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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.

International Flights to VFA per week

Domestic Flights to VFA per week

Airlines Flying to VFA

Although land borders remain closed for the time being, Zimbabwe’s domestic flights resumed on September 10, and International Airports reopened on October 1. This information is updated as the situation evolves, and schedules change regularly. Please contact Wild Horizons directly to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.

 

International Flights to Victoria Falls 

  • Ethiopian Airlines  flies Addis Ababa to Victoria Falls via Ndola on Wednesdays and Saturdays

Domestic Flights to Victoria Falls 

  • Air Zimbabwe – flies Harare to Victoria Falls return every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • FastJet – flies Harare to Victoria Falls return every Thursday and Sunday
  • FastJet – flies Harare to Bulawayo return every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

International Flights to Harare 

  • Emirates  flies Dubai to Harare return twice a week
  • Ethiopian Airlines – flies Addis to Harare return daily
  • SA Airlink – flies Johannesburg to Harare return daily
  • SA Airlink – will commence return flights between Johannesburg and Bulawayo on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays effective on October 13

Coming Soon!

Kenya Airways will fly Nairobi to Victoria Falls return on Mondays and Thursdays – effective from December 14.

Fastjet will reintroduce flights between Victoria Falls and Johannesburg from December 3, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays

According to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, land borders may be opening soon, and these are currently being assessed for preparedness. 

FastJet JHB - VFA

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Kenya Airways Nairobi to Victoria Falls

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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.

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.

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Victoria falls bridge zambia
Zambia was one of the first countries in Southern Africa to open international borders, and air access resumed in June. Please note schedules change on a regular basis so we urge you to check with the relevant airlines for the most up to date flight details.

International Flights to Livingstone 

  • Kenya Airways  flies from Nairobi to Livingstone twice a week on Sunday and Tuesday.
  • Kenya Airways  flies from Cape Town to Livingstone return twice a week on Sunday and Tuesday

Domestic Flights to Livingstone

  • Proflight – flies from Lusaka to Livingstone on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday

International Flights to Lusaka

  • Ethiopian – flies via Addis Ababa to Lusaka daily
  • Emirates – return flights to Lusaka from Dubai will operate on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Proflight – flies from Lusaka to Johannesburg six times a week, every day excluding Saturday

Rwandair – flies Lusaka to London (Heathrow) twice a week (via Kigale and Brussels) on Monday and Friday

Victoria Falls sunrise rainbow
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 passenger needs to be carrying the following:

  • A Negative COVID-19 PCR test, written in English and taken within 14 days before arrival in Zambia.
  • A face mask.
  • A health questionnaire, filled in onboard to be presented to health staff at the airport.
  • Passengers showing symptoms, such as coughing or high temperature, may be isolated for further screening and testing.
  • Tourists are to maintain WHO COVID-19 safety measures whilst in Zambia such as maintaining physical distance, wearing a mask and practicing personal hygiene.
  • Tourists are to monitor themselves for 14 days post-arrival and report any symptoms immediately.

Requirements when departing Zambia

From 20 October, all travellers wishing to leave Zambia are required to have a medical certificate stating that they have tested negatively for COVID-19 in Zambia in the previous 14 days. To obtain such a certificate, travellers must take their negative test result to UTH Hospital, the Zambia National Health Public Institute, the District Health Office or the Public Health Office and pay a 200 Kwacha fee. COVID-19 tests must have been taken in Zambia. 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
What types of tests are available?
PCR Nasopharynx test
What is the cost of each test?
USD 150 per COVID-19 PCR test
How long does it take to get the results on departure?
Approximately 5 days
Can the test be taken at LVI Airport?
The airport will only take and record temperatures. COVID-19 PCR testing is done at the Livingstone Teaching Central Hospital and then sent to Lusaka for verification.
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
Latest Update On Botswana 

On the 9th of November, Botswana started lifting international travel restrictions in a phased manner and air travel resumed at:

       Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone

       Kasane International Airport

       Maun International Airport

Coming soon!

On the 1st of December, international flights to Phillip G. Matante International Airport in Francistown will resume. Additionally, Ground Crossing will resume at the commercial border points of:

Kazungula road, Kazungula ferry, Ngoma, Ramokgwebana, Martins Drift, Ramatlabama, Tlokweng, Mamuno, Pioneer and Mohembo.

Air Botswana reintroduced domestic flights on July 17.

Wild Horizons will be operating transfers between Kasane, Botswana and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. You can find more information here.

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)
How long does it take to get the results on departure?
Between 24-48 hours
Where are the testing facilities?
There are two testing facilities: Diagnofirm Maun and Diagnofirm Gaborone.
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.
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.

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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