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Travel Updates | Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana | 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.

victoria falls zimbabwe wild horizons
Victoria Falls is ranked as the safest destination to visit Post COVID-19

The US-based travel and tourism agency, Tourlane, has named Zimbabwe the safest place to visit in the world when countries reopen their borders for international travel post-Covid-19 restrictions. Discover more about our product-specific protocols in the video below.

Travelling to Zimbabwe

  • All passengers are required to complete a COVID-19 contact-tracing document on arrival.
  • All passengers arriving at Victoria Falls Airport are required to present a negative PCR COVID-19 Clearance Certificate obtained within 48 hours before departure, in line with WHO Guidelines. If officials believe a traveller to be symptomatic, they may be required to undergo a further PCR test on arrival, regardless of the negative certificate. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, a fever and a dry cough.
  • An Airport Official will take passengers’ temperatures. Anyone recording a temperature equal to or higher than 38°C will be tested for COVID-19.

Travellers that test positive will then be required to go into local isolation for 10 days if they have no symptoms, or 13 days if they are symptomatic. Isolation is at the traveller’s own expense.

After quarantine, travellers will need to be retested before they are permitted to travel home or on to their next destination.

Travellers are to adhere to WHO COVID-19 standard practices at all times, such as maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask and practicing personal hygiene.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements on arrival at VFA?
All passengers are required to complete a COVID-19 contact-tracing document on arrival. An Airport Official will take passengers’ temperatures and anyone recording a temperature equal to or higher than 38°C will be tested for COVID-19. All passengers arriving at Victoria Falls Airport are required to present a negative PCR COVID-19 Clearance Certificate obtained within 48 hours before departure
Are COVID-19 PCR tests available for international travellers?
PCR and Rapid Diagnostic tests are available at all International Airports and most clinics and hospitals throughout the country. Additionally, Old Drift Lodge, Victoria Falls, offers an in-house COVID-19 PCR test that can deliver results within 3 hours.
What is the cost of each test?
PCR test is $60 Rapid test is $15
How long does it take to get the results on departure?
PCR and Rapid Diagnostic tests are available within 3 hours
Can I be tested at a Wild Horizons lodge?
Yes, travellers staying at the Wild Horizons luxury lodges will have the option of an in-house COVID-19 PCR test that can deliver results within 3 hours. Whether they require the test for onward travel or simple peace of mind, travellers can arrange this with the lodge management team for $60 per person.
What will happen if a traveller gets infected while in the country?
They are required to go into an isolation centre for ten days if they have no COVID-19 symptoms or 13 days if they are symptomatic.
Victoria Falls characterized by the scenic grandeur of the waterfall, cultural connections and fascinating history. Together with the kaleidoscope of adventurous activities, Africa’s Adventure Capital makes a lasting impression on all visitors. Get in touch to start planning your Victoria Falls holiday today.
Victoria falls bridge zambia

Travelling to Zambia

Requirements on arrival in Zambia

Upon arrival, an airport official will take each traveller’s temperature, which should not be equal to or above 38°C. Each traveller needs to be carrying the following:

  • A Negative COVID-19 PCR test, written in English and taken within 7 days before arrival in Zambia.
  • A health questionnaire, filled in onboard to be presented to health staff at the airport.
  • Travellers showing symptoms, such as coughing or high temperature, may be isolated for further screening and testing.

Travellers are to maintain WHO COVID-19 safety measures whilst in Zambia such as maintaining physical distance, wearing a mask and practicing personal hygiene.

Travellers are to monitor themselves for 14 days post-arrival and report any symptoms immediately.

    Requirements when departing Zambia

    If travellers require a COVID-19 Clearance Certificate for re-entry to their home country, this can be performed 24 hours prior to departure at the Med Prof Clinic in Livingstone.

    Operating hours: 08:00 to 17:00

    Doctor: +260 97 777 2092

    Assistant: +260 97 100 1191

    Reception: +260 97 698 0177

    Email: medproflivingstone@yahoo.com

    Holders of tests taken outside Zambia are not exempt from this requirement, even if the test was taken within the previous 14 days

    Swim above Victoria Falls Zambia Devil's Pool
    Are COVID-19 PCR tests available for international travellers?

    Yes. The cost of the test is $120 pp (cash USD or ZMW equivalent – NO CARD PAYMENTS). This includes taking samples and delivering results to Minor Hotels Resort (USD150 for hotels/lodges on the outskirts of the City Limits)

    What types of tests are available?
    PCR Nasopharynx test
    What is the cost of each test?

    The cost of the test is $120 pp (cash USD or ZMW equivalent – NO CARD PAYMENTS). This includes taking samples and delivering results to Minor Hotels Resort (USD150 for hotels/lodges on the outskirts of the City Limits)

    How long does it take to get the results on departure?

    The test results will be available within 24-48 hours.

    Can I book a test through Wild Horizons?

    Wild Horizons will make the reservation for COVID Testing at the laboratory. We will then transfer guests to the lab for testing and wait to transfer them back to their hotel. Once the test results are available, Wild Horizons will collect the results and deliver them to the guests at their hotels.

    Please note that testing times are subject to availability. Activities and touring will be scheduled to accommodate testing times.

    What will happen if a traveller gets infected while in the country?
    They are required to go into an isolation center for 10 days. This will be at the traveller’s own expense.
    Botswana-mokoro-sunset
    Elephants spotted on a Chobe Day Trip
    Requirements on arrival in Botswana

    • Upon entry into Botswana, travellers will be screened for COVID-19.
    • Symptomatic travellers will be subject to mandatory testing on arrival and possible isolation/ quarantine for a minimum of 14 days until a negative status is achieved.
    • All arriving travellers must present a negative COVID-19 certificate obtained within 72 hours of travel (meaning within 72 hours prior to arriving in Botswana).
    • When departing from Botswana, travellers must present a PCR negative test result no older than 72 hours.
    Are COVID-19 PCR tests available for international travellers?
    Yes
    What is the cost of each test?

    BWP 1000 (approximately USD 90 per test)

    Government hospitals will test for free but the results can take up to 72 hours. This test will only be done with a referral letter from a GP

    How long does it take to get the results on departure?

    24 – 48 hours dependent on day of testing Most laboratories are closed over weekends and we would recommend a Thursday being the last weekday that testing is scheduled for.

    Where are the testing facilities?

    Diagnofirm is a private laboratory based in both Maun and Kasane. Results will be released within 24 hours (except over weekends)

    What will happen if a traveller gets infected while in the country?

    Travellers are required to go into isolation/quarantine for a minimum of 14 days until a negative test result is achieved.

    The quarantine facilities are currently Government approved private facilities and the cost will be at the travellers’ expense. 

    Wild Horizons COVID-19 Protocols

    Over the last few months, we have implemented extensive new health and safety protocols to protect both our staff and our travellers. Our ‘Golden Rules of Prevention’ are measures that have been put in place across the board for our activities and lodges. For a more detailed analysis of product-specific protocols, please view the following documents for Activities, Tour & TransfersAfrican OdysseyOur Lodges and The Wild Horizons Lookout Café.

    Important Update

    Wild Horizons will be facilitating Covid 19 Testing in Victoria Falls, Livingstone and Kasane.

    Herewith are the need to know details:-

    Victoria Falls & Livingstone
    Wild Horizons will make the reservation for Covid Testing at the laboratories.

    Please note that testing times are subject to availability.

    Activities and touring will be scheduled to accommodate testing times. We will then transfer guests to the lab for testing and wait to transfer them back to their hotel.

    Once the test results are available, Wild Horizons will collect the results and deliver them to the guests at their hotels.

    Important notes : 

    • We recommend guests conduct the test at least 24 hours before departure.

    • Availability of tests cannot be guaranteed by Wild Horizons 

    • Test Result times cannot be guaranteed by Wild Horizons

    Victoria Falls Canopy Tour and High Wire Activities!

    We met our guides Michael and Bright at The Lookout Café. The venue is spectacular and the views give you a tantalizing taste of what’s to come. Our guides kitted us each with full body harness, pulley and safety helmet and there was plenty of laughter about the flattering fit of the harnesses!

    We then walked a short distance to the first slide on the Victoria Falls Canopy Tour and our guides demonstrated how to slide on the cables and the safety procedures.

    The Victoria Falls Canopy Tour offers everyone an exhilarating opportunity to soar through the rain forest in the Batoka Gorge with spectacular views of the mighty Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls Bridge. It is an unforgettable adventure as you slide from one platform to the next along a series of steel cables set amongst magnificent natural surroundings.

    You are in another world from the moment you step off the first platform and slide through the tree-tops… there’s simply nothing to prepare you for the magnificence of the view across the gorge you glimpse as you first whizz across it. As you continue on the tour it appears that each slide offers something more and you can feel the groups’ confidence build.

    At first some of us were very unsure and there was much nervous giggling but by the third slide whoops of sheer delight were reverberating through the gorge. We soon realize that with the combination of the safety line and the knowledge and expertise of Michael and Bright who are calm, confident and encouraging, we were totally safe.

    SAFETY:

    All groups are escorted by a lead guide and safety guide at all times. The guides are friendly, professional and reassuring. Your safety is paramount and Wild Horizons have strict procedures in place to ensure that you are constantly connected to either the cable or the platform.

    The scenery high up within the forest canopy is spectacular. We enjoyed spotting birdlife amongst the surrounding trees and canyon walls and were lucky enough to have a Verreaux’s eagle soaring above us and periodically landing in trees on the canyon wall to watch us inquisitively. I can only imagine he thought we were learning to fly! Each tour lasts between 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on how many people are in your group and the speed you choose to go. We had a much-needed cold drink as we walked out of the gorge still smiling from the adventure.

    Next up was the Flying Fox. We were re-harnessed so that we were suspended from our backs. The Flying Fox consists of a cable over the width of the gorge and with the harness facing down you literally ‘fly’ through the air over the turmoil of the Zambezi below. With our confidence soaring from the Canopy Tour we all stepped off into the abyss. The view is unbelievable!

    Similarly to the Canopy Tours escalation of excitement and adrenaline, so the order we did the other activities in scaled up in order of excitement. Accordingly we moved on to the Zip Line- this is an activity we chose to do in tandem. Our harnesses were re-adjusted and we were seated for the activity. The platform it leaves from offers an exciting view of what you are about to embark upon- a very steep descent that has you travelling at up to 105 km an hour whilst travelling across the gorge with the Zambezi below.

    My friend perfectly described the feeling of hurtling downwards and across the gorge as a ‘rush of joy’!

    The final and most adrenalin inducing activity is the Gorge Swing. Not for the faint of heart this includes a whopping 70 metre free-fall before you are ‘caught’ by the harness and begin swinging across the gorge. This is an incredible experience as you swing in a huge arc with the Zambezi churning below you. It’s impossible not to appreciate the feeling of hanging over the mighty Zambezi by a cord!

    And suddenly we were done! Buoyed up by adrenaline and the indescribable feeling of feeling more alive we headed back to the Lookout Café for a celebratory beer. We were all thrilled at the end of a great day and the shared memories we had created.

    TIPS:

    • Wear comfortable clothing and closed-toe footwear. Open sandals are not suitable as they will simply fall off. Wear shorts or long pants and not a skirt as you will be in a harness. Running shoes are perfect and strap-on sandals will do.
    • Take an easy to use camera with a strap that can attach around your neck or to your hand. There are plenty of great photo opportunities!
    • The Canopy Tour experience is an excellent corporate and team building event.
    • There is a safe box at The Lookout Café where you can leave your belongings and any valuables- however I suggest packing lightly.

    Victoria Falls: The natural variation of a natural wonder

    Recently there has been strong concern over the apparent ‘drying up’ of the Victoria Falls- fuelled by sharing of the story on social media. An image taken in Zambia of the apparently dry Victoria Falls was widely circulated and purported to show the Falls as a whole.

    However, the large fluctuation of the Zambezi River’s water levels are part of a normal annual occurrence. The huge variation at Victoria Falls is far more than in most of the world’s major waterfalls. The minimum flow, which occurs in November, is on average a mere tenth of the maximum April figure. Source- Wikipedia

    Zambezi Water Levels

    Rough Guide to annual water levels showing the general trend of water levels in a typical year. (image courtesy Zambezi Helicopter Company).

    This phenomenon means that viewing the waterfall at different times of the year produces vastly different experiences- and it’s definitely worth seeing both. In high flow the entire length of the Falls is a thundering wall of falling water whereas in low water the underlying structure can be seen and visibility is far better. Compare the images below of the Falls in October above and in May below.

    The Victoria Falls in low flow

    The Victoria Falls in low flow

     The Victoria Falls in high flow

    The Victoria Falls in high flow

    The Zambezi river, upstream from the falls, experiences a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season the rest of the year. The river’s annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April.

    The Zambezi River is at its lowest in approximately November or early December in most years. At times of low water the water of the Falls is concentrated mainly towards the Zimbabwean side as that side of the Falls is deeper. As the dry season takes effect up to half of the rocky face of the falls may become dry and the bottom of the First Gorge can be seen along most of its length.

    Victoria Falls Water Levels

    The difference in flow at peak levels varies far more than the flow at low levels.

    Currently in January 2016 we are about 15cm below the average water level of the Zambezi river at Victoria Falls at this time of the year. The river started rising on the 13/11/15 which is normal. Since Christmas the river has been rising 1/2cm a day.

    In high flow the entire length of the Falls is a thundering wall of falling water. Compare the images below of the Falls in October above and in May below.

    Below are some more images of the Falls in past years showing the vast difference in water levels that occur each year.

    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!

    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

     

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