The Carnival Cometh

POSTED  03 DECEMBER 2015  /  BY SHEARWATER VICTORIA FALLS  /  IN VICTORIA FALLS   TOURS & TRANSFERS

It is approaching that time of year when thoughts are attuning to Christmas and all the merry festivities it involves. Of course shortly after that the hoof flicking, rug cutting and shapeshifting extravaganza of the New Year Bonanza that is The Jameson Vic Falls Carnival rolls into town, Things to do in Victoria Falls take a bizarre night time twist in what is traditionally a ‘’daytime’’ activity hub.

The annual pilgrimage of the Southern African youth throughout it’s diaspora start heading for the Northwest corner of Zimbabwe shortly after Christmas. On their minds is clearly the burning question – ‘’what to do in Victoria Falls’’ once they get here. Understandably partying hard and the illusive prospect of romance (ok, ok – more likely a dangerous liaison), is uppermost on most febrile minds. However even the siren calls of the likeminded can become muted when arrivistes become aware of the spectacular array of world class activities in Victoria Falls.

Few true hearted folk of Africa could fail to desire to engage in a truly epic Southern African rite of passage: White-water Rafting the spectacular and egregiously mighty Zambezi river: right from the boiling pot at the very foot of the incredible Victoria Falls– deep in the heart of the rent made in the earth’s crust that is known as the Batoka gorge. 20 kms meandering through pristine primeval evolution is reason good enough – but nothing – no video, photo or go pro can ever prepare anyone for the first time their raft slips over the edge of the crease and they are about to hit the foaming rage of a grade 5 rapid in their inflatable dinghy. To have the opportunity to do this with close friends is not only a bonding experience that will last a lifetime, but is also one of the most exciting adrenaline fuelled adventures amidst the beauty of nature at its rawest, that most will ever have the privilege of enjoying.

Then of course – there is the bungee badge of honour. No-one could possibly suggest that this is for the fainthearted , and things to do in Victoria Falls don’t come any more extreme than this. Everything about the bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge is iconic. The back drop behind the jump platform, is the Victoria Falls itself – casting clouds of mist and rainbows all about, ensuring this is a truly exotic adrenaline adventure. The bridge is an African classic – the 110 year old engineering marvel that joins 2 countries Zimbabwe and Zambia, 110meteres above the border of the fast flowing Zambezi below. Being asked to step forward and curl your toes over a platform with absolutely no barrier in front of you and a big void of space below you is a seminal moment.

What to do in Victoria Falls takes on a different dynamic at New Year, but white-water rafting and bungee jumping remain 2 of the bucket list essentials of things to do in Victoria Falls for all revellers and ravers form the corners of the continent.

For more information on the Carnival go to;

http://www.vicfallscarnival.com/

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Multi Day Rafting – The New Pioneering Spirit

POSTED  03 NOVEMBER 2015  /  BY SHEARWATER VICTORIA FALLS  /  IN VICTORIA FALLS /  TOURS & TRANSFERS

It is no secret that Shearwater was the first company to offer and operate white-water rafting in Zimbabwe. Ever since, every year it has announced low or high water season to ‘’open’’. Shearwater has always maintained its pioneering spirit, which is explanation enough as to why it has been one of the forerunners of so many other activities and things to do in Victoria Falls: Bungee, Sunset Cruises, Elephant Back Safaris, Flight of Angels Helicopter Rides. Yet throughout the falls, the cornerstone activity that first put Vic Falls on the map as the adventure centre of Africa, has seen declining numbers for years. That looks set to change.

Shearwater - Multi Day Rafting Trip

Back in the 90’s Shearwater alone reached a record of 300 rafters in one day, and average days would see at least 70. In the last few years average numbers have dropped to as low as 16 (2 rafts). The much considered analysis on this mainly focuses on a changing demograph. Visitors to the falls are generally older than they used to be and there are less student gap year overlanders. So those in the market for a ‘’best on the planet’’ 1 day White Water Rafting Trip are less numerous, and of course since the early days: what to do in Victoria Falls is now a choice of so many world class activities that committing to a full day when time is at a premium is too much for some.

Few who work in the industry here don’t find this a regret. The Falls will always score highly on the ‘’oh wow’’ barometer, but nothing seriously compares with the heart racing water pounding thrill of being deep in the Batoka gorge actually riding the immense waves of the world famous mighty Zambezi. It is a vicarious pleasure to see how much delight – genuine life enhancing, endorphin flooding delight, people take from this adventure. You know they will never forget it, and will eagerly seek opportunites the rest of their lives to allude to it – word of mouth at its best. Personal endorsement at its greatest. But few, if any, will simply pop of to Zimbabwe to do a days rafting.

Shearwater is now pioneering a focus which says: rafting is not one of the things to do in Victoria Falls once you get here, it is THE reason you come here. There has been an upsurge in large social groups – 30 at a time (lads and dads (and mums and sisters too)) from schools, colleges, neighbourhoods or churches that have decided they want to come to Victoria Falls specifically to raft, and enjoy the unique experience of a multi day Rafting Trip.

Little could be more exhileraing, rafting on the timeless world renowned mighty Zambezi by day, and then camping on the sandy banks of the river, deep in the gorge by night. Sitting around a driftwood fire by night in extraordinary solitude gazing at the never ending flowing of water lit by a star strewn sky, you will never ever forget. If this is something you have the privilege of doing with friends and family – you will rarely equal it. Currently the main interest is coming from social groups in South Africa, opting for a week long trip to the falls with 5 days rafting the main focus, and a couple of nights at the Rest camp in town, also allowing them to partake in some of the other wonderful opportunities afforded by what to do in Victoria Falls. Developing this for the European and American markets is an easy ask based on 10-14 day round trips, with 3 or 4 nights additional canoe trips on the upper Zambezi an obvious companion.

Shearwater and many others here feel almost evangelical about rafting the Zambezi, we feel the dynamic is about to change as groups decide a White-water Rafting expedition to Zimbabwe is spectacular holiday worth planning for.

CHARM OF THE CHOBE

POSTED  22 SEPTEMBER 2015  /  BY SHEARWATER VICTORIA FALLS  /  IN VICTORIA FALLS  /  TOURS & TRANSFERS

You have planned your possible once in a lifetime trip to Southern Africa and have ensured you are going to your desired locations, having had to narrow them down from so many worthy contenders. Understandably the African natural wonder of the world: The Victoria Falls has made the list. Now you have agreed your actual route itinerary, it is time to fill in the details. So the question arises: what to do in Victoria Falls and you start to research all the many things to do in Victoria Falls.

You begin to realise there is such a vast array of activities that all sound so appealing: Elephant Back Safaris, Zambezi sunset cruise, Guided Tour of the Falls, Flight of Angels Helicopter Flight, Historic Bridge Tour – you even get tempted by the action packed adrenaline fueled prospect of white-water rafting and bungee jumping.

Then on closer inspection of the considerable spectrum of things to do in Victoria Falls you become aware of a Chobe Day Trip. On further reading you realise that Chobe is a river in Botswana that runs along the Caprivi Strip and is a tributary of the Zambezi. It meets the Zambezi in a unique area in which the borders of 5 countries are in close proximity: Angola, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. So much for the geography which sounds intriguing enough. But what is really unique about this area is the flood plain and what that means for game.

A Chobe Day Trips starts early – leaving Victoria Falls town around 7am, before traveling 50 odd kms to the Botswana border down the Kazangula road. You now pass through immigration and get another country’s stamp in your passport – all coordinated efficiently by the Shearwater Tours and Transfers team – the Kaza visa you purchased at the airport comes in handy here, excusing you from anymore visa fees.

Chobe Day Trip - Sunset Cruise

The Chobe Day Trip starts with an exquisite boat safari along the Chobe where you will see huge herd of elephant, buffalo and all variety of antelope. What is so unique is that they are grazing on ‘’islands’’ which are generally flooded with water, and in order to reach them most have to swim. You may have seen elephant on previous game drives – but not swimming with trunks aloft like snorkels – and whenever have you seen so many enormous crocodiles or hippos. Game is absolutely teeming. There are also beautiful varieties of bird-life: fish eagles, kingfishers, waders, bee eaters, kites – a birders paradise.

Having had a filling lunch, you then have a game drive (on land this time) through the astonishing Chobe game reserve, and no doubt you will see herds of Elephant again – charging down to the water’s edge, but also the prospect of big cats as well: Lion, Leopard, and Cheetah.

Making final choices on what to do in Victoria Falls and deciding on the all important things to do in Victoria falls is a difficult one, but a Chobe Day Trip stands out as one of the number one things to do in Victoria falls.

JUICE ON THE LOOSE

POSTED – 20 SEPTEMBER 2015 / BY – SHEARWATER VICTORIA FALLS – JUICE ON THE LOOSE


Despite being a frontier town in the middle of the African bush, with a 7th wonder of the natural world as our main water feature, and a ribble of a river running alongside us called the Zambezi, it was juice I said , and not moose, or some other antlered animal.

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The iconic Shearwater Café, which has set a new benchmark for restaurants in the town – not going down the tried and tested ‘’indigenous’’ look, but adopting a chic cool and urbane theme – has just introduced state of the art juicing machines and designed a mouth-watering menu of freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, and pure fruit smoothies. Given all the strenuous and ‘’fit as a butchers dog’’ activities on offer In Victoria Falls town and the huge array of things to do in Victoria Falls – this fresh energy boost to the day is going to come as a blessed new introduction.

It is a question that strikes most: what to do in Victoria Falls? – you are probably only here for 3 days maximum so how about a suggested itinerary:

Day 1

  • Get a prestige transfer straight from the airport so you can maximise your time and extract the very best of what to do in Victoria Falls.
  • Go on a relaxing and soothing sunset cruise on the glorious and mighty Zambezi.
  • Get the vibe of the town and hit one of the liveliest and best restaurants in Victoria Falls: Shearwater Café, and take a front seat opposite one of the tv screens and watch an unfolding drama of all the things to do in Victoria Falls whilst you are here.

Day 2

  • Be up early and check into Shearwater Café for an Energiser: apple carrot and ginger Juice
  • Go for a Guided Tour of Falls and sit and contemplate their wonder over a signature cappuccino at the Rainforest Café – another of the best restaurants in town
  • In the afternoon whilst the perspective of the of Mosi oa Tunya from ground level is fresh in your mind, take a Flight of angels over the Batoka Gorge and witness first hand why this Helicopter flight is rated as the number 1 thing to do in Victoria Falls
  • You’ve seen the falls from land and air – time to get up close and personal with them – go and book a White-water Rafting trip for the following morning, and understand why it is reckoned to be the very best grade 5 rafting trip on the planet, and the original adrenaline activity and still one of the quintessential things to do in Victoria Falls.
  • Enjoy a fantastic Elephant Back Safari ride through the private Stanley and Livingstone game reserve for a real unique African experience.

DAY 3


Only 3 days and you have covered pretty comprehensively some of the best things to do in Victoria Falls and will be au fait with how to explain to friends what to do in Victoria Falls when their jealousy compels them to visit.


The Raft of the Zambesa

When Livingstone first viewed the Victoria Falls in November 1855, he commented ‘’scenes so lovely they must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight’’. He may have also thought to himself ‘’my God I have never seen such turbulent rapids – they are completely impassable’’. He would never have guessed that 130 years later a man named Paul Connolly (with wife Marie, the Shearwater founders) would start promoting commercial trips down the lower river and over these very same rapids in inflatable rubber boats – and that more amazingly people would eagerly pay for the privilege. Of course what we know of Livingstone – he would have been one of the first to do it, and in the scheme of his level of derring do, it would have all been matter of fact.

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Nothing in the way of things to do in Victoria Falls quite compares with white water rafting, none of the exceptional activities in Victoria Falls is nearly as fundamentally elemental. There are legions of veterans who have taken part in this incredible adventure years ago, who would still rate it as the most exciting activity in which they have ever participated.

At low level times, the day starts early with a muster at the Shearwater town office, and then a short open truck ride out to the top of the gorge by the Rainforest. Having gathered paddles, life vests and helmets, new recruits listen in on a safety talk by guides: Titanic, Kamikaze etc – you know this is going to be a little hair raising to say the least. Then begins the steep, steep descent down into the depths of pre history of the beautiful Batoka gorge. Having reached the bottom of the gorge, you instinctively look up and let out an involuntary ‘’wow’’ – the sheer sides of the gorge bathing in morning sunlight, and then the complete madness of the iconic Victoria Falls bridge spanning an impossibly vertiginous ravine so high above you – notwithstanding the insanity of bungee jumpers flying off the bridge and hurtling towards you (another of the not – for – cissies things to do in Victoria Falls, yet another of the red blooded activities in Victoria Falls).

Cambering over massive basalt boulders dislodged way before Livingstone ever visited, you embark your raft. It begins to be utterly surreal – here you are at the bottom of the worlds most exotic waterfall. You paddle out and peer around the corner of the Falls themselves – there they are from the bottom up – a reverse perspective you just were not counting on when you decided this might be one of the things to do in Victoria Falls you would participate in – the view and feeling is spellbinding. You haven’t even started your chosen activity yet!

Then it starts, you are paddling your way to your first rapid, heart pumping, nerves jangling and brow perspiring. It looks so big, it seems so angry, my god there’s like a steep drop (the crease) – a quick gulp as you are involuntarily pulled into the watery Wurlitzer. The boat buckles and bumps, water flies up and in, the raft tilts one way and then the other every one squeals and yelps. That was incredible. You then learn you have just traversed a grade 3.5 rapid, and today is mostly about grade 5’s.

You spend the next 4 hours either gliding serenely along this majestic mind blowing river feeling you are really connecting with raw mysterious Africa, or in pitched battle with each of the eponymously named rapids: highway to hell, the mother, overland truck eater. It is imperious as a combination of adventure and exploration. The exertion required to climb out of the gorge at trip end, only serves to remphasise the scale of achievement.

You could write a separate account of each of the 20 odd rapids describing each one as worthwhile in terms of things to do in Victoria Falls, each one in its own right as one of the most awesome activities in Victoria Falls. There is not a soul who will have completed the White-water Rafting who won’t rate it amongst the most exciting experiences of their lives

Tusker And Crew

Ask anyone what picture immediately comes into their head when you say Africa – and the vast majority will reply with – Elephant. It is the essence of the continent – huge, mysterious, exotic, powerful and fascinating. It is the icon of the continent – football teams, mascots, badges, posters, logos – you name it, the Elephant is the manifestation of Africa in so many ways. And it is the emotion of the continent – concern, affection, adoration, fear and very often at breaking point.

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Anyone coming to Africa and visiting Victoria Falls and seeking things to do in Victoria Falls, should not miss the opportunity to partake in one of the classic activities in Victoria Falls which embodies so much of the paradigm associated with the enigmatic African Elephant. Shearwater Elephant Back Safaris has been operating in Victoria Falls for over 15 years.

Our elephants are all rescue elephants from drought and being orphaned and have been accustomed to human interaction. They spend up to 8 hours a day roaming the bush as nature intended, feeding endlessly on their favourite bush fodder, as their indunas follow them throughout the day until they are led willingly back to the stables.

In between foraging at will, they will gather at the Shearwater boma, to provide a thrilling experience to all those participating in this fantastic Victoria Falls activity. Following welcoming drinks and an insightful talk from the Shearwater indunas, each elephant will mounted their favourite induna and up to 2 passengers.

An Elephant Back Safari is a then a 45 minute slow and magical ride through the bush of the Stanley and Livingstone private game reserve (home to the big 5), which provides an entirely unique elephant eye perspective on the African bush. Kudu, impala, buffalo, zebra giraffe are all regularly spotted along the ride, as your induna gives an essential education on all things elephant as you lumber along.

The ride is joyous enough. What marks out this out though, as one of the most sublime activities in Victoria Falls – one of the very best things to do in Victoria Falls, is the personal interaction one gets with the elephant at the end of the ride. Feed your elephant by hand and feel his trunk delicately pick his favourite nuts from the palm of you hand, stare straight into those huge gleaming globes of eyes and caress those silky soft Africa shaped ears – it’s an intimacy few ever get chance of and no one ever forgets.

It is challenging trying to complete the perfect itinerary of what to do when in Victoria Falls, there are so many world class activities in Victoria Falls – but an Elephant Back Safari can only be equalled at best and never beaten.