Footsteps Through Time

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

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Steam Trains back in fashion

Steam locomotives are back in Zimbabwe (pictured) after being upset for so many decades, desiels and electric trains are being used and a few steam trains running are used in tourist resorts like Victoria Falls and they are owned by private companies like the Victoria Falls Steam train which does trips to the amazing victoriafalls and across the border to Zambia.

Steam locomotives have proved very popular with tourists and this has prompted the National Railways of Zimbabwe to refurbish seven additional locomotives to bring the fleet of steam locomotives to 10, the parastatal’s public relations manager, Mr Fanuel Masikati, said yesterday.

In an interview, Mr Masikati said the locomotives were being used for rail leisure safari, targeting mainly tourists. Mr Masikati said the recent steam locomotive trial run from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls proved very popular with tourists.

“Our target was to have 200 passengers for the maiden trip from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls but we ended up with more than 300 as the trip was over subscribed. In response, we decided to refurbish additional locomotives to meet demand,” he said.

Mr Masikati said the rail leisure steam safari trains will be running on the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls, Bulawayo-Plumtree and Bulawayo-Mbalabala routes. “These trains will run on special days such as the Mother’s, Father’s, Valentine’s and family fun days,” he said.

Mr Masikati said introduction of the rail leisure steam safari trains was expected to generate additional business for the parastatal which in turn was going to increase revenue inflow. “Tourists and the general members of the public enjoy steam locomotives as evidenced by the overwhelming response we got for the maiden Bulawayo-Victoria Falls trip. We are receiving a lot of inquiries locally and internationally from individuals and families that want to take a ride on the trains.

Mr Masikati said the launch of the facility was yet to be confirmed. “Right now we are going to exhibit the rail leisure safari train at the Sanganai-Hlanganani travel expo which this year is going to be held in Harare. It is only after this that we will decide on the launch date,” he said.

Source: Steam Trains Back in Zimbabwe (Oct 2015)

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Poachers kill at least 22 more elephants, bringing total number poisoned this month to 62

At least 22 more elephants - including babies - have been poisoned to death by poachers in Zimbabwe, it was today revealed, as conservationists struggle to stem a spate of deadly attacks.

The animals' carcasses were discovered in Hwange National Park's Sinamatella area alongside 35 tusks, said Caroline Washaya-Moyo, spokeswoman for the parks and wildlife management authority.

The poachers, who apparently killed the elephants with cyanide, escaped with three ivory tusks.

The grim finding - made by park rangers yesterday morning - brings the number of elephants poisoned by poachers in the southern Africa country in October alone to a staggering 62. 

'We recovered 22 elephant carcasses in the Sinamatela area and so far we have also recovered 35 tusks,' Washaya-Moyo told AFP. 'Initial investigations indicate that there was cyanide poisoning.' 

She added: 'We continue to lobby for deterrent penalties for people found with poisonous substances such as cyanide. We can't continue to lose wildlife at such a rate.'

Rangers are now investigating how many of the elephants - who resided at the same park as Cecil the lion, who was shot dead by dentist Walter Palmer in July -  had fully developed tusks.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Washaya-Moyo said: 'We are now trying to check how many elephants had fully developed tusks because babies are among those killed.

'The rate at which we are losing animals to cyanide is alarming. Many other species are also dying from the cyanide used by poachers to target elephants. We are appealing to people in communities close to national parks to cooperate with authorities.'

The latest attacks come less than two weeks after 26 elephants died from poisoning in two separate incidents outside the park, in the resort town of Kariba and near Zimbabwe's border with Botswana.

The three killed in Kariba died from cyanide put in oranges. And last month, at least 14 elephants died of poisoning in various attacks.

In the wake of the poisonings, officials recovered 2.2lbs of poison from the elephants' habitats.

Poaching is common in Zimbabwe's game parks. Elephants and rhino are the main targets for poachers because of their tusks and horns, which are smuggled to eastern Asian countries.

Last year, more than 300 elephants died in suspected cyanide poisonings.
Washaya-Moyo said the parks agency is hoping that trained dogs from South Africa and the deployment of drones will help tighten monitoring of the vast, wildlife-rich park.

Earlier this month, Zimbabwe Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri blamed a ban on elephant sport hunting by the U.S. for increased poaching in the country.

'All this poaching is because of American policies, they are banning sport hunting.
'An elephant would cost $120,000 in sport hunting but a tourist pays only $10 to view the same elephant,' she said, adding money from sport hunting is crucial in conservation efforts. 

Yesterday, the national parks announced that, over the weekend, officials at Harare International Airport seized 380 pounds of ivory, worth $43,250, that was about to be smuggled to Singapore.

Three Zimbabweans and a Malian national were arrested over the smuggling bid, officials said.

Source: Poachers kill at least 22 more elephants, bringing total number poisoned this month to 62 (27/10/15)

Friday, 16 October 2015

Victoria Falls will not dry up

THE African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA) has dismissed recent media reports suggesting Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, was drying up.
ATTA chairman Ross Kennedy, in a statement yesterday, said “perhaps the October madness may have been getting the better of some of those suggesting otherwise”.
“Victoria Falls will never become ‘Victoria Walls’, as locals self-deprecatingly joke,” he said.
Kennedy said according to local river experts, the facts were that there would always be water in Victoria Falls, particularly the Zimbabwean side between the David Livingstone statue and Livingstone Island.
“Traditionally, Victoria Falls is at its driest at this time of the year, and often before the rainy season begins, the Zambian side does come close to drying up, with just a small amount of water flowing over in some places,” he said.
“This is simply because the Falls are slightly lower on the Zimbabwean side.”
Kennedy said due to exceptionally low rainfall in the catchment area during the last rainy season, the water level was at its lowest since 1996.
“The water levels will continue to drop as usual until the rains start in the catchment area north of Victoria Falls. So rest assured, Victoria Falls deservedly remains one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and nothing can change that,” he said.
Kennedy’s strong rebuttal comes amid reports that half of Victoria Falls had dried up and the falls were beginning to get parched.
Source: Victoria Falls will not dry up (15/10/15)

Friday, 9 October 2015

Zimbabwe game park staff arrested over ivory theft

HARARE (AFP) - Three staff members at Zimbabwe s biggest game park have been arrested on suspicion of stealing ivory, officials said Wednesday, highlighting fears that wildlife smuggling is sometimes an "insider job".
Ecologist Edwin Makuwe and game rangers Masimba Nyoni and John Pedzi were arrested on allegations of stealing ivory that was recovered at Harare international airport.
"The offence was discovered during X-ray scanning," Caroline Washaya, spokeswoman for the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, told AFP.
"The Authority wants to ensure that poaching and illegal smuggling of wildlife and wildlife products is under control."
The three were due to appear in court on Wednesday.
Police, security guards and rangers have often been reported to be involved in poaching in Africa.
Last year, an entire police unit in Mozambique was restructured due to its involvement in poaching, according to the WWF.
Also last year, a former field ranger and two South African police officers were arrested in Kruger National Park over the poaching of a black rhinoceros.
The latest arrests in Zimbabwe follow the deaths from cyanide poisoning of 14 elephants in separate incidents in Hwange park and the resort town of Kariba last month.
Five men have been arrested on charges of poisoning 11 of the elephants in Hwange.

Victoria Falls hotels fully booked ahead of Zanu-PF Conference

Hotels and lodges in Victoria Falls are fully booked for December ahead of the 15th Zanu-PF Annual National People's Conference set for the resort town that month. More than 6,000 delegates are expected to attend the conference and operators are gearing up for brisk business.

In an interview, Hotels Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) chairperson Trythings Mutyandasvika, said the tourism sector was excited with the coming of the ruling party summit to the resort town as it will bring business for them.

He said the conferences are a boon as they help hotels and lodges to get exposure.
"When you host such big conferences, it's very beneficial as it markets us as a country and corrects some misconceptions people have about us as a country and a tourist destination.

"We tend to receive a lot of bookings afterwards because tourists will be aware of the country's capacity to offer the best service and we're exposing ourselves as a safe destination to the whole world," Mutyandasvika said.

Employers Association of Tourism Operators president Clement Mukwasi said tour operators are geared for brisk business during the conference period.

"This is a great opportunity for us as a town. We know that everyone who will be attending the conference would want to visit the Victoria Falls and that would greatly increase numbers in our business," Mukwasi said.

"We're always known for being a peaceful country and Victoria Falls on its own exhibits this quality which is why we host such big and numerous conferences. This is a great opportunity for us as a country as we'll attract more and more tourists," he said.

He said some provincial delegates to the conference had failed to secure accommodation due to late booking and would be forced to seek accommodation in residential areas. 

"For that period, all our hotels and lodges are fully booked and that's a good thing for us as a town and the country. This is one of the best things that has happened to us as a town because the government is giving us a vote of confidence to host numerous conferences," he said.

Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Sifiso Mpofu said the Zanu-PF conference puts the tourist destination on the world map which he said was good for boosting tourism in the country.

Source: Victoria Falls hotels fully booked ahead of Zanu-PF Conference (06/10/15)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Victoria Falls' sex tourism increasingly becoming popular

WHEN some foreign tourists think of the Victoria Falls, the first thing that comes to their minds is the scenic spectacle of the majestic sheet of falling water, the largest in the world. But not every foreign visitor sets out to see the waterfall. A growing number of European women and Americans make a stopover with one singular mission in their minds - to engage in sex with Zimbabwe's black men.

In other words, female sex tourism is gradually taking root in Zimbabwe with Victoria Falls being the capital city. 

They fall into three categories; Traditional sex tourists, who have similar characteristics and motives as male sex tourists, Situational sex tourists, who do not intentionally put themselves in a sex tourist position, but find themselves involved in a sexual encounter with local men. Situational sex tourists may fall into the category of either being businesswomen, students, and women in overseas conferences or other women who have different agendas that are non-sexual. Romance tourists, who plan to fulfil their travel with romantic experiences that they cannot experience in their native country.

Most of the female sex tourists who visit Zimbabwe fall into the last category. According to sex tourism researchers, the majority of these women are white, middle-aged or older and often have a history of unhappy relationships with men at home.

Others are in healthy relationships and are attracted by the thrill of indulging in sex with African men.

Female sex tourism is not a new phenomenon in Africa, but many Zimbabweans are unaware that Victoria Falls is increasingly becoming one of the popular destinations for foreign white women who want to engage in sex with African men.

"Some of the white women come here just to engage in sex with black men that they meet in hotels, restaurants and clubs. And most of them are successful as only a few men can resist sex. In any case, most black men have dreams of sleeping with a white woman," said a Victoria Falls hotel employee.

In an interview, a tour guide confirmed that Victoria Falls receives its fair share of female sex tourists. He revealed that most of them are intrigued by stereotypical beliefs that black African males are blessed with unparalleled sexual prowess and that they are gifted below the belt.

He said: "I once asked one white woman why she doesn't target black men in her country and she told me that she wants a pure black man who is in touch with his African roots and she doesn't want her friends and relatives to know that she is into black men because they wouldn't approve."

The tour guide added that some female sex tourists do it because it makes them feel dominant. They achieve this dominance by using money.

A taxi driver disclosed that female sex tourism in Victoria Falls is done covertly because of the stigma that would follow if it becomes known that the men sell sex to female sex tourists.
"Most of the women I have seen with our brothers are ugly and fat and most of the men are younger than the women so it's obvious that the men are attracted by the money that these women have. The other noticeable thing is that most of the men I have seen will be spotting dreadlocks."

This perception is supported by a University of Illinois report which stated that some women who engaged in risky sexual behaviour while travelling said that "they felt freed from sexual double standards at home", and hoped to "feel like a man" by having a one-night stand - no strings attached sex.

A female tourist from England, who identified herself as Leeshel, confirmed that some female tourists come to Africa and in this case, Zimbabwe, just for sex.

"I am not into that but I have friends and relatives who want to engage in sex in every country they visit. I don't see anything wrong with that because they are adults, they can act anyway they want. I don't judge but I don't do that because I am afraid of Aids," Leeshel said.

Leeshel let slip that her friends, who are into sex tourism, told her that it is easier to get men in Zimbabwe because most of the men are literate.

"In other African countries the language barrier poses a problem but here everyone speaks passable English. That makes flirting easy and the women avoid that awkward moment when they have to use gestures to show the men that they want to spend time with them," she said.

Leeshel added that female sex tourists are aware that they have to shower the African men with money and gifts in order to get the happy ending they desire.

"Most of my friends want to feel special and they see Africa as a romantic get-away but the African men see the relationship as a commercial exchange. They (female sex tourists) are aware that they are being used for money but it's a quid pro quo arrangement because they get the attention and sex they crave in return.

"But it's not like they come here and say to the men 'hey, come here I have money, let's engage in sex.' They are savvier than that. They are aware that the exchange of money makes it prostitution and it (prostitution) is illegal here. So they have to be careful and selective," she said.

Kenyan academic and author of Sex Tourism in Africa, Kenya's Booming Industry, Dr Wanjohi Kibicho cements Leeshel's suggestion that most female sex tourists use sex as a way to feel special.

"These women are lonely. Among all the women I talked to, there is an impression of something lacking at home, like their needs are not being met - not only sexual, but also psychological and emotional support," said Dr Kibicho.

According to Wikipedia, female sex tourists are classified as women from a developed country, who travel to less developed countries in search of romance or sexual outlets.
According to people in the tourism sector, the sex seeking white women are well and truly on the prowl for African men, even though they are a little less obvious about it. The women can be seen flirting with Zimbabwean men (although most times it's covertly), often ending in the formation of temporary relationships.

Source: Victoria Falls' sex tourism increasingly becoming popular (04/10/15)

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

11 elephants killed in new Hwange cyanide attack

Up to 11 elephants and several vultures have died in another case of cyanide poisoning in Zimbabwe.

State media in Bulawayo reported this weekend the carcasses of 10 poisoned elephants had been found in Hwange National Park. However, sources on Monday said the figure may actually be 11. 
"There were four found outside Hwange Main Camp (but still inside the park)... It might be five," a conservationist from the Hwange area said in a telephone interview. He said another six carcasses were found beyond the park's boundary.
"They had just been poisoned. The way [poachers] do cyanide, they mix it in a bucket and tip it on the ground and the elephants eat it. They will die right there," he added. 
He said because the carcasses were discovered just two days apart last week, "it would suggest the same person" was responsible.
The figure of 11 dead elephants was corroborated by another source on Monday, but the death toll was expected to rise.
This poisoning incident was separate from the one reported in Kariba last month, where three elephants died after eating cyanide-laced oranges.
The grim news triggers memories of the poisoning of dozens of elephants for their tusks in Hwange in 2013. In that incident, cyanide was placed on salt-licks in the dry park, with some reports indicating up to 300 elephants died.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has not yet confirmed the latest poisoning in Hwange, which was where Cecil the lion lived before being killed by a US dentist on an illegal hunt in July. Hwange is about 600km from the Zimbabwean capital ,Harare.
The state-owned Sunday News said "a number of" vultures had died after feeding off the elephants' carcasses.
It was not immediately clear if the tusks of the Hwange elephants had been removed.
Photos released on Monday by the Kariba Animal Welfare Trust of the elephants poisoned with cyanide in the resort town last month show the animals' tusks were intact.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Paramotor gliders for Vic Falls

THE build-up to the staging of the inaugural paramotor competition is gaining some momentum after the Air Sports Federation of Zimbabwe revealed yesterday that they are expecting more than 30 international competitors, including some from the United States, for this big event that is set to be held at Victoria Falls from January 4-8 next year.

Lawrence Madamombe, the ASFZ president, told The Herald yesterday that a paramotor club from the United States has already expressed an interest in sending some competitors to this event which is also expected to attract other top paramotor gliders from South Africa and a number of European countries, including Germany. “A paramotor club from the United States is willing to come and compete in our inaugural event at the Victoria Falls from January 4-8. I think this is a good start and a big boost for us as we now also have to move fast in having our own paramotor gliders from Zimbabwe who will take part in this international competition.

“We need to train about 10 to 15 racers and two to three instructor pilots who will train or handle our paramotor gliders between now and December before they compete in the international competition in January next year.

“The Paramotor Extreme Racing is sanctioned by the Air Sports Federation of Zimbabwe which is now recognised by the Sports Commission as the motherbody of all aviation sports in Zimbabwe.

“The international event in January 2016 is in line with the Government’s ZimAsset initiative in which we aim to grow our economy through sport tourism,” said Madamombe, a former Air Zimbabwe pilot.

He said they were expecting between 30 to 40 competitors and their supporting staff for the January 4-8 competition at the Victoria Falls and “although the number is lower, they usually have significant tourism revenue”.

“The big appeal of the event is not the number of the competitors but the wide coverage of the sport into millions of homes thus further putting our country, through the iconic Victoria Falls, on the world stage. “Paramotoring or paragliding are sports that are fast getting interest in the world. There are hundreds of thousands pilots in the world who partake in this sport. France alone has more than 25 000 registered pilots. Our objective is to bring these adventure pilots to our shores to compete in precision adventure flying.

Source: Paramotor gliders for Vic Falls (24/09/15)