Zimbabwe- tourists are on their way


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I, however, was determined to keep both feet firmly on the ground. It’s not that I am unadventurous, but rather that the sight of one of the largest waterfalls in the world — twice the height of Niagara Falls and with a record of 700 000 cubic metres of water pounding over the cliff each minute — is more than enough to grab my attention.

The best views of Victoria Falls are from the Zimbabwean side of the border, where a footpath through the forest runs parallel to the falls on the other side of the gorge. There are more than a dozen strategically positioned viewpoints between Livingtone’s Statue and Boiling Pot, where you stare down into a seemingly steaming abyss.

It was mid-afternoon and it was hot and humid. Even keeping mostly to the shade, I was dripping in sweat and berating myself I hadn’t made it here for a cool sunrise. Still, the walk was good for me and, more importantly, as soon as I hiked past the Main Falls and Livingstone Island, I pretty much had the viewpoints to myself.

Bus parties, it appears, are lazy. They want to see the Devil’s Cataract and the central parts of the falls to say that the have been, and maybe they will capture a few pictures of the rainbows dancing in the spray, but they weren’t going to walk further afield. I could survey Horseshoe Falls unobstructed, and at the so called Danger Point (Viewpoint 15), right on the cliff edge and with an almighty drop below, I looked right across to Knife’s Edge and Rainbow Falls. No one else was there. At the closest points, the water spray enveloped me, a welcome cloud that cooled me even as it drenched my clothes.

Even before Mugabe’s fall from grace, tourism in Victoria Falls was booming, the spectacle of the falls proving a stronger draw than political misgivings. But with his presence lifted, Zimbabwe is poised to really fly as a destination for adventurous travellers. There’s been a sudden influx of investment, with two new luxury openings — Mpala Jena Camp and the Stanley and Livingstone Boutique Hotel — in 2018. There’s an expectation that the new visitors will want to push out beyond Victoria Falls and explore more of Zimbabwe. There’s an excitement in the air. With tourism comes money and jobs, two things which Zimbabweans desperately need. For too long, Mugabe crippled Zimbabwe economically, politically, and socially. His removal, though not the panacea to all the country’s ills, has heralded a new era of optimism, hope for what the future of Zimbabwe might be. The tourists are on their way.

By Sophie Ibbotson- Sophie travelled to Zimbabwe with bespoke tour operator Journeysmiths (journeysmiths.co.uk), who offer a seven night Zimbabwe safari, incl. three nights at Victoria Falls Hotel and flights, from £5,266 pp.

 

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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