Tailormade African Safaris by the Safari Legends
Five years ago I convinced my wife, Marian that we should move to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. As a photographer I felt that being based in the Falls would put me at the hub of four of the countries where Wilderness Safaris operates. Since then, we have travelled extensively to these National Parks and wild places where I have been the photographer and videographer, and Marian has written for the blog as “Mike and Marian on safari”. It has been wonderful.
Just by way of a change I thought I would write a bit about what happens in our unique village of Victoria Falls. What got me thinking was an event that took place a little while ago. On the 23rd of February a nondescript little bird was seen at the Victoria Falls airport, a pied wheatear. Spotted by Dave Carson and Gavin Ford, who were on their way to conduct a guides’ training camp, they let Charles Brightman know and he went out to the airport and found it. What got all the twitchers in a froth was the fact that this rare vagrant had not been seen in southern Africa for 34 years. Now the pied wheatear is rather spectacular when it is in breeding plumage but not quite as impressive in non-breeding plumage. That did not deter a great number of serious birders from actually getting on the first available flight to Victoria Falls in the hopes of seeing it. I have no idea how much revenue that little bird generated for the airlines and our town, but it certainly generated excitement. The only sad part of the story is that a large contingent of birders arrived just a bit too late, to find that the bird was no longer there. They then jumped on the next plane back to where they came from.
This then prompted me to set about doing a photo essay on what one can see in and around town, besides a rare bird. My house is close to the edge of town on the boundary of the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. We are very close to the National Park. I regularly hear hyaena at night and every now and then, I hear the roars of wild lions. Two years ago, in December, the lions chased a herd of buffalo right into town in the vicinity of the Cresta Sprayview Hotel, which is on the main road into town. We are regularly visited by elephant and buffalo, and I once saw a leopard on Zambezi Drive close to the famous Big Tree. All of this makes riding a bicycle here interesting, to say the least.
At this time of the year the river is high and the sound of the Falls echoes through the town – much louder in the mornings when the air is thicker and colder. The Falls often create a micro-climate in town and we find ourselves shrouded in mist while there is still moisture in the air during the rains. Daily, we have troops of baboons, warthogs and impala moving in and around town. You will see the warthogs on the lawns of the hotels and frequently vervet monkeys can be seen as well.
The town is an adventure centre for those who enjoy a good dose of adrenalin. Bungee jumping, gorge swings and zip lines are all on offer. The white-water rafting is considered to be the single best one-day rafting trip in the world, particularly when things dry up a bit and the river runs lower, which happens from about August.
Zambezi National Park is on our doorstep and a wide variety of animals is to be found here. There is a beautiful river drive and as locals we often take a picnic lunch into the Park and stop at one of 26 different picnic sites to choose from. Elephant are frequent companions during picnics in the drier months. There is also the Chamabonda Vlei close to town where game drives can encounter good herds of sable and also eland from time to time.
Apart from the hotels, there are several restaurants in town that offer delicious meals and live music on some of the evenings. The Shearwater Café, Three Monkeys and Lookout are all wonderful places to relax and have a meal after time spent exploring what the little town has to offer.
The new airport at Victoria Falls is capable of landing larger aircraft and now frequent flights are on the cards with Kenya Airways and SA Airlink flying three and six times a week respectively from Cape Town return. From Europe Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways will be travelling regularly from the middle of this year. All this new activity is gearing towards making Victoria Falls the hub of safari activity for the whole southern African sub-region. Easy connections to Cape Town and Nairobi add so many possibilities for safari travellers.
So thanks to a fairly drab bird that caused a storm in a small town’s tea-cup, I have been able to show you that our unique corner of Africa, which hosts the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site, is actually worth staying for. Come and visit us!
Written and Photographed by Mike Myers
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Tailormade African Safaris by the Safari Legends