The Traveller's Friend : Travel the Zambezi - Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Monday, 30 September 2013

New issue online

Latest issue of the Zambezi Traveller (Issue 14, September 2013) is now online to browse and download from our website -

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Ilala wins Zim On A Plate award

The Executive Chef Anele Dube from Ilala Lodge and his team are once again the winners of the Zimbabwe on a Plate Deluxe Restaurant Category award. This is the second year in a row that Ilala have won this award. In June 2013 Ilala lodge introduced a new menu, and the food served is being well received.

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Victoria Falls

Thursday, 26 September 2013

New issue of Zambezi Traveller out now across region

Zambezi Traveller - The Traveller's Friend

Download the latest issue (Issue 14, September 2014) here.

The Hide early bird special

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The Hide Safari Canp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

The Hide Safari Camp has earned its reputation as an excellent safari destination, for both the exceptional wildlife experience and the hospitality it offers.

We are delighted to share our Early Bird special offer with you to entice you and your guests to share in the experience of The Hide Safari Camp.

Book and Pay in full within 30 days and receive a further 10% off of your rates!

Offer valid: 01 October 2013 to 31 March 2014.

Valid for new enquiries only. 50% refund of the full price up to 90 days prior to travel/arrival date is applicable for cancellations. The 30 days starts from the day of the enquiry for availability.

Please don't hestiate to contact us for any additional information or any assistance you may need. We look forward to hearing from you!

Best regards
Gavin and Kim
The Hide Safari Camp

Proud Recipients of the AZTA "BEST SAFARI CAMP 2013" in Zimbabwe for the 15th Year!

Read more about the region in our destination guide:

Friday, 20 September 2013

Victoria Falls Bungee Jump Celebrates 20 years of thrills

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Victoria Falls Bungee

Victoria Falls Airport & Border Crossing delays

Notice from Victoria Falls activity and accommodation provider Wild Horizons

'We are experiencing long delays at both Victoria Falls Airport, on arrival, and at the Kazungula border post. The delays are brought about by the increase in the volume of traffic using these facilities in peak season. Guests on scheduled services, in particular, need to be advised that they may experience delays on arrival at Victoria Falls Airport. We have employed additional staff, who will be placed at the airport, and amended our MO in order to ensure these delays are minimized, however this will not reduce the time guests spend in immigration queues. We will also be offering complimentary bottled water on incoming airport transfers during these hot periods.

In addition to the delays experienced, summer has arrived in full force and daytime temperatures are reaching the high thirties. This is adding to the frustration of guests standing in long queues at border facilities.

We are confident that if guests are pre warned of the possible delays it will go some way to reducing their frustrations. Please do contact us, should you require any further information.'

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Wild Horizons Activities
Wild Horizons Accommodation

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The healing powers of Aloes (ZT09, June 2012)

From the Zambezi Traveller online article archive.

The healing powers of Aloes
By Evelyn Roe, Photographs by Helen Pickering

Aloe cryptopoda

History records the importance of aloe plants: Alexander the Great conquered the island of Socotra for its extensive Aloe vera plantations; according to the Bible, the body of Jesus was wrapped in aloe leaves when removed from the cross; and the victims of atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were successfully treated for radiation burns with aloe leaf gel.

Aloe plants have succulent leaves made of two main parts: the green outer rind, which contains vessels that release a bitter yellow latex when cut; and the inner colourless pulp, which can be removed like a fillet to prepare aloe leaf gel from the liquid inside the cells. The latex contains aloin, a powerful laxative, whereas the watery gel consists of a wide range of compounds that assist in healing damaged skin and internal membranes, and in balancing the immune system.

Aloe chabaudii

Centuries of anecdotal evidence support Aloe vera’s therapeutic properties, which scientists have long sought to understand in terms of individual chemical components. Recent research shows that the effectiveness of aloe gel comes from the synergistic action of many types of molecules, rather than a single compound, and its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic (and many other) properties have been verified, if not fully understood.

Aloe cryptopoda

Zambia has 21 of the world's 400 or so aloe species, six of which occur in Southern Province: Aloe excelsa (also known as Zimbabwe aloe), is found in this country in only one locality in Kafue Gorge and is therefore listed as ‘Vulnerable’ in Zambia's Red Data List. The others are A. chabaudii, A. christianii, A. cryptopoda, A. greatheadii, and A. zebrina.

Aloe zebrina

Local uses include adding aloe gel to chickens' drinking water to treat a range of diseases, and dipping poultry in a leaf infusion to discourage parasites. The nectar-filled flowers are edible and can be dried and pressed into cakes.

I often harvest gel from A. chabaudii to treat dry or sunburned skin, and perhaps other local species could be used beneficially, but do not ingest aloe gel unless it has been tested for safe internal use.

More articles in this series:
Rainforest Riches (ZT, Issue 13, June 2013)
Berry banquet (ZT, Issue 12, March 2013)
Marvellous Mangoes (ZT, Issue 11, December 2012)
Underground Forests (ZT, Issue 10, September 2012)
The healing powers of Aloes (ZT, Issue 09, June 2012)
Dogbane Drugs (ZT, Issue 08, March 2012)
Devil’s Claw (ZT, Issue 07, December 2011)
Elephant Toothpicks (ZT, Issue 06, Sept 2011)

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The BaTonga Impande

The origins of the beautiful impande beads are lost in history, but they are still worn today by the BaTonga and are rich in cultural and mystical significance.

The BaTonga people of Zimbabwe and Zambia are part of the Bantu ethnic group, related to the Tokaleya, and call themselves the Bantu Botatwe or ‘three-tribe people,’ with BaTonga also found in Mozambique and Malawi. They are thought to have lived in the region since at least 1100 AD and possibly even since Stone Age times. The word Tonga is derived from a Shona word meaning independent.

David Livingstone first met the BaTonga over 140 years ago on his travels to the region and found them to be a culture steeped in ancestral worship and other occult practices. Up until the 1950s they continued to live very separate from the outside world, retaining their traditional values and lifestyle. The construction of the Kariba Dam wall led to more than 57 000 people being relocated, resulting in a severe disruption to their way of life.

The BaTonga have a rich oral history and many unique customs and beliefs. They traded extensively with Portuguese explorers based in Mozambique, with high value placed upon beads as a form of ethnographic money, exchanged for gold, ivory and other goods. To the local people, the Portuguese traders were known as ‘those who scattered beads among the people in front of palaces.’

This demand for beads led the Portuguese to create a bead especially for trade in this region and as a result, the local BaTonga people have a unique and rare ‘trade bead’ as an integral part of their culture. The half cosmos or impande bead is a three-corned triangular bead, embossed with half circle markings, thought to date back to the early 1600s in origin and produced and traded up to the 1900s.

Very little is known about the impande beads, as they are found in such a limited area, and there is speculation as to whether they were made in Venice or possibly in India, Holland or Czechoslovakia. The design is thought to be taken from that of the conus shell ndoro, which was also highly valued in trade.

Over time, the impande came to be associated with status and supernatural powers. The BaTonga did not have a formalised chieftain position, but rather lived as family groups, led by spiritual leaders. These leaders were believed to be rainmakers, with a spirituality associated with the moon. It is thought by some scholars that the markings on the impande are linked to the pattern of the TabwaBalamwezi (the rising of the new moon).

A traditional rainmaker, Joseph Chooka, said that he wore the impande “so that people know I am the one who asks for rain in this place, for I have rain spirits.” Traditional healers soaked impande in milk to make eye medications, and historically Tonga women have worn the impande behind their necks in order to protect their babies.

An excellent collection of these rare ndoros and impande is on display at The Jafuta Heritage Centre, part of the Elephant's Walk Village. The origins of these beautiful beads are lost in history, but they are still worn today by the BaTonga and used locally by The Ndau Collection in creating one of a kind jewellery – a piece of Africa’s past brought to life.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 10, Sept 2012)

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
The Ndau Collection
Elephant's Walk Shopping Village

Thursday, 12 September 2013

CLZ Zambezi Teaser, Lusaka

Zambezi Teaser
The Deli, Lusaka
Teams of 6-8
Book your team now:

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Conservation Lower Zambezi

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Let’s dance! Mwedzi Muchena – the Clear Moon Arts Ensemble

From the Zambezi Traveller online Article Archive.

After enjoying a traditional dance performance given by Mwedzi Muchena, a tribal dance group, Usch Pilz, a German writer and translator who spends several weeks each year in Zimbabwe, took the opportunity to talk to two members of the ensemble. Pardon Kanda and Simbarashe Chilenga from Mwedzi Muchena were happy to answer her questions.

UP: I just watched your performance …
SC: We hope you liked it!

UP: I did – especially the harvest dance. It was very lively, and one of your guys was even breathing fire.
PK: We use fire because a good harvest calls for a big celebration. Something special.

UP: How do you choose the dances for your repertoire?
SC: We want to give people an idea of our traditional Zimbabwean culture, and there is a dance for almost every important occasion: A hunting dance, a war victory dance and – of course – a lovers’ dance.

UP: How long is a typical performance?
PK: That really depends on what the client wants us to do.
SC: It also differs with the audience. Sometimes tourists have a tight schedule and are happy with just a brief insight into our culture.
PK: And other times people want to celebrate and ask for more music and dancing, even after our show is completed.

UP: Just now the reaction of the audience was really interesting.
SC: Yes, people from African countries often simply get up and join in.
PK: Visitors from overseas are sometimes happy to just watch, but there are times when they are very eager to participate. We love that and encourage it.

UP: The name of your group …
PK: We call ourselves the Mwedzi Muchena Arts Ensemble. Mwedzi Muchena means ‘Clear Moon’.
SC: Because nights with a clear moon are nights for celebration.

UP: Tell me more about the ensemble.
SC: We have been together for about a year, but all of us have been involved with traditional dancing and music before.
PK: Most group members have known each other a long time. But some new dancers have just arrived from Harare. That means extra rehearsals …

UP: The instruments you feature …
PK: Our drums are the driving force. They power our dancing and make people move …
SC: And then we have the mbira for the quieter moments. The mbira is a very old and spiritual instrument. We think, especially our foreign guests should see it, hear it and know about it. This instrument is traditionally used for communication with the spirit world.

UP: But how about this world in the here and now? Can you make a living with the work you do?
PK: It is very hard, and we are not quite there yet. I give drumming lessons and do fire shows as well. Sometimes I teach gymnastics or help other artists with their training.

UP: Pardon, I think, I have seen you on TV!
PK: (laughs) Yes, together with a friend I was hired to do a fire show for a German production called Million Dollar Model. We were breathing fire and juggling with fire for a whole day while the models were posing for the cameras.

UP: How about you, Simba? What’s your background?
SC: I have always wanted to dance. Even as a little boy. I was lucky: My mum was a performer as well, and she took me along, but I had to behave. Later I studied performing arts at the Zimbabwe College of Music in Harare for three years. That’s where I learned more about choreography, script writing, poetry and theatre. I think that knowledge is useful when we plan a performance.

UP: What do you think – what makes clients book your group?
SC: We hope they see the dedication and commitment of Mwedzi Muchena. We are trying to improve our performance all the time and take every single gig very seriously. A performance has to be powerful to be successful.

UP: And what is your biggest success so far?
PK: We have managed to secure a contract for greeting clients who do sunset-cruises. But we also perform in restaurants, hotels and at private functions.

UP: What are the future plans of the Mwedzi Muchena Arts Ensemble?
SC: First of all we need to do some more work on our kits and costumes, even get more drums. We would also like to offer awareness programs for local communities as well as sharing our culture with visitors from abroad.
PK: Training for other musicians and artists is an option as well. And of course, we hope to perform at festivals and functions with international visitors.

UP: You seem to be very focussed and busy.
PK: Yes, sometimes there is not even enough time to sleep.
SC: But sometimes, after work, we go dancing in a club. Just for fun.

Contact details for Mwedzi Muchena and the author of the article:
Pardon Kanda:; +263776606376
Simbarashe Chilenga:; +263775631531
Usch Pilz: +49 7144 334711

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 12, March 2013)

Full Moon Magic

Wild Horizons Full Moon Canopy Tour - 18 & 19 Sept 2013

Dates – 18 & 19 September 2013
Pick Up from Victoria Falls Town/Hotels – 8.00pm
Maximum participants – 16
Minimum Age - 8 years
Drop off - Approx. 10.00pm
Cost - US$ 60.00 per person

More on Wild Horizons from the Zambezi Traveller:
We are apes after all! (ZT Issue 13, June 2013)
Birds-eye ‘Canopy Tour’ announced (ZT, Issue 12, March 2013)

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Wild Horizons Activities

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Victoria Falls

Sunday, 8 September 2013

All about AWF

Read all about the work of the African Wildlife Foundation on the Zambezi Traveller online Travel Directory.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Friends Of Hwange Trust Appeal for Support

Hwange National Park is again very dry this year and needs support.

The residents of Bulawayo are doing all they can through Wildlife Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ) but they can't do it alone.

At the moment we have a drilling rig in the Park cleaning out a few critical boreholes but we need to do more and whilst the rig is there it would be great if we could find the money to do a few more to make the exercise worthwhile.

Friends of Hwange Trust is doing all it can keeping the pumps going. We held a fundraising dinner in May and although we raised a reasonable sum of money it is not enough to get the Park through the dry season and definitely not enough to spend on major rehabilitation like the work being done at the moment on the boreholes.

If you are in a position to support this great National Park by generously donating please do so as a matter of urgency.

To arrange a donation please e-mail or give Dave a call on (Zim) 0712 630152 so we can take you through the online or cash donation process and thank you. Lets see what we can do!

Friends of Hwange Trust

Read more about the region in our destination guide:

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Livingstone's Falls

A watercolour of the Victoria Falls and Gorge drawn by David Livingstone in one of his sketch books. It is believed that Livingstone drew the picture on August 9 or between September 18-27, 1860. Measurements and layout are incredibly accurate. Source: The Livingstone Museum Archives.