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Spotlight on ‘Tawanda’

A barista is defined simply as ‘a person, usually a coffeehouse employee, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks.’ Tawanda Dube is one of the employees at The Lookout Café and the definition above does apply to him in the true sense.

However Tawanda also has something more- a real passion for the work he is doing. The Lookout Cafe’s espresso machine arrived a few months ago and Tawanda began learning the art of coffee making. He was immediately drawn to it and says he loves making art from coffee. After making me a perfectly delicious cappuccino Tawanda drew out his cell phone and showed me the only videos on it- of how to make coffee art, how to clean the machine and more. ‘One day’ he said proudly as he showed me a video of a man shaping a flower by pouring milk into espresso ‘I will make you a coffee like that!’

I don’t doubt he will with his passion to learn in his spare time and wanted to take the time to say that it doesn’t go unnoticed.  Thank you Tawanda for your hard work!

‘The Elephant Camp furthers efforts & aims for Top Sustainable Tourism Award’

The Elephant Camp has recently been invited,  with other leading hospitality establishments in Victoria Falls, to spearhead a new project in Zimbabwe. This is to be part of Green Tourism, the largest and most established sustainable certification programme in the world, with the aim of achieving one of their respected awards.

Green Tourism Award means that a business works responsibly, ethically and sustainably; contributes to their community; reduces their impact on the environment and aims to be accessible and inclusive to all. Businesses that meet the required standard receive a Bronze, Silver or Gold award.

The Elephant Camp has worked tirelessly since its inception, to reduce the impact of the business on the environment and improve links with the local community and now feels the time is right to join the programme. We currently have the following initiatives in place and look forward to expanding upon these:

  • Solar Heating: All of our water heating systems are either solar or currently in the process of being converted to solar.
  • Worm Farm: All plant waste there from Elephant Camp, as well as most elephant dung from our resident herd, is fed into our worm farm, creating valuable compost for use in our organic vegetable garden.
  • Organic Garden: In order to supply as much organic produce to our guests as possible The Elephant Camp produces much of its own herbs, spices and vegetables for use in our kitchens.
  • Indigenous Tree Planting Program: To rehabilitate areas that were once denuded of trees by uncontrolled wood collection, we created an indigenous tree nursery. Trees are grown from seed and are transplanted once established, into areas in need of rehabilitation.
  • Biological Monitoring and Erosion Control: The Elephant Camp employs a qualified Environmental Officer to monitor the biology of the reserve and assists with mitigation. Bi-annual biological surveys are conducted, alien vegetation is eradicated and soil erosion is carefully managed in the reserve and on neighbouring communal areas.
  • Community Relations: We make every effort to employ staff from neighbouring areas, and work closely with the community on projects such as transporting thatch from neighbouring areas annually for roofing of homes in neighbouring areas annually for roofing of homes.
  • Education: The Elephant Camp frequently hosts school children on educational trips, teaching them about and allowing them to experience, the beautiful natural environment and the threats that face it today.

The Elephant Camp will be graded on-site by a qualified team of assessors against a rigorous set of criteria, covering a range of areas such as energy/water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity, social involvement and communication.

Craig White, Operations Director said:

Wild Horizons pride ourselves on being driven by a team that is passionate about our environment, and fully committed to sustainable environmental practices. The inclusion in Green Tourism is an exciting development to our business, as The Elephant Camp strives to be a leader in sustainable tourism practices. Whilst we have come a long way on our own initiatives, the inclusion in such a prestigious body gives us a host of new challenges which we are determined to meet in our quest to reach Gold Standard status.

It is also extremely exciting on a National level, to see that Zimbabwean Tourism has evolved to the stage where international bodies such as Green Tourism are keen to establish a foothold in the country. This inevitably encourages  local companies to strive toward sustainable environmental practices. International travellers are seeking out establishments that practise environmentally sustainable  tourism. This naturally encourages operators to look closely at their businesses from an environmental perspective, or risk being left behind as  tourists become more discerning in their holiday choices.

About The Elephant Camp

The Elephant Camp is a luxurious and intimate lodge under canvas within easy reach of Victoria Falls. Situated on a private concession with breathtaking views of the Victoria Falls’ spray, and the spectacular gorges which separate Zimbabwe from Zambia. We also cater to exclusive groups and families at The Elephant Camp West, which has exclusive suite accommodation for 8 guests in 4 luxury tents.

About Green Tourism

Green Tourism awards recognise places to visit that are taking action to support the local area and the environment in general. Green Tourism is the largest sustainable certification programme of its kind, assessing hundreds of fantastic places to stay and visit worldwide, with Zimbabwe being the latest addition to their portfolio.

The Wild Horizons’ Sunset Cruise- A photo diary

I recently had the opportunity to partake in a Wild Horizons’ Sunset cruise. The cruises depart daily from a jetty on the banks of the wide and calm upper Zambezi above the Victoria Falls. The river here is so broad it splits onto three channels and it’s calm belies the thundering spectacle mere kilometres downstream. At this time of year the spray from the falls is a mere smudge on the horizon and the roar of the falls registers as a background vibration from a distance. The scene couldn’t be calmer. Pods of hippos, graceful dragonflies, cormorants, darters, splashing kingfishers, and gliding crocodiles grace the calm waters. As we take off from the jetty engines purring there’s nothing to do but relax and take in the beauty that surrounds- an experience better conveyed through images from the day, enjoy!

Eagerly awaiting the Green Season in Zimbabwe

As the end of a very long and hot dry season, I am filled with anticipation at the thought of the upcoming rains and the abundance they will bring. This is my favourite time of the year- when the landscape is transformed and the animals drop their young when the skies darken with storm clouds and the ground turns green with new shoots.

The green season runs from November through to March and apart from being my favourite time of year the ‘Green Season’ as it is known is a fantastic time to visit Zimbabwe.

During the green season, most lodges offer lower prices- and travellers can have huge savings, especially on luxury lodges. Many also no longer charge a single supplement so if you are travelling solo the green season is the time to visit. For couples, there’s also the opportunity to spend the most romantic day of the year in one of the world’s most romantic locations. Take your loved one on a spectacular Zambezi cruise while the sun sets or cocoon yourself in the romantic suites at The Elephant Camp- with canopy beds, private plunge pools and large freestanding tubs with spectacular views the setting cannot be beaten.

Zimbabwe’s greatest attraction the Victoria Falls is at its Zenith around April but the waters start rising in February. At this time a breathtaking volume of water flows over them and clouds of spray rising hundreds of metres above. It is now that the reason behind its local name of ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or the smoke that thunders becomes apparent. As you stand on the lip of the chasm the ground beneath your feet truly seems to tremble and it is impossible not to feel awed. The large amounts of spray driven up by the falling water also result in beautiful rainbows above the Victoria Falls.

The rainy season is typical of a tropical system with clouds building in the morning, usually resulting in an afternoon or evening downpour. These can clear up with the suddenness with which they begin- leaving you standing in dazzling sunshine moments after they end. The weather is still warm and the rains should not deter travellers. The dramatic cloud formations make the perfect backdrop for photography, adding drama to landscapes that are missing in southern Africa in the winter.

The green landscape, with its backdrop of clouds, is punctuated by riotous colour. These splashes of colour dart from tree to tree and are the vibrant plumages of the many bird species. Zimbabwe offers the best bird watching in the wet season from November to April. Migratory birds are present and all species are in full breeding plumage. For any serious birder this is a spectacular show and not to be missed.

I also find that the lower amount of travellers at this time of year adds to the experience- staff at hotels and restaurants are more attentive as they are quieter and you often get amazing experiences like being alone at a special game sighting. Try visiting Zimbabwe between February and March when you will truly discover the delights of the Green Season and the warmth of Zimbabwe’s hospitality.

For specials and rates in Victoria Falls, Chobe and Livingstone contact lodges@wildhorizons.co.zw

 

Moeketsi Ndlovu- pioneering chef at The Lookout Café

Moeketsi Ndlovu is a 30-year-old chef who grew up in Victoria Falls but was originally from Esigodini, Zimbabwe. His family noticed his talent in the kitchen early on.

My Grandmother used to enjoy my cooking so she always encouraged me to become a chef though she had a belief it was not a paying job.

His grandmother was right about Moeketsi’s talent but wrong about there not being paid employment in his field. He was employed by Victoria Falls Safari Lodge as an Apprentice Chef in 2005. Moeketsi is now a head chef with 10 years of experience under his belt and says one of his accomplishments was winning the restaurant of the year for the Palm Restaurant, Ilala Lodge, Victoria Falls for three years running during his time there.


On the 23’rd of December, Moeketsi opened the Wild Horizons Lookout Café as the head chef. The café is cantilevered on the edge of the Batoka Gorge and offers diners truly stunning views of the canyon and the Victoria Falls Bridge. However, the tasty and affordable menu brimming with simple, fresh flavours is what draws people. Moeketsi changes the menu with the season and loves to experiment with new dishes while still keeping the same value and quality the Lookout Café has become known for.

Moeketsi says;

Planning a new menu has always given my career its challenges; playing around with combination of flavours, the health aspects of the menu and finally the costing which turns me into an accountant as well!

It is a technique that works and The Lookout Café has been an incredible success, garnering great reviews from international customers, and quickly becoming a favourite for local clientele. In the short space of a year café has more than doubled its seating capacity as a response to the overwhelming demand from the public.  Much of this has been due to the innovation and hard work of the head chef and team in the kitchen who work hard every day to ensure the best food is served.

To young people wanting to become a chef Moeketsi says

‘…chefs have good job opportunities so if you have a passion for cooking it’s a fantastic job, but I repeat, only if you have passion!’

7 Wonders of Victoria Falls: #6 The ‘Flight of Angels’ Helicopter Ride

A helicopter flight over the Victoria Falls offers an entirely new perspective on a truly special sight. It is only from the air that the scale and majesty of the zig zagging gorge carved by the progression of the Waterfall over millennia are apparent.

The flight over the waterfall is nicknamed ‘The Flight of Angels’- a phrase taken from what Davis Livingstone said upon seeing the Falls “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by Angels in Their Flight”.

As you take off you first follow the incredibly wide lazy path of the upper Zambezi- an entirely different character than when it spills over the waterfall’s chasm and crashes through the narrow gorge. Then  you encounter the majestic spectacle of the Victoria Falls- the entire width apparent as you fly lazy figure eights giving everyone a chance to view the Falls and capture the rising spray and plumes of falling water. It truly is something that gives a sense of awe- and in the helicopter you glide in such a smooth way that it’s easy to forget what is propelling you. To me, it truly feels like a magic carpet ride.

If you are taking a 13-minute flight, your pilot will then fly you back upstream and return to the launchpad. If taking the longer 28-minute flight, you will continue down to the Batoka Gorge. This offers the opportunity to spot wildlife from the sky as you take in the beautiful scenery of the Batoka Gorge.

Flights take place every day (weather permitting) from dawn to sunset. For enquiries and bookings contact info@wildhorizons.co.zw or visit our website.http://wildhorizons.co.za/helicopter/#6 The ‘Flight of Angels’ Helicopter Ride

See our previous blog posts on the 7 Wonders of Victoria Falls #1 Seeing the Falls#2 White Water Rafting , #3 A High wire Experience , #4 meet Sylvester the Ambassador Cheetah & #5 A Cultural Experience

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