Vic Falls Carnival!


  

Wild Horizons is pleased to report that the Jameson Vic Falls Carnival, with Wild Horizons as the official activity partner, brought in 2015 with a bang, attracting thousands of tourists to the town for the 3 day festival. The festivities commenced on December 29th 2014, with the departure of the long-sold-out party-train journey to a secret bush location, where Capetonian ‘Toby2Shoes’, rocked the stage for the 500+ lucky ticket holders. 
The second day of the festival was themed around the world-famous ‘Holi One Colour Festival’. Festival-goers sport bags of multi-coloured powder paint to throw up into the air above the crowds at regular timed countdowns, creating a stunning eruption of multi-coloured haze above the jubilant crowd, which is a sight to behold! Local and International DJ’s, including Harare’s Rob Macson, kept the crowds bouncing throughout the afternoon and into the early evening, which led on to a host of various official after-parties at renowned locations in Victoria Falls town.

The final day of the festival was held on New Year’s Eve. The 5000+ crowd was undeterred by showers of warm rain as it glittered above the crowd in the foreground of an impressive lighting setup, which created a sublime electric atmosphere on a scale never before seen in Victoria Falls! 

 


 

Long-time Zimbabwean folk legend, Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi, attracted thousands of followers to the Carnival to witness his truly original Zimbabwean sound. Oliver, at 62 years of age, had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand as fans sang along to every word of his set of well-known local hits. The festival headliners ‘Goldfish’, the vibrant band-come-DJ duo from Cape Town, brought in the New Year with their unique and classic sound of vintage fusion with modern electro beats. All had a fantastically unforgettable time, and we look forward to watching this Festival continue to grow from strength to strength in the years to come!

Filming the Wild Horizons Gorge Swing Feature

Last week we asked some brave, (and some not-so-brave) souls to volunteer their services in the name of marketing to throw themselves off our infamous Gorge Swing platform, so that we could film their reactions and compile an acitivty feature video showcasing the swing, how it works, and the screams!


It was rather hilarious watching the fear on some of the first-time jumpers’ faces as they mounted the platform for the first time and start processing the sheer enormity of the
simple, yet terrifying task ahead of them – to jump!

The Gorge Swing is a giant, pendulum-type swing that launches the rider into a 90m wide swing across the chasm of the gorge – AFTER a 70m freefall! It is 110% pure adrenalin, and only for those with nerves of steel! Two of the jumpers could not keep sure footing once on the platform and ended up crawling right back off in disbelief and horror. After some coaxing and encouragement from the spectators though, they were able to pluck up the courage to try again and succeed.

After the swing, the feeling of conquering such an un-natural act simply has to be experienced to be believed. Check out the video below for the results of the shoot. You can book a Wild Horizons Gorge Swing by contacting us through our website here.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WfE2W37-Yo]

Siduli Hide – An up-close wildlife experience

I recently had the pleasure of checking out the Siduli Hide with Proffessional Guide Charles Brightman. Situated on the edge of the waterhole at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, the Siduli Hide offers guests a chance observe wildlife in a unique, and very close-up way. A  Professional Guide escorts guests into the hide, which is designed to look like a termite mound. This involves a short walk (5 minutes) from the lodge to the hide. Once hidden within, guests wait for a variety of mammal, reptile and bird species to visit the waterhole to quench their thirsts or to sample minerals at the nearby salt-lick. 

It is truly an exhilarating way to see the array of wildlife getting on with their waterside antics – absolutely fascinating to observe! There are around 5 small crocodiles that are currently resident to the waterhole, and it is so interesting watching the water birds such as the Yellow Billed Stalk, and the Great Egret skirting around the waterthole, catching fish, whilst actually working hand in hand with the crocs! We also observed impala, elephant, warthog and baboons. Sitting in the hide truly does provide for excellent photographic opportunities, as the animals come very close up, completely un-aware that there are humans clicking away at their cameras inside the “termite mound”. 

The hide ‘sits’ take place at early morning, and late afternoon. Times will vary slightly with the seasons. Sits are usually around 2 hours, but may vary according the presence of wildlife, as of course you cannot just up and leave after 2 hours whilst surrounded by a herd of buffalo or elephant! The activity requires a minimum of 2 guests, and currently can take a maximum of 4 guests. Siduli Hide will undergo alterations next year to accommodate a max of 6 guests. No children under 16 years are allowed (unless special permission is granted).
 

In the morning, clients will be offered tea/coffee at Vic Falls Safari Lodge, before going into the hide. The afternoon/evening sits include soft drinks, mineral water and a limited amount of beer (people need to be in a sober state due to close wildlife interactions). 

Guests should know however that this is an authentic wild experience, and so they cannot guarantee wildlife sightings. Saying this, the drier it gets, the more chance there is of having some very good close up encounters!
This is a must-do activity for any brid/wildlife enthusiast and offers something so much more than the traditional game drive experience from the back of a safari vehicle.

Wilderness Safaris Team Build @ The Lookout

On Friday 15th August, Wilderness Safaris staff members attended a team building session at The Wild Horizons  Lookout. The afternoon proved to be high entertaining, whilst at the same time further enhancing the bond of this dynamic team.

The first challenge required an elected team member to embark on a Zip Line across the gorge, with his task being to “bomb” an inflatable canoe on the river below with a water filled balloon. This was highly entertaining as in most cases, the inaccuracies were something to behold! Those brave enough then had the opportunity to earn their team an extra 5 bonus points if they endured a 70m free fall on the Gorge Swing (only 3 brave souls!). 

The next activity that followed entailed team members hoisting a harnessed teammate up a tree using ropes and pulleys, in order for them to find and retrieve a hidden toy Guinea Fowl. 

After the Guinea Fowl retrieval, the three teams then moved to the new Lookout car park, for a game of “sausage soccer”. This entailed each team lining up in a relay fashion, and then using a sausage tree fruit, tied around their waist, to hit a soccer ball across the playing field to their next waiting teammate. No touching of the sausage fruit was allowed, and many, many laughs were had!

After the sausage soccer, came the tent-erecting race – whereby each team had to work together to quickly and efficiently set up a safari tent, complete with a bed and bedding on the interior. After a suspicious amount of skulduggerous pole-snatching and rope-pinching, the ‘orange’ team emerged victorious in this round! (Their attention to detail clinched it for them in the end, as their bed was made complete with hospital corners, and a flower on the pillow!). 

After the tents, the teams then found respite in the shade of the Lookout platform, and undertook a fun quiz which covered all essential aspects of Zimbabwean life, including the colours of the Zimbabwean Flag, and of course some essential wildlife facts! 

Finally, a Zimbabwean culinary tasting competition saw the end of the day’s activities – team members had to consume an array of traditional Zimbabwean delicacies such as Mopani worms, dried vegetables, a whole chilli, and of course, a coca-cola! 

Once the results were tallied, and the quiz sheets had been marked, it was seen that 2 teams, the orange and the green, needed to compete in a tiebreaker. This came in the form of performing a verse of the Zimbabwean National Anthem – some bringing music to the ears of those who listened, and others, well – they got ½ points for smiling ‘n miming!

All had a wonderful afternoon, and the Wilderness team is now undoubtedly stronger than ever before, for having been through a Wild Horizons team build!

You can find out more about Wild Horizons’ team building packages by emailing clive@wildhorizons.co.zw

Multi-Day Whitewater Rafting: A Surreal Adventure Experience!

The Zambezi River, which borders Zimbabwe and Zambia, is widely acclaimed as offering the world’s best white-water rafting run in the world. With a large number of its turbulent rapids which occur in the Batoka Gorge (below the Victoria Falls) achieving a high ‘Grade-5’ status or higher, adventure enthusiasts revere its reputation across the globe. Even the rapid names are enough to get the adrenalin pumping – from “Stairway to Heaven”(Rapid no.5), to “The Gnashing Jaws Of Death” (Rapid no.10), and “The Overland Truck Eater” (Rapid no.11).

A ‘Grade-5’, or ‘Class 5’ rapid, as outlined by the International Scale of River Difficulty, is the grade given to the most dangerous and difficult rapids that are commercially passable by raft or kayak. ‘Grade 6’ rapids are not commercially passable, and only the most experienced of rafters/kayakers attempt this scale of rapid at extremely high risk. An example of a ‘Grade 6’ rapid on the Zambezi is the infamous Rapid no.9 – “Commercial Suicide”.

Whilst the Wild Horizons one-day rafting trip is by far the most popular with tourists and adventurers who usually have limited time in Victoria Falls town – there is one relatively unknown, yet a breathtakingly beautiful product that is also on offer from Wild Horizons for the more adventurous thrill seeker and explorer: Multi-day Rafting. Over the last thirty years, adventurers the world over have been seeking the challenge and serenity that this famous five-day long Zambezi white water rafting quest provides. These days, adventure-seekers may choose between a two-night, two-day trip, or for the more enduring, a four-night, five-day trip.

Multi-day rafting guests start off with the standard one-day trip, which either starts at rapid no. 11 (during high water) or rapid no. 1 during the low water season. It should be noted that multi-day rafting trips only operate during low water rafting (usually around mid-September to mid-December). Low water rafting starts at “The Boiling Pot”, right below the magnificent Victoria Falls. The view of the Falls from down here, just beneath it, is truly unforgettable. You’ll know you won’t forget it when you feel the immense changes in air pressure, and water vapour erratically bursting through the canyons; obscuring your view of the 3,000 tons of water that fall out of the Zambezi River into the boiling pot every second. The thundering roar is deafening, and it reverberates loudly in the chest cavity! It is truly one of the most humbling, magnificent and powerful spots on Earth.

The gorge is over 100 meters deep at the Falls and slowly increases to over 200 meters by the end of a full day rafting trip. The glistening basalt rock walls form a series of sharp hairpin bends, which meander some 120km down the course of the Zambezi River, thus bestowing a beautiful gift from Mother Nature – the course for the world’s best white water rafting!

Rapids are interceded by calm stretches of crystal clear water, where you can take a break from the adrenaline, relax and marvel at the spectacular gorges – thick with vegetation. At the end of the first day of the 120km journey, multi-day rafters bid farewell to the single-day companions that they have made on the river, and set up camp for the night on the white sandy beach below rapid number 21.

 

Late afternoon at the beach-camp sees some casual beach volleyball, cold beers, and the opportunity to throw out a line and catch some bonus bar snacks before dinner. A significant drop in temperature is felt as the shadows of the gorge encroach rapidly up the river and onto the beach as the sun sinks behind the lips of the basalt cliffs high above. After nightfall, a beach bonfire provides warmth and visual entertainment (affectionately known as “Bush TV”) to guests as they settle into their first night of camping in the belly of the beautiful Batoka Gorge. A dinner table is set under the luminous corridor of stars above, and after a hearty stew or braai, guests are sure to get a good night’s sleep in the tents and sleeping bags provided; snoring to the watery lullaby of the rapids!

 

On day-two, the beautiful cycle of adventure, adrenalin, endurance, and river exploration repeats itself once again. The first big rapid of the day – “Morning Shave” (no.23), is the perfect wake-up call! On center-left of the rapid, there is an easy wave train to wet you down. “Closed Season” (rapid no. 25) is the last of the numbered rapids, the rest are now referred to by name only. “Closed Season” is closely followed by “Open Season” – one of the biggest rapids on the Zambezi, and pure Grade Five fun! There is a large hole on the river-left and some rocks towards the middle of the run. 

 

 

From here on in, the gradient of the river starts to level out, and rapids become further interspersed. This is not to say, though, that they get any tamer – as “Ghostrider” – the biggest and best rapid on the Zambezi River, is still to come on Day 3! Towards the end of day 2, guests will raft through the Narrows 1, 2, 3 & 4 – the fourth comprising of a technical rock garden, featuring “Beer Eddy”, whereby as the name suggests, if your guide goes into the eddy, the first round of post-trip drinks will be on him/her!

After a second night of camping under the stars below the Moemba Falls, the start of day three brings the infamous “Ghostrider”. Known only by the exclusive few that have ventured this far; this is Class Five, big water at its best! Three enormous waves, with drops that make rafts disappear; only to re-appear on top of the next wave – this is the biggest, and best commercially runnable rapid that the Mighty Zambezi has to offer. Wild Horizons ensures that only the most seasoned of river guides lead guests through this one. Proper equipment, extensive experience, and practised rescue drills are essential. Still, for a true adventure seeker, this rapid is worth the journey!

Day-three, and “Ghostrider” sees-out the last of the higher-grade rapids as the gradient of the river continues to level out in anticipation of the Matetsi River mouth, and the start of Lake Kariba’s Western basin.

Multiple smaller rapids frequent the rest of the course for the last two days, providing much-needed relief to those who have ventured thus far. All of a sudden one finds themselves immersed deep inside the heart of the Zambezi. Serene beauty in a unique wilderness that is far, far away from the tourism-fuelled hustle and bustle of Victoria Falls town. The sense of being so far down river, so far removed from civilisation, and so deeply swallowed by mother nature herself – is something which simply has to be felt to be described. Sheer rock walls arise hundreds of meters above the river and the roar of the rapids resound up the narrow canyons. It is here where one may catch a glimpse of the highly endangered Taita Falcon as its soars above you. Vertical walls give way to wider valleys at times, and white sandy beaches dazzle in the sunshine. This is the lower Batoka Gorge at it’s best!

On the morning of the fifth day, all that remains is a relatively smooth two-hour paddle down to the mouth of the Matetsi, where the gorges that have been strictly hugging the river start to give way to the beginnings of Lake Kariba, yet another dimension of this magnificent river’s character. At this point a truck awaits, and after packing up and loading all the rafts and camping equipment, guests are transported the 180km journey back to Victoria Falls town; stopping for lunch and refreshments on the Deka Bridge on the way home.

A multi-day rafting trip is one of the best ways to connect with the spirit of the Zambezi, and truly experience a journey that is both self-challenging and spectacularly beautiful. Wild Horizons operates multi-day rafting trips for groups of 4 or more at a cost of USD$545 per person for the 2-day/2-night, and USD$1,132 per person for the 5 days. Rafting the mighty Zambezi, even if just the thrill of experiencing the one-day run – is an unforgettable experience and should definitely be on your bucket list! Contact Wild Horizons for more information (www.wildhorizons.co.za)

 

15 Useful Websites for Travel Agents that sell to Zimbabwe

(click image to go to site, site opens in new tab)

1) Zimbabwetourism.net

http://www.zimbabwetourism.net/


The Zimbabwe Tourism website is a great overall resource when it comes to the delivery of useful information on Zimbabwe Tourism. It has a nicely laid out interface, some great photos, and it also has a very handy “Research” section that provides all kind of statistics pertaining to Zimbabwe Tourism in general, as well as a link to the Zimbabwe Tourism Act.

2) Zimparks.org

http://zimparks.org/


The Zim Parks website, whilst a little archaic in terms of design, does provide some useful information when it comes to Zimbabwe’s National Parks themselves. Their Google Map with overlays of all the National Parks on the “Maps & Weather Data” tab could come in handy for overseas agents who aren’t familiar with the geography of the country, as well as their “Useful tips before you travel” tab.

3) Wild Horizons Agent’s Manual

http://www.wildhorizons.co.za/agents-manual/


The Wild Horizons Agent’s Manual is a one-stop-shop for all agents who sell Wild Horizon’s activities and accommodation. It contains useful information not only for activities in Zimbabwe but also Botswana and Zambia, as well as relevant Visa information for Zimbabwe and Zambia.

4) Wikitravel Zimbabwe

Wikitravel Zimbabwe


Wikitravel.org’s section on Zimbabwe contains a nice overview of useful information, such as visa requirements, health requirements, climate overview – but of particular note is the bottom section on culture, under the heading of “Respect” – which describes some of the local customs when it comes to interacting with local Zimbabweans.

5) Automobile Association

http://www.aa.co.za/travel/into-africa/cross-border-information/zimbabwe.html


The AA’s section on crossing the border into Zimbabwe offers some useful information on health and documentation requirements for self-driving South Africans, As well as some useful phone numbers.

6) My Destination Zimbabwe

http://www.mydestination.com/zimbabwe#


My Destination offers an interactive and engaging experience on all things Zim related – of note is the upbeat Youtube video introducing Zimbabwe as a destination, which is great for sending out to potential clients who are still assessing their options. They also have a very useful “what’s on” section which agents can use to propose times to visit.

 

7) Victoria Falls Guide

http://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/


The Victoria Falls Guide is a locally run website in Victoria Falls and is a leading provider of advice, tips, and general information when it comes to anything regarding travel in Victoria Falls. Of note is the “maps” section, where tourist’s and agents can get their hands on a comprehensive tourist map of Victoria Falls town. They also have a great FAQ’s section and contributions from readers on past stories and experiences.

8) Tel One Directory

http://www.telone.co.zw/listings


The Tel One Directory is probably the closest thing to a functioning online phone & business directory that Zimbabwe has to offer and often comes in handy when trying to track down a contact number for a particular person or business in Zimbabwe.

9) TechZim

http://www.techzim.co.zw/


TechZim is a leading technology blog that focuses on the reality of technology and IT in the country – it’s challenges and achievements. Very useful for tourists and visitors who need to stay connected on the ground but are worried about the availability of accurate and up-to-date information when it comes to staying connected online and on the ground.

10) Zambezi Traveller

http://www.zambezitraveller.com/


Zambezi Traveller is a great online resource for news and articles regarding wildlife and conservation, tourism news and information, and covers not only Zimbabwe but all major centers along the Zambezi River including Chobe, Okavango, Kafue, Victoria Falls, Hwange, Harare, Kariba and the Middle Zambezi, Lusaka, Luangwa, Livingstone, Cabora Bassa & Tete. They release a free of charge printed newspaper 4 times a year which is distributed to all centers along the Zambezi, as well as subscribers around the world. This platform offers lucrative advertising opportunities.

11) Seat 61 – A Beginner’s Guide to Train Travel in Zimbabwe

http://www.seat61.com/Zimbabwe.htm#.U7upBKhK5Hg


This section of the Seat 61 website offers valuable information for anyone seeking information on how to travel by train in Zimbabwe. Just bear in mind that times may differ from published timetables, and best practice is always to go to the train station yourself beforehand to confirm what services are running and their costs.

12) Zimbabwetravel.info

http://www.zimbabwetravel.info/en/travelling-in-zimbabwe/getting-around-in-zimbabwe.html#


Zimbabwetravel.info is another source rich in information on the National Parks, as well as the main cities. They also have a section on how to travel by train or bus around Zimbabwe.

13) Wild Zambezi

http://www.wildzambezi.com/travel-advice-detail.cfm?News=40


This section of the Wild Zambezi website is also jam packed with useful information on getting around in Zimbabwe, as well as the usual high-quality wealth of information on tours and safari’s that one has come to expect from Wild Zambezi. Of note are articles such as the 4×4 code of conduct, their Tour Operators’ Code of Ethics, and the Electricty, Phones & Internet, Time, Public Holidays and Dress section. A very valuable resource indeed!

 

14) Trip Advisor Zimbabwe

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g293759-Zimbabwe-Vacations.html


Trip Advisor is the world’s leading online reputation website when it comes to choosing accomodation, restaurants, and activities in just about every country in the world. It makes for reliable reading as you can see past guests’ comments, reviews and recommendations and is an essential tool for finding, and deciding upon the plethora of options when it comes to travelling, as well as selling travel, in Zimbabwe.

15) Zimbo Jam’s Events Calendar

http://www.zimbojam.com/info-zone/events/events-calendar


Zimbo Jam is one of Zimbabwe’s most popular arts, culture and lifestyle blogs and seem to constantly have their finger on the pulse when it comes to anything regarding music, festivals, carnivals or any other culturally significant event happening in the country. Of note are their comprehensive articles on HIFA – Harare International Festival of the Arts – Africa’s largest international arts festival.