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A proud WINNER of the Zimbabwe Achievers Tourism Award!
We promote travel opportunities to the wild areas of the Zambezi Valley
WILD ZAMBEZI invites you to a world of nature where the pace is slow, the sun is warm, the sky is huge and the people are friendly.  Our travel promotion focus is the Zambezi River and its iconic wildernesses, including the Victoria Falls & Zambezi National Parks, Lake Kariba, Matusadona National Park and Mana Pools National Park & World Heritage Site .  We provide web-based, up-to-date information on operators, activities, accommodation choices, tours and services in this magnificent area, and offer a reliable, independent travel advisory service.

WILD ZAMBEZI NEWS - MARCH-APRIL 2017

Explore our travel listings and share your own experiences on our website Wild Zambezi.com

PLEASE FORWARD THIS E-NEWSLETTER!
NEWS HEADLINES - MARCH-APRIL 2017
 - Meet you at Indaba 2017!
- Airline Updates
- Safari Logistics - seat rate air charters linking Zambezi areas
- Travel Specials
- Latest Zambezi River flow and lake level stats
KARIBA
- Planning a Lake Kariba houseboat trip?  Talk to these specialists
- Better Lake fishing at last!
- Spurwing Island Lodge - standing the test of time
- Treasure-hunting in the Matusadona National Park
- Tourism supporting Conservation - Kariba
ZAMBEZI VALLEY
- Zambezi Expeditions to have a new home in Mana Pools
- Ruckomechi Camp opens for the safari season in Mana Pools
- "Mana Pools - spiritual home of my ancestors"
- Tourism supporting Conservation - Zambezi Valley
VICTORIA FALLS
Victoria Falls - Africa's Living Soul - new marketing tool
- The Boma Cafe now serving breakfast 
- Tourism supporting Conservation - Victoria Falls
- Gorgeous "Gorges" is a winner!
- Wild Horizons - high water closes rafting; canoeing a great alternative!
TAIL ENDER

MEET YOU AT INDABA 2017, DURBAN 16TH - 18TH MAY 2017

Calling the Travel Trade:  Wild Zambezi will be exhibiting at this year's Indaba Travel Show at the Durban International Conference Centre (ICC) , South Africa on 16th, 17th and 18th May.   Our stand number is DEC2B19 and we are located right opposite the Zimbabwe country stand.

We will be representing our entire travel network of tourism partners with a focus on the wild areas of the Zambezi.  Some of these partners will be present on the stand themselves to meet with interested members of the International, Regional and Local Travel Trade and Media attending the show.


If you would like to make an appointment with ourselves, or any of the following network partners, please get in touch by e-mail on info@wildzambezi.com .

Chirundu Safari Lodge & Tamarind Camp (fishing & safaris on the Zambezi River near Chirundu)
Executive Air (air charter to remote areas & throughout the region)
Kavinga Safari Camp (inland safari camp in Mana Pools)
Natureways Safaris (canoe & tented safaris Mana Pools)
Rhino Safari Camp (14-bed bushcamp Matusadona/Lake Kariba) 
Safaris 4 Africa (Harare-based Destination Management Company)
Tafika Zambezi (Fishing camp on the Zambezi River/Sapi Safari Area)
Zambezi Cruise Safaris (luxury cruises on Lake Kariba)

We look forward to meeting you.

AIRLINE UPDATES
VICTORIA FALLS WELCOMES ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES 

Ethiopian Airlines became the first international airline to launch flights into the new Victoria Falls International Airport, which opened last November, when its Boeing 737-800 touched down just after midday on Sunday 26th March 2017.

The African heavyweight is now flying direct to Victoria Falls from Addis Ababa four times a week - Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.  The new connection now enables travellers from major cities in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa to enjoy hasslefree connections via Addis Ababa (e.g. Washington to Victoria Falls with a less than two-hours' stopover in Addis). The flight also links into Botswana, as after Harare, it returns to Addis via Gabarone. 

Ethiopian Airlines already flies into Harare.  The airline connects with more than 85 destinations worldwide.


AIRLINK TO CONNECT VICTORIA FALLS WITH CAPE TOWN IN JULY
Hot on the heels of the announcement that Kenya Airways is to introduce three-times-a-week flights between Nairobi and Victoria Falls in May, with an onward link to Cape Town, South African airline Airlink will launch direct flights between Cape Town and Victoria Falls starting on 2nd July 2017.  

This service will operate every day except Saturdays, leaving Cape Town at 08.30 and arriving in Victoria Falls at 11.15. The early arrival in Victoria Falls allows travellers the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon activity, or the ability to travel comfortably onwards to destinations such as Hwange National Park.   Return flights leave Victoria Falls at 11.45 arriving in Cape Town at 14.40 and thus avoiding peak arrival traffic. 

This is good news for visitors wanting to combine two of Southern Africa's major tourism destinations in one trip.
 

HARARE WELCOMES RWANDAIR
On 3rd April, RwandAir flew its inaugural route from Kigali into Harare International Airport via Lusaka. The aircraft welcomed by the traditional barrage of waterjets was a 158-seater Boeing 737-800, but RwandAir plans to also use a Bombadier CRJ-900 on the route.

Currently the schedule includes four day flights a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This allows passengers out of Harare to connect onto flights from Kigali to Dubai, India and East Africa.  However, General Manager Micheal Gobena said they plan to add three night flights in May this year, which will allow connections through to London, West and Central Africa.

RwandAir operates one of the youngest fleets on the African continent and flies to over 20 destinations across Africa.


FASTJET CHANGES AIRCRAFT, ADDS FLIGHTS & REDUCES BAGGAGE ALLOWANCES
Low-cost carrier, Fastjet, has changed its flight schedules between Harare-Johannesburg and Harare-Victoria Falls because of a change of aircraft.  The lease on the Airbus that was previously used on these routes has expired and a smaller Embraer ERJ 145 is operating in its place until the airline makes alternative plans.   

Naturally this has also restricted the baggage allowances that Fastjet are able to offer.  Please check carefully with the airline or  your travel agent to ensure that you are within baggage limits for your journey.

To make up for the seats lost, Fastjet  has added an extra flight to Victoria Falls on Fridays and an extra flight to Johannesburg on Saturdays.  The airline now links Johannesburg/Harare twice a day every day of the week and Harare-Victoria Falls once a day on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.  


BAN ON ELECTRONIC DEVICES FOR SOME FLIGHTS INTO USA AND UK
The ban on electronic devices in cabin baggage on some airlines from Muslim-majority countries is confusing.  Here's a summary of what we know so far....

The US ban affects around 50 flights a day from 10 airports and nine airlines in the Middle East, Turkey, and North Africa, namely  Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.  

Passengers on affected airlines cannot bring anything other than a phone into the cabin of a plane. Large electronic devices - anything bigger than 16 x 9.3 x 1.5cm -  (e.g. laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, electronic game units larger than a smartphone, portable DVD players, travel printers and scanners) will have to be in checked baggage or handed in at the last minute before boarding for special packing and storage in the aircraft hold IF the relevant airline does this (Emirates and Turkish Airlines are already advertising this service).
 "Necessary medical devices" will be allowed in the cabin, but only after a security check.

The UK has announced its own set of regulations also prohibiting large electronic devices from carry-on baggage on passenger flights, but from its own list of countries, namely: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia.   Six UK carriers are affected by the rules: British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson.
Eight overseas airlines are also affected: Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia.

Note that the ban so far ONLY affects flights INTO the USA or UK, and not flights to other destinations.  So, if you are travelling on (say) Emirates to Dubai, the ban does not apply EXCEPT if you are travelling onwards to the USA. .
SAFARI LOGISTICS - SEAT-RATE AIR CHARTERS LINKING ZAMBEZI AREAS

Ludwick Munyuki (pictured at right) has joined Safari Logistics as the new General Manager in Victoria Falls.   He has been in the tourism industry for over 15 years, starting his career in Cape Town with ‘Seekers’ in 1999 and then with Wilderness Safaris for 8 years. He has extensive experience in both the tourism and aviation industry.

Safari Logistics offer scheduled charter flight seat rates throughout the year on a DAILY BASIS to the main tourist hubs of Zimbabwe, including Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Kariba, Mana Pools National Park and Harare (see map).  There are two main routes:-
Route 1:  Victoria Falls – Hwange – Matusadona / Kariba – Mana Pools – Victoria Falls
Route 2: Harare – Mana Pools – Matusadona / Kariba – Harare
The routes may vary and be in reverse depending on logistics. Departure times will be confirmed 24 Hours prior to departure and are dependent on the routes required by passengers flying on that day.  Daily seat rate flights are subject to availability and require a minimum of 2 passengers.

In early 2017, Safari Logistics opened a new VIP lounge in the domestic terminal of Victoria Falls Airport, with comfortable seating, free WIFI, air-conditioning, tea/coffee and a luggage storage facility.  This is extremely convenient for Safari Logistics passengers whilst waiting to board their flight.  

Safari Logistics also offer comfortable road transfers at extremely competitive prices, including  regional transfers, airport pickups and border crossings.   They have new six-seater Toyota Alphard vehicles which are air-conditioned with electric doors and tinted windows for privacy, but can access larger buses for bigger groups if required. 


Have you travelled with Safari Logistics?  Tell us about your experience by submitting a Travel Review HERE

CHECK OUT THESE TRAVEL SPECIALS ON WILD ZAMBEZI  
There is currently a fantastic array of great SPECIALS on offer from some of Wild Zambezi’s network partners.  
Check them out on each of these page links (scroll down and to the right):-
African Bush Camps (Kanga Camp & Zambezi Expeditions, Mana Pools):  SUMMER FINALE SPECIAL (South African residents & SADC countries) Stay 3 nights pay for 2 (April 2017).  SUPER SENSORY SAFARI  - experiential 6-night set-departure safari in Mana Pools (April 2017).  MANA MADNESS SPECIAL – stay min 3 nights at one of the above properties (6 nights altogether at African Bush Camps facilities) and get FREE flights in and out of Mana Pools. (Valid until 30 June 2017)    LONG STAY SPECIAL – at any combo of African Bush Camps – 5% discount for 6+ nights; 10% discount for 9+ nights.  LOVEBIRD SPECIAL - spend your honeymoon at any African Bush Camps properties and get 1 Night FREE when you spend 6 nights or more.   
Caribbea Bay Resort (Kariba Town):  EASTER PROMOTION - special prices on all accommodation single, double, family.  Children under 12 free (half-price meals).
Changa Safari Camp (Lake Kariba/Matusadona):  FREE FLIGHTS SPECIAL: Valid for Mid and High Season 2017 (1st April - 31 Oct 2017) Stay for 3 nights and receive one free flight into Changa. Stay for 4 nights and receive free return flights to and from Changa.    WILD LOVERS SPECIAL – couples who stay 4 nights or more will both receive one night free! Valid for the whole of 2017; COMBO SPECIAL with The Hide (Hwange) - stay 6 nights (3 in each camp) and pay for 5.     ZIMBABWE RESIDENTS SPECIALS   BUDDY MOON GROUP PACKAGE: Special rates for groups of 12 people or more staying for 2 nights or more.
Gorges Lodge & Little Gorges (Imvelo Safari Lodges) (Outside Victoria Falls): STAY FOR 3 PAY FOR 2 - special includes all meals, soft drinks, beer, wines & local spirits, return transfers to and from Victoria Falls airport or town, 1 return shuttle per night into Victoria Falls town. 2 activities per night  (Valid until 30 April 2017, and then 1 Nov - 31 Dec 2017.  Also same dates in 2018).    FAMILY ITINERARY - KIDS ON SAFARI -  Stay for 10 days, pay for 7. All inclusive 10-day family-friendly circuit of 4 properties owned by Imvelo Safari Lodges.  Children 12 and under – 50% on accommodation.
Jecha Point Fishing Lodge (Zambezi River, Chirundu):  GREEN SEASON SPECIAL for self-catering chalet accommodation.
John's Camp (Robin Pope Safaris) (Mana Pools):  OPENING SPECIAL - 15% discount for any new bookings confirmed before 14th May 2017.
Musango Island Safari Camp (Lake Kariba):  COOL WATERS PACKAGE  (Vic Falls/Kariba/Mana Pools) and  GET A NIGHT ON US (Stay for 4 nights, pay for 3)
Natureways Safaris (Zambezi River):  SAFARI SPECIALS 2017 - discount rates for Tamarind, Mopane, Mana Shoreline canoeing, and Camp Zambezi  (various dates up to 20 June 2017).
Premier Travel & Tours and Premier Holidays (Harare-based agent):  INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT SPECIALS and LOCAL IS LEKKER -Zimbabwe resident special rates at selected hotels/lodges/camps around Zimbabwe. (Validity dates vary) .
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club & Victoria Falls Safari Suites: SPORTING EVENTS SPECIAL: Stay 3 or more nights at any of the above Africa Albida Group properties  and receive a complimentary Makuwa-Kuwa Restaurant a la carte dinner, per person, as well as complimentary airport transfers per person.  Valid for the following Sporting Events in Vic Falls: 
- 25th April - 2 May 2017 (Victoria Falls Enduro)
- 14th June - 21st June 2017 (Victoria Falls Marathon)
- 4th July - 11th July 2017 (Zambezi Cycle Challenge)
 ZIMBABWE RESIDENTS HONEYMOON SPECIAL (Lodge & Club only) - One partner pays 50% of the applicable B&B domestic rate with a 10% discount on all food and beverage.  Complimentary bottle of bubbly on arrival. Min 3 -night stay. (Valid till 20th Dec 2017).    ZIMBABWE RESIDENTS SPECIAL FOR VISITING FRIENDS AND RELATIVES:  Local accommodation rates for one foreign visiting friend or relative accompanied by every local resident staying at any of the Africa Albida Tourism properties.  Additional visiting friends and relatives will be charged the international or regional rates dependent on their nationality. Park fees etc will be charged according to the nationality of the visiting friends and relatives.
Zambezi Sands River Camp  (Zambezi National Park upstream of Victoria Falls):  STAY FOR 3 PAY FOR 2 - special includes all meals, drinks, wildlife activities and Park entry fees.  Return transfers to and from Victoria Falls airport, 1 free shuttle per stay into Victoria Falls town.  (Valid until 30 April 2017, and then 1 Nov - 31 Dec 2017.  Also same dates in 2018).    FAMILY ITINERARY - KIDS ON SAFARI -  Stay for 10 days, pay for 7. All inclusive 10-day family-friendly circuit of 4 properties owned by Imvelo Safari Lodges.  Children 12 and under – 50% on accommodation.

LATEST RIVER FLOW AND LAKE LEVEL STATS
ZAMBEZI RIVER 'PUMPING' OVER VICTORIA FALLS - LAKE KARIBA FILLING FAST 

For those readers interested in the levels of water in the Zambezi  River and in Lake Kariba as the region's rains come to an end, the good news is that rains have been good in the catchment, and Victoria Falls is now "pumping".  As a result, Lake Kariba's levels are due to rise fast in the coming months.  

Although rainfall activity has started to decrease now in the river's upper catchment,  the enormous, flat, wetland "sponge" of the Barotseland floodplains in Western Zambia has delayed the previous months' water flow for some weeks but is now starting to release it.  Water flow measurements downstream of the Barotseland flooplains are showing a sharp increase and water is now plunging over Victoria Falls at such a rapid rate that white-water rafting activities have had to be halted.  

Check out the dark blue line on this graph (below) from the Zambezi River Authority showing the extraordinary rapid rise (almost double!) in the water levels over Victoria Falls during the last two weeks of March!

As at 3rd April 2017, the level of Lake Kariba was measured at 481.09m  a whole 2.71m higher than on the same date last year.   The huge increase in water flows over Victoria Falls (illustrated above) will soon reach Kariba, and we should see a rapid (and welcome) rise in Lake levels in the next month or two.

KARIBA


PLANNING A LAKE KARIBA FAMILY TRIP?

TALK TO THESE WILD ZAMBEZI TRAVEL PARTNERS ABOUT HOUSEBOATS

We have been encouraged to hear that Kariba's houseboat charter business is very busy during the up-coming Easter period and school holiday season.  

But it shouldn't be just for holiday occasions.  In fact a cruising trip on Lake Kariba is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways of relaxing and getting away from it all.  If you choose carefully, a houseboat has plenty of space to accommodate family members of all ages, or a small group of friends who just want to get away for a weekend's break.  

Lake Kariba's climate is almost never cold, and, even in the hottest months of the year, a well-equipped houseboat will have a  plunge pool or swimming cage on board to allow you to cool off.  There's plenty of fresh air, wildife and bird viewing from the comfort of the boat, family fishing fun or simply relaxing and soaking up the sun and the magnificent lake vistas often enhanced by a spectacular sunrise or sunset.

If you're unsure about which houseboat to choose, or you need some advice on what's available and how suitable it is for the particular needs of your family or group, Wild Zambezi recommends the following specialist houseboat holiday-planners who will help you with all the arrangements for your trip.  Check out their listings pages at these links (and contact them direct via the details on their page):-
Africa Spectacular (Bulawayo-based)
Baobab Bookings (Kariba & Harare-based)
Marineland (Kariba-based)
Pesha Safaris (Kariba-based)
Premier Holidays (Harare-based)
Sengwa Safaris/Karibahouseboats.com (Harare -based)
Wild Dog Tours (Kariba-based)

You can also contact the following houseboat-owners themselves:-
Drifter & Sheer Magic Houseboats (Kariba-based)
Freestate Houseboat (Kariba-based)
Ponty Houseboat (Kariba-based)
Zambezi Cruise Safaris (Kariba-Binga-based)


Tell us about your houseboat holiday by submitting a Travel Review on WildZambezi.com at any of the above links. 
BETTER LAKE FISHING AT LAST!

Good news for fishermen and women!
 
The rise in the water levels of Lake Kariba seems to have brought the fishing back and there are some excellent reports of good catches in the Lake.  Here are some recent examples (left to right): a fantastic 3.2kg Kariba Bream caught recently by Bob Collett of Marineland; one of a whole group of Eastern Bottlenose caught (and released) in the Sanyati Gorge by visitors to Spurwing Island Lodge, and a large Vundu landed (and released) by guests at Rhino Safari Camp.

Visitors to last year's disappointing Kariba Invitation Tiger-Fishing Tournament will be pleased to hear this news.  We hope for increased catches for this year's October tournament.

SPURWING ISLAND LODGE - STANDING THE TEST OF TIME

Tourism to Lake Kariba has had its ups and downs since Zimbabwe's vast inland sea was created on the Zambezi River in the late 1950s.  After a mushrooming of lakeside fishing and safari lodges in the 1980s and 1990s, economic challenges in Zimbabwe since 2000 have seen many of these closing or struggling to attract business.

Spurwing Island Lodge, however, has thrived through the good and the bad times!  It is one of the longest-running and most successful tourism establishments on Lake Kariba, and has ALWAYS been a popular holiday destination for Zimbabweans and their families.   

There is obviously some magic formula that has allowed Spurwing to stand the test of time despite all the challenges of Zimbabwe's chequered history.

Wild Zambezi visited in March 2017 to find out first-hand and on-the-ground what this formula could be.  
Our conclusions?  

Read our latest Travel Blog:   Spurwing Island Lodge - clearly a successful formula


Share your own thoughts about Spurwing in a Wild Zambezi Travel Review HERE 

TREASURE-HUNTING IN THE MATUSADONA NATIONAL PARK 

It has long been known that the Zambezi Valley contains a rich treasure-trove of fossil remains hundreds of millions of years old, gradually being revealed by the erosive powers of water and weathering.  

In the area now flooded by Lake Kariba, the first really exciting find was in 1969, when the fossil remains of a large, sauropod dinosaur was discovered on "Island126/127" west of Bumi Hills.

In more recent years, amateur fossil hunter and veteran safari guide, Steve Edwards of Musango Island Safari Camp on Lake Kariba, has been enthusiastically collecting fossils in the area.   The finds have been analysed by world-renowned paleaontologists and early in 2017, a specialist group from the Natural History Museum in London, UK, from South Africa and from Zimbabwe, visited the area to have a look for themselves. 

The interest sparked by these fossil finds has inspired professional safari guides from other safari camps in the area to enthusiastically join the search.

On a recent visit to Rhino Safari Camp, Wild Zambezi asked Professional Guide, Steve Chinhoi to show us some of the latest fossil finds. 

We've shared the experience and some images of these extraordinary finds in a Travel Blog at this link:-
 Where dinosaurs roamed:  the Matusadona reveals its fossil treasures.

TOURISM SUPPORTING CONSERVATION - KARIBA
KARIBA RUBBISH DUMP FENCE GOING UP!


Good news for conservation in Kariba Town - an elephant-proof electric fence is currently being erected around the  Municipal Rubbish Dump Site just outside the town.  Tragically, seven of the area's resident bull elephants were killed last year because of poisoning incidents related with the dump site.  

GIZ, A German International NGO has partnered with the Municipality of Kariba in funding most of the materials required for the diamond mesh, electrified fence.  This, combined with extremely generous contributions from the community and elsewhere have enabled the project to make a start.   A local company, Swift Transport, brought the materials up from Harare for work to begin.

The Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust (KAWFT), who have assisted in raising awareness and funding, are now working with the community in Kariba to find working solutions to recycling plastic, tin and paper by creating recycling stations where income-generating projects can be established. 

and A NEW DARTER IN TOWN!
One of the major roles played by The Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust (KAWFT) since its formation in 2010 has been responding to incidents of poaching, wire snaring, or injured wildlife in the areas surrounding Kariba town (where the proximity of human communities and wildlife inevitably produces conflict).    To this end, KAWFT sponsored a Kariba resident, Andries Scholtz,  to obtain his Dangerous Drugs Licence so that he was able to administer emergency tranquillizer dart assistance to animals and perform minor veterinary rescues in the area.   However, Andries left Kariba in 2016.  This has been a problem because it is not always possible to call for immediate veterinary assistance from Harare in emergency situations.

However, local youngster, Carl Nicholson (pictured here at left), has stepped up to the mark and has been gleaning experience in conservation and tending to wildlife the past few years, assisted by Andries Scholtz (right) whenever he visits Kariba.  Carl has been working closely with KAWFT and has proved to be such an invaluable conservationist that he was recommended by a specialist veterinarian to be put forward to the board as a possible candidate for a Dangerous Drugs Licence.  Carl had to sharpen up his knowledge and study hard to be ready for the February 2017 Dangerous Drugs Course held yearly at Malilangwe – Chiredzi.  He passed, much to the delight of everyone, especially KAWFT!

In March he had his first taste of the real thing, when National Parks rangers on patrol and came across a fairly new born zebra colt  tethered to a tree by a deadly wire snare.  KAWFT was called to assist and miraculously Andries Scholtz happened to be in Kariba at the time.   The two worked together with the rangers to rescue the little one.  There was no need for darting as the colt was so small it was easily handled with everyone assisting.  Fortunately the animal had been reported quickly by the Parks Patrol Unit and so had sustained little damage. The wire snare was removed with no wounds or cuts and he was pointed in the direction of his family and set off at a gallop.

To support the work of KAWFT, contact them via their listing on WildZambezi.com HERE.

ZAMBEZI VALLEY
ZAMBEZI EXPEDITIONS TO HAVE A NEW HOME IN MANA POOLS 

This year, Zambezi ExpeditionsAfrican Bush Camps' tented safari option in Mana Pools National Park, , will have a permanent home in the National Park.  The start of the season has seen it open on its current site, but from July 2017 the company will have a permanent site near Nkupi (downstream from "Mana Mouth" at the confluence of the Zambezi and Mana Pools Rivers). 

The plan is to build raised decking for the tents and main areas, and introduce running water in the bathrooms. Zambezi Expeditions will maintain its current adventure camp aesthetic but the upgrades will bring an added element of comfort to guests. The planned upgrades will not affect any bookings as the new camp will be constructed before the tents are moved.  

Meanwhile, the safari season in Mana Pools opened on 1st April, with the bush bursting with colour and life after a bountiful wet-season.  A perfect combination to explore the different areas of Mana Pools is to combine African Bush Camps' inland property, Kanga Camp (located next to a beautiful pan) with the riverside, tented option, Zambezi Expeditions.  

The company's Mana Madness Special, which is valid until June 2017, includes free flights in and out of Mana Pools with Safari Logistics when staying 6 nights or more at either Kanga or Zambezi Expeditions (or a combination of both).  


Stayed at Kanga Camp or Zambezi Expeditions?  Share your experiences in a Travel Review on their WildZambezi.com listings pages (scroll down to the Reviews section) 

RUCKOMECHI CAMP OPENS FOR THE SAFARI SEASON IN MANA POOLS

The beginning of April sees the opening of the safari season at Wilderness Safaris' Ruckomechi Camp on the Zambezi River at Mana Pools.  

The camp staff and guides have been busy during March preparing the camp for the first guests.  The guides underwent  a recent training course in Hwange National Park and also completed an advanced First Aid Course. 

The good rains received this year have brought an incredible lushness and verdancy to the bush and the Zambezi River is flowing strongly. Riverine life is at its best with hippos, elephants and crocodiles frequently spotted. The fishing has been good, with  tiger fish, bream, bottlenose, squeakers and cornish jack all being caught (all fishing is catch-and-release only). 

The birdlife is exciting , and the camp guides report that they are seeing many species not seen in the area for a long time.  A boat cruise along the many channels at this time of the year is extremely rewarding for bird-watchers.  

There are hundreds of impala, of all different sizes, after the birth of their young ones during the rainy season. Waterbuck are common along the river. Huge buffalo herds, numbering over 200, have passed through and elephants have also started coming back into camp in numbers. Lion and hyaena are heard almost every day.  A leopard resident near Little Ruckomechi camp has been seen at Ruckomechi in broad daylight, and the wild dog pack has reportedly made a recent kill close to Parachute Pan behind the main camp.

The roads and game drive routes are being repaired after wash-aways on some sections during the rains and overgrown vegetation is being cut back and cleared of low-hanging branches.   The airstrip requires major work and the camp management warn that, depending on the rains in April, alternative airstrips may have to be used if there is waterlogging and the strip is not dry enough for planes to land and take off.


Want to share your experience of Ruckomechi Camp?  Submit your Travel Review on WildZambezi.com HERE

"MANA POOLS - SPIRITUAL HOME OF MY ANCESTORS"
EDMUND MUDZIMU OF WILDERNESS SAFARIS DELVES
FURTHER INTO THE HISTORY OF THE AREA 


Edmund Mudzimu, who manages Ruckomechi Camp in Mana Pools for Wilderness Safaris, is making it his mission to explore the history of the place where his forefathers lived long before it was declared a National Park in 1975 and inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1984.   

Wild Zambezi reproduced the first part of his historical explorations as a Blog on our website in November 2016.  We have now added his latest findings as PART 2 of the Blog.

Read about his insights online here:  My Mana Pools - My Heritage

TOURISM SUPPORTING CONSERVATION - ZAMBEZI VALLEY
COLLABORATION IS PAYING OFF

The indications are that collaborative conservation efforts against wildlife poaching, working in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Parks Authority and law-enforcement bodies in Zimbabwe's Zambezi Valley areas are beginning to pay off.  So far, during this year's rainy season (end October 2016 - end February 2017) the following anti-poaching successes have occurred :-
•    2 elephant poachers shot dead by Parks Rangers
•    7 elephant poachers arrested
•    11 arrests involving pangolin
•    3 live pangolin recovered and 1 live pangolin handed in.
•    3 dead pangolins
•    9 arrests involving skins, fish and bushmeat
•    All except 5 of the arrested people resulted in 9 year jail sentences.   

Under the umbrella of The Zambezi Elephant Fund modest grants have recently been dispensed to implementing partners namely The Zambezi Society, Flying for Wildlife, Bushlife Support Unit (BSU), The Tashinga Initiative (TTI),  Matusadona Anti-Poaching Project (MAPP) and Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust (KAWFT). All of these on-the-ground partners also fund-raise independently but sometimes find this process difficult and time consuming.  ZEF would like to be able to channel more support to these important "pockets of passion".

The anti-poaching reaction ranger base, Zambezi Valley Anti-poaching Reaction Unit - ZAVARU, on the Ruckomechi River near the Nyakasikana Entrance Gate into Mana Pools is now complete. This was co-funded by The Tashinga Initiative (TTI) and the Zambezi Elephant Fund (ZEF). Besides its operational value, it is a terrific morale booster for the rangers and a known deterrent for poachers.  (Implemented by TTI)

Several tented pickets/fly camps are in position at rainy season hot spots with a vehicle and driver at each to support rangers. (Implemented by Bushlife Support Unit - see article below).

Weapon refresher courses for Parks rangers have been run at four stations across the Zambezi Valley.  Shooting skills have measurably improved, individual confidence levels are boosted and team moral uplifted. (Implemented by The Zambezi Society).

A month ago, the above initiatives converged under the leadership of Zimbabwe Parks in a successful contact with Zambian poachers – one Zambian poacher died in the incident.
 
Anti-poaching access tracks were opened, prior to the onset of the rains, within Mana Pools and to the southern boundary. The latter has reduced deployment time to the remote southern boundary from 11 hours to 3.  (Implemented by Bushlife Support Unit BSU)

Pre-rainy season aerial surveys were undertaken, giving the four Area Managers valuable information and visual understanding to assist them with decision making ahead of the peak poaching period. Now that the rainy season is at an end, the program will shortly recommence. (Implemented by Flying for Wildlife).

ZEF is continuing to fund critical needs, e.g. rations for rangers in the Lower Zambezi Valley (Mana and Marongora in conjunction with Bushlife Support Unit) and food and materials for provincial meetings between parks and valley stakeholders, including an upcoming community.
 
ZEF, together with Community-Based Conservation, Chief Chundu, the local community and other stakeholders are currently developing a model for community-inclusive conservation efforts, which also addresses their needs.
 
ZEF is channelling funds to The Tashinga Initiative to equip a new data-collection base at the Regional Zimbabwe Parks Office for the Lower Zambezi Valley, which is based in Chinhoyi.

ZEF is urgently working to find donor support for an anti-poaching patrol boat for the Zambezi River.   Any donations towards this would be gratefully received (Click HERE to donate)

A common vision and strategy with which to work together was agreed on after a very successful early March Cross-Border Collaborative Workshop, held at Chirundu (Zambian/Zimbabwe border post on the Zambezi River) between Zimbabwe and Zambian Parks Authorities, conservation organizations and stakeholders.



BUSHLIFE SUPPORT UNIT - ON THE GROUND SUCCESS DURING THE RAINS
The Bushlife Support Unit (BSU) - run by Bushlife Safaris out of Vundu Camp in Mana Pools National Park, has been on the ground during the entire rainy season assisting the Zimbabwe Parks Authority with anti-poaching deployments.

As mentioned above, remote tented base camps, each with a BSU vehicle and driver , have been set up in 4 strategic areas in the Zambezi Valley from which rangers do patrols. A reaction vehicle is also stationed at the new National Parks ZAVARU base near the Nyakasikana Entrance Gate to Mana Pools.  In addition, a BSU vehicle deploys anti-poaching rangers along the Zambezi River frontage between Nyamepi (Parks HQ) and Vundu Camp  and along the river itself with a dedicated boat and driver.   All extended patrols operating remotely in the Park are provided with food and water rations provided by BSU.

BSU reports:  "This rainy season the ground coverage has been good...  During this time period we have covered 42000km, deploying 1600 rangers in areas covering the majority of Mana Pools, Nyakasanga and Rifa as far as A camp, Sapi Safari Area and Chewore South. We have done boat patrols as far as Kepirinhengu in Chewore North to Mongwe in Nyakasanga.

We have not had a report of a fresh carcass being found in Mana Pools National Park since mid October 2016!  This time last year, shots were being heard often and carcasses were numerous (with much less ground coverage than this year). However, we must not be complacent. The area is huge.  However, we are pleased to report that all the “hot spots” last year are quiet this year
.

To date BSU has raised US$270 000 from very generous donors. 100% of the money has been spent on anti-poaching activities.

We continue to work closely with
The Zambezi Society (ZAMSOC) and The Zambezi Elephant Fund (ZEF) and would like to thank them very much for all their support."

The Bushlife Support Unit will soon be launching a new website (more details to follow).

In the meantime, as we write this, veterinarians from the Aware Trust Zimbabwe are heading to Mana Pools to work with Nick Murray of BSU, Vundu Camp and Bushlife Safaris, as well as with the Zimbabwe Parks Authority, to start fitting tracking collars on the iconic elephant bulls of Mana Pools (more on this in a future issue of this newsletter).
VICTORIA FALLS
VICTORIA FALLS - AFRICA'S LIVING SOUL
A TOOL PROMOTING THE NEW GATEWAY TO THE KAZA REGION

A new destination marketing tool, promoting the entire KAZA (Kavango/Zambezi) region, with Victoria Falls, the gateway through which to explore it, has been created by leading Zimbabwean hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism (AAT).  

Victoria Falls – Africa’s Living Soul  A Tourism Survey of the Victoria Falls Region was originally designed as a survey to provide international airlines with the data they were seeking to assist in deciding on whether to launch flights into the new international airport in Victoria Falls.  It has since evolved into  a much wider information platform, set to be released annually, (to ensure that it is kept up to date, with new information).  

The first edition contains the most comprehensive information available on visitor arrivals, accommodation, activities and access to the tourism hub of Victoria Falls, Livingstone and Kasane.  It is intended as a reference document for all parties with an interest in the future of tourism in the KAZA region. 

With Victoria Falls’ new $150 million international airport now capable of landing direct long haul wide-bodied aircraft for the first time, Zimbabwe’s top resort town is expected to become a gateway to the largely under exposed Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). 

Africa Albida Tourism's properties in the Victoria Falls include Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club and Victoria Falls Safari Suites, Lokuthula Lodges, The Boma, Dinner & Drum Show and Ngoma Safari Lodge in  Chobe, Botswana.

To receive an online copy of Victoria  Falls - Africa's Living Soul e-mail: pr@africaalbida.co.zw

THE BOMA CAFÉ NOW SERVING BREAKFAST -  TOO GOOD TO RESIST! 
The Boma restaurant, in Victoria Falls, (famous for its spectacular evening Dinner & Drum Show) is now opening earlier in the day for breakfast, as The Boma Café.

Bed and Breakfast guests staying at the Lokuthula Lodges (who have up to now been having their breakfast at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge’s MaKuwa-Kuwa Restaurant), are now able to enjoy their first meal of the day al fresco-style in a tranquil garden setting between 7am and 10am at The Boma Café, located close to the lodges.   

This facility will also be open to Lokuthula Lodges self-catering guests at a cost (for walk-in guests) of US$18.

Guests can choose from a continental buffet, featuring pastries, breads, cereals, yoghurts, seasonal fruits, juices, cold meats and cheeses, freshly brewed coffee, and a selection of cooked breakfasts – the Boma omelette, vegetarian treat or mixed breakfast delight.


RE-THATCHING AT VICTORIA FALLS SAFARI LODGE IN JUNE
Meanwhile, the nearby Victoria Falls Safari Lodge will be temporarily closed during the first two weeks of June 2017 to complete a major re-thatch project on the central building housing the reception, guest services, MaKuwa-Kuwa Restaurant, the Buffalo Bar and the activities desk. This will also affect the pool and pool deck areas. 

All of the other properties and facilities on the resort will remain open for business as usual, including Victoria Falls Safari Club, Victoria Falls Safari Suites, Lokuthula Lodges and The Boma - Dinner & Drum Show.

TOURISM SUPPORTING CONSERVATION - VICTORIA FALLS
VIC FALLS ANTI-POACHING UNIT SCOUTS RECEIVE DONATION OF GAS STOVES

A Harare business, Naklon Trading, has generously donated 17 two-plate gas stoves and cylinders, one for each of the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU)'s scouts, as a gesture of appreciation for the important work they do in the day to day battle against poaching.

The donation was pledged last September at the annual VFAPU Golf Day, which is hosted by Zimbabwean hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism, and raised $26,300 for the unit.

Naklon Trading director Craig Waugh (pictured above, far right) said: “The work VFAPU is doing is phenomenal. We need to support them if our kids are going to see wildlife.”

The stoves would be used in the scouts’ homes, making their lives more comfortable, especially during power cuts, and they could also be used when they are on patrol in the bush, if necessary, Mr Waugh said.

Africa Albida Tourism chief executive Ross Kennedy said: “People often give money to VFAPU but in this particular case this is a donation to the 17 scouts, who are out in the field day and night 24/7. We wanted to support them and acknowledge the risks they take every day, with this gesture."
GORGEOUS 'GORGES' IS A WINNER!

Gorges Lodges (owned by the Imvelo Safari Lodges group) has recently been awarded the HotelsCombined Recognition of Excellence 2017.   HotelsCombined is an Australian based hotel meta-search company.  In January this year, they completed an extensive survey based on data from millions of guest reviews covering different types of accommodation in Zimbabwe and translating the best into Recognition of Excellence awards. 

Gorges Lodge has a high satisfaction rating among guests and travel industry experts, receiving 224 reviews for an impressive rating of 9.5 out of 10!    The lodge was also featured in Africa.com's top places to stay in Zimbabwe - 'It’s an absurdly easy association to call the fantastic Gorges Lodge near Victoria Falls ‘gorgeous’, except it really is. With uniquely stunning views of the Batoka Gorge and the great Zambezi River, Gorge Lodge is secluded in its wilderness location just a stone’s throw away from Victoria Falls. Each of the lodge’s individual rooms is delicately perched right on the precipice of the gorge, built into the rocky terrain with an elevated wooden deck. There are dramatic views from the balcony and the roar of the Zambezi, 250 meters below.'

The recent addition of new luxury tented accommodation at Little Gorges - situated near the main lodge, means there are now two different styles of affordable accommodation to choose from. 


Submit an online travel review for Gorges Lodge (or Little Gorges) on WildZambezi.com HERE 

WILD HORIZONS - HIGH WATER CLOSES RAFTING FOR THE SEASON
BUT CANOEING ABOVE THE FALLS IS A GREAT ALTERNATIVE!


Victoria Falls tour operators, Wild Horizons, report that their White Water Rafting has closed for the season due to current high water levels of the Zambezi River.   This activity will re-open once the river has receded again.  (Livingstone Island operations will also be closing on the 14th of April 2017) 

However, an Upper Zambezi Canoe Safari is a fantastic option for exploring the river during this time of year.  Contact Wild Horizons for more details.


Tell us about your adventure activities with Wild Horizons in Victoria Falls by submitting an online Travel Review on WildZambezi.com HERE 

TAIL ENDER.....

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THERE'S SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE ON THE BANKS OF THE ZAMBEZI!  PLEASE PASS ON THIS NEWSLETTER! 
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