Ndongeni-Ntlebi at Victoria Falls
Ndongeni-Ntlebi at Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe, a fantastic safari destination

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Dec 13, 2021

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Mesmerising! That’s how I can sum up the famous Victoria Falls.

I now have had the privilege of taking in the sights and exotic sounds of the falls, which has drawn tens of thousands of visitors across the world.

This attraction has been on my travel bucket list for years. Recently the opportunity arose to make my dream Zimbabwean Safari trip a reality, courtesy of Jenman Safaris and Kenya Airways.

It was with excitement that I boarded the flight to Victoria Falls, with no idea that every sense of mine would be dazzled when I got there.

Travelling to Zimbabwe is a smooth experience with Kenya Airways’ direct flight from Cape Town to Victoria Falls town. As a single traveller, being able to fly directly from the Mother City to one of nature’s wonders eliminates the strain of connecting flights, making it ideal for parents who travel with children too.

I had never travelled business class before, and Kenya Airways business class set a high bar! The service on board was akin to royal treatment – perfect on all levels. The personal touch and attention to detail alone is worth the upgrade from economy. And the food was delicious! Not to mention that landing as a business-class passenger, there’s the advantage of being the first to disembark.

After a two-hour-and-30-minute flight, we touched down on Zimbabwean soil. I was privileged to have experienced the trip from Cape Town with Kim Sparrow from Jenman.

African Safaris, who is originally from Zimbabwe and knows the landscape inside-out. Travelling a country with a local is always a plus for any traveller, especially when it comes to navigating your way around new territories!

We had an exciting, jam-packed four-night adventure ahead of us, and I was determined to make the most of the experience.

Ilala Lodge was home for our first night. The hotel has an authentic African ambience wrapped in luxury, stylish rooms ensuring ultimate comfort.

With high ceilings made from thatched grass, Ilala Lodge is the perfect venue for a getaway in Vic Falls.

The Victoria Falls National Park borders the front of the property and wild animals often graze on the hotel lawns. I was lucky enough to observe a herd of bull elephants on the lawn, as well as warthogs playfully darting through the gardens.

There are a variety of dining options offered at the lodge. Guests can dine inside or enjoy al-fresco meals on the patio overlooking the lush gardens.

For breakfast and dinner I chose the outdoors, as one can catch a glimpse of the spectacular Victoria Falls from different vantage points at the lodge.

Victoria Falls

It is only about a 10-minute walk to Victoria Falls from Ilala Lodge – imagine the excitement and the convenience of having one of the world’s wonders right on your doorstep!

Victoria Falls is spectacular. It radiates awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

I have always wanted to visit the falls from both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides, as the border post is only a short distance away – over the historic and iconic bridge. The cross-frontier excursions are relatively easy and even encouraged by authorities on both sides.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to first experience the Zimbabwean side as there are many more views of the falls, as well as a magical rainforest formed because of the spray!

I had the option of taking a guided tour of Victoria Falls with one of the tour guide companies or to simply wander off on my own to explore and appreciate the sights and sounds.

I chose the first option, with Wild Horizons providing us with insights into the rich history of the area as they guided us through our journey. I realised that I could have overlooked some of the most interesting things about the place had I not had the tour guide by my side.

If you’re scared of heights, rest assured you are safe. At most lookout points there are natural barriers preventing one from getting too close to the edge of the gorge.

Another throw-in tip – make sure you wear a shoe with a solid grip to avoid slipping on wet ground.

Nantwich, Hwange

Next on our itinerary was Nantwich – perfect for unwinding and self-care time. Nantwich is an intimate eco-lodge, with beautiful views, ideal for safari lovers who want to get off the beaten track and discover the pristine wilderness and abundant wildlife of northern Hwange National Park.

One of the best things about this lodge was being able to read a book while taking in the sunset in the outdoor bath, watching elephants graze in the distance.

Rising with the sun, I embarked on a morning walking safari with a professional guide named Courage. Exploring the area on foot gave an intimate insight to the wild, while feeling safe and secure.

Zimbabweans are renowned for their hospitality, so little wonder that service at Nantwich, Hwange was beyond amazing. Most people could speak isiNdebele and isiZulu, a reminder of the rich history and roots the human race shares.

Nantwich has wi-fi access in the main house, however not in the bedrooms. This was pure bliss – I got much needed rest from the rat race, indulging in good food and dipping in the pool all day.

Gorge swing

One of the most exciting things I did in Zimbabwe was the Wild Horizons gorge swing at the Lookout Café. This was a first for me!

New places have a habit of nudging us to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones. After all, a holiday is all about creating memorable experiences!

I’m an adrenaline junkie, no doubt about that. So I had to take the gorge challenge.

Let me take you through the process (and ease your fears – yes, I saw that eyebrow). Your harness is attached to a rope which is attached to the middle of a cable that runs across the full width of the gorge.

Once you are all set, you stand on a platform on the edge of a sheer 120m cliff and jump off. This is a free fall for about 70m straight towards the rocks.

What a thrill to be swinging above the Zambezi River, with its inhabitants – crocodiles!

There’s a wide variety of activities and experiences offered by Wild Horizons, including white water rafting, Zambezi river cruises, Chobe day trips, and helicopter flips.

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge The last night was spent at the

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge; a sunset-

facing 72-room lodge with views of pristine wilderness stretching to the horizon. There’s also a waterhole

frequented by elephants, buffaloes and kudus: a perfect setting to spend the last night. The rooms have elegant African-inspired decor with glass sliding doors opening on to a private balcony. Opulence at its best!

Dinner at The Boma was the best way to end the Zimbabwean experience. The eatery is a local attraction and is open for dinner daily from 7pm. Guests are given a warm traditional dance welcome with African- style drumming and mbira music. The spread of traditional Zimbabwean dishes made it difficult to choose one dish over the other!

Did I mention the mopane worms we were offered to set those taste buds rushing?

The highlight of the evening was the renowned energetic interactive drumming show. During the feast, small drums are placed next to each person for the drum show. I eagerly played along as the instructor gave us instructions.

Tip: Make sure you allocate time to experience the culture of the country outside the tourist attraction areas.

Once again flying with Kenya Airways, our return trip to Cape Town was via the Livingstone airport in Zambia. This is a great little bonus if you want to experience both countries. The border crossing with Wild Horizons was a smooth process, it took us less than 20 minutes to complete all the formalities.

While I missed business class royal treatment, economy was equally

spectacular in service and provided great meals.

Kenya Airways provides direct flights from Cape Town to Victoria Falls at affordable prices. I would highly recommend treating yourself to a getaway, a mere three hours away – and your very own Zimbabwean adventure!

For booking details:

Kenya Airways PLC

Phone: +27 010 226 9865/9130

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.kenya-airways.com

Jenman African Safaris

Phone: +27 (0) 21 683 7826

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.jenmansafaris.com

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