fbpx

The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit

Victoria Falls comprises of many wild and wonderful things, from the sprawling wilderness to the diverse wildlife population. However, poaching is a harsh reality, and if ignored, would cripple Africa’s eco-system.

While Victoria Falls may be home to a natural wonder, it is also the heritage and legacy for a community of people with indomitable strength. The Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit (VFAPU) have boots on the ground and eyes on the future. They are the unsung heroes of every game drive and safari in our National Parks areas, protecting the environment and its inhabitants for generations to come. Wild Horizons has been a proud supporter of VFAPU for 15 years, providing financial and operational aid to further their reach and impact. This meaningful partnership is rooted in a shared sense of purpose and appreciation for the remote wildlife areas that make Victoria Falls such a special, diverse space.

VFAPU comprises 15 high-performing scouts who are trained in the tracking and apprehension of poachers, many of whom pose a lethal threat not just to the animals, but the scouts themselves. It is a job that requires the utmost dedication as the days are long and the challenges daunting. Some patrols take place over several days, venturing deep into the National Park with the team covering up to 15km each day. Small details such as a footprint in the dust or trampled patch of grass can lead the scouts in the right direction. Their senses must remain on high alert for any small piece of evidence that might go unnoticed to the untrained eye.

When one thinks of wildlife poaching, images of poachers with high powered rifles may come to mind. However, this is just one approach. Snares are rudimentary pieces of wire fashioned into a loop, left (and often forgotten about) in areas of high animal traffic. They wrap around the neck or leg of an animal, and the more the animal tries to escape, the tighter the snare becomes. VFAPU have removed 22 500 snares from wildlife areas, saving as many lives in the process. To date, the scouts have rescued nearly 300 mammals who have been injured through poaching activities, all of which received veterinary attention and once recovered, were released back into the wild. A staggering 900 poachers have been apprehended, and the damage prevented through this alone is incomprehensible.

Funding remains one of the biggest challenges that VFAPU faces. Their invaluable work incurs massive costs and donations are vital to ensure the continued success of the organisation. Wild Horizons is a proud supporter of VFAPU, paying the salaries of three scouts each month and sponsoring the fund raising activities hosted by VFAPU.

By simply reading and sharing the work that VFAPU do, the call of the wild travels a little further. However, if you would like to donate to VFAPU, please visit their website at http://vfapu.com/donate/ where you can also discover more about their extensive projects. Financial help is always appreciated, but boots, green shirts, hats, flashlights, sleeping bags, raincoats and medical supplies will also make a difference.

VFAPU started as a team of three dedicated individuals. Now, they have given a global community the power to transform knowledge to action. Because of them, future generations will walk in an elephants footsteps, hear the haunting whoop of a hyena, find shade beneath a tangle of trees and watch a sunset over the pristine Zambezi River. It has been an honour to be part of their journey, and Wild Horizons will continue to be a proud supporter of the Victoria Falls Anti Poaching Unit for decades to come.

Victoria Falls Has Never Dried Up

The Internet Age has come with an overload of information that can lead to confusion and misrepresentation.

We are here to dispel that by making things measurable. Not only has the Victoria Falls never dried up but last year it was the highest it has been since 2010. Every year we chart the water levels in a graph using data provided by the Zambezi River Authority, who assess water levels through a hydrometric network comprising of thirteen stations.

As you can see, seasonally there are drop offs in the dry season and rises in the wet season, this is nothing new or concerning, it is a natural fluctuation. More so, apart from this year, the river level has been above the normal average for the past five years. Please be mindful of exaggerated stories and footage that has been censored and sensationalised. We are here on the ground and we are available to answer any questions or concerns.

We have wet seasons and we have dry seasons, but the Victoria Falls is magnificent in all her forms.
The river is currently on the rise and alarmist reporting only distorts a very normal phenomenon.
Victoria Falls

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

Empowerment Project: Educating 67 young minds

There is a proverb that tells us, “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” We have harnessed this philosophy in our corporate social responsibility, a program that we are unwaveringly committed to honouring.

We want to reach young minds in every realm of education, extending beyond tourism and conservation, so that the next generation is equipped with the tools they need to change the course of their future, and that of the country. In 2014, we began an education empowerment project, and paid the school fees of 15 student beneficiaries. This number has grown to 72 children across eight different rural schools in Victoria Falls.

Wild Horizons does not define sustainability as the conservation status of natural resources alone. We are focussed on the custodians of the country, and we believe that children are the guardians of Zimbabwe’s future.

Victoria Falls | Travel Resumes | Wild Horizons

Victoria Falls | Travel Resumes | Wild Horizons

If ever there was a destination that assured travellers of wide-open spaces, it is undeniably Victoria Falls. The reopening of International Airports is a defining moment for the travel industry, and as borders open, we have the thrilling opportunity to escape to vast wilderness areas.

Over the year, we have had time to dream, and now it is time to move into the planning phase of your safari escape. Here is what you need to know about travelling to Victoria Falls.

Chef Daisy: ‘I am vibrant’

There is something hypnotic about watching a chef preparing a meal. The soft hand that shook mine moments ago now confidently wields a butchers knife, swiftly slicing up ingredients like they are made of butter. I can hear the smile in Chef Daisy’s voice as rich aromas rise in warm waves from her frying pan. Her tone seems to be in tune with the sizzle, and her story emerges through the plumes of steam that have started to dance between us.

Daisy’s passion for cooking began in her modest family kitchen, where she watched Chef Daisy sitting on the deck of The Lookout Cafeher mother lovingly prepare traditional meals. Since then, she has worked at the Wild Horizons Lookout Café and now on the Malachite, a luxury dinner cruise boat.

These exciting kitchen environments have inspired Chef Daisy’s skills and become transferable to the taste of her cuisine. Her bold and fearless experimentation with flavours mirrors the dramatic landscape of the Lookout Café, an iconic restaurant perched on the edge of the Batoka Gorge. Today, as the Malachite slips along the surface of the Zambezi, Daisy plates up her popular Beef Mignon. “The Zambezi River is breath-taking and refreshing, so the environment on its own makes the brain fresh”, explains Daisy, as she trickles a decadent jus over her dish. The dots and squiggles of nouveau cuisine are artfully incorporated, but they are accompanied by hearty, wholesome ingredients that strike the delicate balance between home cooking and fine dining.

As in all kitchens, a sense of urgency buzzes through the atmosphere around us, but the calm smile never leaves Daisy’s lips. Her lightning-quick hands stir and sprinkle fresh herbs into the simmering pots, but there is no futuristic culinary chemistry or flamboyant tableside showmanship. The ingredients for the Malachite dining experience are simple- spectacular food, prepared and served by a spectacular team, in spectacular surroundings.

While Daisy favours fine dining when she cooks, her favourite meal is Mild Peri Chicken served with a parsnip puree, asparagus, baby carrots and chilli sauce. Like her, it is unpretentious yet inimitable- the kind of meal you would want to share with friends. Though Daisy may work like a machine, there is emotion in her food that resonates with all who taste it.

Chef Daisy describes herself as a “vibrant, energetic woman who is willing to go the extra mile” and she shows this in her food. An hour ago, we sat down at a table laden in fairly ordinary groceries. Under Daisy’s expert hands, the vegetables, herbs, spices and meat came together in a delicious dish that only someone who truly understands and appreciates good food could create.

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.

Join Chef Daisy on a Malachite dinner cruise by booking here, or get in touch with us at info@wildhorizons.co.zw

An interview with guide and photographer, Vusa Sibanda

Vusa Sibanda’s journey to becoming a guide began in the Matetsi region of Zimbabwe, where he worked as a tracker for eight years. Roaming along animal superhighways, Vusa would use misplaced twigs, imprints in the sand and naked tree branches to draw a map in his mind, illustrating wildlife movements that would be indecipherable to the untrained eye. Recognizing his talent, recruiters for the FGASA program offered Vusa the opportunity to spend two months in South Africa to complete his guide-training course. Five years later, Vusa is a highly respected and valued guide at Old Drift Lodge. While his days as a tracker have drawn to a close, Vusa’s boundless knowledge of the bush and his acute attention to detail is reflected in his exquisite wildlife photography. Safari Guide and Photographer Vusa Sibanda

Vusa’s Instagram page resembles an archive of experiences and safari moments frozen in time through the lens of his Canon Camera. Scrolling through the images will take you on a sentimental journey back into some of the most wild and untouched places on earth. “One thing I have learned being in the bush, is that every animal, tree and stretch of landscape has its own character”, muses Vusa. “I am in the wilderness everyday and have been since I was young, but I am always excited to go on the river and on a game drive because I know that the wilderness will show me something I have never seen before”. While many people will scour the National Park looking for big game, Vusa believes that the subject of the photograph is not necessarily what determines a great shot. It is the moment that they spring into action, be this a bird in flight, a lion yawning, or a buck prancing through the trees. Outside his lens you might see a bird nesting or hippo wallowing, but the gentle click of his camera is reserved for the fleeting moment that they take off, or tear open the surface of the Zambezi River, leaving him with a hard copy of that powerful moment.

Vusa’s camera has been an ever-present companion on his ventures into the wilderness and his passion has become a vessel through which he shares his expertise with guests at Old Drift Lodge. In an increasingly digital world, memories of the present are scrolled instantly into the past. However, Vusa’s images will compel you to look closely, look twice and look slowly. Through the glass screen of your phone or desktop, you can peer into his wild world and understand what it looks like in a given moment.

@vusasibanda2002