A couple of months ago, an email landed in my inbox that caused me to squeal with delight. What was it, you may ask? It was an invitation. One that I didn’t anticipate being sent, but one that I had been wanting my whole life – a trip to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
With Zim being one of South Africa’s close neighbours, you’d think that most South Africans would take full advantage and visit often. Yet the majority of the ladies on the trip (a group of other travel bloggers and vloggers) had never even been to Victoria Falls. The fact that it’s one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World means it’s definitely a bucket-list-worthy spot to visit, and one that will be kept in your memory bank for the rest of your life. At least that was my opinion, and after visiting it for myself, I can confirm that whole heartedly!
It was with much excitement that I packed my bag, and headed to the airport early on a Thursday morning. In Johannesburg we met up with the other bloggers and vloggers coming on the trip (from Cape Town, PE, Johannesburg itself and, like me, Durban), and headed for our Fastjet flight to Victoria Falls airport. The plane was the smallest I’d ever flown on, and the service on board and the flight itself were fantastic. It may be the first time I’ve flown with Fastjet, but it definitely won’t be the last! Fastjet have also recently introduced a third weekly flight between Victoria Falls and Johannesburg, so they’re increasing in popularity. They’re incredibly affordable, and the whole experience was top notch – smiling staff, complimentary snacks and drinks on board, and they were punctual in their flight times too.
We arrived at our host for the trip, the beautiful Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, just before 4pm on our first day, and were so grateful to be greeted with cold, damp towels and a refreshing drink. I didn’t think the weather would be much different to South Africa, but the sticky Zimbabwe heat puts even Durban to shame.
That first afternoon (and evening) was spent getting acquainted with the hotel, and what a gorgeous place it is. The lodge boasts 72 rooms (a mixture of suites, waterhole-facing rooms and standard rooms), 2 restaurants, a bar and 2 swimming pools. This was where we stayed for the duration of our trip, however there are 3 other kinds of accommodation on the property, and all part of the Africa Albida Tourism group. For a more luxurious stay, you can check into the Victoria Falls Safari Club (more exclusive with their own restaurant and lots of complimentary extras), or you can stay in the Victoria Falls Safari Suites, where you’ll find it’s great for family trips. On the self catering note, you can try the Lokuthula Lodges, self catering cottages that are even equipped with outdoor braais, and which can also be booked on a BnB basis.
The restaurants at the hotel kept us well fed too. We ate breakfast at the MaKuwa-Kuwa restaurant each morning, and we also ate dinner there twice. From the Buffalo Bar, we sampled drinks throughout our stay, and we had lunch there one afternoon. The food is fabulously flavourful and well cooked. I even managed to try some game meat I’d never tasted before!
There are a wide variety of activites that can be done at the hotel itself. We attend the Vulture Culture experience, where we were educated on how vultures are endangered due to poachers poisoning carcasses. The hotel feeds the vultures (not completely, or they’d become too reliant) and aims to educate guests from around the world on just how important the vulture is.
We also attended the Dinner & Drum show at The Boma one night – a venue on the hotel premises that provides an interactive African experience like no other. We were dressed in colourful fabrics on arrival and had our faces painted. We got to taste the traditional beer, feast on an exceptional buffet that also includes a variety of game meats and enjoy the entertainment. Traditional dancers, singers and drummers provide this, and towards the end of the evening, each guest is given a drum and we all join in with the professionals. I even had a one-on-one with the traditional fortune teller. I tasted crocodile, buffalo, eland and more kudu, but I declined to taste a Mopani worm – I’m not that brave!
We also had a guide from the hotel take us on a tour of Mosi-oa-Tunya “The Smoke that Thunders” AKA the Victoria Falls themselves. I won’t lie, seeing the falls for myself made me feel quite emotional and so in awe of how enormous they truly are. Absolutely breathtaking. Our guide, Zulu, made the experience even more worthwhile, as he had such a great sense of humour and was a mine of information.
We were also lucky enough to be treated to some incredible activities outside of the hotel, through Wild Horizons, a tour operator in the area. They have SO many amazing activities and packages available, and we did three of them. One of our evenings was spent on the Zambezi river, enjoying a Sunset Cruise complete with finger snacks, drinks and wildlife. Our little group of ladies sipped on gin and tonics, and watched the sun start to drop, while keeping an eye out for crocodiles and hippos. It was a beautiful evening, really magical.
We spent an adventure-packed day with Wild Horizons as well. The Elephant Art Safari and Adrenaline High Wire Activities got both our creative juices and our adrenaline flowing, and allowed us to experience Zimbabwe in two completely different, yet equally exciting ways.
The Elephant Art Safari is where conservation and art have come together. At the Elephant Sanctuary, we learned all about elephants and what this sanctuary does to help and protect them. We were also given time to interact with the elephants and even feed them! I swear, I bonded with the large male Jock, he was so beautiful, with the most gentle eyes. The art part comes in with Art of Africa, who then take you to a shady spot out by the water where the elephants go to play after feeding. We had a beautiful art lesson there, out in the bush – something I’ll definitely always remember.
The Adrenaline High Wire activities involved a half-day, with a gorge swing, a zipline and the Flying Fox over the Zambezi river. From top to bottom it’s 120m, but boy does it seem even higher up when you arrive at The Lookout Cafe, and gaze at the scene before you. A few of our group decided that perhaps it was not quite up their alley in fact. For me – the gorge swing was never going to happen, but I jumped at the opportunity to do the zipline and the Flying Fox, where you fly vertically over the gorge.
While the zipline was definitely faster, and scarier due to the downward slide, the Flying Fox was a little more adrenaline-inducing for me. You’re held higher up constantly, and attached from your back, so you pretty much face downwards the whole time. The scenery on the zipline, for me, was the best part – you actually can’t quite take in the enormity of what you’ve just done, and how big the gorge is!
After an exceptionally busy few days, we sadly packed up and left the gorgeous Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and headed back to the airport for our Fastjet flight home. I arrived home hot, sweaty, tired, bitten, bruised and slightly unwell from the anti-malaria medication I’d taken. Yet I was taking home more than multiple bruises and bites. I took home a lifetime of memories and a few notches off my bucket list.
A big thank you goes out to Fastjet, Africa Albida Tourism and Wild Horizons, as well as Take Note Reputation Management for the incredible experience.