Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a sun-seeker, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe will hit the right spot with everyone.
I stayed in Africa Albida’s five star boutique Victoria Falls Safari Club overlooking the Zambezi National Park. There’s a two-tiered swimming pool with sundeck for holiday-goers who prefer to relax, and it’s in an ideal location for more exciting activities - including helicopter trips above Victoria Falls or walking with lions - if chilling out is not your thing.
The Safari Club rooms are extremely comfortable, with a king size bed, standalone bath, private balcony and lots of attention to the little details.
The main attraction, however, has to be the view. I spent hours - even rising early when there was no need to, which is very unlike me - just sitting on the balcony enjoying the uninterrupted beauty and watching for wildlife. With a complimentary mini bar and your own Nespresso coffee machine, sitting there and watching the animals go about their business with the hot sun beaming down on you is just bliss.
Even though I was only there for two nights, I spotted an abundance of bushbucks (a species of antelope), water buffalo, warthogs, a crocodile and plenty of birds such as vultures. I also heard lots about the juvenile bull elephant who had been crushing the road signs en-route into the hotel, but he didn’t make an appearance during my short stay.
Interestingly, the hotel runs a feeding programme for endangered vultures - every day at 1pm, the birds flock in their hundreds to feed on the hotel’s leftover scraps. It’s a sight to see, and I even felt sorry for the creatures as they have to contend with poachers, predators and poison on a daily basis.
Another highlight was the sundowner cocktails, served in the bar overlooking the watering hole each evening. It was great to take time out to enjoy my surroundings and watch the sunset while enjoying a refreshing gin and tonic.
The food is also top notch - everything from the fruit platter at breakfast to the dainty cakes and sandwiches for afternoon tea and the roast eland loin for evening dinner. It was all well cooked, plentiful and delicious.
Another great way to watch the sunset is to take a cruise down the Zambezi River on the Zambezi Explorer. Relax with a beer or a cocktail, along with some tasty nibbles such as crocodile sliders, and keep your eyes peeled for the animals. We spotted a yawning pod of hippos, crocodile and a pair of - very distant - zebras.
On the second night, I visited the Boma Dinner and Drum Show - this was a great source of entertainment, with fabulous dancing and drumming, a wide selection of foods including braai (an African barbecue), and the chance to have a go on the drums yourself.
Of course, a trip to Zimbabwe would not be complete without visiting the magnificent Victoria Falls. I’m not even sure I can find enough words to describe just how amazing this is.
Even though I visited during December, which is the ‘dry season’, the magnitude of the falls, the roar of the water, was just amazing. We took a walk through the rainforest, stopping at different viewing points along the way. With animals running across your path and numerous beautiful plants, flowers and birds pointed out by my guide Zulu, it was idyllic. It was worth the travelling time from the UK just to see the falls alone.
The only word of warning I would give is to watch out for the mosquitoes, especially at night. Make sure you cover up and use plenty of insect repellent regularly.
My trip to Victoria Falls was made possible because of Ethiopian Airlines’ new flight route from Manchester Airport.
The airline has been running flights from London since 1973, but has expanded into the north, with flights to Ethiopia four times a week. Ethiopia is something of a travel hub, with connections to 60 destinations in Africa, including Victoria Falls.
If you’ve got an overnight stay while waiting for your next flight then you won’t go wrong by spending the night at the Sheraton Addis Ababa, a five star Luxury Collection hotel less than five miles away from the airport.
With air-conditioned rooms, comfortable king size beds, a relaxing pool area, top rate food and beautiful gardens and surroundings, it’s the ideal place to rest your head before continuing your journey. (www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/addlc-sheraton-addis-a-luxury-collection-hotel-addis-ababa).
I passed the time at the nearby Yod Abyssinia Cultural Restaurant, where I enjoyed traditional Ethiopian food and entertainment. There was nothing I could fault and I experienced some wonderful hospitality everywhere I went.
Zimbabwe and Ethiopia might not be the first African holiday destinations that spring to mind, but they are both, without a doubt, well worth a visit.
I honestly can’t recommend this entire trip enough.
From the beautiful sights to world class hotels, from good food to great activities, everything was A star.
Prices at Victoria Falls Safari Club start from £223* per person per night on a B&B basis in Green Season 2019. For more information or to book, visit www.africaalbidatourism.com or call +263 213 284 3211.
Ethiopian Airlines flies four times per week from Manchester Airport to Addis Ababa and onto Victoria Falls with a modern fleet. Lead in return fares start at £690 economy and £2,325 business class, inclusive of all taxes, bookable online at https://www.ethiopianairlines.com; telephone 01753 967 980 or via travel agencies.
Manchester Airport is the UK’s global gateway in the North with more than 210 destinations. Start your journey off in style in one of the airport’s three Escape Lounges from just £21 see www.manchesterairport.co.uk for more information.
* Depending on the exchange rate.