ZIM4x4's operating area includes many sensitive environments, both inside and outside National Parks, and the area also has exceptional 'wilderness qualities'.
We don't want to be 'policemen' - the goal is to have an enjoyable holiday - but we believe this can be achieved in an environmentally appropriate manner, without detracting from your enjoyment.
We don't believe we need to comment on the picture at left, of a wild elephant picking through rubbish - it tells its own story - but it is just one example of the ways in which unthinking and inappropriate behaviour can impact on the quality of our wild areas.
We therefore only accept clients who are sympathetic to, and agree with, our wilderness guidelines. Many are included in Park regulations. Others have been developed by ZIM4x4 in the light of experience. It is not possible to produce an exhaustive list - a great deal is a matter of common sense and a feeling for the wilderness - but, in particular, we ask that you take note of the following:
We do not 'play in the mud' - or sand, or in other ways - with vehicles when touring. These activities should be confined to those trails and facilities established for the purpose. Should we need to traverse water, mud, sand, riverbeds or other hazards, we do so expeditiously and with as little disturbance as possible.
There must be no driving whatsoever except on accepted track networks, which are easily recognizable. You may, on occasion, see one or more sets of vehicle tracks made by visitors who have disregarded this rule. Please do not, on any account, take this as an excuse to follow suit.
A similar restriction applies to riverbeds, other than at recognized crossings. Although it can be argued that vehicle tracks in riverbed sand will wash away in the next wet season, their presence detracts from the wilderness quality for subsequent visitors.
Camping is restricted to designated camp sites in all Park areas, and in many other areas as well. ZIM4x4 has prior arrangements with landholders in areas in which unscheduled overnight halts may be required due to prevailing conditions. Should breakdowns or other emergencies require unscheduled overnighting in other areas, every effort must be made to contact the relevant authorities.
Wherever possible, fires should be confined to the braai or firepit provided at camping sites. If this is not feasible, fires must be made with due regard to fire hazards, extinguished before retiring, and all ash and other remains buried before departing the site.
Firewood use should be kept to a minimum for ecological reasons. Please note that firewood collection by visitors is prohibited in all Parks Authority areas. Firewood must be bought from Park offices. We also strongly urge you not to buy firewood or charcoal from roadside vendors, as it hastens the already severe deforestation taking place within Zimbabwe.
Littering & waste disposal
Any form of littering is of course strictly prohibited. ZIM4x4 operates a 'truck in, truck out' approach to cans, bottles and other similar items. However, food wastes and other combustible items may be burnt on braai fires when appropriate. Please note, incidentally, that orange and lemon peel, among other things, are not biologically degradable within any reasonable time-span! Also note that fresh fruit is prohibited in Mana Pools in particular, and can be inadvisable elsewhere. This is because some elephant have a liking for them, to the extent of destroying your tent (and possibly your vehicle) to get at them. Then they have to be shot.
Few things are more revolting than the sight of human wastes and used toilet paper in wild areas. Sadly, this has become common in places such as the Matusadona and Mana Pools. We recognize the occasional necessity, but insist that ZIM4x4 clients bury human waste and burn used toilet paper.
Some Park tracks may be temporarily or permanently closed to visitors. These may be marked either by official signs, or by logs deliberately placed across the track concerned. If in any doubt, do not proceed! Track restrictions: Some tracks are also reserved for permit holders or for residents of exclusive campsites or lodges. These may be marked 'permit holders only' or 'residents only'. Please respect all such signs. Occupants of exclusive camps are paying for privacy.
'Catch and release' regulations are in force in many areas, especially in respect of tigerfish and vundu, and bag limits for all species must be strictly adhered to. Generally, ZIM4x4 advocates 'catch and release' in all areas, whether official restrictions are in force or not, except in respect of bait fish and fish retained for consumption 'on site'. Under no circumstances may any fish be removed from these areas.
We seek out opportunities for good wildlife and landscape photography, and encourage our tour participants to take advantage of them. However, our objective in respect of wildlife viewing and photography, whether on foot or by vehicle, is to 'get in and get out' of scenes with as little disturbance as possible, and preferably none at all. Modern photographic equipment is capable of capturing excellent photos without approaching unduly close to most species. In particular, we will not deliberately set out to create artificial scenarios involving close encounters, aggressive demonstrations or charges by lion, elephant or other dangerous species. Such scenarios can have tragic results for the people and animals involved.
This is always critical, but especially in National Parks, where food and waste bags may be stolen by baboons and vervet monkeys by day, and by hyaenas and honeybadgers by night. Please keep all foodstuffs secure at all times. And never - ever! - feed wild animals, under any circumstances. They will end up by being shot as nuisances or threats to life and safety.
Noise & disturbance
The use of generators, radios &c is specifically prohibited in Park areas. Please keep noise to a minimum at all times, whether in Parks or elsewhere, in order to maintain the 'wilderness quality' of the area. Note also that the undisciplined use of powerful spotlights can be immensely intrusive to other visitors, and also disturbing to many wildlife species. Use spotlights sparingly, and with discretion and sensitivity.
Obviously, stipulated speed limits must be observed at all times. This is a matter of self-interest 'on tar', as Zimbabwe's traffic police seem to have an inexhaustible supply of radar guns; of self-preservation on many gravel and dirt roads; and of consideration for both wildlife and people in wilderness areas. There are also occasions when drivers should exercise special care regardless of official limits. Dust is a particular problem in some campsites. Please reduce your speed sufficiently to eliminate any nuisance or offence to other visitors.
The first vehicle at a wildlife sighting has precedence! Do not, under any circumstances, 'barge' in front of him. Stay well back, switch off, and do not move up behind or overtake unless signaled to do so. If the vehicle is stationary for an unconscionably long time, it is permissible to crawl slowly up behind it and either share the view, or pass it if signaled to do so. If you are 'the first', signal others to move up or pass in reasonable time. NB - many species are habituated to the sight of vehicles, but will move off if you get out and become visible to them, thus spoiling the sighting for yourself and those who come after you.
Leave nothing but footprints
We will collectively ensure that all material traces of our presence, other than unavoidable tyre tracks and human footprints, are removed from the campsites we use.
We ask all our tour participants to be considerate to other Park and road users, and environmentally sensitive at all times. There are many adverse perceptions of so-called '4x4-ers' and although these are often not justified, we need to set an example to others. Having said which, we hope you will enjoy your visit to Zimbabwe, that you will take many happy memories home with you, and be inspired by our favourite motif: "drink from the Zambezi, and you will always return"!