Friday, September 15, 2017

Alternative Dining in Victoria Falls

Makuwa-kuwa Restaurant, Victoria Falls
Eating out in Victoria Falls can be expensive, but if you are staying at one of the safari lodges outside the town limits, your meals and drinks will be included. But for those who want to explore the town, river and bush, we have put together a list of great alternatives, some of which are very good value.

Friday, August 18, 2017

How to Survive a Walking Safari

Written by James Bailey  

Credit: Camp Hwange
I’ve spent a good amount of time in the bush conducting walking safaris. The general aim is to get closer to the bush and really appreciate the smaller things. But it also allows you to approach dangerous game, which is something that gives me an incredible kick.

It’s not because it’s risky. In fact, if done properly the risk can be all but negated. However, things can go wrong and for that reason there are five simple rules that we talk guests through before each walk.

Friday, July 21, 2017

What's New in Victoria Falls


Since our last update, a few new and improved projects have taken root here in The Falls, and we thought it was time we shared them with you.

Art of Africa
Art of Africa workshops have diversified and we are certain that you will find at least one that you will be interested in. They started off with river cruise art workshops (where you go out on the river and paint, or learn to paint, what is out there on the Zambezi River), and cultural village workshops (where you mix a visit to a local village with a tour led by the village chief himself, and a soothing art session plus so much more).

They have now added a guided safari and riverside picnic session which takes place in the Zambezi National Park. Take a ride through the largest nature reserve in Victoria Falls with an expert guide, then have a picnic by the Zambezi River and be inspired by the beautiful landscape and the wildlife that surrounds you. In the Victoria Falls Rainforest, you can feel the thunder of the Victoria Falls and take home with you your own unique depiction of the Victoria Falls. On the edge of the Batoka Gorge, you can enjoy a unique sunset experience with a year-round fantastic view - paint and sip and dine. But our favourite Art of Africa experience has to be the "Painting with Elephants" session at The Wallow. Start with a heart-melting elephant interaction and then try painting these magnificent giants while they go about their business wallowing in the mud and grazing in the nearby bushes.

Painting with Elephants
So apart from the Sunset Bridge Run on the Bushtracks Express steam train which was launched early last year, they have added a Dinner trip as well as a High Tea trip. This year, there are set dates for the Sunset Bridge Run and the Dinner run on Tuesdays and Fridays, but the High Tea trip is always on Saturdays.

We are excited about the reopening of Masuwe Lodge, a secluded safari lodge just 7 kms from the Victoria Falls. Masuwe Lodge has undergone refurbishments, and offer an alternative from other lodges dotted around town. It is an option for those who want the quiet and tranquility of the African bush, but don't want to be too far from exciting Victoria Falls activities.

Simpli Simbi creations. Credit: Simpli Simbi
For those who would like to do a little shopping, Simpli Simbi opened it's doors in Victoria Falls in June. Their home store is actually in Harare, but we are certain that their style will fit right in on the corner of Livingstone Way and Adam Stander in Victoria Falls, and they will probably have something special for you to take home. They specialise in home decor and gift creations made of recycled aluminium.

Victoria Falls has seen the opening of two more eating places, because we can never have enough. The Kingdom Hotel have been moving things around and have now opened a new steakhouse - Big Chief Steak & Grill.

Zambezi House
Out in the bush and by the riverside, Zambezi House opened it's doors in July with a bang. Their uniquely designed building a beautifully located restaurant is a must-go-to when in Victoria Falls. And apparently, they have the best pizzas in town, so we've heard.

For the clubbers who love loud music with their drinks, Nitrus Club is right in the middle of town. They don't usually have a cover charge unless they have a special guest, and their drink prices are quite reasonable.
The owners of Nitrus have began a new outdoor cinema experience in Victoria Falls where they screen one of the latest movies (for Vic Falls standards anyway), in different locations under the African sky. Follow their Facebook page to see when and where their next screening will be.

For more of what is on in Victoria Falls, you can also follow our Facebook Page.

New on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River are intimate river safaris. A small propeller-free boat for up to 22 people can take you as close as 200 metres from the edge of the Victoria Falls, as well as through places on the upper Zambezi that cruise boats cannot take you. Wander along narrow channels in between the islands on the Zambezi, speed through rapids, and cruise the river while enjoying the wildlife, scenery and a bit of education on the history, the river and so much more.

Zambezi River safaris
Not so new anymore, but well worth mentioning is the award-winning Elephant Cafe - also on the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls. This fabulous experience begins with a boat transfer (much like the River Safari boat), up the Zambezi River, and then an elephant interaction at the Elephant Sanctuary, topped off with a unique dining experience in a beautiful location. This is definitely one of our highly recommended things to do while you're in Victoria Falls.

The Elephant Cafe
Coming soon...

Victoria Falls will be getting a new accommodation option in the Low Density area of town. We will update as more information comes in. Check out the work so far on Pamarah Lodge on Facebook.

Another riverside lodge in the Zambezi National Park is expected to be open in January 2018. Old Drift Lodge will be the closest within the park to the Victoria Falls (just 4.5kms).

Monday, June 26, 2017

Little Known Secrets About Victoria Falls

You may know all the facts about Victoria Falls and some of the things that surround this mighty waterfall, but we've found out a few secrets about the history of this place and we thought we'd share them with you.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NEWSFLASH! Introducing... Botswana's Tourism Levy - UPDATED

In an effort to raise funds to improve Botswana's tourism sector, their Ministry of Environment Natural Resources’ Conservation and Tourism through the Botswana Tourism Organisation is introducing a Tourism Development Levy to be paid by visitors to Botswana.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

Destination Update January 2017

It has been a while since we have sent out any newsletter, so we though we would post some important news online, so that anyone can reach it.

Since our last newsletter, perhaps the most highly anticipated and welcome development has been the permanent reinstatement of the KAZA Uni-Visa in mid-December 2016. From its inception, the uni-visa proved to be a very convenient option for our guests, and during the time of its review, it was greatly missed. In the second phase of the visa program, only Zambia and Zimbabwe will be participating, with more countries expected at a later stage (namely Namibia, Botswana and Angola). The visa will be issued in Zimbabwe and Zambia only, and will work in these two countries as well as for day trips to Botswana. We look forward to more African countries joining the uni-visa program in future.

After a few delays, upgrades at the new Victoria Falls Airport terminal reached completion late last year, and the official opening took place in November 2016. The anticipated upgrades included a new terminal building for international guests and a refurbishment of the domestic terminal building; a new 4 km long runway to accommodate the landing of larger aircraft that the airport is used to; a newly built control tower with more modern aviation equipment; a new hangar and fire station. We look forward to welcoming larger and more international airlines, as well as greater numbers of visitors to Victoria Falls and the surrounding area.

A new environmental development arose from the need to keep our local gentle giant from harmful waste materials in Victoria Falls. The Victoria Falls Elefence project was set up to raise funds and awareness for a fence to be put up around the town's dump site. The need became crucial after it was realised that elephants tend to roam around the dump site and feed on the harmful waste products such as plastic bags, etc. Sadly, quite a number of elephants have dies from consuming too much plastic. The EleFenst Concert was held in December 2016 to raise money for the fence to go up. Despite the heavy downpour during the event, the concert was well attended. We are glad to report that the fence has gone up, and although we feel good about this project, there are still some bumps that need to be ironed out. Get more information on the Elefence Facebook Page.

More recently, the Victoria Falls area, as with most parts of the country, has enjoyed increased albeit lat rainfall. The Zambezi River has had a sudden increase in water level due to localised rain. The rainfall has been unusually high, not just in Zimbabwe, but also in parts of Zambia and Botswana. As usual for this time of the year, over the next few months we also expect that the Zambezi's water levels will continue to rise from the flow from the northern catchment area, and increasing the volume of water coming down the Falls.

Main Falls - Victoria Falls (source Victoria Falls Photos)

At this time, some activities in Victoria Falls have been affected by the wet season with white-water rafting moving to High Water season and the Devil's Pool in Zambia being closed (the Angel Pool is presently the alternative experience). Also, sunset cruises have not been as bright, although a few fantastic photos have been taken of impressive storm clouds, or the sun's rays peeking through the clouds displaying gorgeous colours and rainbows in the sky.

Sunset over the Zambezi River - Victoria Falls. Credit: Tami Walker

Within Victoria Falls town, a new restaurant called The Three Monkeys was opened towards the end of the year. The popular American franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) opened a restaurant in December, located very near The Kingdom Hotel. KFC already have four other stores in Harare. A new budget accommodation option is the Shearwater Explorers Village near the Elephant's Walk shopping Mall, offering camping (with or without own tents) and chalets (bed and breakfast).

On the website, we have been concentrating on building great holidays for you and increased itineraries into Botswana. Our cross-border safari ideas are meant to inspire and give you ideas for a great African safari. The packaged ideas are grouped in different price ranges so there is something for everyone. Also on the website are great special offers in Victoria Falls, Hwange, Kariba and Chobe. Be sure to check them out plus a range of invaluable information for your holiday.

Perhaps the most concerning issue is the national cash shortages that we started to experience in the second half of 2016.The infamous bond note was introduced to help alleviate the shortage, and was set up to be equivalent to the US dollar (locally only that is). Working and loaded ATMs will distribute both dollars and bond notes and in very limited amounts. Trading is generally done this way too - consumers can pay using both the note and dollar.

However, for the visitors with outside Visa and Mastercards, very few ATMs will accept their credit cards. While the cash shortage is felt countrywide, local Zimbabweans have become accustomed to using swipe machines more than before, and where they are available, as well as mobile banking apps and online banking to pay for their bills. The truth is that places like Victoria Falls do have machines in most shops, hotels, lodges, restaurants and activity operator offices, but other tourist destinations like Kariba or the Eastern Highlands or other remote areas may not have as many machines if at all.

What we advise (as we have always done) is that tourists pay for their accommodation and activities in advance using online payment methods offered by their travel agents, lodges or activity operators, and carry a bit of cash for things like park fees, visas (if applicable), a bit of shopping, etc. and in small denominations.

The first low-cost carrier to Zimbabwe FlyAfrica ceased flights in Zimbabwe altogether after a scandal, and in came Fast-jet, a Tanzanian-based low-cost carrier offering flights to Harare and Victoria Falls. However, over time, the airline has changed its route and no longer offers direct flights from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls, but flies to Harare where you can connect to Victoria Falls. It is not ideal, but you can always opt for other airlines for more convenience.

Because a lot of our guests visit both Zimbabwe and Botswana, and via South Africa, we advise you to read through the fairly new regulation passed by the government of Botswana concerning documents required from travelers under the age of 18 at any Botswana port of entry. You will find this important information here.

We look forward to welcoming new visitors to the region, and hope to see our returning visitors in the near future.

Look for more updates right here, and on our Facebook page.