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Greetings from Victoria Falls

Thanks so much for following the link from our end of March newsletter.

You were meant to have received this update just as cyclone season was about to get really nasty in the Mozambique channel. We thought it a bit insensitive to pass on some of our happy personal news as parts of southern Africa were ravaged and are now dealing with the aftermath of Cyclone Idai.

This has been described as the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere. The cyclone has affected hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people according to latest reports by the UN. There has been widespread flooding across parts of Mozambique, eastern Zimbabwe and Malawi. Here in Victoria Falls we’ve been untouched by the devastation. Our heartfelt thoughts go out to everyone affected.

In Chris’s words: “From a personal perspective the first few months 2019 have been wonderful and memorable.

December took Liz and I off to New Zealand to spend Christmas with family. We then jetted off to the Cook Islands for New Year and got married on Aitutaki, at One foot Island on the 5th January. (The Cooks are a New Zealand protectorate, 17 islands set over 2 million square kilometres of ocean paradise in the middle of the South Pacific, a four hour flight from Auckland.)

It was an idyllic wedding shared amongst 11 of our closest friends and family and One Foot Island is the most romantic and stunning setting. It’s even been voted as the most stunning beach location on Earth! Located on latitude 17 degrees south, Aitutaki is exactly on the opposite side of the world to Victoria Falls. Only Liz and I could choose the remotest place on the planet to get married, so far away from home. It was worth every minute.

wedding on Aitutaki, at One Foot Island

We returned back home to find the rains had failed and political unrest on the horizon in Zimbabwe. Why did we even bother to come home from such an idyllic place??!! Because Victoria Falls is like a magnet, you can’t keep away…

As usual, and in typical African fashion, the unrest lasted just three days and was confined to the capital Harare and second city, Bulawayo, hundreds of miles away from us. The unrest died down, and to put it in a nutshell, the reforms that caused the unrest were a necessary move by the new government here to get the economy back on track, after 30 years of misrule by the Mugabe regime.  Business returned to normal, the tourist areas of Victoria Falls and Hwange were totally unaffected, and the rains arrived for a short period in February and stopped again on the 15th.

The rain fell heavily in Hwange and the pans and waterholes are all full, a benchmark for an incredible game viewing season this year.

On the subject of Hwange, exciting developments are happening in remote areas of the park, two new camps, Deka and Detema, are opening in the extreme Northwest of the park, a close drive south from Victoria Falls.

Both are small – 12 beds - and very affordable, and Deka Camp really excites us as it’s located on top of a hill, overlooking open grassland at the headwaters of the Deka River right on the Botswana border. This area teems with wildlife, has huge herds of buffalo and the biggest male lions you’ll see anywhere and the terrain is open and so different from the rest of the park.

Buffalo herd at Deka Camp

Of particular interest is the historical value of the area. In 1862, Thomas Baines, the famous artist, and James Chapman used Deka as their base on their trek across the Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans en-route to paint the Victoria Falls. They were the second explorers to reach the falls after David Livingstone, the first westerner to see the falls in 1855.

We are extremely excited about these two new camps, as now we can tailor-make a circuit where guests can experience up to two weeks in Hwange moving from the South East to the North West of the park, a distance of nearly 200km, taking in four to five different camps in different habitats. Being so close to Victoria falls, a Hwange combo offers a varied and affordable safari, without wasting time on lengthy flights and transfers.

Neighbouring Botswana continues to be a favourite, and again is easy to combine with Victoria Falls, and travelling in the green season, from December to March, makes it really affordable, without losing the quality of game viewing.

Gone are the days where everyone thinks the best times to visit here are September and October in the height of the dry season. Globally the weather is changing and two years in a row now we’ve had no rain in December and January, and the game viewing in the Kalahari, Okavango Delta, Linyanti and Chobe has been amazing!

Remember the web/internet is so complex and there are so many packages on offer out there, we prefer to tailor make a trip specific to your personal interests and budget, being on the ground here, we are so fortunate to be able to see the camps on a regular basis and update both staffing and wildlife trends in each area, that we like to specialise in.

Liz and I are off on Honeymoon towards the end of April into mid-May in the Seychelles and Sri Lanka, but Jane Streets-Boaler is holding the fort here with our 11 cats and one Jack Russell! Our UK head office continues to cover us.

We look forward to welcoming our many repeat guests back here, and to making new acquaintances with new adventurers coming to experience our amazing part of the world!

Best wishes,
Chris and Liz Worden

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