Victoria Falls throughout the year

From the relentless waves of mist that shoot up from the depths of the gorge, to the rugged rock face that breaks through a gentler flow, the Victoria Falls is magnificent in all her forms. Cloaked in chaotic white water or revealing the basalt that has been moulded by the elements over centuries, the raw power of this natural wonder will consume your imagination and leave you humbled and in awe. This is Victoria Falls throughout the year.

 

January

The height of the rainy season and the Victoria Falls is reaching towards peak flow, with a massive volume of water cascading into the lips of the gorge. You will undoubtedly get drenched and the thick, green vegetation is decorated with bursts of colour as rainforest flowers bloom.

February

The Smoke that Thunders reaches amazing heights during February, joining the clouds that languish above the rainforest. Almost every section of the rainforest is caught in a constant shower of vapour that swells up from the bottom of the gorge.

March

The dramatic rainy season starts to teeter out but the river levels remain high and the Victoria Falls continues to furiously pump the Zambezi into the gorge.

April

It is the end of the rainy season, but catchment areas upstream in the Zambezi continue to nourish the Victoria Falls. The waterfall reaches its highest flow with an average of 500 million liters of water crashing over every minute. The highest ever recorded was 700 million liters in 1958.

May

Autumn settles in, casting golden hues onto the trees. While the leaves slowly fall, Zambezi continues a strong and steady flow despite the advent of the dry season.

 

June

As autumn gives way to a crisp winter, the water levels begin to drop exposing the grass cover, creating great game viewing opportunities.

 

July

In the absence of rain, the Mopane leaves take on their distinct winter hue of burnt orange. The waterfall still boasts an impressive flow of water, and due to the diminished water sources in the bush, game viewing is excellent as wildlife begin to congregate around the river and larger water sources. The bush may be dry but the Victoria Falls still creates rain on these cloudless days.

August

A chill creeps into the night, but the days remain warm. Gradually, the rock face emerges as the water trickles to a gentle ebb on the Eastern Cataract on the Zambian side of the waterfall. However, Main Falls maintains an impressive curtain of falling water, and as the mist dies down, photo opportunities within the rainforest are exceptional. As the seasons shift, more elephant migrate to the islands, which are the feeding ground in the drier months.

 

September

The temperatures start to climb and the days get hotter, but white water rafting is excellent this time of year due to the low water levels, so you can escape the heat and spend the day racing through the gorge on a white water adventure.

 

October

This is the hottest month of the year as we build up to the rainy season. Occasionally, the sky cracks open with in a torrential African thunderstorm bringing some relief to the landscape in a short, dramatic burst. The Eastern Cataract is usually dry this time of year, but the view of the Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side is as beautiful as ever.

 

November

The water levels are their lowest this time of the year, and while the thunderous roar of the waterfall has been tamed, the natural wonder still inspires a sense of awe and incredulity.

Victoria Falls in November

 

December

The rainy season is approaching, and storm clouds loom ominously over Victoria Falls. The cloud cover brings some respite from the hot and humid days, and the waterfall begins to rise rapidly with rains from catchment areas. By now the Eastern cataract will no longer be exposed and there is a sense of anticipation and excitement as the promise of rainfall rumbles overhead.

Victoria Falls in December

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.

The Last Straw

The world is facing a plastic problem, and it is snowballing- but so is awareness and determination to halt the crisis in its tracks. Wild Horizons has several strategies in place, and all of these have seen massive success.

Only a few years ago plastic bottled water was thought to be an inescapable essential on safari. Then, the world seemed to draw a collective breath as images of sea horses carrying earbuds emerged. A plastic bag was found thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface in the world’s deepest trench. Birds were seen nesting in shreds of shopping bags.

As heartbreaking as it is to think and see these images, our planet and our wildlife need us to realise the extent of the damage that is caused by these fickle, yet indestructible products.

 

Searching for solutions 

Our mission began when we joined the ”straw war”, banning the use of plastic straws at all of our lodges and on our activities. The next step was to address the use of plastic bottles. We installed water purification systems at each lodge and provided every guest a reusable water bottle that they could refill with fresh filtered water. We stopped serving plastic bottled water during meal times and instead we provide purified glass bottle of water. The initiative has been a massive success, and we are proud to report a 100% decline in plastic water bottle consumption in all three lodges, with not one plastic bottle of water being provided.

 

Nine million reasons to join the war on plastic

Victoria Falls has an average of almost 605, 000 international visitors every year. If each visitor stays an average of 4 days and consumes 2liters of bottled water per day, over 9 million plastic bottles will be discarded annually. Recycling programs in Africa are severely limited, and one plastic bottle can infest the earth for 450 years before the elements can decompose it. The enormity of the problem can not be ignored.

We need to change the way we think about plastic. When we ”throw it away”, where is it going? When plastic is buried, it does not nourish the earth. It leaches toxins into the soil, poisoning or ensnaring wildlife. The purpose of a safari is to appreciate the earth’s natural beauty, a pleasure and a privilege that we will go great lengths to protect.

Five tips to limit plastic waste on safari 

Most plastic products take centuries to decompose, which means almost every piece of plastic ever produced is still in existence… much of it in oceans or landfills. The small changes you make now could create a big difference for future generations.

  • Say no to bottled water, and refill a reusable one.
  • If you are concerned about water quality when you explore off the beaten track areas, take a Life Straw or Steripen with you to filter out harmful bacteria. Alternatively, do some research and purchase a water bottle that has a built-in filtration device.
  • When you go souvenir or grocery shopping at local markets, take an eco-friendly cotton bag with you. These are light and very easy to pack.
  • Many people who go into rural areas are tempted to give the local children sweets, but the wrappers from these are extremely harmful to the environment. Instead, take a box of fruit with you.
  • Avoid travel-sized toiletries and plastic-packaged toiletries when you pack. Instead buy a bar of shampoo, conditioner and soap with a steel tin to store it in.

If you have bought some new gear for your trip, remove any plastic packaging it may be wrapped in and send it to a nearby recycling station. Don’t bring it to the bush.