Ep13 Zimbabwe, Jewel of Africa

Aug 3, 2020

Ep13

Hello World!

Welcome to episode 13.

16-October-2019 Wednesday.

The next leg of our journey was to Victoria Falls International Airport, Zimbabwe. If we had traveled by land, we would have to travel through Botswana. Instead we flew from Cape Town International Airport, South Africa to Victoria Falls International Airport, Zimbabwe, just under 3 hours.

Flight from South Africa to Zimbabwe

Flight from Cape Town, South Africa to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

We boarded a small plane towards Zimbabwe

We boarded a small plane towards Zimbabwe


Victoria Falls Airport to Elephant Hills Resort

From Victoria Falls International Airport, it was over 20 mins to get to our home for the next 2 nights,  Elephant Hills Resort

 

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe, officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, was formerly know as Rhodesia. Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa, between the Zambezi, bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique.  Zimbabwe was once known as the “Jewel of Africa” for its great prosperity.

 

Zimbabwe Landscape

Flying over Victoria Falls Airport, Zimbabwe, we saw a dry and open landscape so different from the South African landscape. We were awe struck by the vastness of the land and how magnificently beautiful it still can be in the dry season (Aug to Oct).

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe from the sky

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe from the sky

Zimbabwe, there is a dry season. The vastness of the land in the dry season is beautiful in its own way.

Zimbabwe, there is a dry season (Aug to Oct). The vastness of the land in the dry season is beautiful in its own way.

Welcome to Zimbabwe Victoria Falls International Airport.

Welcome to Zimbabwe Victoria Falls International Airport.

On the ground traveling towards Elephant Hills Resort.

The land looks so dry when we were on the ground traveling towards Elephant Hills Resort. We wondered how people live in such harsh and dry conditions. 

The dryness of the land and the birds nests all along the way.

The dryness of the land and the birds’ nests all along the way was an unusual sight.

 

Elephant Hills Resort

From the Victoria Falls Airport, we were greeted with 3 small vans. Our drivers drove us to Elephant Hills Resort. This would be our comfortable home for the next two nights. The resort is situated on a small hill overlooking the Zambezi River, 4 km upstream from the Victoria Falls. Elephant Hills Resort boasts an 18-hole championship golf course. The resort is situated in a wide area where wild animals share the grounds. We saw wild warthog, impala, guinea fowl on the grounds and monkeys came to visit right outside our balcony. We were reminded not to feed the animals and not to get close to them. Sometimes, it felt like we were in a zoo together with the wild animals and had to co-exist with them on the beautiful grounds. It was a little frightening being in such proximity to them. We wondered what it is like to walk the 18-hole golf course only to meet these wild animals.

We settled into our rooms, explored the resort grounds. Some of us had a swim in the welcoming swimming pool, while others relaxed in the bar with an afternoon bite and drink. The resort was situated on such huge grounds, and there was plenty to see, explore, and relax before our next itinerary.

The beautiful grounds of Elephant Hills Resort

The beautiful grounds of Elephant Hills Resort

A warthog happily grazing on the grounds just outside of our hotel room.

A warthog happily grazing on the grounds just outside of our hotel room. It was initially frightening to have wild animals so close by on the grounds, but we got used to it.

Someone from above us dropped a bag of peanuts and monkeys came to visit right outside our balcony. We had to quickly close our balcony door and stay inside.

Someone from above us dropped a bag of peanuts and monkeys came to visit right outside our balcony. We had to quickly close our balcony door and stay inside.

The beautiful swimming pool on a hot day was very enticing.

The beautiful swimming pool on a hot day was very enticing.

The huge grounds at Elephant Hill Resort.

The huge grounds at Elephant Hill Resort.

Some beautifully carved stones that were displayed and on sale.

Some beautifully carved stones that were displayed and on sale.

Peter in the foyer, with the beautifully stoned flooring.

Peter in the foyer, with the beautifully stoned flooring.

A panoramic view of the Outdoor Pool and Indoor Bar with elaborate sitting area.

A panoramic view of the Outdoor Pool and Indoor Bar with elaborate sitting area.

The huge trunk of the Mahogany Tree.

The huge trunk of the Mahogany Tree.

Wa-Nuka Queen Zambezi River Cruise

In the later part of the evening, we enjoyed a 2-hour sunset cruise at the Wa-Nuka Queen Zambezi River Cruise. The sunset cruise is geared to showcase a magnificent sunset while also enjoy a sip a sun downer and some light snacks. Cruising along the Zambezi River is an experience that creates lasting memories and includes sightings of hippo and crocodile and any other species that congregates on the banks to quench their thirst. Where there is water there is life and seeing a wild and untamed landscape from the comfort of a boat is a must do experience in this magical part of the world in Zimbabwe. It was truly a different experience that made our journey so memorable.

Welcome to the Wa-nuka Queen Zambezi River Cruises

Welcome to the Wa-nuka Queen Zambezi River Cruises

Welcome dance with the locals while onboarding the boat.

Welcome dance with the locals while onboarding the boat.

We boarded the 60-seater Wa-nuka Queen boat. They truly live up to their name, being queens of the river in the Lozi language.

We boarded the 60-seater Wa-nuka Queen boat. They truly live up to their name, being queens of the river in the Lozi language.

A cocktail drink to welcome us on-board.

A cocktail drink to welcome us on-board.

Chief of the Wa-nuka Queen boat, making sure we behave. One of our participants did loose a cap due to the wind to the river, but our trusted steward and his men retrieved the cap with a long stick.

Chief of the Wa-nuka Queen boat, making sure we behave. One of our participants did loose a cap due to the wind to the river, but our trusted captain and his men retrieved the cap with a long stick.

The Boat Captain and his trusted stewards on board to guide the boat and serve us well.

The Boat Captain and his trusted stewards on board to guide the boat. They provided excellent service and we were very well taken care of.

 

The River Cruise provided a much different perspective of the animals

The River Cruise experience is totally different from a land safari. We enjoyed the lovely evening breeze. The smooth rocking from the boat was very soothing. The excitement of catching a glimpse of the animals along the river or in the water was exhilarating. This is a must experience while in Africa as it is so magnificent and different from a land safari.

Elephant on the banks of the river.

Elephant on the banks of the river.

A family of elephants going across the river. Oh what a beautiful sight.

A family of elephants going across the river. Oh what a beautiful sight.

A whole family of hippopotamus in the river.

A whole family of hippopotamus in the river.

The sandy banks off the river. Where are the crocodiles?

The sandy banks off the river. Where are the crocodiles?

A crocodile lying on the banks of the river.

A crocodile lying on the banks of the river.

Sunset on the River Cruise

The beautiful sunset colors on a River Cruise shows the beauty of the country in a totally different light.

The beautiful sunset colors on a River Cruise shows the beauty of the country in a totally different light.

The majestic sunset colors sparkling on the water.

The majestic sunset colors sparkling on the water.

The sunset and the river, intertwined to make an experience that is so relaxing and magnificent.

The sunset and the river, intertwined to make an experience that is so relaxing and magnificent.

The sunset colors getting a deeper red as it turns in.

The sunset colors getting a deeper red as it turns in.

The golden red colors of the sunset is so glorious.

The golden red colors of the sunset is so glorious.

Goodbye Chief

Goodbye Chief

A relaxing dinner at Elephant Hills Restaurant

After the fantastic Zambezi River cruise experience, our drivers took us back to the hotel for an evening dinner at the Elephant Hills Restaurant. We enjoyed dinner which was filled with an assortment of food that we could enjoy. After dinner, we enjoyed browsing around the hotel grounds before retreating to our hotel rooms to relax and retire early for the next day’s big waterfalls adventure.

Summary of our Day

Zimbabwe is a uniquely different country with different culture and languages. We struck up conversations with the locals (our housekeeper, servers, bar attendants, tour operators) and discovered that life can be difficult in this harsh land and economy. Our housekeeper shared that her husband had been killed as a Mahout. A mahout is an elephant rider, trainer, or keeper. He had worked in the Elephant sanctuary. As a result, she has to care for the family as a single mum. She has to leave her village and her children to seek employment. She shares accommodation with several others outside of the resort grounds.

As we look around the nearby towns and tourist peddlers, we realize that real local life is not easy. In the luxury of our resort, we have come to recognize that the lives of locals is far from the comfort of our resort. We also realize that the locals respect and learn to live with the wild animals as they are everywhere and it is impossible to keep them out.

The River cruise is one tourist service that has given much revenue to the locals. Zimbabwe recorded 2,6 million international tourist arrivals in 2018, 6 percent up from 2,4 million received in 2017. Zimbabwe is developing a road map to grow the tourism sector to a US$6 billion industry by 2023.

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