a mix of USD notes with me to be sure.
So if you had purchased single entry visa's for Zimbabwe and Zambia you would have spent at least $80 USD and possibly as much as $125 (if the Zimbabwe $45 application fee isn't the actual visa fee).
You would still only be able to enter each country once so you would have to either start in Zimbabwe leaving Vic Falls for last, cross the border into Livingston in Zambia to see the falls from the other side and move on through Zambia. Or of course in the other direction.
If you puchase a KAZA UniVisa (commonly called the Zim-Zam visa) you can go between Zambia and Zimbabwe as often as you like for up to 30 days. If you are traveling, you could easily see both Zimbabwe and Zambia in that time frame however you wouldn't have too many spare days. Bus travel in Zimbabwe in particular can be unreliable and the distances are bigger than you imagine them to be. You could still do it though.
While the name of the visa seems to imply it is for students, its not – Uni is short for universal. At only $50 USD it is HEAPS cheaper than visa's for both countries and also allows you to cross into Botswana and visit Chobe National Park but only for a day trip. You must return to Zambia or Zimbabwe at the end of the day. If that is all you are planning to do in Botswana, that's three countries for $50 USD. Not a bad deal!
!! If you don't do Okavango Delta in Botswana you are missing out. It is amazing and one of the best places I've ever been. Don't miss it.
Is Zim-Zam KAZA UniVisa Worth It?
I would say unless you have unlimited time, YES! While you might want to visit Lake Kariba, Livingston, the Zambian side of Vic Falls and maybe Kafue National Park in Zambia, this can all be done in a few days or a week, leaving you another full 3 weeks to visit the much larger country of Zimbabwe.
Where can I get a Zim-Zam Visa?
You ca get a Zim-Zam visa at almost any port of entry into either country. The airports at Vic Falls and Livingston often assume that is the visa you want so you will tend to automatically get this type of Visa, however if you ask for a UniVisa, KAZA visa or Zim-Zam visa the officers will know what you mean.