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

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Update on new terminal at Victoria Falls International Airport

On Thursday 22nd May, The Airport Manager, Mr Ronnie Masawi invited members of the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe to a guided tour and site inspection of the new terminal at Victoria Falls International Airport.

The construction of the new terminal is well underway, with the 3rd and final floor of the terminal building, as well as the new 4km (60m wide) runway already nearing the final stages of construction. The runway is scheduled for completion by the end of 2014, when it will be opened in order to make provisions for the upgrading of the current runway (which will be turned into a taxi-way) as well as the extension of the current apron to out in-front of the new terminal building. The new terminal is set to open in June/July of 2015.

The refurbishment and upgrade of Vic Falls International will see the airport, as a facility, upgraded to a ‘Category 2’ airport, which means that it is a very modern airport when it comes to the navigational and safety facilities that it will offer, including an ILS (Instrument Landing System) which will enable pilots to land in either direction in periods of low visibility. Dubai International Airport is also a ‘category 2’ airport. The upgrade involves the construction of a new fire station as well as an entirely new water management infrastructure, including a new 8000m3 reservoir.

The new runway will be able to accommodate all wide-bodied aircraft, up to and including the Airbus A380 Superjumbo – however, as Mr Masawi explained to the visiting group, this does not mean that the terminal building is equipped to accommodate an A380 when it comes to ground handling logistics such as catering and baggage handling. No mention was made as to which airlines are confirmed to have new services scheduled into Victoria Falls once the new terminal building is operational.

There will be 12 customs & immigration desks in the new terminal, which is very welcome news, and is sure to relieve the pressure from the mere two that exist in the current terminal building. The current terminal will also undergo a refurbishment, and will then become a fully-fledged domestic terminal. Mr Masawi also indicated that part of the new domestic terminal upgrade will include the construction of a baggage carousel – (There will be three carousels in the arrivals hall of the new terminal). The new terminal will accommodate up to 1.2 million passengers per annum, and the domestic terminal up to 800,000.

Part of the design of the new terminal will include a large circular patio area (in-permissible, enclosed with glass) which will separate the check-in area from baggage collection section on the ground floor, as well as allow ample natural light to fall into the terminal. As is the case with most modern airports, there are no plans to include a smoking lounge or viewing platform.

Mr Ronnie Masawi and his group of contractors and engineers seem to be running a tight ship, and appear to be sticking to their schedule. The construction site of both the terminal and the runway are in a neat and tidy condition, and the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe would like to commend all those involved on what appears to be a massive project, and one that is being handled and conducted in a most professional manner.

From the May Wild Horizons Newsletter.

Zambezi Traveller Directory
Wild Horizons Accommodation
Wild Horizons Activities

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Raincoats for the rainforest - Wild Horizons help Victoria Falls traders

Wild Horizons, in its bid to empower local indigenous businesses and give back to local communities, has for the past 2 years assisted more than 20 families by coming up with an initiative collaboration which enables vendors at the rainforest to stay in business, stay productive, and maintain an income for them and their families.

Wild Horizons purchases 100 raincoats per year which are then donated to the Rainforest Vendors Association. This is done to ensure quality of the product and ensure that service to Wild Horizons customers is not compromised. Wild Horizons then gets priority to hire the raincoats back from the vendors for their guests' Tour of the Falls. The Association is free to sub-hire the coats to any other clients/companies when not in use by Wild Horizons.

In return, the Association’s obligations are to ensure that they are guardians of the raincoats, and that they are clean (washed and disinfected daily), folded and neatly presented to the clients.

This is just one of many similar projects that we support. Wild Horizons believes that it is small initiatives like this that empower and improve the lives of local people, to whom we owe a solid commitment of corporate social responsibility.

From the May Wild Horizons Newsletter.

Zambezi Traveller Directory
Wild Horizons Accommodation
Wild Horizons Activities

Friday, 23 May 2014

Dr. Vandana Shiva visits Zimbabwe

From 6 to 7 June 2014, eminent scientist and environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva from Dehli, India will be visiting Harare.

Born to a father who was the conservator of forests in the valley of Dehran Dun and to a farmer mother with a love for nature, Dr Shiva trained as a physicist and received her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the University of Western Ontario, Canada in 1978. She later went to undertake interdisciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore.

In 1982, she formed the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology. This led to the creation, in 1993, of Navdanya, a network to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources (biodiversity), especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. Dr Shiva is very concerned about the effect of genetically engineered (GE) organisms on the environment, food sovereignty and the rights of farmers.

She is the author of thirteen books and over 300 articles and has been presented with numerous awards, among which are: the Right Livelihood (1993), the Order of the Golden Ark (1993), the Save the World Award (2009), the Sydney Peace Prize (2010) and Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize (2012). During her visit to Zimbabwe, Dr Shiva will share her ideas and experiences with people from all sectors of society, including key decision-makers, smallholder farmer organizations and the media. She will address a public meeting on Saturday 7 June at 2 pm at Book Cafe. The same event will display the work being done by smallholder farmers in promoting healthy indigenous foods and biodiversity through saving seeds from a wide range of crops. Admission will be free.

The trip will be sponsored by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). AFSA champions small African family farming/production systems based on agro-ecological and indigenous approaches that sustain food sovereignty and the livelihoods of communities.

For more information contact Anna Brazier on email abrazier@mango.zw and mobile 0773 267 351

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sylvester makes the headlines

Sylvester, the orphaned cheetah rescued as a cub and now looked after by the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, has made headlines in the UK national press for the incredible bond formed with his handler, Ed Oelofse.

Earlier this week the UK Daily Mail featured an article on Sylvester and Ed. We've picked some highlights here, but visit the Daily Mail website for the full article here.

More from the Zambezi Traveller:
Introducing Sylvester - Cheetah Ambassador, Victoria Falls (Zambezi Traveller, Issue 10, Sept 2012)

Friday, 16 May 2014

WTM Africa adds even more experience to the SA team

WTM Africa adds even more experience to the SA team

Building on the success of the inaugural World Travel Market Africa (WTM) Thebe Reed Exhibitions are already full steam ahead in preparations for a bigger and better event for 2015. With this in mind industry specialist, Sheree Simpson, has been appointed to head up the team as General Manager for WTM Africa effective 15 May 2015.

Sheree joins Thebe Reed Exhibitions with a diverse and impressive resume that spans over 25 years. She has played important roles within relevant associations such as TBCSA, SATSA and TEP, she has ran her own business concerns and has occupied several senior positions with well known travel and tourism companies such as the Mantis Collection and Protea Hospitality.

Carol Weaving, Managing Director of Thebe Reed Exhibitions said, “WTM Africa, alongside the other 2 events that make up Africa Travel Week (ILTM Africa and IBTM Africa), is poised to play a huge role in the development and upliftment of tourism on the African continent and Sheree brings a wealth of knowledge and diverse experience to our team. We are delighted to welcome her on board and we are excited about the future of WTM Africa. It is obvious that Sheree has the expertise and energy required to take this premier event into the future.”

Agreeing with Carol, Sheree was enthusiastic about her new appointment saying, “I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to work with such a prestigious brand and to do my bit to enhance the tourism offering to bring the world to Africa and Africa to the world. I am really looking forward to leading an already talented team to deliver the best of what WTM Africa has to offer in 2015 and beyond.”

WTM Africa concluded on 3 May with over 350 exhibiting companies and 500 qualified buyers attending over 5 300 pre-scheduled appointments bringing the world to Africa and promoting Africa to the world’s leading source markets.

Next year’s event will see the show extend to three days in order to provide increased opportunities for buyers and exhibitors to meet and conduct business.

WTM Africa 2015 will take place from 15 – 17 April at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Zambezi Traveller Directory
African Travel Market

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Sinamatella update from the Bhejane Trust (May 2014)

By Stephen Long (from the Bhejane Trust May 2014 Newsletter)

My suggestion, back in March, that the rainy season had come to an early close was (of course) as accurate as most weather forecasts and we had 22mm of rain in April. That gives us a total of 599mm for the season.

In spite of that rainfall, the change of season has been very noticeable. Apart from the obvious drying out of the grass, we have also seen the arrival of part of the buffalo herd that will spend much of the winter along the Sinamatella and Mbala rivers, the Palaearctic migratory birds have departed and Crowned Hornbills, Pied Crows and Golden Orioles, all of which are much more common or perhaps more obvious in the dry season have arrived. The game viewing has improved a little but there is still a great deal of long grass and sights such as this lion that sat nicely out in the open at Mandavu are few and far between.

For the second year running there has been a season-end plague of stink bugs. It hasn’t been quite as bad as last year (yet) but even so there are thousands of them searching for places to hibernate, both in and out of the house and their smell is everywhere.

BIRDING

Back in February last year we started taking part in the Southern Africa Bird Atlas Project and, with the encouragement of the Parks Ecologist at Sinamatella, we involved a number of the rangers as well. In April this year the 100th Atlas card for the Sinamatella area was completed and we now have a reliable team of atlassers amongst the rangers. In fact, data comes in faster than I am able to deal with it and I have a backlog of cards waiting to be submitted to the project – something I would not have imagined when we started.

ROADS

Visitors to Sinamatella often complain about the state of the roads – with some justification as lack of equipment and funding has severely cut road maintenance in recent years. This year the Parks Authority has found the funding needed to get the Sinamatella road grader back in working order and to hire contract workers for a few months to do some road repairs. So far the road from Mbala gate to Sinamatella has been graded and some of the bush has been cut back and a team of rangers has cut back overhanging bush along the Sinamatella River Drive and bypassed the bridge that was recently destroyed by rain. The new river crossing is not for the fainthearted and certainly isn’t good for anything but a 4x4.

There is an obvious need for a great deal more road work around the area and I’m afraid that the days of roads suitable for ordinary road-cars will not be back in a hurry but any improvement is a bonus.

RHINO

With the arrival of our ‘new’ Land Rover in March, we were able to introduce, for a while at least, a mobile monitoring team to search for our elusive rhino. We travelled to quite a number of outlying places during the month but the closest we got to any rhino was finding two or three-day old spoor. There is still far too much grass in most places for spoor to be easily visible and there is so much water around that the animals, of all species, are still able to move more or less anywhere. However, at the start of April there were few reports of rhino movements from rangers on patrol but towards month end many more reports were received so we are confident we can start bumping up the total of ‘visuals’ very soon.

During April there were more poaching scares from the Zambezi and Robins areas and it has become clear that the ‘front line’ in the poaching war has moved away from Sinamatella and is now focussed on the safer (from the poachers’ point of view) places along the Botswana and Zambian borders where elephants are a cost-effective alternative to rhino. At first sight that sounds like fairly good news but in fact it is creating a manpower problem as anti-poaching at Sinamatella can by no means be safely reduced but at the same time more trained manpower is needed elsewhere.

VEHICLES Back to the doom and gloom this month! In the March newsletter I suggested that our “new” Land Rover would inevitably give us troubles and unfortunately that was one prediction that I got absolutely right. Early in April we had problems with wheel bearings – which were easily solved, a shock absorber mounting broke off - also fairly easy to solve but the injector pump went wrong and that wasn’t at all easy to solve. We eventually had to send the vehicle to Victoria Falls for repair and at the end of the month it was still there, waiting for a new pump. At the same time, our Land Cruiser started complaining that it needed some care. I took it to Bulawayo for spares but I was so nervous of one tie-rod end in particular that I took a chance on no-one at any of the many road blocks being alert and tied it with rope as a back-up. Not really necessary as it turned out but it stopped me worrying on the journey to town. The worst problem of all though is tyres. Between the 3rd of February and the 23rd of April we repaired an average of one puncture every two days mainly because of worn tyres and both the Cruiser and the Defender are in desperate need. We can not continue as we are for much longer – these are some of the things we are currently driving on……

That they have lasted so long is a tribute to the manufacturer – but it does make life difficult sometimes!!

Website:
Bhejane Trust

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Chamabonda update from Bhejane Trust (May 2014)

By Trevor Lane (from the Bhejane Trust May 2014 Newsletter)

We have been doing ongoing maintenance work in the field – the old firebreaks that cross the park have been opened up – they have not been used for many years. Bush clearing of Terminalia around Thomsons pan was undertaken, plus a general tidying up of growth at the solar unit sites and at No 3 base.

The new solar pump unit for No1 was acquired. A frame was made up and the panels and pump imported. This was all assembled at No 1.

However, we discovered a problem when putting down the pump – when Management Unit from Umtshibi was here for the release of wildebeest, etc, they somehow dropped the pump and rods into the hole and did not bother to fish them out. This means we only have two meters of water – the borehole has gone from 32m to 15m deep!

We are test pumping with the solar pump to see if it will produce enough water, and, if not, will try and make a plan to fish the pipes out, or if it comes to the worst, to drill a new borehole.

One issue we are facing is the sudden increase in elephant population in the Chamabonda – they are sucking the water troughs dry at all three water points every evening and the first couple of hours of daylight pumping are just to replenish the troughs!

Bream back in the Chamabonda! When one reads the old wardens reports on the Chambonda, they talk about fishing for bream in the vlei. This seems hard to imagine today!! However, when you look at the photos of old (following) you can see how this was. The good news is that bream are now back in the Chamabonda! Ian du Preez of Nakavango Estates organized to catch a lot and transported them in drums, and were then all released into No 3. Big thanks to Ian and his crew. I will monitor how they get on. Warning – fishing at the pan strictly verboten!!! It is hoped the fish will clean up the pan, and might attract fish eating water birds.

Vernon Booth, ex Parks Ecologist at Matetsi, has sent some fantastic aerial photos of the Chamabonda Vlei in 1980, when it was a lot wetter!!

Website:
Bhejane Trust

Crime pays for Kalahari's feathered con-artist

Drongos use the alarm calls of other animals in order to scare them off, and steal their food according to research.

Dr Tom Flower, a researcher in the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town, found that not only had the bird figured out how to do this, but it also changes alarm calls when the animals wise up to its shenanigans.

"All the animals in the Kalahari eavesdrop on each other's alarm calls, which provide invaluable information about potential predators. It's a bit of an information superhighway where all the animals speak each other's language," Flower said.

Flower observed the birds' behaviour six days a week for six months a year since 2008 in the Kuruman River Reserve, which is part of the South African Kalahari desert.

"I dread to think how many sand dunes I've climbed, but it was worth it to get the data I needed," Flower said in a statement.

"Because drongos give reliable predator information some of the time, it maintains host responsiveness (of other animals) since they can never know if the drongo is lying or telling the truth," added Amanda Ridley, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Western Australia, another of the researchers.

The scientists noticed that sometimes the other animals "get wise" to the con and ignore repeated false alarm calls. But then the wily drongos simply grab another tool from their toolbox of trickery - they mimic the alarm calls made by other animals, once again conning them into fleeing and leaving their chow behind.

Flower observed drongos mimicking more than 50 calls.

When stealing food from other animals, drongos are able to eat larger prey than they normally would be able to capture on their own like scorpions, beetle larvae and even geckos.

"Crime pays," Flower said, noting that the stolen stuff accounted for about a quarter of the food eaten by the drongos.

"One could argue that the strategy of the drongo to steal food from others seems very dishonourable in human standards. But, yes, if it has found such a crafty way to catch food, which is usually much larger than the food items it catches itself, then we cannot help but admire this clever little bird's adaptiveness," Ridley added.

According to Flower the species in the reserve are quite habituated to humans, which makes them easier to tag for future study.

"We can unravel the interactions between all these animals because different individuals are identifiable by coloured leg bands (in the case of the birds), or L'Oreal hair dye marks on the fur of the meerkats (don't worry, it's been tested on humans)," Flower said.

Flower was so successful at habituating the birds to his presence, that they came when he called them by name.

"So if I want to find drongo 'Dave', for example, I can walk into his territory, give a call and he’ll come flying over to me in return for a mealworm reward. He'll rapidly get back to his natural behaviour, hawking flies or following meerkats and babblers to steal their food, allowing me to tag along and watch what happens," Flower said.

Dr Flower is now following juvenile drongos during their development, to learn more about how they learn the mimicking behaviour.

Source: Crime pays for Kalahari's feathered con-artist (Sunday Times (SA) 12-05-15)

Run-Walk-Ride for Rhino

Friends of Kyle and AWARE Trust invite you to Run-Walk-Ride for Rhino! Kyle National Park (Zimbabwe) on Sunday 25 May: 6, 13 and 24 km Routes (Approximately).

Make it a long family weekend at stunning Kyle National Park! Run, Walk or Ride through the Game Park, and admire the views and wildlife in the home of rhinos.

Registration Fee: $10 per adult $5 per child - plus normal National Park's Entrance Fees.

Pre-registration - From 16th May at Old Georgians Harare and Studio 52 Masvingo.

Late registration - 24 and 25 May at Hippo Lodge Masvingo and Kyle National Park entrance.

Start times: 9am to mid-day.

Plenty of water points en route.

National Parks spotless self-catering lodges overlooking lake and scenic camping facilities available, plus lodge and camping accommodation just outside Park.

Bring a boat - when last did you fish in Lake Mutirikwe?!

Food, refreshments and bar available, or bring your own.

For more, contact: tracey@awaretrust.org or masvingoedwards@gmail.com

Have Outdoor Fun - and Support your Park and Wildlife.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Ndau Collection exhibits at Zimbabwe inDesign

The Ndau Collection is very proud to have been selected to show at The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in their current exhibition Zimbabwe inDesign.

The exhibition is dedicated to the celebration of Zimbabwean design. This exhibition will be a platform on which designers can showcase their creative abilities in a central curated exhibition as well as an expo. It is an opportunity for the world to see what the nation has to offer in design, including in:

• Product design
• Furniture design
• Architecture design
• Textile design
• Jewellery design
• Fashion design
• Costume design
• Body Art design
• Ceramic design
• Handmade design
• Digital design

The exhibition will move the concept of design beyond mere craft items and begin to interrogate the design that already exists with a view to introduce greater dynamism and competition. The show is organized to understand where Zimbabwe currently stands in terms of local design.

The exhibition is open from the 24th April until the end of May, running over the same time as HIFA.

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
The Ndau Collection

Friday, 9 May 2014

Mawimbi Bush Camp May Special

Mawimbi Bush Camp special valid until end of May:

180 USD pppn on Full Board Basis + 1 Activity per day (exlclude park fees, drinks other activities).

Contact : Debbie Henwood, Mawimbi Bush Camp,
Email: info@mawimbibushcamp.com
Tel: (+263) 4 861286
Facebook: MawimbiBushcamp
Skype: debbie.mawimbibushcamp

Stanbic Bank supports VFAPU

Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe, one of Victoria Falls’ local banks donated uniforms to the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit this year.

Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU) was formed in an effort to fight the alarming levels of destruction that was taking place. The unit needs active support from the community to operate effectively. Stanbic Bank has been donating the unit’s uniforms since 2011.

These state-protected areas are home to numerous species of fauna and flora, which, through recent times have unfortunately been subject to a dramatic increase in various forms of poaching. Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and is designated a World Heritage Site, under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. The Falls are surrounded by the 2,340 ha Victoria Falls National Park and the 57,000 ha Zambezi National Park.

Stanbic Bank operates a branch in Victoria Falls at Phumula Centre.

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Stanbic Bank
Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A tour of the Batoka Gorge canopy

The Batoka Gorge from Platfrom 8 of the Wild Horizons Batoka Gorge Canopy Tour (Image credit: Wild Horizons Facebook Page)

The concept of the ‘canopy tour’ is a relatively new product in the tourism industry, with the first canopy tour operation opening around 5 years ago in South America. Since then there have been several other operations launched in various parts of the world, including quite a number across South Africa.

Wikipedia describes a canopy tour as “an established route through a wooded and often mountainous landscape making primary use of zip-lines and aerial bridges between platforms built in trees”.

In our case, the Vic Falls Canopy Tour is a series of 9 zip-lines, or ‘slides’, which zigzags across the Batoka Gorge in amongst the thick vegetation which grows on the edges of this spectacular natural canyon. The tour is operated from the Wild Horizons Lookout, and takes place within the cove that is formed by the first bend in the river below the Falls – directly beneath the Victoria Falls Hotel. Apart from the 9 cable slides, (or ‘foofy’ slides), the route also comprises a series of boarded walkways and rope bridges, all of which have safety lines to which guests are fastened at all times. The course from start to finish will take around 60 – 90 minutes, depending on the size of the group.

Of-course one of the factors that makes this activity so popular is the breathtaking views of the Batoka Gorge, the Zambezi River and it’s turbulent rapids, and the Victoria Falls Bridge! This is not to mention the awe-inspiring flora and fauna which thrives in the canopy of the Batoka Gorge! It is also a treat for bird watchers, as they are likely to spot Trumpeter Hornbill, Schalow's Turaco and Peregrine Falcon - and if you are extremely lucky, the rare Taita Falcon.

The slides vary in speed and length, but are all relatively low-speed and are more than suitable for those who don’t consider themselves as adrenalin junkies. The activity is perfect for families with young kids who are looking for that little bit of excitement, but might be too young to take part in the more adrenalin-demanding activities such as the gorge swing or bungee jump. (The same goes for the parents, who on the contrary might be “a little too old” for the bigger adrenalin-demanders!). It is the perfect ‘in-between’ activity, which there is not much choice for when it comes to the plethora of Victoria Falls activities on offer by the many various tour operators. The tour is also suitable for those who don’t like heights as for the most part the slides traverse through trees and thick vegetation.

The canopy tour is growing in popularity when it comes to adventure tourism around the world because of its mild, safe and family-friendly nature. The Vic Falls Canopy Tour is undoubtedly one of the world’s most spectacular courses and is an industry leader when it comes to safety and equipment, as well the training of their staff and guides. The Vic Falls Canopy Tour is a highly recommended activity, which has repeatedly been described as excellent value for money.

The Vic Falls Canopy Tour sells for USD$50 per person, and can be booked by contacting the Wild Horizons reservations team through their website, www.wildhorizons.co.za - or through the main booking office located at 310 Parkway Drive, Victoria Falls.

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Wild Horizons Activities

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Green season special at the Elephant's Eye

Elephant’s Eye, Hwange – Green Season Special – ends 15 June.

The rate is USD255 per person sharing per night and includes accommodation, all meals, water, soft drinks, beers, ciders, mixers and house wine, 2 game drives per day on private concession or 1 full‐day game drive in Hwange National Park, village visit, transfers from and to Hwange Airport, laundry.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Blue Cross 2014

Blue Cross 2014

The Blue Cross is an annual charity event that raises money for the ZNSPCA. It requires that participants get from the lowest point of Zimbabwe – where the Save River leaves the country – to Nyangani Mountain – the highest point. Some people walk, some have ridden horses, but the majority ride a bicycle. https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwebluecross?fref=ts

Many people see this as a grueling challenge, limited to those who are superbly fit and have extraordinary stamina. In order to extend participation we have come up with variations that allow relatively ordinary bicycle riders the opportunity to participate in this wonderful event. It truly is a life changing experience so we ask you to read on and see if we can persuade you to join us in 2014.

The notes below focus on the Traditional Blue Cross (not the off road Brown Cross or walking) and outline three significant options

Relay – you don’t have to be fit and tough if you share the load with a friend or two
Extended time – split the difficult first and last day to make the ride so much more pleasant
Accommodation – either camping (for a budget Blue X) or comfort in lodges/B-and-B’s

Bicycle Options

For the bike riders there are two routes (the Traditional Blue Cross and the Brown Cross), each 500kms.

The Brown Cross (as it has become known) is the MTB route, with virtually no riding on tar roads, and the bulk on small tracks. This option really is limited to folk who are in a good state of fitness and who can deal with some serious riding challenges. These notes are NOT intended for Brown Cross participants.

The Traditional is a combination of gravel road and tar, with about one quarter on gravel. More serious riders in this option will use two bikes – an MTB for the gravel and a road bike for the tar, but those who are not intent on racing, and want to focus on enjoying the event can do the event on a typical MTB or hybrid.

Bikes are ridden from the Save River to the Nyangani Car Park, and then one walks up to the top of the mountain to sign the famous Blue Book at the beacon.

Relay

Last year two pairs did the Blue Cross as relay teams. This meant that it was possible to break the day up into easily done 10-20 km stretches with a reasonable break in between. The relay option allows riders to take part in this wonderful event even if they are not that strong or fit, and yet enjoy the experience. One of the participants, a fifty-plus lady, had only been riding a bicycle for 3 months and coped admirably.

The rules for relay teams are more relaxed than they used to be – just as long as the whole ride is covered by at least one member of the team. We would suggest that teams can be two to four riders. Last year some of the sections were ridden by both member s of the teams because some of the route is just “too good” to miss, but then spilt up the rest of the journey.

Extended time

Previously, the Traditional option started on a Monday and riding was completed on the Thursday – four days. In 2013 we tried a new format which we called the Extended Time or XT option. This option uses exactly the same route – so the same distance is covered - but the riding time is spread out a bit. The first 42kms of what used to be Day 1 is ridden on the Sunday, thus breaking up the long 158km ride from Chilo to Chipinge into two stages – one of 42kms and the other of 116kms. The Tuesday and Wednesday rides stay as they were. Then on the Thursday, instead of riding all the way from Vumba to Nyangani car park, the XT ride stops at Rhodes Hotel, and on the Friday morning, prior to the walk up the mountain, the 15kms of steep gravel from Rhodes Hotel to the Nyangani car park is done with a fresh body, getting to the car park by 8:30am – when the walk up the mountain starts.

These two changes have made the ride much much easier and allowed the XT riders more time to enjoy the scenery. It means that weaker and/or older riders can take part in the event without undue pain and stress.

Accommodation

In years past (pre-2008) many of the riders and their backup crews camped. We want to make this option available again for 2014. We believe that we will be able to get camping for $10 a night or less at spots where it will be safe and comfortable - hot showers etc. Of course campers will have to make their own arrangements for food.

If you’d prefer to have more comfort then there are the usual options of staying at the self-catering chalets at Chilo, the Chimanimani Hotel or Frog and Fern in Chimanimani, Inn on the Vumba and Rhodes Hotel , and a number of other places. In Chipinge we have located a B-and-B just a couple of kilometers behind the polo ground so there would be no need to “rough it” that night.

Dates

For the extended option participants need to be at Chilo Lodge by late afternoon on Saturday 2nd August and the prize giving lunch will be over at about 4pm on Friday 8th. If you do the ordinary Traditional you will need to be at Chilo on Sunday 3rd August. Entrance fee and charity contribution

The no frills entrance fee will be $50 and each participant (whether entering as an individual or as a member of a relay team) is required to raise a minimum donation of $100. This donation will entitle you to a Bronze medal. Donations in excess of $400 entitle one to a Silver medal and those raising over $600 will receive a Gold medal.

The cost of the prize giving lunch will probably be $25 and supper/breakfast at Fiddlers Green will be around $15. These amounts still need to be confirmed.

Contact

If you are interested in more information on the Traditional bike ride, either as an individual or as a relay team, please send an email to: bluextrad@gmail.com, or see us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/zimbabwebluecross

If you want to find out about the Brown Cross or other options such as walking, horse riding then go to the web page www.bluecross.co.zw

Description of the Ride – Extended Time

Sat Aug 2nd: Drive to Chilo Lodge which is on Save River, just a few kms before it leaves the country. Chilo is on the north bank of the river, and Gona re Zhou is the national park on the south bank, stretching to the SA/Moz border. Either stay in full board in the lodge, or self-catering cottages at the lodge or camp in the lodge grounds.

Sun 3rd: Starting at about 6:30am ride from the Save River bed to the tar road, a distance of just 42kms. This is a gravel road on which sedan cars can easily drive, albeit slower than a pickup or 4x4. It usually takes something under 3 hours for an average rider. Riders are collected at the tar road and get back to Chilo for an early lunch and then perhaps a game drive in Gona re Zhou for a few hours. This is still a wild park, good game concentrations, amazing birds.

Mon 4th: Drive to the tar road and start riding about 7am. There is a fairly boring stretch of flat tar next to the Save River for about 75kms, but this can be quite sociable as there is not much traffic and the friendly locals give one quite a bit of encouragement. One then leaves the tar and climbs up a long gravel hill called Barbara - about 15kms. This is definitely one of the biggest challenges of the event, but if you are in a relay team it is not bad as one can break it into 3km stages. Some walking is likely! At the top of Barbara there is about 28kms tar road to the Chipinge Polo Club – called Fiddlers Green. Most people will camp here, or sleep inside the very large clubhouse. The club provides supper and breakfast. It’s always a festive evening as the Brown Cross riders are there that night as well, and stories are shared. There are other accommodation options.

Tue 5th: This is the easiest day - about 68kms all on tar from Chipinge to Chimanimani. It is hilly and there are some longish climbs, but also some stunning downhills. Chimanimani is picturesque. There are several options when it comes to lodging or camping.

Wed 6th: This is the hardest day of the Traditional Blue Cross. The day starts with a dramatic 20km drop into the Martin Forest valley, and then the tough 20km climb to the top of Tanks Nek. Stunning scenery all along this old gravel road helps to overcome the tiredness. The ride is not that tough if you are in a relay team. Next comes one of the best sections of the Blue Cross - the 20km descent to Cashel. Sedan cars cannot do the Tanks Nek stretch from Chimanimani to Cashel but there is a good tar road via Biriwiri. From Cashel there is a pleasant downhill stretch of 20kms through the Umvumvumvu River valley to the junction of the Chipinge/Mutare road. The 60kms from this junction to Mutare is the probably the least enjoyable section of the whole ride. There is always some traffic and may be a bit of a headwind. But again, doing 10km spells in a relay team will make it fly by quite easily.

Thur 7th: This is an all tar day of just over 100kms with lovely mountains all around, and usually very little traffic. Starting at 7am after a good breakfast one is usually finished by mid-afternoon, even allowing for a coffee and snack break at the Montclair Hotel. That night one can stay at National Parks cottages, Rhodes Hotel or camp at Nyangombe nearby. Riders opting to do the original format would not stop at Rhodes but continue all the way to the Nyangani car park.

Fri 8th: An earliesh start to the ride of 15kms to the base of Nyangani Mountain makes it easy to get to the car park by 8:30am. The route is all gravel and there are some steep sections so most folk take it slowly - two hours - and enjoy the magnificent views. Around 8:30am the entire Blue Cross group, including most of the backup crews, then hike up to the top of Nyangani - about an hour and a half or so for most normal people, although the odd show-off will do it in 45 mins! After a good rest at the beacon, photo shoots, signing the Blue Book, hugs, sighs and all that sort of stuff – everyone heads back down the mountain and off to Rhodes Hotel for a fine lunch, medal presentations etc. Some leave for home that afternoon but most will stay on and go home on Saturday.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Zambezi Traveller eNewsletter - No08 May 2014

QUICK LINKS | Specials | News | Conservation | Events

(Wingbeats over the Kaza - White-backed vulture - Image Credit: Tom Varley)
 

The March issue of the Zambezi Traveller focuses on birding in the Zambezi region, with emphasis on vultures as species of conservation concern. You can find a full contents listing here with links to all the stories. The Zambezi Traveller continues to expand its presence online, through our website, blog and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest- find and follow us online. The next issue of the ZT will be available at the end of June, with deadline of 15th May for advertising bookings  and  editorial  submissions.

Specials
Autoworld Livingstone (Livingstone, Zambia) - Mountain bikers get special deal.

Elephant's Eye (Hwange, Zimbabwe) - Green Season special.

Homenet Zambia (Zambia) - Tourism investment opportunities in Zambia.

Imvelo Safari Lodges (Victoria Falls & Hwange, Zimbabwe) - Gorges Lodge & Bomani Tented Camp Combo.

Kalahari Skies (Okavango & Chobe, Botswana) - Botswana Specials.

Mawimbi Bush Camp (Kafue, Zambia) - May special.

Turbo Glass (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe) - May Madness!.

Wilderness Safaris (Zambia & Zimbabwe) - Zambia & Zimbabwe Specials.

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News

Chongwe Safaris and Norman Carr Safaris (Luangwa, Zambia) - 'We are Africa.

Ilala Lodge (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) - Strath Brown condolences.

Halsted Aviation (Zimbabwe) - Launch of new Air Safari service.

Imvelo Safari Lodges (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) - Gorges Lodge refurbishment.

Mawimbi Bush Camp (Kafue, Zambia) - WTM Africa.

Mvuu Camp (Middle Zambezi, Zambia) - Camp update.

Ndau Collection (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) - Ndau Collection exhibits at Zimbabwe inDesign.

Proflight Zambia (Livingstone & Lusaka) - Proflight signs FastJect alliance.

Safari Par Excellence (Livingstone, Zambia) - WTM Africa. Airport Visa payment improvement , Zambian currency update

SATIB (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe) - Change of address

Stanbic Bank (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) - Faster overseas payments.
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Victoria Falls Safari Lodge (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) - Victoria Falls Airport expansion project explained..

The Elephant Camp (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) - Four new suites at The Elephant Camp. A tour of the Batoka Gorge canopy

World Travel Market (Africa) - WTM Africa puts Responsible Tourism in the spotlight.

Zambezi Traveller (Zambezi Region) - Advertisers exhibiting at Indaba.

Wilderness Safaris (Zambia & Zimbabwe) - Safari news.

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Conservation & Community

Imvelo Safari Lodges (Hwange, Zimbabwe) - Teaching the teachers.

Safari Par Excellence (Livingstone, Zambia) - Pack for a purpose.

Stanbic Bank (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) - .Stanbic Banks kits out VFAPU scouts

Wilderness Safaris (Livingstone, Zambia) - Toka Leya donate solar pumps and water tanks.

Wilderness Safaris (Livingstone, Zambia) - River Club donate solar lamps..


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Awards

Lokuthula Lodges (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) - Gold Crown for Lokuthula Lodges..

Zimbabwe Council for Tourism Awards 2014 (Zimbabwe)..

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Events

Victoria Falls Fun Enduro (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) - 02-03 May 2014.

WTM Africa (Cape Town, South Africa) - 02-03 May 2014.

Kasane Cycle Challenge (Chobe, Botswana) - 25 May 2014.

Victoria Falls Mountain Bike Challenge (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) - 11 June 2014.

Charity Golf Day (Harare, Zimbabwe) - 19 June 2014.

Victoria Falls Marathon (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) - 29 June 2014.

Blue Cross 2014 (Harare, Zimbabwe) - 02-08 August 2014.

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From the Zambezi Traveller Blog
Camp Hwange (Hwange, Zimbabwe) - The story of a lion called Goose.

Wildlife Camp (Zambia) - Fungus Growing Termites.

Luangwa National Park (Zambia) - Epic wildlife interactions.

Wilderness Safaris April update

ZIMBABWE

HWANGE NATIONAL PARKS AND OUR CONCESSIONS

At Wilderness Safaris we love maps and facts, so we have put together a comprehensive map of Hwange which showcases the vast tracts of land that make up the National Park, where we are and what you can see in our abundant concessions. All this along with useful information about what makes our people and our camps so special and why you should certainly include them in a Zimbabwe itinerary! Pick up a copy at a trade show or contact your Sales Representative.


Hwange lions (Image credit: Mike Myers)

THE NEW “OLD FAVOURITE” – LINKWASHA CAMP

This year Wilderness Safaris are undertaking the exciting project of rebuilding Linkwasha Camp and opening our doors for FIT bookings as of early 2015. An old favourite for many who have been lucky enough to visit the location, Linkwasha will be a fabulous new addition to our Hwange portfolio. The camp will be classified a Classic 1 camp (the highest rating of Classic Camps) with eight tents, including a family room, and will raise the bar with respect to the accommodation offerings in Hwange National Park. The private Linkwasha Concession and the adjacent Makalolo Concession share exceptional wildlife concentrations, ensuring outstanding year-round wildlife numbers.


Linkwasha (Image credit Mike Myers)

ENHANCING THE WILDERNESS AIR SCHEDULE

Wilderness Air Zimbabwe’s flying schedule has been amended to ensure we maximise our guests’ time in the country. Here are some more details:

• The timing of inter-camp transfers now allow for more activities. For example, Ruckomechi Camp guests are able to enjoy an activity on both the day of arrival and the day of departure.
• Flights from Hwange to Victoria Falls will take place in the morning; guests no longer have to wait until the afternoon to fly.
• The Hwange inter-camp transfers allow for connections between third party camps and the Wilderness Air schedule.
• Harare flights allow for British Airways and South African Airways connections to and from Harare as well as other international flights departing Harare such as Emirates and KLM. Find the updated schedule on our Information Centre.


Over the Falls (Image credit Mark Mansfield)

WHAT’S NEW AT OUR HWANGE CAMPS?

Davison’s Camp has an impressive new main area, offering more space, a new roof and a fabulous wooden deck stretching out around the fire pit. There is also a small upper deck to view the waterhole by day and gaze at the stars by night! Meanwhile at Little Makalolo, a new deck near the main area, pool deck and walkways have been built. The walkways dip to the ground in areas where wildlife have created paths, so that they are not impeded in reaching the waterhole.


New Deck at Davissons (Image credit Derreck Sanyahumbi)

ZAMBIA

FISHING AT TOKA LEYA

Guests are able to do fishing when they stay at Toka Leya. The cost of fishing is included in the FI rate, but the park fees are paid for separately. These can conveniently be settled directly at the camp and are US$5 per person per fishing trip.

GUIDED NATURE WALKS AND RHINO TRACKING AT TOKA LEYA

It is possible to go rhino tracking while staying at Toka Leya. ZAWA scouts monitor the rhinos 24/7 and track them each morning from where they were seen the previous evening. Once the rhinos have been found, the scouts report back to base and stay with the rhinos until late, camping in the area to start tracking early next morning. Guests travel to the area by vehicle and then track the rhino on foot, accompanied by the ZAWA scout - our guides are not allowed to carry weapons. The total duration of the rhino tracking is about 2 hours (combination of drive and walk). Guided nature walks and hino tracking are included in our FI rate, however, the park fee is a separate amount that must be settled direct. Note that all walks are subject to the availability of a ZAWA scout – the request can be put into WISH or made in camp, but cannot be confirmed or guaranteed in advance. Note that the minimum age for walking is 13. The cost is US$10 per person per excursion and can be settled directly at the camp.


Rhino walks (Image credit Mike Myers)

BUSANGA PLAINS OF PLENTY

The lion prides of the Busanga Plains are major drawcards for guests. They are often celebrated for their impressive stocky physiques as well as their unusual tree-climbing skills. Time and again these normally terrestrial cats are spotted catching the cooling breeze in the fig trees of the plains. Another spectacular feature of the Plains is the open terrain, which means that lion hunts can often be watched from start to finish.

Last year’s peak season saw a 90%+ chance of daily lion sightings, with more than 20% of these sightings including lions in tree s and over 30% of them lions on kills. Other predators that can be seen are cheetah, leopard, spotted hyaena and serval. The spectacular herbivore diversity includes puku, lechwe and wildebeest in large numbers, while the rarities include the stately roan, nimble oribi, secretive sitatunga and unusual Lichtenstein’s hartebeest.


Rhino walks (Image credit Mike Myers)

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Mvuu Camp update

Warm days and cool evenings with clear glassy skies packed with beautiful stars is the order of the day, at Mvuu, our magical comfortable Lodge perched on the banks of the mighty Zambezi. The fishing has not been spectacular although a nice big 25kg Vundu was caught, but over our recent Easter weekend when our whole camp was packed to the brim, everyone seemed happy just to laze away the weekend putting rods in the water, watching the game or just chilling with a nice cold beer or G&T.

Before Easter though, we were lucky to be chosen as the venue for Rory Parks Bachelor weekend. It was the first time we had hosted a bachelors and although we were a bit sceptical at first, the bachelors were so well behaved and thoroughly seemed to enjoy their weekend away. They managed to create a perfect combination of drinking, fishing and antics that go with any bachelor party. A few nice size tiger fish were caught but I think their main concentration was on the little green bottles that are plentiful at our Lodge. The feedback we had was very complimentary and one of our staff even commented…. “Eish those bachelors…they have a good fun together”.

The river is looking spectacular at this time of the year, well actually all year round, but our cooler days are so enjoyable and it takes a lot to beat sitting round a nice big camp fire enjoying the noises of the African bush. Our spacious camp sites, two of which are on the banks of the Zambezi, and five others set back all have their own ablution blocks with hot running water, braai areas and a camp hand ready to help you with whatever you may need. If you yearn for a bit more luxurious camping our self-catering chalets are so popular with hot running water, sociable open areas in front of the chalets ideal for fires, cooking and chats, and all perched with a beautiful view over the river. Sit back and soak in this superb view. Our self-catering trunks are very popular as they are fully equipped with knives, plates, glasses, pots pans, a two plate gas stove, to make it easy for your ultimate camping or self-catering experience. The lodge is in the wild though so please watch out for the chomping night hippos or quietly roaming elephants plodding through the camp and of course the ever boisterous irritating monkeys who are just waiting in anticipation of any morsel that is available to their prying eyes. The baboons are not so forward but quietly lurk around also ready to feast on anything left out so please be wary. If you are more inclined to a few days of luxury our Bemba tents are ideal and we can design special packages for large groups or just a quiet romantic weekend for two.

Mvuu Lodge looks forward to welcoming you to our new look new feel lodge for the new season, come and enjoy and leave the stresses behind.

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Mvuu Camp

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Gorges Lodge refurbishment

Our refurbishment program at Gorges Lodge is well underway and our first four rooms are complete. We hope to complete the remaining 6 rooms over the course of this year.

In our refurbisheded rooms we have removed the multiple small glass pane frames on the windows and sliding doors and replaced them with large single glass panes, as well as mosquito gauze, so the doors and windows can now be opened to allow cool air in and the gauze will keep out any bugs! The rooms themselves have been enlarged, and the beds now face the gorge. The rooms have new overhead fans within feature mosquito net canopies and all the furniture and soft furnishings are new.

The bathrooms have been made bigger and we have taken out the old baths and replaced them with a big feature double shower complete with seating area, twin shower heads plus a third hand held shower unit. The bathrooms now have twin vanities, new floors, new toilets and new light fittings.

Journalists who stayed at Gorges Lodge recently did a write up in the Cape Times newspaper:

Cape Times - 17 July - River of dreams - Gorges lodge saves the day.

Zambezi Traveller Directory
Imvelo Safari Lodges


Friday, 2 May 2014

HAC launches Air Safari service

Do you want to explore Africa in a way like never before? Do you long for adventure and experiences that don’t come every day? Do you want to take off into the sunset (or at sunrise) and venture to the most extraordinary corners of the continent Africa has to offer? Well then we invite you to join us on an Air Safaris with HAC. This is a tailor made Air Safaris service offering where we attend to every detail of your travel.

Our Air Safaris service offering includes the arrangement of return Private Charter flights to the destination of your choice as well as all transfers, accommodation, meals and activities once on location. Our Air Safaris service offering includes the professional accompaniement of HAC hosts. Expect unparallelled levels of service and stress free travel where every detail is taken care of allowing you, our guests, to simply sit back and enjoy the experience of being on an Air Safaris with HAC.

Air Safaris destinations include Vilanculos, Chirundu, Kariba and Victoria Falls, but where in Africa do you want to go?

For all inquiries, contact us on marketing@haczim.com. We look forward to showing you Africa in a way like never before.

Zambezi Traveller Directory
Halsted’s Aviation Corporation

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Toka Leya Donate Solar Pumps and Water Tanks to Sinde Village

Wilderness Safaris’ official handover of two solar pumps, four water tanks and two water troughs to Sinde village in Zambia took place on Wednesday, the 26th of February 2014. In collaboration with the village headmen, this generous donation was funded by guests from Toka Leya Camp and will greatly assist the community with access to clean water.

Official handover at Sinde village; Dr Sue Snyman with senior headman and Petros Guwa; clean water out of a tap!

“Water is as much about social welfare, as it is about education. The availability of suitable water at the school and in the centre of the village, where the pumps and troughs were installed, ensures that children do not have to walk long distances in the dry season to collect water and, therefore, have more time available to concentrate on their schoolwork”, said Dr Sue Snyman, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Programme Director.

Snyman and Petros Guwa, Toka Leya General Manager, regularly meet with the village headmen and school’s Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA) to address the community’s priority needs and identify sustainable projects to improve the lives of Sinde’s inhabitants. According to Snyman, “It is extremely rewarding working with the Sinde community as they are wonderful people who are proactively involved in working together to better the lives of everyone in the village. When we were building the water troughs, people from the village came to assist as the project benefits the whole village.”

Sinde village is situated approximately 30 minutes’ drive from Toka Leya Camp and guests are given the opportunity of experiencing a village tour, which includes visiting the pre-school, village centre, local shop, a homestead and Twabuka Community School, guided by a local village guide. Dave and Sally Pearson and Dennis Manalo generously funded the solar pump and two water tanks that were installed at Twabuka Community School. The solar pump and two water tanks installed in the centre of Sinde village were funded by Marci and Sree Kotay and Matt and Kay Franks, all guests who had experienced the village tour.

Drainage and water troughs were also built at both sites and the water gathered at the school will be used for its vegetable garden to supplement the government feeding scheme and to sell any excess produce to raise money for the school. An electric fence will also be erected around the vegetable garden and Snyman and Guwa will be providing training related to vermiculture and conservation agriculture in the coming months.

During her speech at the handover, the Headmistress of Twabuka Community School thanked Wilderness Safaris and Toka Leya for their ongoing partnership and said that the installation of the solar pump and water tanks was indeed a blessing and very exciting for the schoolchildren. “Our pupils can now draw water from a tap just like children in urban areas. The availability of water will make it possible for the school to run most of its projects, such as gardening, tree planting and greening the school. Before, the borehole used to run dry by the third term which affected our students’ attendance. But now that is a story of the past. Indeed, Wilderness Safaris, Toka Leya, you are our everyday partners; thank you.”

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Toka Leya (Livingstone, Zambia)