Zambezi River Report January 2020

Welcome to our first River Report of the new year, designed to give you regular updates on the Zambezi River levels and how this may impact various activities in Victoria Falls. We are happy to report the water levels are rising steadily and the following seasonal product changes should be noted.

 

Zambezi River Levels

The past few months have been a strife with alarmist reporting alleging that the Victoria Falls is drying up. Year after year, we see a natural fluctuation in the volume of water going over the waterfall; it is a normal and expected phenomenon that exposes a different yet equally beautiful perspective of this geological masterpiece. The only thing that has been unprecedented about the drop in water levels this year is the amount of negative media coverage it has received. As always, we remain at your disposal to dispel any queries or concerns.

 

Aerial view of Victoria Falls in January 2020

 

According to data captured by the Zambezi River Authority on 27 December 2019, 323 000 litres of water was going over the Victoria Falls per second. On the same date last year, this figure was 267 000 litres per second. To put this into perspective, we have drawn on Peter Jones’ example of the water supply to London and adapted it to accommodate the increase in water since his interview.

In a typical year, London uses around 30,092 litres of water per second.

Therefore, on 27 December, the 323, 000 litres of water going over the Victoria Falls could supply 10.7 cities the size of London.

High Water Rafting Season Begins

The high water run started on 10 January 2020 in line with the rising water levels of the Zambezi River. The expeditions will begin 10km downstream of the Falls, starting at the Overland Truck-eater (Rapid 11) through to The End (Rapid 24). This exciting section includes the Mother (Rapid 13) at its brooding best.

 

Hanging over Victoria Falls edge

 

Livingstone Island Update

Devil’s Pool will be closing shortly due to the rising water levels above the Victoria Falls.
However, Livingstone Island tours will remain open until the end of April/May. Angel’s Pool will close at a similar time to the Island.

 

Your Experts On The Ground

Wild Horizons endeavours to be your Victoria Falls experts on the ground and in some cases, from the sky too. Below is a series of aerial images taken on 7 January 2020. The video clip of Devil’s Cataract was taken on the same day. The water levels are on the rise and we look forward to sharing these beautiful views with our agents and guests when they visit Victoria Falls.
Please rest assured that even when the thunderous nature of the waterfall is somewhat tamed during the drier months, the Victoria Falls is a spectacular sight. It is, and always will be, a natural wonder.

If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

 

Kind Regards,
The Wild Horizons Team

Dusty Road Victoria Falls

I started this blog with the words, “The first thing I noticed about Dusty Road..” and then my fingers froze over my keyboard. Because when I stepped through the rusty gate in the Chinotimba township, I was overwhelmed by an eclectic tidal way of colour and craft. There was no one thing to notice- in every corner an eccentrically beautiful feature jostles for your attention.

Spinach bursts from the ground, stretching its green arms towards the sky as though it is trying to escape from its sandy roots. Flowers pour down the wall from tin cans, looking and smelling like a field you want to get lost in. An old pick up truck, painted vivid blue, stands proudly against the wall. The metal goats and chickens on the roof seem to be patiently waiting for the robot lights to turn green. If you look away for a second, it seems as though another quirky creation organically springs from the earth so that no matter how many times you walk through, there is always something new to catch your attention.

Autentic Zimbabwean Restaurant

Every step down ‘Dusty Road’ feels like a walk down memory lane. A small market stall is tucked beneath a sheet of tarpaulin, and a table laden with hessian sacks spill their contents like jewels from a treasure chest. Oprah, a small lady with a big smile, warmly takes your hands in her as she explains how they source and use the traditional nuts and beans. We sat down at our table, and a platter of starters was brought over.

Indlubu and Indumba bean hummus on toasted Chimhodo bread is Zimbabwe’s superior equivalent to avo toast. The creamy texture of the beans put chickpeas to shame, and I couldn’t believe that it was my first introduction to the dip. It almost makes you want to march into the kitchen and start asking questions, but fortunately, there is a large assortment of spreads and nuts to distract you from any interrogations.

I have to devote some of this review to Dusty Roads glassware because anything that makes me pause with a glass of wine halfway to my lips is worth writing about. Protea wine and Roses Lime Cordial bottles have been repurposed, and cleverly cut into glasses. Dusty Road is a haven for anything and everything that can be redefined and more often than not, it is more beautiful this way that in its original form.

As someone who won’t do anything to an egg other than scrambling it for fear of what may happen, I found talking to Sarah Lilford, owner and chef, utterly enthralling. She crumbles a mongongo nut infused biscuit between her hands and explains how they have to experiment to get the textures and flavour balance right continually. She and her team are pioneers, artfully and passionately redefining the way ingredients are used. Their fusion of flavours celebrate local produce, but their ingenious techniques bring a modern twist to every bite.

The main course is served buffet style. Long before the bell dongs to let you know the food is ready, a deliciously rich and nutty aroma wafts over, embracing you in its warm arms and tugging you towards the grill. Sarah’s sous-chefs confidently pile your plate up, telling you that you will love it because they know without a doubt it is true. And it is. Flames slick up through the grate, licking the pots of peanut butter rice, flame-grilled chicken, kudu stew and crocodile kebabs. Enormous wooden bowls overflow with different salads, from samp coleslaw to minty greens. Lights hang like golden orbs from the tree branches, bathing the tables in a gentle glow and an aura of enchantment settles over diners.

To make some room for dessert, we took a stroll through the garden, before ducking into the curio shop. It was like we had stepped into an incubator for local artistic talent, with everything from chitenge earrings to homemade peanut butter. Dessert was a delicate assortment of chocolate, orange and mongongo nutballs, followed by baobab amasi cream with masawu and a mnyi berry drizzle.
With an endless jar of biscuits, pots of tanganda tea, and quirky things to discover while you unbutton your jeans, it is hard to find a reason to leave.

Zimbabweans will flock here because it feels like home. Tourists will come because Dusty Road epitomises what travelling is all about – experiencing a different culture through great food, people, traditions and décor. I also feel compelled to mention that I spent a lot of the evening fighting the urge to steal the glasses and plates. So book a table at Dusty Road now, before more people find out about this hidden gem and it the waiting list reads like a phone book. And also, don’t steal the plates.

Autentic Zimbabwean Restaurant in Victoria Falls

The Last Straw

The world is facing a plastic problem, and it is snowballing- but so is awareness and determination to halt the crisis in its tracks. Wild Horizons has several strategies in place, and all of these have seen massive success.

Only a few years ago plastic bottled water was thought to be an inescapable essential on safari. Then, the world seemed to draw a collective breath as images of sea horses carrying earbuds emerged. A plastic bag was found thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface in the world’s deepest trench. Birds were seen nesting in shreds of shopping bags.

As heartbreaking as it is to think and see these images, our planet and our wildlife need us to realise the extent of the damage that is caused by these fickle, yet indestructible products.

 

Searching for solutions 

Our mission began when we joined the ”straw war”, banning the use of plastic straws at all of our lodges and on our activities. The next step was to address the use of plastic bottles. We installed water purification systems at each lodge and provided every guest a reusable water bottle that they could refill with fresh filtered water. We stopped serving plastic bottled water during meal times and instead we provide purified glass bottle of water. The initiative has been a massive success, and we are proud to report a 100% decline in plastic water bottle consumption in all three lodges, with not one plastic bottle of water being provided.

 

Nine million reasons to join the war on plastic

Victoria Falls has an average of almost 605, 000 international visitors every year. If each visitor stays an average of 4 days and consumes 2liters of bottled water per day, over 9 million plastic bottles will be discarded annually. Recycling programs in Africa are severely limited, and one plastic bottle can infest the earth for 450 years before the elements can decompose it. The enormity of the problem can not be ignored.

We need to change the way we think about plastic. When we ”throw it away”, where is it going? When plastic is buried, it does not nourish the earth. It leaches toxins into the soil, poisoning or ensnaring wildlife. The purpose of a safari is to appreciate the earth’s natural beauty, a pleasure and a privilege that we will go great lengths to protect.

Five tips to limit plastic waste on safari 

Most plastic products take centuries to decompose, which means almost every piece of plastic ever produced is still in existence… much of it in oceans or landfills. The small changes you make now could create a big difference for future generations.

  • Say no to bottled water, and refill a reusable one.
  • If you are concerned about water quality when you explore off the beaten track areas, take a Life Straw or Steripen with you to filter out harmful bacteria. Alternatively, do some research and purchase a water bottle that has a built-in filtration device.
  • When you go souvenir or grocery shopping at local markets, take an eco-friendly cotton bag with you. These are light and very easy to pack.
  • Many people who go into rural areas are tempted to give the local children sweets, but the wrappers from these are extremely harmful to the environment. Instead, take a box of fruit with you.
  • Avoid travel-sized toiletries and plastic-packaged toiletries when you pack. Instead buy a bar of shampoo, conditioner and soap with a steel tin to store it in.

If you have bought some new gear for your trip, remove any plastic packaging it may be wrapped in and send it to a nearby recycling station. Don’t bring it to the bush.

Carol Makuwire: ‘I am a pioneer’

“I am not just a boat captain responsible for my passengers. I am a pioneer, responsible for inspiring other women to break into the profession.” Her voice may be soft, but the message is clear and delivered without a tremor of nerves. Twenty-two-year-old Carol Makuwire is a valued ambassador for Wild Horizons, navigating unchartered waters as she strives to become the first female boat captain working on the Zambezi in Victoria Falls.

Carol joined the Wild Horizons team in 2017 as a trainee chef at the Lookout Café. To allow trainees to experience different sectors of the organisation, chefs will often work in the Café as well as on the cruise boats. Before her first sunset cruise was over, Carol had decided to step away from the kitchen and join the crew. Inspired by her profound appreciation of and connection to the natural world, Carol started studying for her guides license and Skippers license with the Inland Waters Ministry of Transport.

Understanding that boat captains charismatic personalities shape the guests experience , Carol began shadowing the Wild Horizons boat captains during her free time. The crew took Carol under their wing, and to help her grow in confidence, they encouraged Carol to perform part of the briefing on the cruises. “I was nervous at first”, she admits with an easy smile, “but I love working in nature and I love people, so with the support of the others I started looking forward to the talks”. Having achieved one milestone, Carol was ready for the next challenge. She sat her Skippers exam and became licensed.

Having chosen a challenging, male-dominated career path, Carol has not been immune to the glass ceiling, but she dismisses the occasional negativity. “People will sometimes tell me I am too small to be in charge of a big boat, and that I was better-suited training to be a chef”. Without a shred of bitterness, she shrugs off the comments and says with a knowing smile , “I am here, I am doing this, and if you are not going to be supportive, then I am not going to listen”.

While Carol works alongside her mentors, she continues her studies for her Professional Guides Licence with a sense of determination that reflects the joy she derives from following her heart. In celebrating strong women like Carol Makuwire, we not only validate her hard work but also hope to inspire other women to pursue their own dreams.

At Wild Horizons, a spirit of empowerment, passion and positivity emanates from within. The women in our company shape our vision to make a difference, and their fierce sense of strength and leadership weaves a golden thread throughout the organisation.

Keep an eye on our website for more blog posts about the many Wild Horizons Wonder Women.

Wild Horizons Lookout Cafe – Update

Wild Horizons Lookout Cafe – Update (24 April 2019)

When flames engulfed and devastated the Wild Horizons Lookout Café, it was a searing loss for the town of Victoria Falls. While we have been working tirelessly on the reconstruction of this iconic restaurant, due to circumstances beyond our control, the process has encountered numerous hindrances along the way. For this reason, we have regretfully had to postpone the opening date to 1 December 2019.

 

Herewith please find a brief description of the new café as well as important quick facts:-
Perched on the rim of the Batoka Gorge, Wild Horizons Lookout Café is a fusion of spectacular views and exquisite food. The African Contemporary styled restaurant is designed to emphasise its unique panoramic view of the Victoria Falls Bridge and Batoka Gorges, which form part of the spectacular backdrop. Recycled and eco friendly material has been used throughout the rebuild of The Lookout ensuring it is infused with the Wild Horizons conservation ethos. With a mouthwatering menu, a lively selection of cocktails, and the best view in Victoria Falls, the dining experience promises to be a sensory overload.

AMBIENCE: Casual, Child-Friendly, Classic, Meal with a View
CUISINE: African / Local, Contemporary, International
FACILITIES: We only accept Visa and Mastercard, Bar, Licensed, Parking, Vegetarian, Wheelchair Access
WIFI: Free
SEATING: Outside terrace x 60; Indoor x 140; Lower deck (cocktail and canapé area) x 60
OPENING HOURS: Open daily from 08h00 to 22h00 (freshly baked muffins available daily from 08h00).
BREAKFAST: No breakfast during the week unless prebooked.
Saturday & Sunday 08h00 – 10h00
LUNCH: 10h00 to 16h00
SNACK MENU: 16h00 – 18h30
DINNER: 18h30 – 22h00 (last food orders at 21h00)

Aerial view of the rebuilt Lookout Cafe

Mi Casa – Victoria Falls Carnival 2017

Five Minutes with Mi Casa – Victoria Falls Carnival 2017

From the 29th of December until well into the early hours of the 31st, the atmosphere in Victoria Falls is electric, as though the very air with breathe is quivering with the excitement Carnival goers feel. Music vibrates through crowds of dancing bodies, the bar teems with thrilled partiers, and the entire sky is awash with colors as stage lights flood the night. Amist the craziness the carnival is famous for, Mi Casa could not look more comfortable. Dr. Duda, J’Something, and Mo-T have a platinum selling debut album, 3 South African Music Awards (SAMAs) and thousands of fans and followers, yet this dynamic trio could not be more humble and down to earth. As I pushed through the throngs of euphoric people and made my way towards the backstage area, my heart thumped as the questions I had prepared raced through my mind like a flurry of birds. However, when I reached the group, their humble, positive and introspective energy washed away any nerves that still jittered through my veins. Mi Casa did not behave as three big shot celebrities that people can’t interact with- their wit and good nature holds a mirror up to the quintessential feel good music that they produce. The name of their group is another reflection of their appreciation of their fans and the media who they believe are key in getting them to where they are today. Mi Casa su casa means my house is your house, and J-Something explains that they want their listeners to feel that this group is your group as much as it is theirs- my house is your house, my music is yours too.

The chemistry between J-Something, Mo-T and Dr Duda is as evident off stage as it is on. They bounce off each other, laugh and tease the way a trio of friends who have grown up together would. When asked what their first thought was when driving into Victoria Falls, they answered “Beautiful” in unison. I had always imagined that they had been an incredibly talented group of friends growing up, but their union was actually a musical twist of fate. One evening, Dr Duda was djaying an event in  Sandton when Mo-T’s brother called him to come and play with the DJ. J-Something joined the two on stage and the rest is history. Dreams were realised, lives were transformed and life long friends were made. With Mo-T’s jazz background, Dr. Duda’s gospel background and J-Something’s soulful background, the world was introduced to a fusion of music that everyone wants to sing along to and has to dance along to.

When Mi Casa took to the stage, people were not just watching the performance, they were involved in it. Each song sent the crowd further into a frenzy, and even the few that were not familiar with the group were losing their minds to the sounds pouring through the speakers. As each new track began, I was determined that it was my new favorite song. That is, until the next one. When they played Your Body and Jika, it felt as though a flash mob had erupted on the dance floor. Thousands of feet pounded onto the soft grass while hands were flung into the air and bodies danced to the music. They could have played their set on repeat for the entire carnival, and I doubt a single person would have left the dance floor.

So, there are two things to add to your bucket list now- watch MiCasa perform live, and come to the Victoria Falls Carnival. It is the best way to guarantee an incredible New Year. Happy 2018 everyone!

Written by Jess White