Meet your guide – Richard

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One of the first things to strike you as you arrive at Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge is the warmth and friendliness of its guides. One of these guides is Richard Nsinganu.

Richard was born in Harare and from a young age, he developed a love of the bush. His natural tendency towards looking after and entertaining people led him into the tourism industry. His first taste of tourism was when he worked for Imire Game Lodge in the north-east of Zimbabwe as a driver. He recalls that as a driver he watched the guides there taking people for drives and interacting with tourists and he decided that this would be his chosen career. He made the move from Harare to Victoria Falls, the capital of tourism, and he has lived here for 18 years. He has worked as a guide at Imbabala for 5 years. He has had several prestigious mentors in the industry, including Roger Parry from the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust. Through their teachings and a natural dedication of his own, Richard gained his Learners Guides license. He has continued to amass a wealth of knowledge about all aspects of the bush.

Richard has a deep love of the bush, everything to do with wildlife and is a natural host. A game drive is certainly not just a game drive when you go out with Richard! Nothing is too small or insignificant for him to stop and talk about. He can hold guests spellbound for 15 minutes talking about a termite mound or have you all in stitches while describing a busy squirrel’s thought process. Whether on a cruise or a game drive, Richards’s constant flow of information and innate sense of humor keeps guests enthralled and allows them to take home pieces of information and memories of Africa that will stay with them for life.

Richard is married and is the proud father of 3 delightful daughters. We hope that one day at least one of them will follow in their father’s footsteps and contribute as significantly as Richard has to the tourism industry. Written by Libby White

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Zambezi River Water Levels November 2016

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So once again the brutal heat of November is upon us! As happens every year; we gasp in shock as the heat presses relentlessly down on us day after day from a painfully blue, cloudless sky. To those of us sweltering here, in Victoria Falls, it will probably not come as any surprise to hear that the Zambezi River water levels are at their lowest levels in 7 years. The river was last recorded at this level at this time of the year in 1997 and in 2000. As we gaze fruitlessly into the cloudless sky, it gives us time to ponder how this actually affects us here on the ground in Victoria Falls.

Sticking with tradition let’s start with the bad news first… it means the middle of the day is probably not a good time to be out and about sightseeing, or doing anything particularly strenuous. It means blowing a fair amount of one’s budget on sunscreen, a very large hat and as many bottles of the coldest water that you can buy. It also means a longer walk out of the gorge at the end of your raft trip!

However, let’s look at the good news that comes with these lower than usual water levels. With the river being 5 centimetres lower than the average over the past 7 years on the same day, it means that the rapids on the white water rafting trip are slightly bigger and the adrenaline rush just that much more intense! It also means that the sandbanks on the edge of the Zambezi are more prominent and therefore more likely to be host to crocodiles basking (or is that baking) in the sunshine. Over the past week, the river has been dropping an average of ½ a centimeter a day which is also an indicator that there is less surface water lying around in the bush adjacent to the river. This forces wildlife, often in large herds, to come down to the river to drink therefore affording guests on cruise boats and on game drives excellent game viewing opportunities. Large herds of animals moving through the dry bush on their way to the river and ‘dust devils’ stirred up by the hot wind cause an extra layer of dust in the atmosphere, thereby creating the most spectacular sunsets! Once the intense heat of the day has abated it is a perfect opportunity to slake your thirst with an ice cold drink and watch the African bush settle down for the night.

So while we wait in eager anticipation for the annual rains to reach us and change these almost unprecedented low water levels, let’s make the most of the opportunities afforded to us now and get out there while it lasts! Written by Libby White

A Taste of The Wild

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Victoria Falls is a town where elephants stop by for a drink (out of the swimming pool), buffalo jay-walk across the road, and the rainforest is just a stone’s throw away from your local café. Zimbabwe born chef Callie-Anne Gavazzi shared her passion for cooking with an international audience when she appeared on South Africa’s MasterChef. On a recent trip to Victoria Falls we gave her a taste of the wild, and she generously returned the favour with a succulent Seared Steak Salad recipe for the Lookout Café menu. This tantalising dish marries contemporary cooking to indigenous ingredients, and the bright, fresh colours make it almost (repeat, almost) too attractive to eat.

With the lip of the Batoka gorge as her kitchen, the Zambezi river roaring below her and the African sun blazing above her, Gavazzi showed us how she made it into the top 25 MasterChef’s of South Africa. You would be doing your taste buds a great disservice if you did not treat them to her salad on your next trip to the Lookout Café.

For most people, spending an hour on the edge of a one-hundred-meter gorge would be daring enough. However, Gavazzi decided that the adventure wasn’t going to stop there. Forgoing the apron for a harness, she tackled the gorge swing cool as a cucumber (excuse the pun). This ability to take bold leaps into unknown territory is what lends this young chef’s reality cooking show such a keen sense of excitement. In an interview with The Citizen, Gavazzi described herself as a “slave to the ingredients”, and her appreciation of local produce has inspired the inception of unique dishes including pizzas made with crocodile eggs.

Anyone that has visited Africa will know that she is so much more than a destination. Once your feet have walked across her hot savannas, your lungs have filled with her clean breeze, and your skin has soaked up her gentle rays of light, these feelings remain with you forever. This part of the world is bursting with diverse flavours and Gavazzi transforms these rich ingredients into truly satisfying soul food.

Q & A with Callie

Wild Horizons: What was the most exciting part of your trip to Victoria Falls?

Gavazzi: Oh, gosh this is a hard one. Each part of the Vic Falls was just magical in its very own way. I would have to say the gorge swing! It’s out if this world …. throwing yourself off a cliff and it was an incredible feeling.

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I also LOVED the Boma. Proudly Zimbabwean food that is authentic and delicious. One cannot visit Victoria falls without eating there it’s just delicious.

WH: What item on the Lookout Café menu would you recommend to future diners?

G: Mine of course!! (Haha just kidding!) I love the crocodile skewers; they were very tasty and very creative. I am all for trying new things in beautiful destinations. Oh, and don’t forget to have an ice-cold Zambezi beer to wash it all down!

WH: Did you try Mopani worms during your dinner at the Boma?

G: Yes, I did! Yikes!!! it’s one of those things you just have to do at the Boma. They actually have this peanut butter-ish flavor! I actually used to munch them as a little girl…so it wasn’t too bad! Haha

WH: What would be the first thing on your To Do list for future trips to Victoria Falls?

G: I think between Whitewater rafting and the Zambezi express train! Those activities are at the top of my list. Adrenaline win has to be the water rafting- it’s insane! I loved it so much.

I also just think the train is so old school and beautiful. It gives you a sense of what it was like back in the day. Not to mention the view of the falls from the train is breath-taking.

WH: When can we look forward to seeing you adventure here on Callie-Anne Cooks: Into the Wild

G: I am so thrilled about this season. I still have season 2 to look forward to. But season 3 will air sometime in 2017. I will be sure to keep everyone in the loop of exact details.

Written by Jess White