Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls

Jul 21st, 2008, 07:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 11
Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls

Our trip is fast approaching – we leave September 15 and can’t wait! We are going to Tubu Tree, Chitabe and Selinda in Botswana and then, as of now, we are going to Zimbabwe and staying at the Ilala Hotel. Anyone have any recent experience at VF (given the recent state of affairs)? So far, we’ve not heard that we should change our plans.

Also, we need to pick some side trips at VF. The ones we think we will chose are the Zambezi River sunset cruise and the “tour of the falls and traditional village.” Anyone have experience on these two picks?

We read and read and keep reading these threads and they are so helpful. We are now into our packing and have LyndaS’s list on hand.

Looking forward to some feedback!

JLGesicki is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 05:54 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 52
We were scheduled to be in Zimbabwe as part of our three-week trip right at the time of the run-off election - we were to cross the border from Botswana to Zim and be driven to Vic Falls on the actual election day, 6-26, then fly to Mana Pools 6/28. At the last minute AAC and we reluctantly changed all of our Zim plans to Zambia (where we had a fantastic time - trip report eventually coming!). But on 6-27, while we were staying at the Zambezi Sun, we checked into status of things and decided to walk across the bridge to Zimbabwe anyway. We had no problems whatsoever, and the most notable thing was how empty Vic Falls, Zimbabwe was. We saw the falls from the Zim side, which offered much more extensive and impressive viewing than what we were able to see from Zambian side. We walked to Ilala Lodge, where we had been originally scheduled to stay and had a wonderful lunch there, though we were just about the only diners. (BTW Ilala Lodge looked like a lovely place to stay.) We then went ahead with our original plans to visit the elephant conservation camp in Zim and do an elephant-back safari.

We are a family of five, three daughters ages 21, 19 and 14 and at no time did we feel threatened or in any danger. Crossing the border and going through Zim immigration was routine, though the Zambian border guards were clearly on the lookout for Zim refugees. While a few souvenir sellers were a bit insistent, that was certainly understandable, and nothing occurred that made us feel uncomfortable.

I know there are differences of opinion about visiting Zimbabwe, but we felt very good about leaving some of our tourist dollars with the locals, who are in desperate need of them. I would continue to watch developments, which right now seem to be moving in a more positive direction. But if it was safe to be there the day after the elections, I would expect it to be safe in September.

kareng is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 06:41 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
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The Zambezi sunset cruise is okay but it is basically just a booze cruise. You see very little wildlife and will be disappointed compared to the outstanding Botswana wildlife if you expect to.
RBCal is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 06:54 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
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I'm going to the Vic falls area in 3 weeks, staying in the Zam side. I will probably walk over to Zim just like kareng (thanks for your post!)

As for the zambezi sunset cruise, I was thinking to substitute it with a "sunset river safari" in a small boat (like 8-10 people). One local agent I have contacted tells me such activity is only offered on the Zim side, anyone know if it is also possible from Zam? Has anyone experienced it and can tell how it is?

torrem is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 07:07 AM
Join Date: May 2008
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i cannot provide information regarding the zambezi cruise etc. but i would definately focus on developments within zim and avoid cancellation too early. just watch how things improve/develop within the upcoming weeks.

we do the same and we won't cancel our early nov zim safari unless things change to the worst.

happy planning!

divine54 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 01:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Just got back from my trip where I visited the Falls. We stayed on the Zam side and then just walked across the border to Zim for the day.

We had NO problems what-so-ever while we were there. We were thrilled that we saw the Falls from that side as it was MUCH more superior as to seeing them just from Zambia. We also walked a bit around the town, saw the Victoria Falls hotel (wish I could have stayed there!), the Big Tree and so forth. Besides the usual touts selling things we had no harassment or felt unsafe at all.

The Falls area had tons of tourists and was the only part of Africa that I was in that had Tourist Police. We felt very safe. I highly recommend.
poosaysmeh is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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We were in Victoria Falls late 2007. Stayed at Ilala Lodge. The news reports coming out of Zimbabwe at that time were pretty disturbing but we decided to go ahead with our plans, based on considered advice. We weren't sorry we did. There weren't many tourists about and some foodstuffs were in short supply, but we had a lovely stay. The people were all very helpful and kind. There were young men along the walk to the Falls who were pretty desperately trying to sell us carvings, etc., but we struck up a conversation with one and asked him to accompany us to the park entrance in exchange for buying from him. He kept all the others away while we walked. We went to the VF Hotel one evening for dinner and also hired an escort again.

Here are some photos from VF, if you're interested: http://www.jmstudio.fotopic.net/c1494305.html

There are several options for the sunset cruise/safari. Ilala Lodge has its own small boat, which takes a dozen or fewer. The time we went, there were just six of us and we had a nice time on the river, conversing and watching the sunset. Saw some hippos and various birds, not terribly exciting, especially compared to what we saw in Namibia and along the Chobe, but a very pleasant time.
julia1 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 02:30 PM
Original Poster
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Thank you all for your replies. We are going ahead and staying at Ilala. We'll stay on top of the reports but all things seem to be safe for tourists.

We are so excited. It's almost time to leave!!
JLGesicki is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 06:19 PM
Join Date: Dec 2007
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JL Gesicki

We were at Vic Falls on the Zimbabwe side on July 12th and 13th and we (a family with two small children) had absolultely no problems whatsoever. We were treated with courtesy and kindness where ever we went and not once did I feel we were in any danger. I am very happy we sent some time, albeit, limited in Zimbabwe. We had a guided tour of the Zim side of the falls and we learned a lot from our guide who was born and raised in Zimbabwe. Although I know there are differing opinions about spending travel dollars in Zimbabwe, after talking to our guide and learning of the devastatingly poor conditions there, we were happy we were able to spend our tourist dollars with the locals.

In fact, based upon our experience I personally would not hesitate to vacation in Zimbabwe. This is my own personal opinion and I am not trying to persuade anyone, but merely expressing how I felt about our visit to Zimbabwe.
twoboysmom is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 06:30 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 509
We depart for Africa 8/3 and will be at Vic Falls on the Zim side about a week later. Back in January we were worried about the Kenya portion of our trip and thought about changing to Tanzania, although that would mean missing the bulk of the Migration...so we stayed with our original itinerary and are now SO glad we did. When problems arose in Zim we decided to try the "watchful waiting" route again. AAC arranged our trip and one of their principals just returned (uneventfully) from Vic Falls -- so we're reassured about proceeding as planned. (just 12 days until departure!!!!)
skibumette is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 01:47 PM
Join Date: May 2008
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glad to hear that you are positive in view to zim! people deserve every support they can get!

wish you a great trip and safe travels!

happy landings!

divine54 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 02:57 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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Thanks Div. Have a great and safe Nov. trip as well.
JLGesicki is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 12:32 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9
Visited Vic Falls last week on the Zim side and stayed three nights. The area is doing it a little tough due to lower numbers, so everyone is very keen to extend every courtesy and make you feel safe.

At no time were we concerned for our safety or saw anything that could cause alarm.
smiffs is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 01:30 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 21
Hi JLGesicki

Ilala is a great choice - it's to beautiful. I have clients that just returned from Zim. They tell me that it was wonderful and as Smiffs said the people are wonderfully hospitable.

I am sure you are going to have a most awesome holiday.
Drum_Africa_Tours is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 01:33 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 21
Oh sorry one more thing.

There is a company that I use for tours and trips in Zim - called Wild Horizons - I deal with a lady called Oral, her address is [email protected]

They do hisotrical trips and helicopter flips and know the area very well. You might want to contact them about any additional trips while in Zim.

Have fun
Drum_Africa_Tours is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 07:50 AM
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Here's a 'second' for Wild Horizons. They handled our road transfers - from airport to Ilala Lodge; from Ilala Lodge to Chobe Savanna; Chobe Savanna to VFA airport - and few extras for us and were always spot-on with the timings and logistics.
julia1 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2008, 12:58 PM
Join Date: May 2008
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thx drum and julia
i'll also check them out for our transfers.

divine54 is offline  
Jul 29th, 2008, 03:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 11
Thanks to you all. Smiffs, it's encouraging and reassuring to hear good reports from such a recent trip. 7 weeks to go!!
JLGesicki is offline  

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