Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls -

Saturday, 17 February 2018

AAT appoints new boss for Vic Falls Safari Lodge

Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) hospitality group has appointed Dustin Kennedy as general manager of its Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate.

He took over the reins on Monday, replacing Jonathan Hudson who left the group in October.

AAT chairman, Dave Glynn, said Kennedy’s experience would boost the hospitality group.
“His 5-star experience in Zanzibar together with a host of experience in the hotel industry in many countries makes him ideally qualified for our existing needs and aspirations for AAT going forward. We look forward to his positive impact,” Glynn said.
Kennedy said it was an honour to be joining the hospitality group.
“This is a lifelong goal achieved, and I intend to use my 16 years of international hospitality experience and knowledge to assist in ensuring that we are providing our guests with the most memorable experiences the region has to offer,” he said.
Kennedy was born in a family involved in the hospitality and tourism business in Zimbabwe, and has wide experience in management roles in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Dubai and Zanzibar, after working up through the ranks from his early 20s.
AAT said Kennedy has known the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate, and many of the staff too, since it was built in the early 1990s, and has closely followed all developments that have taken place.
A passionate hotelier with a keen sense for the “guest experience” and well-known to the travel trade in the region, Kennedy joins AAT at an exciting time of growth and potential for the tourism sector in Zimbabwe after a very positive 2017.

Adoption of Victoria Falls (SEZ) to boost tourism arrivals

The Government of Zimbabwe is set to consider the adoption of the Victoria Falls Tourism Special Economic Zone corridor approach which will go a long way in addressing imbalances in product profiling within Matebelaland North region, a move which is set to benefit marginalised communities especially such as Gwanda and the part of lower Zambezi area which have been excluded for a quite a long time with women and children the most affected.

"This will go a long way in ensuring tourism development does not only concentrate on Victoria Falls but spreads to the entire province", said the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon Prisca Mupfumira while speaking during a consultative workshop on the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) in Victoria Falls.

Minister Mupfumira further emphasised that the designation of the region as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) should not only concentrate on investment from outside the country while ignoring the local people at the grassroots level. The project will, upon successful implementation, enable the Victoria Falls Tourism Special Economic Zone to see the emergency of world class tourism and hospitality training institutions that will capture the attention of the entire SADC region.

She said Government through her ministry had shown preparedness and commitment to the development of the Victoria Falls Tourism Special Economic Zone by placing the project under the ministry's 100~day work programme.

Hon Mupfumira also challenged the accommodation sector in Victoria Falls to seriously consider the domestic tourism market and not only be glued on international tourism, as it presents opportunity for economic growth and sustainability of the hospitality industry.

Presently, Victoria Falls has 1 781 rooms and hotels constitute 1 125 of the rooms while the remaining balance being lodges and other accommodation facilities.

The project which was funded at the tune of US$80k saw the training of women and youth residents in Victoria Falls in housekeeping, food and beverage services, food preparation, tour guiding and business management for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and women co~operatives in the tourism sector.

This development by the Tourism sector in Zimbabwe through Government's adoption of the Victoria Falls Tourism Special Economic Zone will see a boost in arrivals not only for Victoria Falls but also stimulate growth for tourism for other towns along the railway line corridors such as Gwanda.

Source: Adoption of Victoria Falls (SEZ) to boost tourism arrivals in marginalised Mat North (16/02/18)

Friday, 16 February 2018

Hospitalised elephant handler fears he may never walk again

A VICTORIA Falls tour guide, who was trampled and left for dead by a domesticated elephant last week, is still battling for his life at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo.

James Ncube (64) of Milonga Village in Jambezi, sustained spinal injuries after an elephant from Africa Centre for Holistic Management (ACHM) went berserk and trampled him.
Ncube told Southern Eye from his hospital bed on Monday that he has lost hope of ever walking again.
“It is still painful as I was stitched all over my body. I hardly sleep, but the doctors are trying by all means to save my life. I am waiting for them to put a cast on my fractured limbs, but I cannot sit nor walk,” he said.
His wife, who identified herself as MaSibanda, said her husband had a slim chance of surviving.
“This is a blow to the family. As he said, he cannot do anything. The day of the incident, he was asked to remove the elephant from the garden where they grow maize. As he was walking it out, it attacked his boss [Hazel Palmer] before turning on him. The person who was employed to handle it called Simon was off duty, that is why they had to assign my husband. When I saw him at hospital, I never thought he was going to make it to this day. We thank God for saving his life.”
However, ACHM founder Allan Savory’s daughter, Sarah, disputed claims that the elephant was domesticated.
She insisted that the elephant just attacked Ncube and Palmer, as they were walking along a foot path.
“I am not sure where you got that information, but it is not correct and has caused great stress for all of us involved in the incident.
“Dojiwe (the elephant) was not a domesticated elephant. She was orphaned as a very young calf and we rescued her. No wild animal can or should ever be described as domesticated. When elephants are orphaned, they have to have constant companionship, otherwise they would die of loneliness and this companionship has to be with human handlers.”
Savory said the rogue elephant was put down in order to save human lives.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Concern over accommodation capacity in Victoria Falls

THE Government is concerned about limited accommodation and conferencing facilities in Victoria Falls which makes the country’s prime tourist town inferior to other international destinations, a Cabinet Minister has said.

Speaking during the ground breaking ceremony of $13 million Sawanga Shopping Mall being built by Zimbabwe Reinsurance (Zimre) Property Investments in Victoria Falls on Friday, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira said Victoria Falls will face hotel accommodation challenges by 2020 if no new facilities are built.

“Currently, Victoria Falls is lagging behind other regional destinations such as Durban and Cape Town in terms of accommodation and conferencing as well as entertainment facilities,” she said. Victoria Falls has 1 781 rooms, of which 1 125 are in hotels and the remainder offered by guest houses and lodges. Residents have been turning their houses into lodges to cater for unmet demand.

“Victoria Falls is indeed under-hoteled. Going by the renewed confidence in destination Zimbabwe in general and Victoria Falls in particular, arising from visitor-friendly policies being implemented under the new era, the resort town is bound to run short of accommodation by year 2020,” she said.

The Minister noted the need to increase room capacity by not less than 1 500 by 2020 to cater for the anticipated increase in tourist arrivals.

The Government is also planning to build a convention and conference centre on a piece of land between Masue River and the Victoria Falls International Airport where there will be conference facilities, hotels, banks and amenities.

Minister Mupfumira said it was worrying that the resort town which the Government wants as its conferencing capital has no suitable facilities.

The only possibly big conference facility is at Elephant Hills Resort where about 500 delegates can be accommodated.

She said the Government is open for investment in the hospitality sector.

“Against this background, the need for increased investment in tourism facilities by both local and foreign investors needs not to be overemphasised,” she said.

Under the Government’s 100 Day Plan, Minister Mupfumira said her ministry would be convening consultative workshops to get stakeholder input on the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) development process in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Chinhoyi, Masvingo and Victoria Falls.

The workshops begin this week, the first in Harare tomorrow with a view to developing a comprehensive approach to tourism.

Source: Accommodation worry in Vic Falls (08/02/18)

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Zimre Pours $13m Into Vic Falls First Ever Mall

Victoria Falls — Restructuring conglomerate Zimre Holdings Limited (ZHL), through its Zimre Property Investments, has started constructing a $13 million multi-purpose shopping mall in the resort town.
A ground breaking ceremony was held on Friday on the 1 500 hectare piece of land along Pioneer Road, with construction set to finish in January next year, according to the Contractor, Masimba Construction Company.
To become the first ever shopping mall in Victoria Falls, the complex will be known as Sawanga Shopping Mall and will house 23 tenants including big shops such as Pick'n Pay, banks, restaurants, a car park and offices among others.
Tourism and Hospitality Minister, Prisca Mupfumira, who was guest of honour, said the development was a clear sign of good prospects for the resort town.
She said some investors had shown interest in the development of tourism facilities in the resort town.
"I would want to commend Zimre for investing $13 million into this mall which will surely change the fortunes of Victoria Falls as a destination. This development is indeed significant as it shows renewed confidence in Zimbabwe arising from renewed interest in the country.
"This is testimony of great things to come in the tourism front and we thank Zimre for complementing government efforts to promote local investment," said Minister Mupfumira.
She said the complex will centralise market under one roof thereby ensuring ease of doing business.
The name is derived from the Nambya people's early Chief Sawanga who migrated to Hwange from the Rozvi State.
Zimre managing director, Edson Muvingi, said the mall will be more than an ordinary complex with a lifestyle centre and entertainment hub.
Victoria Falls Town Clerk, Ronnie Dube, challenged the contractor to employ locals saying the project should benefit local people.
A representative from Masimba Construction said actual construction will start in two months after clearing about 15 000 cubic metres of Kalahari sands from the piece of land.
The project comes almost a year after the resort town was identified as one of the Special Economic Zones where government is calling on investors to take up various developmental projects.
Source: Zimre Pours $13m Into Vic Falls First Ever Mall (05/02/18)

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Zambezi River flowed before the dinosaurs roamed

The Zambezi River has recently been declared the oldest river in the world, celebrating its 280 millionth birthday, so was flowing 30 million years before the Triassic, when the first dinosaurs appeared. How can we say that?

A small caveat…
Geology is one of the most fascinating subjects in the world. To a layman it can seem like an incredibly complicated subject — and it is! — but there is much of value in understanding some basics relating to the stone and dirt beneath our feet.
Understanding the evolution and development of the Zambezi river system is deeply complicated and new research constantly changes what we know.
What is presented here is an amalgamation of the latest findings, simplified with as little of the inevitable jargon as possible.
Tell us a little about the Zambezi.
Today it is Africa’s fourth-largest river and remains one of the finest and least spoilt rivers in the world. Its source rises from a tiny spring in north-western Zambia and flows for 2,700 kms into the Indian Ocean at its delta on the Mozambique coast.
Its basin, if you include all the river’s tributaries, covers most of central and southern Africa; an area of some 1.3 million square kilometres — larger than the Sahara Desert.
Eight countries in the region are directly linked into this vast river system: Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique.
Within its catchment, the geological and palaeontological heritage of this part of the planet is almost without comparison.
Current biodiversity — the species of birds, plants, animals, insects, fish, birds, etc — within this area is ancient and deserves much more protection, research and appreciation than is currently the case.
How old is the river?
Newly published research has dated the beginnings of the river to 280 million years ago!
What is particularly fascinating about this latest research is geological study now establishes the ancient Proto-Zambezi (i.e. the river in its earliest phase) as the Earth’s oldest-known river and, perhaps confusingly to us today, that this ancient Proto-Zambezi ran in exactly the opposite direction, west across Africa into the Karoo, compared to what it does today, flowing east into the Indian Ocean.
The Proto-Zambezi was formed as Gondwana’s ice sheets begin to melt as the super-continent drifted northwards.
Water flowing downhill formed part of the river we would now call the Middle Zambezi and the Luangwa. The river flowed west at this time because of the huge mountains — bigger than the Himalayas — in the centre-east portion of the super-continent (see Figure A).
What’s the evidence for this?
There is geological, hydrological, landscape formation studies, as well as a study of the distribution of various lifeforms, especially fish, living in the river (see below). One can date the spread of such species via cutting edge genetic studies.
The Proto-Zambezi river originated in the drainage system that was established as vast Dwyka ice-sheets were melting and becoming smaller across the super-continent of Gondwana (see Figure A).
Gondwana was formed when the cratons that now form the continents of Africa, South America, Antarctica, India and Australia were welded together thanks to plate tectonics.
As Figure B shows, at this time the immense highlands of the Trans-Gondwana mountains directed the westerly flow of glacial meltwaters into the interior of Gondwana.
With its catchment entirely contained within Gondwana, this massive river sustained a vast, inland sea centred on modern‑day Botswana.
So how did the geology affect the rivers?
This geological record of the ancestral Proto‑Zambezi follows much of the same route as the modern river.
In particular, the evidence reveals that precursors of the modern Luangwa and Middle Zambezi already existed in the early Permian, some 300 million years ago.
This geological record in the Luangwa and Middle Zambezi valleys has survived despite the complete reversal of the Zambezi’s flow caused by Gondwana’s breakup, which forged the African continent.
Around 200 million years ago, for a period of 100 million years, a flowing mass of lava began to emerge from within the earth — the Stormberg lavas.
Fluid enough to flow over the land and fill hollows, troughs and valleys, it left behind an almost horizontal aspect, trapping sandstones beneath.
Eventually an area of at least 2,000,000 square kilometres were covered by these various lava sheets to a depth of perhaps nearly 1000 metres deep at Victoria Falls and up to 9000 metres elsewhere!
This basalt was subjected to great stress due to cooling and regional tectonic activity.
This stress caused deep fracturing and lines of weakness, and it is these that the growing Zambezi river would come to exploit in its course via river capture.
Explain river capture.
When a river is extending its channel upstream by headward erosion ( the lengthening of a river’s course by erosion backwards from its source), it may come into contact with the headwaters of a river which is less vigorous.
The headwaters from the minor river may be diverted into the more rapidly eroding channel. This is more or less how the Zambezi has grown into the massive river we know today.
At one time, most of the tributaries of the Zambezi river flowed south into the Limpopo River, but have all been captured.
As Gondwana broke up and as the continents drifted, river by river, flow in the Proto‑Zambezi’s catchment was redirected eastwards into the Indian Ocean, away from the previous lake inland where Botswana lies today.
The Zambezi captured rivers arising to the north – the Kafue, then the upper Zambezi and lower Kwando.
This capture resulted in the loss of water to the palaeo-lake Makgadikgadi and it shrank in size.
And the evidence from fish?
Something quite fun to consider is the fact that we can also trace the changing river systems in this area thanks to the spread of a rather important creature to Zimbabwe’s tourism industry.
The first known ancestors of the tigerfishes, Hydrocynus, are known in North Africa dated to between 35-21 million years ago.
The evidence from DNA studies reveals our local tigerfish, the Zambezi tigerfish, H. vittatus evolved within the confines of the Zambezi River where it became isolated from neighbouring populations in central Africa within the past 2-3 million years.
The species is believed to have originated in the Congo Basin; and thereafter it dispersed through south- central Africa southwards as far as southern Mozambique, and Mpumalanga and Kwa-Zulu-Natal in South Africa. T
he Kasai, a north-flowing Congo tributary, captured an easterly flowing headwater of the Upper Zambezi. Thereafter tigerfish dispersed far and wide south of the Southern Equatorial Divide.
It only colonised the Middle Zambezi below the Batoka Gorges within the past 200,000 years.
What next?
The next river to be captured is the Okavango which will see the eventual end of the magnificent Delta.
Once the Okavango River is captured an entire drainage network that once formed part of the Limpopo Rover system will have shifted to the Zambezi.
Geologically recent captures of the Chobe, Kafue and Upper Zambezi testify to the relative youth of the (modern) river’s shape.
The Great Equatorial Divide on Africa’s high plateaux comprises the Zambezi’s modern watershed, and its present position testifies to repeated re-shuffles of links between long lived rivers. To summarise, scientists now estimate the modern Zambezi basin to be barely 250 thousand years old.
This article is based on the work published by: Cotterill, F.P.D., A.E. Moore & R.M. Key. 2016. On the Antiquity of the Zambezi River, its Rifts, and its Wilderness. African Fisherman 172, 31-35.
Source: Zambezi River flowed before the dinosaurs roamed (02/02/18)

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'Domesticated' elephant shot after trampling handler, Victoria Falls

The incident happened on Wednesday morning at Dibamombe Safari Lodge 32km from Victoria Falls town.

The elephant, called Dojiwe, was shot and killed by Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers after the attack on Thursday.

A witness and co-worker said the elephant turned against James Tshuma and their manager, as they were chasing it away from a maize patch in the garden.

“After opening the paddock, Dojiwe went to the garden instead of going to graze. Our manager [Hazel] Palmer, together with Tshuma, then led her out and she complied. As they were leading her out, she hit Palmer with her trunk and that is when Tshuma tried to reprimand her, but she immediately turned on him,” Stephen Tshuma said.

“It lifted him up before throwing him to the ground and trampling on his feet and goring him all over his body. He was badly injured.

“It then left him after noticing the feeding cubes that he had dropped scattered all over and that’s when we took him to hospital and he was transferred to Bulawayo.”

Dojiwe, the elephant, was popularly known for her adventurous and friendly behaviour towards tourists, who would visit the site to marvel at her kneeling down and kicking the ball, among other tricks.

Tshuma said it was their first time to witness such behaviour since her adoption.

Last year, another domesticated elephant called Mbanje from Adventure Zone was shot after trampling its handler to death.

Animal rights activists condemn elephants capture and rides, arguing that the practice is cruel and should be banned.

Source: Jumbo tramples handler, shot dead after attack (03/02/18)

More: Elephant tramples handler in Victoria Falls (03/02/18)
Domesticated elephant shot after trampling handler (03/02/18)