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3 Reasons to Visit the Lower Zambezi National Park
bains 1What makes a great national park, as opposed to merely a good one? For me it’s about three facets: diverse and plentiful wildlife, spectacular scenery, and a moderate number of tourists to share them with. So there are other criteria (ease of travel, lack of bitey, stingy things that give you bizarre and scary diseases, climate etc.), but if the wildlife, settings and solitude are there, it’s likely the park is a winner.
Recently I found a national park that excels in all three. The Lower Zambezi in South-Eastern Zambia lies directly opposite its well-known neighbour, Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools. The park consists of over 4000km2 of wilderness and there is a rawness and beauty to it which I haven’t experienced anywhere in Southern Africa.
It was only declared a national park in 1983 (before then the area belonged to Zambia’s president). This goes some way to explaining the giant populations of large mammals, including elephants, lions, buffalo and leopards. The Zambezi, as we all know, isn’t short of a crocodile or hippo, too. And whilst I can’t claim to be the most avid birder (unless it’s a chicken or turkey with all the trimmings), the mix of ground hornbills, rollers and eagles even had me salivating (despite my knife and fork being replaced by a camera).
baines 2So we have the animals. Next up: scenery. The Lower Zambezi is simply jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Its furry, leathery and feathered inhabitants are all housed in the most spectacular amphitheater imaginable. Think mopane forest that hugs meandering river systems, which spill into the Zambezi. Think palm trees, baobabs, acacias, and Machiavellian strangler figs. Think mountains, wetlands and valleys. You get the picture.
And finally: people. Nothing spoils the magic of encountering the remnants of a lion kill, like carloads of yabbering camera-clicking tourists (unless it’s me of course). The Lower Zambezi is wonderfully unspoilt, untamed and refreshingly untouristy. In fact, there are no tarred roads and you are unlikely to encounter another vehicle on your game drives.
During my time in the Lower Zambezi, I stayed at Baines River Camp. This beautifully appointed lodge nestles imperiously on the banks of the Zambezi and each suite has a veranda overlooking the Zambezi, close enough to eyeball hippos over a sundowner. Activities on offer include fantastic kayaking tours and river cruises, tiger fishing, and of course game drives. Head guide Leonard has to be one of the best in the business. And after you’ve had a hard day checking out the ellies, you can head back to the lodge for an in-room spa treatment, or relax in the outdoor pool. Not bad given the lodge’s remote location.
baines 3The camp and owners also excel in their conservation work. The Featherby’s are doing huge amounts for indigenous communities and the region’s wildlife, working tirelessly with local foundation Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ). During our stay, I was fortunate enough to join Tim and CLZ to document the darting of a baby elephant, to remove a snare from its hind leg. Despite a few hairy situations (forget the good intentions, herds of ellies don’t take kindly to being shot at with a tranquilser dart, the operation was a great success. The calf is doing well and has no long lasting damage to its leg. Since my visit, Tim and the guys at CLZ have repeated the operation on two more elephants and a lion.
The final string to Baine’s bow is their elephant workshops, run by Johan Marais, wildlife veterinarian and author of Great Tuskers of Africa and In Search of Africa’s Great Tuskers. The workshops offer fascinating insights into the giant pachyderms, including their complex social structures, behavioural patterns, genetics, means of communication and importance to wildlife areas. He also explores the long-term, devastating effects of the ivory trade on African heritage.
baines 4I may be cynical, but these days too many lodges position themselves as ‘eco’ or play up their work for conservation to put bums in beds. It’s great to visit a lodge that actually practices what it preaches.
Happy days for Air Zimbabwe
THE once-troubled national airliner, Air Zimbabwe (AirZim)’s star continues to shine after it was given a thumbs-up for promoting the growth of tourism in the country’s tourist destinations, especially Victoria Falls.
AirZim was once dogged by financial troubles which saw it grounding all its aeroplanes over debts of at least $140 million.
At one time creditors seized a plane at Gatwick Airport in London because AirZim had failed to pay $1,5 million owed to an American spare parts company. Hundreds were stranded for over a week at the airport.
The then Transport minister Nicholas Goche ordered that all its regional and international flights be suspended, fearing seizure of the remaining aircraft by creditors.
However, the troubles seem to have eased as the airliner resumed domestic and regional flights which have seen an influx of tourists in tourist areas with the resort town of Victoria Falls enjoying the most.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe former president Tich Hwingiri said AirZim played a major role in bringing tourists in the country during the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly, a move he said has seen the influx of tourists in the country.
“We must comment Airzim for a job well done. It played a big role in the movement of tourists in the just-ended UNWTO and it continues to do that,” Hwingiri said.
“We want to commend them for the part they are playing in the growth of tourism in the country”
In an interview in Victoria Falls on Friday, the airline’s spokesperson Shingi Taruvinga said 2013 has been a good year for them.
“The success that we have had, we accredit to the tourism players. Indeed the resumption of domestic flights has seen the resuscitation of the tourism industry,” Taruvinga said.
“We are a catalyst of the growth of the economy through tourism.
“If we don’t bring people into areas like Victoria Falls, there is no tourism. We do hope that we continue to receive the support so that we open more routes and bring more tourists.”
The airline has indicated that it will launch flights to London and China in the near future.
New Luxury Safari Suites in Vic Falls
VFSS - Gallery Bedroom 1Recent annual industry awards saw AFRICA ALBIDA TOURISM (AAT) properties win five awards – a position that can only be cemented by the forthcoming addition of six luxury Safari Suites to the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge portfolio by 20 December 2013.
Part of a broader investment strategy, 6 Lokuthula Lodges are being converted into Safari Suites. The suites will be an exciting addition to Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, winners of the Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents Award for Best Safari Lodge for 18 consecutive years. The Victoria Falls Safari Suites (VFSS) will be the perfect choice for families and small close–knit groups who seek stylish comfort, flexibility, privacy and space all within 4 km of the mighty smoke that thunders, Victoria Falls. Surrounded by 80,000 hectares of unspoiled wilderness, adjacent to the Zambezi National Park, the suites will offer an authentic wilderness experience with opportunities to view free-roaming wildlife that often visit the waterhole, and surrounds.
VFSS - LoungeAdding a new variety of luxury accommodation to the flagship Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, each suite is fully air-conditioned, boasting a gallery bedroom upstairs that affords a superb vista over un-spoilt bushveld and spectacular African sunsets. The VFSS come in 3-bedroom and 2-bedroom options – all of which are en-suite – with 1 or 2 bedrooms downstairs, a gallery bedroom upstairs comprising of floor to ceiling sliding doors and balcony, a spacious lounge and a splendid patio area, all set in a natural bush environment. A home away from home, the VFSS allow families or small groups the pleasure of being under one roof without feeling on top of each other.
Residents of the Suites will have full access to all facilities on the VFSL resort including the a’ la carte MaKuwa-Kuwa Restaurant and Boma- Place of eating (among Zimbabwe’s best top restaurants) the famed Buffalo Bar, Pool Deck and Viewing Deck, daily access to the fascinating Vulture Culture Experience and of course our daily (hourly) courtesy shuttle service to town and the rainforest.
The completion of the infrastructural developments at the Victoria Falls airport, including a new terminal in 2015 and 4km runways in 2014 to handle long haul wide body jets will put AAT in an ideal position to capitalize on new high end investments such as the addition of the Safari Suites to the portfolio.
Man Survives 110 m Plunge down the Gorge
Knife's Edge Bridge
Knife’s Edge Bridge
A MAN who yesterday fell into the Victoria Falls gorge, which is about 110 metres deep, was retrieved alive in what could be described as a miracle that left him shaken.
A combined team of Livingstone Fire Brigade, Zambia Police Service and Bundu Adventure yesterday retrieved alive the 45-year-old Chinese national who fell into Victoria Falls near the knife-edge bridge as he was taking pictures of one of the seven natural wonders of the World.
Southern Province Police chief Charity Katanga and Livingstone City Council public relations manager Emmanuel Sikanyika confirmed this in separate interviews.
Ms Katanga said Wang ShunXue, who was booked at Zambezi Sun Hotel, was retrieved around 09:30 hours with no serious injuries. He was taken to the hotel’s clinic for a medical checkup.
Mr Sikanyika said officers from fire brigade received a call yesterday around 08:23 hours that a man had fallen into Victoria Falls and rushed to the scene to rescue him.
The fire brigade officers worked together with State Police and Bundu Adventure, a company which conducts bungee jumping activities at the bridge, to rescue the Chinese national.
“From what they saw, the victim sustained some bruises and he was rushed for medical check-up and treatment.
“The Chinese national did not get to the surface of the falls as he was rescued at the edge of the falls cliff,” Mr Sikanyika said.
He urged tourists and other visitors to the Victoria Falls to follow guidelines to avoid such accidents.
A Times of Zambia crew that rushed to Victoria Falls yesterday saw Mr Wang walking out of the falls in the company of some Chinese nationals and other officials.
He had bruises on his hands and he could not withstand an interview as he was still in a state of shock.
New Bridge Across the Zambezi Proposed
ZAMBIA_MAPA Japanese firm has shown willingness to build a bridge across the Zambezi river in Luangwa District to enhance trade in the area.
Luangwa District Commissioner, Eunie Mumba, said this when a delegation from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)and Road Development Agency (RDA) officers visited him at his office to find out the viability of the bridge in the area.
Mr Mumba, who expressed happiness after he was informed by RDA Regional Manager, Gilbert Nkweto, who was accompanied by Benny Kashimoto, an engineer with RDA, that JICA has shown willingness to construct a bridge across the Zambezi river to connect Luangwa and Zimbabwe, said the project was very much welcome as it would change the face of the District.
He said once the bridge is built it will decongest other border towns such as Chirundu and create employment for the people.
The District Commissioner said the project was viable economically as it will enhance a lot of developments for both countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Mr Mumba said the district was grateful to government because within the two years that it has been in power a lot of developments have happened in the district, among them the tarring of the Luangwa D145 main road and connection to the National Electricity Grid which is on course.
He thanked JICA for showing interest in putting the bridge in the district, saying the infrastructure will compliment the two big projects and enhance development in the district and the people were eager to see development.
Meanwhile, the JICA team told the District Commissioner that they had heard how viable the bridge would benefit the people of Luangwa and the country at large but appealed to RDA to avail them with the terms of reference for the feasibility study.
The JICA team, which comprised of Janichi Kawase, the Project Formulation Advisor, Atsushi Nakagawa, Deputy Resident Representative and Yosei Suzuku, Assistant Resident Representative, said they will still want to find out more on the economic impact of the bridge and the traffic volume for them to make comments.
David Livingstone Safari Lodge Special Offer
david livingstone safari lodgeA special like this only comes around once every 200 years…
In celebration of the great explorer David Livingstone’s 200th birthday, we invite you to discover the essence of Africa on the banks of the Zambezi – with our once in a lifetime special offers. Nestled on the palm – fringed banks of the mighty Zambezi river, The David Livingstone Safari Lodge & Spa offers the priviledged few the opportunity to experience the charm of a bygone safari era with all the creature comforts of today.
3 Night Bicentennial Package:
04/11/2013 – 30/06/2014
Single $716,00 (Rack)
Sharing $553,00 (Rack)
Terms and conditions apply
Celebrating a Great Year in Tourism : HAN event
namibiaTourism wise, the year 2013 has turned out to be one of the most important years for the Namibian tourism sector in terms of the world becoming increasingly aware of the country as an exciting tourism destination.
With big scale events taking place in Namibia this year, such as the United Nations COP-11 event, the International Water conference, and the highly anticipated Adventure Travel World Summit (the first to be held on the African continent) the spotlight shone on the country.
Today, the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) launched the last of the year’s large tourism related events, namely the annual HAN event which will take place in two weeks time, on the 27th and 28th of November. The event includes the annual HAN Congress, the HAN Tourism Trade Forum (HTTF) and to cap it all of, an awards GALA where recognition is given to members of the Association. This year the Association is celebrating it’s 26th year of existance.
At the event today, several of HAN’s long term partners and sponsors, donated additional funds to HAN, in order to further their goals. The sponsors included Bannerman Resources, Standard Bank, Namibian Breweries and Marsh.
Standard Bank handed over N$65 000, Namibia Breweries – a major sponsor for the 2013 ATWS event, handed over an additional N$ 60 000. Despite economic challenges in the mining industry, Bannerman Resources sponsored N$25 000.
Rudie Putter, Genereal Manager of Kalahari Sands Hotel and Chairperson of HAN, said that looking back on 2013 it is evident that “we have had a watershed year”. He said this year was important in the way in which all stakeholders came together and realised that the only way to promote Namibia as a first choice destination, was to take “a holistic approach to show Namibia to the world”. He said that Namibia’s “true diversity, the richness of our product has been under-explained”.
The Congress, which will take place on Wednesday, the 27th, will take place according to the theme “Tourism, Translating Namibia to the world”. The focus at the congress will be to generate ideas around the way in which the tourism industry can market the country better. Gitta Paetzold, HAN CEO, explained that speakers at the event will look at how, following these numerous events and conferences, Namibia can position itself and how is Namibia seen now?
The Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit (VFAPU) was founded by Charles Brightman, with the backing of the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, in 1999, and now includes backing from many other lodges such as Ilala Lodge. Since then, they have made considerable inroads into the removal of snares from the Zambezi National Park.
Apart from this tangible aspect of their work, the VFAPU has made huge strides in educating the local community in the long-term benefits of conserving the region’s natural resources. Tourists can to learn more about his important organisation, and give something back, by taking part in the excursions offered by the Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit. A guided safari with a difference, this outing takes place in the Zambezi National Park and gives participants a ‘backstage’ view of the operations of the park.
For starters, clients are given a brief introduction to the VFAPU, its mission statement, history, challenges and successes. They are also educated with regard to the different types of poaching which occur in the area and shown how snares are laid and how they function. Suitably fired up, they are then taken out, in small groups, on a fascinating adventure into the depths of the park, to experience the work of the anti poaching unit first hand. A variety of terrain is covered, and a good level of fitness is required in order to make the most of this outing.
Binoculars, hats, sunscreen, cameras, comfortable hiking boots and a supply of water are essential items to take along with you. Before setting off, you will be provided with a light breakfast, tea or coffee and mineral water. During the walk, guests actively participate in the daily activities of the VFAPU by recording any game sighted, pointing out spoor and keeping a sharp lookout for snares of any kind.
The benefits of these excursions are threefold to the anti-poaching organisation. The fees generated allow the VFAPU to visit areas that are normally beyond their means, the clients provide much-needed extra manpower by assisting with snare-spotting and the knowledge and enjoyment that the participants gain on these unique safaris is an invaluable marketing tool
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