Date: 14 – 16 June 2014
Organisers: Wild Horizons
Attended by: Nolwazi Maseko, SW Africa Destination Management
Six agents including myself from the Travel Smart Crew consortium plus Wilma from Wild Horizons met at OR Tambo International. After going through customs we had breakfast at Mugg and Bean where Wilma told us our itinerary for the weekend. You should have seen us screaming like little girls. The more she told us the more we screamed and shrieked like little girls. We couldn’t hold our excitement; we were in for a real treat! 11:30 we boarded the British Airways Harry Mwanga International Airport bound flight.
On arrival in Livingstone, we were met by our Wild Horizons Zambia representative who drove us to Zimbabwe. Going through the two borders Victoria Falls Border posts Zambia and Zimbabwe was quick and hassle-free. Due to legislation, Zambian vehicles are not allowed further than Vic Falls Town, we changed vehicles and drivers/guide at Wild Horizons Vic Falls Town offices. Wild Horizons can organise special permits at an extra cost for your VIPs not wishing to change vehicles.
Our driver/guide of the next two days was Michael. He drove about 45min to Kazungula Border Post where we have met Imbabala Zambezi River Lodge General Manager, Brad and excellent ranger Richard. Imbabala Zambezi River Lodge is +-5min from the Kazungula Border. The drive is also a game viewing drive. We saw elephants and impala all whilst transferring to the lodge! What a welcome.☺ On arrival at Imbabala Zambezi River Lodge, we were welcomed by Annie and the rest of the staff. Welcome drinks, standard.
All of us were allocated single rooms☺. I occupied room no. 3. The room has twin ¾ beds with mosquito nets, tea and coffee station, safe and a shower. What stood out for me was the personalised welcome note, quite different from your normal hotel/ lodges welcome note.
After freshening up we were off on a +-2hr afternoon game drive. I didn’t expect to see much and my goodness was I mistaken! We saw a couple of crocodiles on the Zambezi River bed, hippos, baboons or is it baboons as Richard likes to call them, a male giraffe, impala or the McDonald’s of the wild as Richard explained, elephants and a herd of buffalo. We had sundowners – drinks and snacks on the banks of Zambezi River. Imbabala Zambezi River Lodge has just recently introduced a Spa treatment room and their therapist was on hand to give us back and neck massage. Brilliant!
We headed back to the lodge for dinner. The lodge offers free wi-fi so everyone could connect and inform loved ones of our safe arrival. We had a dinner braai on the lawn joined by other guests. The best braai I had in a long time. Some of our group members opted for a night drive whilst I opted to go to bed. It was a long day you see.
15 June 2014
An early morning call saw us having coffee and tea before going on a river safari on the Zambezi River. We witnessed a beautiful sunrise whilst having coffee and tea on the boat.
After the river safari, we had a hearty buffet breakfast on the lawn. The sun was out, the weather was lovely and warm, perfect setting I tell you ☺
Our driver/guide Michael collected us for an activity-packed day starting with Tour of the Falls. He rented raincoats from the guys at the stalls which is a part of Wild Horizons CSI project. Wild Horizons bought the guys at the stalls raincoats which they, in turn, rent out to the public to earn extra income.
Good job Wild Horizons! The Tour of the Falls takes you on an +- 1.5km trail of the Falls. The Victoria Falls, *sigh* majestic, beautiful, totally breathtaking. Words fail to describe this natural beauty. Pictures do no justice. The Falls were at peak flow so getting wet even when wearing raincoats was standard. We didn’t mind. Not at all.☺ We then went to the Adventure Centre which is within walking distance from the Rain Forest. Now that place is a must visit for all adrenaline junkies. Three from our group including myself first did the Flying Fox, which is flying horizontally over the Batoka Gorge. Awesome experience.
Next, we attempted to conquer the 425m Batoka Gorge by Zipping Lining about 100km/h across it. The rush of air across your face as you slide across the gorge gives one a thrill that makes you want to do it again immediately. Well, we didn’t do the Zip Line again, we did one better and we did the Gorge Swing. This is jumping off the gorge to a free fall of 70m and swinging 95m. It’s similar to bungee jumping but instead of bouncing up and down one swing left to right. Scary stuff, but totally worth it!
Next, we went on the Canopy Tour. This activity has 9 different length zip lines across the forest next to the gorge. The activity takes about 2hrs and is suitable for the whole family. Felt like a modern day Jane, Tarzan would be jealous. After the Victoria Falls Canopy Tour, we rushed off to the helipad for our 13 minute Flight of Angels. We flew in a six-seater helicopter which offered spectacular panoramic views of the over the raging Victoria Falls.
I imagine this is how an out of body experience feels like only difference this time you see the Falls and not your body. Once again totally breathtaking! After spending the whole day swinging, sliding and jumping off gorges we headed to The Elephant Camp for a late lunch and overnight. The Elephant Camp is 10 minutes from. Victoria Falls Town situated in private concession within the Victoria Falls National Park. On arrival at The Elephant Camp, we were welcomed by General Managers Basil and Petra. Our delightful lunch was waiting for us on the deck.
After lunch, we were shown to our rooms. Those luxury tents though. Couldn’t help but feel like some VIP.
The tents are huge! Spacious bathroom with indoor and outside showers. Spacious bedroom with king size bed and an equally spacious lounge with a couch and a stocked up mini bar. Did I mention that each luxury tented suite has its own private plunge pool? Fit for royalty.
We freshened up and headed out to have sundowners – drinks and snacks and just unwind up another gorge by the Zambezi River. We headed back to the camp for three-course dinner. I tried the guinea fowl for the first time, delicious.
16 June 2014
While waiting for the rest of the group for breakfast Sylvester the cheetah graced us with his presence. He was in a good mood and didn’t mind being stroked and he posed for photos.
We had breakfast on the deck before heading out to the Elephant Wallow to meet the Wild Horizons Elephants. Meeting the elephants is included in The Elephant Camp accommodation rates. Meeting and feeding these gentle giants was such a privilege.
After meeting the elephants we headed back to camp to pack and be on our way to Livingstone Airport for our flight back to Johannesburg. Such a sad moment. The Harry Mwanga International Airport (Livingstone Airport) is undergoing major renovations and from what is already done, one can tell that it will look really good upon completion.
We had a wonderful experience and would like to send a big Thank You to Wild Horizons for organising such an eventful educational.
Nolwazi Maseko, SW Africa Destination Management