Wild Horizons is proud to introduce Old Drift Lodge, an extraordinary new luxury tented lodge on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River at Victoria Falls. Old Drift Lodge is a bush paradise that exudes an old world charm, admits modern luxuries, and is a symbol of the harmonic existence that can be achieved between man and nature. The lodge is expected to open 23 April 2018.
Old Drift Lodge, speaks to the rich heritage of the area. A ‘drift or ‘ford’, is a shallow place in a river or stream where it is possible to cross safely without using a boat. Around 1898, the Old Drift was used as a crossing point over the Zambezi River between what was then Southern and Northern Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe and Zambia). The site swiftly became the busiest crossing point of this period as supplies were ferried and cattle swum to the opposite bank. The rustic settlement of Old Drift was eventually abandoned as settlers relocated and the town of Victoria Falls began to transform into the adventure destination it is today. While the rest of the world moved forward, Old Drift was reclaimed by nature and returned to its original state. Trees took the place of the buildings, wildlife replaced the people, and in the pristine National Park, the Zambezi River was the only traveler to watch the changes take place. The soil upon which this lodge is built has been fertilized by a history of hard work and innovation.
Old Drift Lodge offers family friendly accommodation, with each air-conditioned suite decorated with stylish furnishings, fitting of a bygone era, which blend in seamlessly with the natural environment. The spacious canvas suites all have a private lounge, indoor and outdoor showers, plunge pool and an outdoor bath overlooking the Zambezi River. Guests will be accommodated in 10 double suites and 4 family suites.
The main lodge area has 360 degree views, north facing onto the Zambezi & south facing onto a water hole. Old Drift Lodge is an environmentally friendly property with a strong focus on keeping our carbon footprint as small as possible.
Transfers to and from the lodge are by luxury cruise boat and take approximately 15 minutes from Victoria Falls. Activities offered at Old Drift Lodge emphasize the rich natural environment, focusing on the abundance of wildlife that roams through the Park and swims the Zambezi River. The Zambezi National Park can be explored by road, river or on foot, satisfying guests needs to experience every aspect of this natural utopia. A mere 4.5 kilometres from the town of Victoria Falls, Old Drift Lodge guests remain in close range to the variety of attractions and activities that the town has to offer.
The muggy afternoon heat was beginning to dissipate as Mike, our incredibly knowledgeable and charming guide, arrived to collect us from The Stanley and Livingstone. Almost immediately we saw a herd of zebra. This fairly common sighting suddenly became an interesting study in how zebra stripes act as a private air conditioning system, allowing them to stay blissfully cool in the heat of a Zimbabwean afternoon. Equally fascinating, although less romantic, we learnt that within the first few days of being born, baby zebras eat their mother’s dung. This provides them with roughage and ample bacteria to fight off infection during their vulnerable first days.
Suddenly we were startled by a warthog whose impressive size and demeanor was somewhat diminished by the very obvious lack of his tail. Mike explained to us that it is common to see warthogs with no tails on the 6000-acre reserve, as there is fierce competition between warthogs and hyenas for the limited number of burrows. About 70% of the warthogs have lost their tails from reversing into a burrow and finding it occupied by sharp fanged rivals!
Alerted by the smell, we were thrilled to see a pile of rhino faeces on the road. Mike explained to us how rhino have a unique system of detecting the presence of other rhino in the area. Male rhino ensure that after defecating they leave traces of urine and faeces on their back legs. These ‘calling cards’ drop off as he walks, clearly demarcating his area for other would-be trespassers! Female rhino dung can indicate an increase in oestrogen for potential suitors in the area.
Much like we humans will sniff a glass of wine trying to discern different scents and notes, so a rhino employs a similar, albeit rudimentary method to glean information. So the next time you raise a glass of wine to your nose and inhale deeply, think of the rhinos, one of which could be doing exactly the same thing at the same time. Cheers to you both!
Our glorious afternoon was complete when suddenly we came across not one, but five Black Rhino! Unperturbed by our presence and obvious excitement, these magnificent creatures strolled leisurely up to our vehicle, sniffing (of course) the air inquisitively and coolly regarding their star struck visitors. We realized how supremely privileged we were to see these 5 rhino (the herd comprises 7 in total) when Mike pointed out that the total black rhino population in the world stands now at a mere 1500. Depressing news indeed! For this reason the rhino on the reserve are regularly de-horned to deter poachers.
After the privilege of watching these incredible creatures, we made our way to the dam. Progress was delayed firstly by a herd of elephants waiting patiently for the babies to stop gambolling on the road and then by an enormous herd of buffalo whose progress indicated that they too were feeling the lethargy and peacefulness of the early evening. After a glorious sunset, accompanied by perfectly made gin and tonics, delicious nibbles and a myriad of bird activity, we reluctantly left this stunning display of nature to make our way home, all of us enriched by an incredible afternoon in the capable hands of Mike.
- Wear neutral coloured clothing, a hat and sunglasses.
- Take cameras and binoculars- there’s plenty to see!
Wild Horizons is introducing with immediate effect daily scheduled tours of the Victoria Falls; guided in both Spanish and French. These tours take place on the Zimbabwean side of the Falls. They aim to help our many foreign language guests to experience the mighty Victoria Falls and learn about it in their native tongue.
The Spanish and French language tours of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe are conducted daily throughout the year on a scheduled basis. En route, clients may be taken past the ‘Big Tree’, an impressive baobab, where they may stop and take photos. Clients will be accompanied through the Rainforest by one of our qualified Foreign Language Guides who will give a detailed history of the Falls as well as detailing the flora, fauna, bird & wildlife and other points of interest.
Guides are happy to assist clients with photographs whilst visiting. Raincoats are provided when needed.
The Victoria Falls – Now In Its 150 Millionth Fantastic Year – Reaches Its Zenith In About May each year. It’s a truly awe-inspiring experience. The sight, the sound, the smell; the humbling feeling that here indeed is Nature’s Supreme Masterpiece. No photograph can begin to depict the reality… and nothing prepares you for your first sight.
- DEPART: Daily
- COSTS: No additional cost normal Tour of Falls rates apply
- DURATION: 2 hours
- DEPARTURE: 08h00 to 08h30 from hotels and B&B’s in Victoria Falls Town
- MINIMUM 1 MAXIMUM 20 pax per tour
- LANGUAGE: French or Spanish
- PLEASE NOTE: * Child Policies are available upon request
Zimbabwe’s hospitality & culture are legendary and sadly something many visitors miss experiencing. Adventure activities and wildlife watching are complimented greatly by meeting the country’s people and experiencing their culture.
There are opportunities to give back to those less fortunate in Zimbabwe. A humbling and eye-opening experience that gives you the opportunity to make a real difference while also encouraging a feeling of appreciation in those of us who have the time and money available to go on holiday. Whether you pay for an experience such as a village visit, choose to make a donation to a charity or simply spend time in one of Zimbabwe’s craft or food markets ensure you are also taking the time to stop and talk to Zimbabweans and find out about their lives, you won’t regret it.
- Cultural tourism in Zimbabwe is generally a very inexpensive option with costs often simply covering the expenses
- The proceeds from Cultural Tourism have a direct positive effect on the communities visited.
- These activities are fantastic learning experiences for both young and old making them a great option for families. During any of these, your children will likely get to meet and interact with local children while learning about their culture.
Some options on offer in Victoria Falls include:
A rural village tour: You get to visit rural homes, watch fields being tended and possibly get the chance to help in some of the day-to-day chores. Guests are able to gain an insight into Zimbabwean rural life and to see how vastly different it is from life in town- most rural Zimbabweans still practise subsistence farming, few have access to electricity or running water and life is at a far slower pace.
A township tour: The majority of people in Victoria Falls live in the Chinotimba township, which has a population of approximately 60 000 people. During this tour, guests will have an opportunity to observe township-life – from the oldest houses to the taverns, the local market and churches. During a visit to the Chinotimba Primary School clients are introduced to the school headmaster – he or someone assigned, will take the guests on a tour of the school.
A home hosted meal: The concept is a simple one; your host cooks and shares a traditional meal with you, at his or her place… I did this and you can read about my experience on a home hosted dinner here. It was a delightful evening and an experience I would recommend to anyone visiting Zimbabwe. The experience is so genuine. You have an interaction that is deceptively simple, yet somehow meaningful; the sharing of a meal.
The ‘Pay it forward Experience’ This is an experience where guests can really give back to the community, and enjoy a fun, challenging exploration of the markets and town of Victoria Falls. You choose an organization you would like to support from a list and are then given a “wish list” from the chosen charity. You then go on a mission to source the items before delivering them to your chosen charity and meeting the people benefiting from your donation.
* On these experiences guests are welcome to bring along second-hand clothing and footwear, stationery such as exercise books, crayons, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, erasers etc as a donation should they wish to. These items can be invaluable in rural or disadvantaged schools and communities.
Victoria Falls is a great family friendly destination. However with a full gamut of activity options it can be overwhelming to plan your trip. To make it easier we have rounded up some of the best activities for families. Of course, every family is different; if you have any questions or need advice feel free to contact us, we are happy to help.
Although it can seem like Victoria Falls only offers adrenaline based activities there is actually far more to do and see here- and some pretty exciting options are safe and friendly for even young children. The town also offers a convenient ‘home base’ from which many exciting activities are easily accessible whilst you have comfort and convenience.
A Cultural Tour is a great way to expose your children to different cultures and ways of life whilst still having fun. You can choose from many different options- such as a rural village tour, a township tour or a home-hosted meal. In any of these your children will likely get to meet and interact with local children while learning about their culture. Check out some cultural tours here or you can read about my experience on a home hosted dinner here.
The Boma Experience is a fantastic night out for children and adults alike. With a huge buffet that includes local delicacies and Western fare everyone will find something they like. And the evening will be filled with entertainment from traditional dancers to a local story teller and a fortune teller. After dinner, you can join in the drumming lesson- something your children will love.
A Zambezi Sunset Boat Cruise is a must do and a fantastic family activity. Cruises last on average 2 hours which is just right- not too long for kids. The boat will leave the jetty and meander through upstream through islands, while you enjoy the views and potential bird and wildlife along the banks. Most vessels serve snacks and beverages. Have your camera ready to capture one of the most amazing sunsets in Africa.
Tip: Ensure that you book the right cruise for you- some larger boats have a party atmosphere, others are smaller with an emphasis on relaxation. We recommend The Zambezi Royal. There is no minimum age on this cruise and children pay 50%.
There are also some activities you may not have expected would make the ‘family friendly list’ but I recommend many of the highwire activities for a safe thrill. My favourite for families is The Canopy Tour which lasts between 2 to 2 and a half hours. Depending on their age and size children can be harnessed in with their parents or go alone. The Tour consists of 9 different slides, varying in length and 1 cable bridge. Friendly and experienced staff will give a detailed safety briefing before the canopy tour and there are two guides on each tour so you will feel comfortable before you depart. It offers amazing views of the turbulent rapids, the Victoria Falls Bridge and spray of the Falls.
Of course, while you are here you will want to visit the Victoria Falls! Victoria Falls itself is a fantastic activity for older children in particular (10+). The safety precautions around the edge of the Falls are limited; older children will appreciate the beauty of the Falls whilst being able to also stay away from the canyon edge. For children small enough to be carried you should also be fine although be prepared to walk for a distance.
- Can be a long walk for very small kids so be prepared with a stroller or baby carrier.
- Safety precautions are scant along the edge so it’s important to keep you children close if they are young or to arrange for a half day of babysitting whilst you view the Falls.
Text by Sarah Kerr