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Chasing rainbows – One around every corner



Chasing rainbows – One around every corner

A few people have asked about the best time to go to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and my response has been: depends on whether you like being soaked while frolicking in the sun or if you like drier climates…

The natural majesty of the Victoria Falls allows for both. Wet season is from November to March, and other months tend to be drier, although not completely dry.

There’s something about Victoria Falls that screams “tropical” – which doesn’t make much sense because the falls lie between Zimbabwe and Zambia in dry savannah country.

But the atmosphere and weather generated by the impressive curtains of spray do offer the tropical holiday experience.

My visit to the Safari Club at Vic Falls, as the locals know it, came at the right time – a mini vacation just before the festive holidays.

This part of Zimbabwe is always scorching hot, so if you’re planning a trip, check the weather app, and don’t make the mistake of packing denim or too many closed shoes, unless you plan on doing a lot of hiking or physical activities.

The good, the bad and the ugly

With every trip, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s get into the bad first. With all due respect to the authorities, Zimbabwe has one of the most unpleasant arrival experiences.

At the airport, you’re given an immigration paper which asks what your profession is … this isn’t an issue, as all information should be legally declared at any point of entry in any country.

However, if you work in the media or marketing, you aren’t exactly welcome. They don’t want journalists, so creative thinking about your occupation is required.

Now the good

Flights are smaller and light meals are served, although more than likely the flight will be packed with American tourists who’ve come to “explore the jungle”.

I blame all of this on movies like Out Of Africa, but I digress. The Victoria Falls and the area around it is lush and leafy, and some parts of it remind me of the Kruger National Park, with much warmer weather.

It’s mostly unspoiled and the locals seem to understand the importance of living in a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Site.

The Victoria Falls Safari Club is a premium private club within a larger property.

As our bags were offloaded and we delighted in welcome drinks, a female warthog and her piglets roamed past us grabbing at tufts of grass, while minding their own business and not bothering with us and our shrieking eagerness.

After getting orientated by super friendly staff, who all pronounced my full name perfectly, we were told the property is not fenced so the animals don’t hurt themselves – and then my fear of death (thanatophobia) came out.

I was immediately dubbed the City Girl – which I am – but our host talked me through the animals that might visit my balcony at night and reassured me. “But do remember to close your sliding door, monkeys enjoy playing with property that’s not theirs,” I was told. And I obliged.

You will have to experience it to feel and understand the fullness of it’s beauty.

Even though the property is developed, it is unspoiled. There are wild animals, herbivores, walking about freely.

Safari Club is the premium section of the property which houses a private and intimate dining area with 360 degree lookouts that allow guests to watch animals at every angle, along with telescopes placed for those who want to do some serious elephant watching.

The raised area looks out onto a waterhole, where the animals tend to gather and cool off while mingling in animalistic ways.

I consider myself a seasoned luxury traveller, and here I had the opportunity to experience some of the best in accommodation.

Accommodation comprises 16 large club rooms and suites. Offering a long entry passage, a bathroom with a shower and oval bath, and a large bedroom with a lounge, Club suites come with everything fully stocked, including a complimentary minibar which is replenished daily.

The suites are about a more personalised and private experience. A butler service is also on offer and laundry is done on request. The high-rise wooden balcony overlooks a second waterhole.

There are no television sets in the rooms, so there isn’t noise, and the experience of sitting on the balcony watching Mother Nature and her children is indescribable.

South African travellers, in particular, are multigenerational families, I was told – grandparents, married couples and the kids all travel together, and the lodge caters for this with different types of accommodation.

There are children’s rooms and pool areas for families. Parking isn’t an issue for families who drive in. It’s advisable to go via Botswana.

Lokuthula Lodges are more affordable for families and offer a self-catering option, which makes more financial sense when travelling with children.

Everything is within walking distance to the spa, restaurants and numerous pools, but shuttles do come and fetch the guests who can’t walk long distances.

Our trip was fully curated by the lodge staff, with activities and places to go, and first on the list was the falls.

Flying in it appeared to be a steamy black hole, but up close it is an ethereal experience. In the small town of Victoria Falls, there’s ample parking and you can browse neat stands that sell African curios.

The accepted currency is US dollars, but my rands were well received – and everything was cheaper in rands.

Authorised ivory, bracelets, artwork and carved woodwork are some of the pieces you can pick up at the stalls. The falls are known by the locals as Mosi-Oa-Tunya, meaning The Smoke That Thunders, and you can confirm that for yourself, as the water bellowing from the falls creates a light “steam” and at times fog.

Two points of entry

The falls have two points of entry, the Zimbabwe side and the Zambia side, and a guide is provided to groups.

If, like me, you’re adventurous enough to walk the whole way, you’ll see the Zambian entry point with a sturdy iron bridge, built in 1903 on the orders of Cecil John Rhodes, with the waters of the Zambezi River, and history swirl around and under it.

You’ll have to present your passport at the entrance point and the entrance is around $30 (about R570) if you’re from the Southern African Development Community.

In the rainy season, you can buy a transparent plastic raincoat to keep you dry, because the falls are a very wet experience.

It’s slippery along the cobbled paths, so wear shoes that don’t slip. Our guide tells me he’s been doing tours for over 20 years.

He took us through each point of the falls while unpacking the history of David Livingstone, who was the first European to find the falls in 1855.

At one point you look straight down an eye-popping 108 metres. That, by the way is not far off the height of the SABC building in Auckland Park.

There are plenty of photo opportunities with exoticc plants, trees which have grown sideways, colourful birds and – my favorite – numerous rainbows.

The falls are unspoiled and a disposition of peace crosses over you as reach each new numbered walking point … none are the same.

Below in the waters, we spotted adventurous tourists white-water rafting, while deeper in the for.

On our way back we bumped into a family of monkeys who seemed to enjoy grabbing property and running away.

I remembered the wise words of our suite concierge and hold my small bag closer. This is an experience that will live with me for life: the sound of constantly moving water, the green of the rain forest, the respect the people of Zimbabwe have for their environment – the preservation of fauna and flora, but most of all the rainbows. For more inspiration visit

THE SMOKE THAT THUNDERS. An aerial view of Mosi-oa-Tunya at sunset. Picture: Thami Kwazi

NOW READ: New family water park opens in Limpopo

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