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Issue 15
Africa Travel> Issue 15
UPDATED: May 5, 2015
Bush Tales
Zimbabwe's splendid lodges and wildlife will leave you spellbound
By Jo Kromberg


Each time I come to Zimbabwe I feel like the prodigal daughter returning, with arms outstretched and senses alive.

And so it was again as we set out to Livingston in Zambia en-route to the Vic Falls Safari Lodge in Zimbabwe on a freezing, grey day in Johannesburg, courtesy of Africa Albida Tourism. The bright crimson of the frangipani and the bone-dry heat had subsided slightly from the previous time I set foot on this land when we stayed at a camp called – wait for it – Old Ursula.

Old Ursula Camp is a small, private family or big group option and sister to 5-star Victoria Falls accommodation, the Stanley and Livingston Hotel, which is nearby. Guests can self-cater or enjoy delicious meals on a full board basis. It is a dream for any tour operator or agent in terms of providing a one-stop-shop for families and groups. It was a magnificent experience and now I'm back and shaken from my reverie as we drive into the town of Victoria Falls, with the mind-boggling population of about 160 000 people, where the Vic Falls Safari Lodge is located. It is a splendid hotel – the design and decor were created to evoke east African colors, feel and look. A keen eye for detail in the design is evident - hardwoods, thatch, vibrant colors.


Set high on a natural plateau, the westward facing Victoria Falls Safari Lodge borders the Zambezi National Park and is just four kilometers from the thundering Victoria Falls. The hotel has a stellar reputation for leisure and business tourism and is equipped with state-of-the-art conference facilities and boardrooms.

There are limited family accommodation options within the hotel itself but the star attraction on the property for families is Lokuthula. This luxurious self-catering RCI time-share resort consists of 37 rustic thatched lodges, a mere four kilometers from the spectacular Falls. Lokuthula is surrounded by 80,000 hectares of unspoiled African bush and borders the unfenced Zambezi National Park.


Flight of the angels

After a nap it's off for a heart-stopping helicopter flip over the Falls, lasting about 12 minutes. I sit next to the pilot and once I've overcome most of my panic attacks, I allow the awe of the Falls from this vantage point to envelop me. The more adventurous would love this but keep in mind, it's not cheap…

The sense of Man's insignificance rushes at me with visceral and raw ferocity in the face of one of the magnificent Wonders of the World beneath me. The thundering falling water goes on for miles and it looks to me like a place where the earth broke.

The list of things to do at Victoria Falls is long and caters to both adrenaline junkies and leisurely types like me.

Dinner is at the Boma on the premises of the Lodge. With a myriad of international awards under its belt, this authentic African dining experience is something to behold. The food is buffet style; you choose your dish and everything is cooked right in front of you. It is carnivore heaven with everything from impala to crocodile and ostrich meat, but the restaurant also caters for vegetarians. And the drumming show is stupendous.

Luxury safari camp

The next morning Jonathan personally drives us to our next destination, the Hide Safari Camp in Hwange National Park, a three-hour drive through the African bush on relatively good roads. The Hide is a Zimbabwe safari lodge with a difference - a comfortable, tented safari camp inside the majestic surroundings of the park.

The eight luxury furnished tents, each with its own en-suite bathroom, are charming and very comfortable with a view of the pristine bush and the waterhole. Recent renovations have seen the tents upgraded to accommodate honeymooners and one tent can accommodate a family of four. The highlights of the game drive later in the afternoon are elephant and four lazy male lions.

Bumi Hills

The following day an adventure awaits as well as history in the making. We check in for a Solenta Aviation flight transporting us from Hwange to Lake Kariba's Bumi Hills in Zimbabwe. This smooth 50-minute trip is the first of many convenient flights now scheduled as a result of Solenta Aviation and Africa Albida Tourism introducing two new routes, between Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Bumi Hills, and Harare, Kariba, Bumi Hills. The panoramic views are spectacular and to mark the inaugural flight, we are welcomed on Bumi Hills' landing strip with champagne and cheers supplied by Bumi Hills Safari Lodge management team – very grand.

Elephant seen from Victoria Falls Safari Lodge (COURTESY OF AFRICAALBIDATOURISM.COM)

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is a revelation. It is situated on top of a hill approximately 55km south west of Kariba town. With the Zambezi escarpment as its backdrop, the well-known Bumi Hills Safari Lodge overlooks the vastness of Lake Kariba. Each of the 20 bedrooms has a view of the lake and game can be seen grazing on the shoreline below from the premium rooms. There's loads to do: go to the crocodile farm or fishing, go on game drives or a boat cruise, play snooker, do the cultural village tour or the walking safaris.

We go on a sunset cruise later that afternoon and a spot of bream fishing. As we watch hordes of impala running from the crocs for dear life from one island to the other – created by the recent floods – I find myself running smack bang into a myriad of clichés in my head.

Africa awakens in me inexplicably contrasting emotions – a profound yearning and simultaneously a deep sense of peace. But that's Africa – eclectic, overwhelming; it transcends the intellect and defies reason. So until I return, au revoir beautiful Zimbabwe…

Getting there:

There are no direct flights between China and Zimbabwe as yet, but there are daily flights between China and South Africa. From South Africa a number of airlines fly to Zimbabwe daily including South African Airways.


Vic Falls Safari Lodge:

Tel : (+263-13) 43211/20

Fax : (+263-13) 43205/7

E-mail : Saflodge@saflodge.co.zw

Tel: (+263-11)207381/2

Cell: (+ 27) 82 879 6450

The Hide SafariCamp:

Tel: +263-4-498545 or 498560

Fax: +263-4-498480

Email: info@thehide.com

Websites: www.thehide.com www.africaalbidatourism.com

For general information about the Vic falls go to www.gotovictoriaflls.com


For more information and online bookings contact: bookings@solenta.com or www.solenta.com

Package routes will be made available shortly via Africa Albida Tourism to all tour operators. Visit www.africaalbidatourism.com for further information on these properties.

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