Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls - - click image to visit site

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

New Dispensation Real Boon for Tourism

Since the coming in of the new political dispensation in Zimbabwe, tourism receipts have dramatically increased and statistics from the Victoria Falls alone, can confirm, captains of the tourism industry have said.
Hotels in the Victoria Falls, it emerged, are now fully booked for September and October, which has not happened in recent years, as Zimbabwe continues to open for business.
In presentations made on the side lines of the Africa Indaba Travel and Tourism Expo, in Durban recently, Africa Albida tourism chief executive Mr Ross Kennedy, Rainbow Tourism Group chief executive Tendai Madzivanyika and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief Executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke, separately acknowledged to boon in tourism.
Mr Kennedy said there was a 48 percent increase in air traffic arrivals at the Victoria Falls International Airport from January to April compared to the same period last years.
"This is not just a percentage. The additional tourist arrivals via the airport are actually 17 680 from last year's figures.
"Although the Victoria Falls Bridge has not done the same in terms of compiling statistics, the border posts around Victoria Falls recorded a 30 percent increase which is 87 000 people in the same period.
"There are now 55 scheduled flights from Victoria Falls each week and if you ask me, what was there last year, you get nothing near half of that. Try and link this to the rest of the country and see the multiplying effect.
"Our industry is driven by perception. One man went to Davos (President Mnangagwa) and things changed. We export more to happen this year," he said.
In a separate presentation RTG chief executive Mr Madzivanyika, confirmed Mr Kennedy's story and said the new dispensation had really opened the fortunes of the industry.
"There is serious recognition of the efforts by the new Government by the international community due to the re-engagement efforts. Indeed the efforts are bearing fruits. In the quarter of this year alone, our hotel occupancy increased by 20 percent.
"Where is the world have you seen such phenomenal growth in four months? It can only be in Zimbabwe. We all now have hope. Hope makes you face up and the moment you face up, you are going forward," said Mr Madzivanyika.
ZTA CE Mr Karikoga Kaseke said he was worried by the capacity of the Victoria Falls to have enough rooms for a boom in tourism.
"There is a an tour operator exhibiting here who approached me yesterday to say he has failed to get accommodation in Victoria Falls for a group of 20 in September. The industry then told me it is full up to end of October. It is going to be worse.
"We must start working on our room capacity," he said.
Source: New Dispensation Real Boon for Tourism (15/05/18)

Baboon Mauls Baby

A Victoria Falls woman has told of her shock after she found a baboon mauling her one-year-old baby after it caught her playing with her sibling at home.
Jean Gama said she did not believe the girl would survive the vicious attack by the usually friendly primate a fortnight ago, which left her with huge scars on her head and face.
“My daughter was playing outside the house with her 12-year-old brother, while I prepared breakfast for them at around 9am,” she told The Standard.
“Suddenly I heard her scream like someone who was in severe pain.
“I rushed outside and found the baboon had sunk its teeth on her scalp and face.
“I hit it with a huge stone and that’s when it finally loosened its grip on her before fleeing.
"Apparently the baboon wanted to take away my daughter’s doll. The baboon’s teeth penetrated her skull and I don’t know what it means for her health as she grows up."
Gama sought treatment for her daughter in Zambia because there was no medication at health centres in the resort town.
The doctors gave the child several injections of antibiotics to prevent any infections. However, the doctors said her scars would take some time to heal.
“When we took her to hospital she was bleeding profusely and was unconscious,” Gama said.
“At the hospital there was another woman whose son had also been bitten by a baboon.”
Chinotimba residents said baboons had become a menace in their neighbourhood as they broke their windows and doors in search of food.
The baboons also attack women and children, but the mauling of the baby was the most violent incident in recent years.
Other areas where baboons invade people’s homes are Aerodrome, Bongoland and the central business district.
“We keep our windows and doors closed all the time because of the marauding baboons,” said Reuben Dube, a Chinotimba resident.

“They take away anything they find in the house and we no longer have gardens because they destroy our crops.
“We have made several reports to the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) but they don’t respond.”
Dube said parents now accompany their children to and from school on a daily basis out of fear of attack by the baboons.
However, Zimparks blamed the influx of baboons in residential areas on residents that give them food.
“They must not be given food or anything,” Zimparks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said.
“There is nothing much that we can do because they will be moving in their corridors. Residents must take safety measures while we do our part.”
Source: Baboon Mauls Baby (15/5/18)

Friday, 11 May 2018

Victoria Falls council considers imposing tourism levy; govt condemns move

VICTORIA Falls Municipality is planning to introduce a tourism levy where tour operators will be expected to pay $1 for each visitor booking with them either for accommodation or activities in the resort town.
Town Clerk Ronnie Dube said funds raised through the tax would be used for infrastructure development.
However, tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira said it was folly for council to demand a levy from tour operators who are already paying rates.
“The tourism levy is for development and not for cleaning,” she said.
“Operators pay rates to council and we can’t have them paying an extra charge.
“The local authority is mandated by government to develop infrastructure which is why they collect rates, even from the same operators they want to charge.”
This is not the first time the local authority has made the proposal. In 2013 the municipality proposed charging a levy on tourists visiting the rainforest to raise revenue for infrastructure development in the resort town.
Meanwhile, Victoria Falls residents have been calling for free entry into Rainforest, saying they cannot afford to pay $7 entry fees for locals.
The complaint has been at various platforms where residents have argued that they were not benefitting from the resource yet it’s their God-given wonder.
Minister Mupfumira said government is considering allowing locals free access into the Rainforest as a way of promoting domestic tourism.
“I support the idea and agree with locals,” she said.
“People living in Victoria Falls must have a chance to visit the Rainforest freely or pay a small fee because this is their resource.”

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Croc attack couple opens up

A WOMAN who lost an arm in a crocodile attack in the Zambezi River in Victoria Falls five days before her wedding has revealed how, before the horrific incident, her only worry was decorating the wedding venue and other associated preparations for their nuptials.

Speaking for the first time in an exclusive interview with The Chronicle in Bulawayo yesterday, Mrs Zanele Ndlovu-Fox and her husband Mr Jamie Fox said their love was enough to overcome the tragedy.

The beautiful story of the two, whose love got an acid test a few days before their wedding, has attracted international media attention as they are living proof that love conquers all.

Mrs Ndlovu-Fox was attacked by a crocodile while she was canoeing in the mighty Zambezi River with her then fiancĂ©’s family.

The surprisingly cheerful Mrs Ndlovu-Fox animatedly described how her husband risked his life to literally snatch her back from the jaws of the crocodile.

“We were canoeing in the upper Zambezi using those inflated rafts. The waters were very calm, we had guides and there were about seven canoes in the water,” she said glancing lovingly at her husband who was massaging her feet that were draped on him on the balcony of the Catholic-run Mater Dei hospital.

“The crocodile just jumped out of the water and bit a chunk of my arm together with the side of the boat”.

The couple said guides had told them crocodiles were rare in that part of the river.

“The canoe started deflating and it all happened so fast. The crocodile bit me again and pulled me into the water. My husband was thrown out on the opposite side so the boat was between us,” Mrs Ndlovu-Fox said.

“Jamie swam over to where I was struggling with the crocodile that was trying to pull me to the bottom of the river. He grabbed my waist and with the other hand he rained blows on the crocodile”.
At this point, the couple gazed into each other’s eyes and burst out laughing.

“It all happened so fast. We have conflicting accounts of events,” said Mr Fox.

They said when the guides saw them battling the huge reptile, they joined in.

“The crocodile finally let go,” said Mr Fox.

Mrs Ndlovu-Fox said her right arm, just above the elbow, was in tatters.

“The pain was excruciating but with my husband by my side, I summoned the strength to fight through it,” said a beaming Mrs Ndlovu-Fox, who appeared unperturbed by her condition.

She said they were rushed to safety and her husband was visibly in shock but tried to calm her down.

A helicopter airlifted them to a hospital in Victoria Falls where she was then transferred to Mater Dei Hospital in the city.

“I get depressed by people who come here and start crying you know. I know people feel pity for me at this moment but being more sorrowful does not help the situation,” said Mrs Ndlovu-Fox.

“I look forward to friends and family who are going to make me laugh and not remind me of what is going on. I actually spend my time comforting my relatives”

Her arm had to be amputated following the attack a few days before their big day.

Defying odds, the two wed in a beautiful ceremony facilitated by Mater Dei Hospital at the hospital’s chapel.

“I spent a lot of time preparing for my wedding day, running around for a venue, decor and so forth. I didn’t know that fate would have me wed in a hospital chapel, with one limb missing. But in all this, I’m not complaining, my wedding was the best, and I have a wonderful husband,” Mrs Ndlovu-Fox said.

The couple could not keep their hands off each other throughout the interview.

Asked why he had not run for the hills instead of tying the knot, Mr Fox said: “It’s a miracle; there is no other way to explain it. I thought it was some joke and someone was pranking us. It took about five seconds for me to see it was real,” said the groom.

“I love her even more and this incident actually made me feel the deep meaning in our vows. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, that’s just how our love is going to be. I never even at one point had the thought of calling off the wedding.”

“We met in 2016. I had come to Zimbabwe for some programme. I knew then that I wanted to marry her.

“I visited the country a couple of times, but I finally proposed in February 2018 at Antelope Park in Gweru. She said yes. I was at my most nervous as I so much wanted her to say yes. She agreed and I approached her family, paid bride price and we set off planning our wedding. She was responsible for wedding preps and I was sorting out her visa.”

The couple are preparing travelling documents as they will be relocating to the United Kingdom soon.

The wedding had to be conducted at the Mater Dei hospital chapel where a Methodist pastor officiated before an unexpected 60 guests.

Another wedding ceremony continued — in their absence — at Busters Sports Club in Hillside, which had initially been booked for the wedding.

A majority of the guests first heard of the attack at the ceremony.

“Our wedding was blissful. It was perfect and there were so many people in the chapel. We watched the other ceremony on videos and we saw photos. It was beautiful. I really wish we were there but I’m so happy that the wedding proceeded despite all the drama,” said Mr Fox.

The love birds could not stop smiling as they sat on the balcony of the hospital ward while admiring the beautiful scenery.

“There’s always something good about life to celebrate. Just look at how beautiful this view is. Sunshine and green, it’s beautiful,” said Mrs Ndlovu-Fox as her husband continued massaging her foot.

Mrs Ndlovu-Fox was a renowned junior Tennis player. She played for the Dominican Convent School first team, represented Bulawayo province and toured southern Africa playing International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments.

Source: Croc attack couple opens up (08/05/18)

More: Crocodile attacks tourists canoeing in Zambezi River (08/05/18)

Investor keen to bring Grand Prix to Victoria Falls

THE world of motor racing could soon be coming to Zimbabwe after an investor expressed interest in developing the sport’s facilities in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira told the media in Victoria Falls last week that among potential investors that had responded to the Government’s call for partners in infrastructure development under the Zimbabwe is open for business mantra, was an interest in bringing the Grand Prix to Zimbabwe.

“We are currently going through proposals. We are looking at having a theme park because activities are limited in Victoria Falls. People have sent their proposals and there is also sports tourism included. Somebody is interested in bringing the Grand Prix to Victoria Falls,” said Minister Mupfumira.

The Grand Prix is held as an international sport in many countries and involves a series of motor-racing or motorcycling contests under international rules.

Government is planning to turn Victoria Falls into its conference capital with state-of-the-art facilities ranging from five to seven star hotels, recreational, banking and sporting facilities.

The Government has since courted some investors with China expressing interest.

The Victoria Falls local authority has also invited investors to partner it in building a one-stop sports facility in the resort town as efforts to develop sports tourism gather momentum.

Minister Mupfumira said work on the ground on some of the infrastructure could start soon once investors are approved.

The Zimbabwe Rugby Union has already engaged council to upgrade Chinotimba Stadium into a multi disciplinary sport facility to be able to host various activities, including the Kwese Sevens Rugby tournament.

Zimbabwe Cricket was allocated land to construct a 10 000-seater stadium in Victoria Falls about four years ago, although nothing has materialised.

All efforts are aimed at developing sport tourism and bringing world events to Victoria Falls.
Victoria Falls is one of the world’s most preferred destinations but has failed to attract world sporting events because of lack of infrastructure.

In August last year, World Chess Federation president Kirsan Nikolayevich IIyumzhinov said Zimbabwe was likely to host the Chess World Cup in 2021.

Source: Investor keen to bring Grand Prix to Victoria Falls (07/05/18)

More: Is motor racing coming to Zimbabwe (08/05/18)

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Crocodile attacks tourists canoeing in Zambezi River

A DARING crocodile which last week attacked two canoes carrying tourists in the Zambezi River has been put down to save lives after one of the tourists lost her arm in the attack.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Zanele Ndlovu was attacked while paddling down the Zambezi in the company of her husband and two other tourists.
“We started hunting for it on Wednesday and we managed to shoot it on Friday afternoon with the assistance from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) ranger,” a tour guide, Skinner Ndlovu said.
“We were monitoring it and after positively identified it through its bruises and being territorial, we shot it when it was sun basking. Such crocodiles are a danger to human beings, so it was no longer safe to do speed boating at the site,” he said.
Adventure Zone owner Brent Williams and professional guide Misheck Ngwenya told Southern Eye that the problem crocodile attacked Ndlovu on April 30 and cut off her right arm.
“I did a detailed safety briefing and started the trip around 9:30am. We paddled down the river for about an hour with everyone having fun. We went through some rapids between picnic site Number Seven and picnic site Number Six. After this, we were drifting down from picnic site Number Six towards picnic site Number Four when out of nowhere a huge crocodile attacked one of our canoes with two guests inside,” Ngwenya said.
“It attacked the middle of the canoe which resulted in it puncturing both front and back tubes. I paddled to rescue them while calling Zenzele and Norman to come and assist. Ndlovu, who was with her husband, was sitting in the front of the canoe and she fell into the river first, while the crocodile was still holding on to the canoe.
When I got there I tried to pull the lady into my canoe and the croc charged at me, but missed, but punctured my canoe resulting in me falling into the water.
“The crocodile turned on Ndlovu, biting her on her upper right bicep. The croc then attempted the death roll, breaking off the lady’s arm. At this time, Norman managed to pull her into the canoe and paddled to the river bank.”
Brent said Ndlovu was evacuated by the Zambezi helicopter and rushed to a local hospital. She is receiving treatment at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo where the doctors amputated her arm.
Reports are that Ndlovu married her United Kingdom-based husband Jamie Fox on Saturday while in her hospital bed.
Zimparks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo confirmed the incident and urged Victoria Falls residents and tourists to avoid picnicking at the river banks without guides.
Last Wednesday, a Chinotimba woman was also nearly swept away while bathing along the riverbed while another tourist nearly drowned after diving into the river last month.

Violent baboons terrorize Victoria Falls residents

Frequent raids by troops of baboons which are terrorising children and women have seen growing calls by the Chinotimba residents in Victoria Falls for responsible authorities to intervene and put to an end the destruction being caused by the animals.

“Enough is enough!” -that is the strong message by the angry Chinotimba residents who say they cannot endure the continued harassment and terror due to the regular raids by a troop of baboons.
The baboons, which often behaves like human beings and are very good tricksters, have kept the residents under lock fearing for their lives.

The animals are said to have become more violent, terrorising children, stealing foodstuffs and in some cases slapping as well as biting residents.

“We are living in fear; these baboons have become a big menace. For how long should we continue to be terrorised? Responsible authorities should surely act before lives are lost,” said one angry resident.
Broken windows, damaged cars and body scars will make one think Chinotimba is a war zone.

While there are no casualties so far, the residents feel behaviour by the animals is a clear declaration of war.

For now it seems the baboons are winning the war.

“We feel Zimparks and all the responsible authorities should come to our rescue and save us from these animals,” said another resident.

The community feels the responsible authorities should urgently intervene before lives are lost.

Some residents feel the Zimparks should relocate some of the animals to places where there are fewer baboons such as Harare and Bulawayo.

“If they could capture them and send them to other places where there are no baboons like Harare that would help us,” Another resident said.

The biggest question is whether the Harare mayor and the residents will accept the generous donation?

The answer is likely to be straight forward, “keep your baboons and we will keep our skyscrapers.”

While the residents pray for some intervention, they have devised ways of minimising the attack for instance men are now tasked to buy bread which is then stashed in a satchel while catapults have become a popular toy for the young ones.

“Varume ndiwo vakunotenga chingwa mazuva ano(Men are the ones who are now going to buy bread). We are afraid of being terrorised. If they buy the bread it will be stashed in a satchel to avoid being confronted,” said another resident.

Victoria Falls is surrounded by game parks and cases of human-wildlife conflict are a common issue in the area. As the resort town expands with more properties being constructed close to the animals territories, there are fears of increased cases of human-wildlife conflict.

Source: Violent baboons terrorize Victoria Falls residents (07/05/18)