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.
Victoria Falls, a quaint town home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, was transformed into festival central over the New Year period. The atmosphere hummed with excitement, music from multiple genres filled the air and the streets teamed with brightly dressed party goers. Land Rovers wound across the busy roads, packed with adrenaline seekers as they made their way between the rafting excursions, gorge swings, helicopter rides, and various pool parties dotted around the town.
The 3-day event came to life on the edge of the mighty Zambezi River. Beneath the surface of the glistening ripples live countless fish, crocodile and hippo. Birds dip and dive among the indigenous green trees that proudly overlook this impressive body of water. It is the ideal location to mark the start of the three-day extravaganza. There is no better way to spend an afternoon than lazing by the banks of a slow flowing river, listening to the gentle background music of talented DJ’s, with a refreshing drink at hand. The moon eventually took its place in the sky, and in small groups, people returned to town and pay a visit to the vibey Shoestrings Backpackers Lodge and Mvu bar, where the festivities continued into the early hours of the following morning.
On day two the Jameson Vic Falls Carnival raced on at full steam ahead with the popular party train, which took off on the 30th. Hundreds of people made their way to what can only be described as Grand Celebration Station. Waving their luminous purple wrist bands in the air above their heads, people leapt aboard the ride of a lifetime. Hogwarts Express pales in comparison to the party train, which was equipped with bars, music and hundreds of enthusiastic passengers. The train made its way to Jafuta, where a stage and strobe lights awaited the train. The high-pitched whistle of the train could barely drown the sound of the powerful music pouring from the speakers at the front. The smell of frying burger wafted across the eastern end of the party, while the sound of ice clattering into cooler boxes sounded at the west, where people were served their drinks in the light of the setting sun. Local DJ’s transported the crowd on a musical journey that only ended once the final train was ready to make its final departure home at 1 o’clock in the morning.
It is hard to believe that this was just the warm-up so the main event.
Like children to the Pied Pipers tune, so the carnival troopers danced their way onto the field where the NYE party unfolded. Feet pounded the earth from dusk until dawn as music from Locnville, Sketchy Bongo, GoodLuck and many more artists engulfed the crowd. The various food stalls also got a fair amount of attention as the night wore on and the munchies kicked in. People were lured off the dance floor by the delicious aroma of frying burger patties, and returned revitalised and ready to party on. The lights emanating from the stage gave the carnival an almost surreal feel. The vibrant colours washed over the dancefloor and swirled across the stage, reaching high into the navy blue sky towards the millions of stars that watched the carnival below. During the countdown into the new year, a soft mist drifted down, refreshing the party so that they could carry on dancing into the eagerly anticipated new year.
The Jameson Vic Falls Carnival is as unique and special as the town in which it takes place. The earth’s natural beauty flourishes here and can be seen everywhere, whether you are strolling through the rainforest, hurtling through the rapids or plunging into African air at the edge of a bungee cord. There is a marriage between cultural diversity and musical talent that leaves listeners with new found musical taste. Everyone you meet at the carnival is excited, friendly and ready for an adventure. The elation doesn’t end from the moment you step into Victoria Falls, to the moment you say your wistful goodbyes to her. Wild Horizons are proud to be Co-sponsors of the Jameson Vic Falls Carnival.
Victoria Falls is a town where elephants stop by for a drink (out of the swimming pool), buffalo jay-walk across the road, and the rainforest is just a stone’s throw away from your local café. Zimbabwe born chef Callie-Anne Gavazzi shared her passion for cooking with an international audience when she appeared on South Africa’s MasterChef. On a recent trip to Victoria Falls we gave her a taste of the wild, and she generously returned the favour with a succulent Seared Steak Salad recipe for the Lookout Café menu. This tantalising dish marries contemporary cooking to indigenous ingredients, and the bright, fresh colours make it almost (repeat, almost) too attractive to eat.
With the lip of the Batoka gorge as her kitchen, the Zambezi river roaring below her and the African sun blazing above her, Gavazzi showed us how she made it into the top 25 MasterChef’s of South Africa. You would be doing your taste buds a great disservice if you did not treat them to her salad on your next trip to the Lookout Café.
For most people, spending an hour on the edge of a one-hundred-meter gorge would be daring enough. However, Gavazzi decided that the adventure wasn’t going to stop there. Forgoing the apron for a harness, she tackled the gorge swing cool as a cucumber (excuse the pun). This ability to take bold leaps into unknown territory is what lends this young chef’s reality cooking show such a keen sense of excitement. In an interview with The Citizen, Gavazzi described herself as a “slave to the ingredients”, and her appreciation of local produce has inspired the inception of unique dishes including pizzas made with crocodile eggs.
Anyone that has visited Africa will know that she is so much more than a destination. Once your feet have walked across her hot savannas, your lungs have filled with her clean breeze, and your skin has soaked up her gentle rays of light, these feelings remain with you forever. This part of the world is bursting with diverse flavours and Gavazzi transforms these rich ingredients into truly satisfying soul food.
Q & A with Callie
Wild Horizons: What was the most exciting part of your trip to Victoria Falls?
Gavazzi: Oh, gosh this is a hard one. Each part of the Vic Falls was just magical in its very own way. I would have to say the gorge swing! It’s out if this world …. throwing yourself off a cliff and it was an incredible feeling.
I also LOVED the Boma. Proudly Zimbabwean food that is authentic and delicious. One cannot visit Victoria falls without eating there it’s just delicious.
WH: What item on the Lookout Café menu would you recommend to future diners?
G: Mine of course!! (Haha just kidding!) I love the crocodile skewers; they were very tasty and very creative. I am all for trying new things in beautiful destinations. Oh, and don’t forget to have an ice-cold Zambezi beer to wash it all down!
WH: Did you try Mopani worms during your dinner at the Boma?
G: Yes, I did! Yikes!!! it’s one of those things you just have to do at the Boma. They actually have this peanut butter-ish flavor! I actually used to munch them as a little girl…so it wasn’t too bad! Haha
WH: What would be the first thing on your To Do list for future trips to Victoria Falls?
G: I think between Whitewater rafting and the Zambezi express train! Those activities are at the top of my list. Adrenaline win has to be the water rafting- it’s insane! I loved it so much.
I also just think the train is so old school and beautiful. It gives you a sense of what it was like back in the day. Not to mention the view of the falls from the train is breath-taking.
WH: When can we look forward to seeing you adventure here on Callie-Anne Cooks: Into the Wild?
G: I am so thrilled about this season. I still have season 2 to look forward to. But season 3 will air sometime in 2017. I will be sure to keep everyone in the loop of exact details.
Written by Jess White
Canopy Tour – Spectacular views make for great photo opportunities.
Over the course of our lives, human beings are taught a series of lessons aimed at keeping us safe and out of harm’s way. Don’t run with scissors, don’t talk to strangers, and most certainly do not throw yourself off a wooden platform perched on the edge of a cavernous gorge. It seems like useful enough advice. However, every year thousands of Adrenalin junkies break free from the chains of reason and allow their bodies to be swallowed whole by masses of African air as they plummet towards the rapids of the mighty Zambezi. The expert guides at Wild Horizons facilitate an experience of exhilaration with a level of professionalism and enthusiasm that has jumpers bouncing back for more.
Wild Horizon’s high wire activities are nestled between the jaws of the Batoka gorge. The open, natural design of the Lookout Café allows it to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding environment, and offers a unique 360 degree view of the excitement and beauty that unfolds there everyday. With the flying fox and canopy tour to the right, the zip line and gorge swing to the left and the luminous rafts plunging through the rapids below, even those sitting and sipping a cocktail in the café feel included in the adventure. The sheer extravagance of this natural wonder can be overwhelming even to those who have seen it one hundred times before. To help you navigate this landscape and decide which activity best suits you, we have put together a High Wire Hand Book.
The Canopy Tour
The canopy tour consists of a series of short zip lines that zig zag between the vegetation spilling from the rock face. This is an ideal activity for anyone who will appreciate the time to drink in an exclusive view of the scenery. Accompanied by a trained guide and occasionally a curious baboon, it is impossible not to have a smile stretched across your face as you whiz from one platform to the next.
Canopy Tour – Each slide gives you more confidence…
The Flying Fox
It is not often in life that we can transform fantasy into reality, and anyone with the slightest sense of adventure has fantasized about flying. Strap on your GoPro, fasten that harness, kick off your shoes and you are just a short run away from flying with this next activity. The harness is designed to attach to your back, so that the moment your feet lose contact with the wooden platform, you are tilted and lifted into superman position (but with a view far more exquisite than he would have had). Stretch your arms out, with nothing to grasp but the cool wisps of wind as you sweep across the sky.
The Flying Fox
The Zip Line
Anyone out there with a need for speed, this is the activity for you. Our zipline is the longest in the world, extending 425 meters across the gorge, suspended 120 meters over the rushing rapids and travelling around 106 kilometres per hour. There is the option of taking/dragging a friend along for the ride, or sailing solo. Ignoring the frantic voice in your head, you will sit on the edge of the platform and get your first full look at the adventure that awaits you. Slowly, you will inch off the ledge until you are dangling above this incredible spectacle. Point your toes, make sure your eyes are open and feel your body shoot forward into the beautiful abyss.
The Tandem ZipLine
The Gorge Swing
The most important thing to know about the gorge swing, is that the scariest moments are the ones leading up to the jump- when you hook a trembling arm through the harness, take those tentative steps to the edge of the platform and peer down the steep drop below. This is the part your brain kicks into high alert. Tremors will shoot down your spine and every cell in your body will tingle in anticipation. However, the second you step into the African atmosphere the wind whips all the fear and doubt right off you. When there is nothing pulling you down but the force of gravity, your heart is in your throat and the only sounds your own screams of thrill, you will finally understand why so many people are addicted to this feeling. The drop may only last three seconds, but the memory lasts a lifetime. Perhaps it is the perceived danger of the jump, or the incomprehensibility of what you have accomplished, but during the swing at the bottom, you will feel more alive than on the day you were born.
The Gorge Swing
Of course, there is an opportunity for creativity with this activity. For increased incredulity, some people prefer to do the jump backwards. For the extremely daring, there is a hand stand option. The choice is yours, and our experienced guides will be with you every step of the way to ensure that no matter which way you jump, you are 100% safe.
This section of Victoria Falls is where Africa really shows off, and whether you choose to do an activity or not, this is a corner of the world worth seeing. Written by Jess White
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.
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.
- 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.