Discover Victoria Falls

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Shearwater to expand regional footprint

LEADING leisure and travel company, Shearwater Adventures plans to invest in Namibia and Angola as it moves to expand its presence in the Southern African region, an official has said.
Formerly a division of Innscor Africa Limited, the company presently has operations in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.

Shearwater group public relations manager Clement Mukwasi said plans were afoot to expand its regional footprint.

“We want to expand into other countries we have not operated from before.

“We will soon be moving into Namibia, we will probably be moving to Angola. We carried a survey in DRC on their rivers in order to find out if we can actually do rafting there, so it is something that is still being incubated, but our expansion plans are unlimited,” he said.

“In the region we are looking at (investing) between $10 million to $15 million over five to seven years.

“Each destination has its own circumstances. Our activities will be coined according to what we find in an area,” he added.

Mr Mukwasi said an investment of about $5 million would be made on the local front in the next five years. The company has also ventured into accommodation facilities and is building a camp site, which will be completed by December this year, he said.

Established in 1982, Shearwater owns and operates most of the leisure activities available in Victoria Falls including helicopters, cruises, bridge activities, rafting, safari activities and restaurants.
The company has well-developed destination infrastructure and a team of over 250 staff members based in Victoria Falls, Livingstone in Zambia and Kasane, Botswana. In 2015, the company upgraded its vehicle fleet and has a wide variety of game drive vehicles, buses and micro-buses at its disposal for tours and transfer requirements.

Source: Shearwater to expand regional footprint (09/10/16)

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Vic-Falls joins World Tourism Cities Federation

VICTORIA Falls Municipality has joined the World Tourism Cities Federation, a league of top world tourism destinations which seeks to market such places worldwide.

The development is expected to help bolster Government efforts in reviving the country’s economy through rebranding sectors such as tourism.

The country’s prime resort town was recommended by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) to join the 156 member-federation.

Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Sifiso Mpofu yesterday told The Chronicle that the local authority was ready to partner ZTA in marketing the country.

“We have joined the federation since that is part of our mandate as a tourism town to market Zimbabwe. We would want to partner ZTA to market the country,” he said.

Clr Mpofu said joining the federation was a chance to spread awareness about Zimbabwe to attract more tourists.

The invitation came through the full council meeting last month ahead of a congress in China in which the Mayor was supposed to attend with all expenses fully paid for.

Clr Mpofu, however, said he could not attend the congress because the invite arrived late a few days before the congress.

“We could not make it but in future we will be part of the events as that will help us gain exposure as a destination,” he said.

Victoria Falls councillors had expressed support for the proposal for Victoria Falls to join the federation as the move would promote tourism in Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe at large.

The council resolved that the “municipality applies to join the World Tourism Cities Federation and that the council commences steps to conclude membership with assistance from ZTA.”

ZTA chief executive officer Mr Karikoga Kaseke confirmed the development but could not give further details as he was in a meeting.

Local authorities domiciled in tourism destinations meet under the federation’s banner to exchange information as they market the resorts in their areas.

Source: Vic-Falls joins World Tourism Cities Federation (05/10/16)

Friday, 30 September 2016

Plans for the 2, 400 Megawatts Batoka Hydro-Electric Scheme progressing

PREPARATORY works are progressing well on the planned construction of the US$ 4 billion Batoka Hydro-Electric Scheme (HES) at Batoka Gorge located about 54 kilometres downstream from Victoria Falls extending across the international boundary of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The project, which was approved by the two countries in 2012, would produce 2, 400 Megawatts (MW) of electricity and create 3, 000 job opportunities during the peak of construction works.
There will be 1, 200 MW power plant on the Zambian side and another 1, 200 MW on the Zimbabwean side.

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has been mandated by the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe to facilitate the implementation of the project, which was approved in 2012, in close consultations with ZESCO and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).

ZRA Chief Executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa said preparatory works were progressing well from the time the project was approved in 2012.

Mr Munodawafa said this on Tuesday afternoon in Victoria Falls Town in Zimbabwe after a delegation of ZRA Board Members as well as journalists from Zambia and Zimbabwe inspected the proposed site for the power station on the Zimbabwean side.

“We are progressing well in the preparatory activities of updating the previous feasibility studies and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.

“Currently, we have done almost 98 per cent of updating engineering feasibility studies while the final report of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment will be released by the end of November 2016,” Mr Munodawafa said.

He said the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment was an important undertaking for the Authority to start mobilising funds for the project.

“In December 2016, we will have a Council of Ministers meeting where a fully-fledged feasibility study and EIA reports will be presented and discussed.

“The Council will direct the two Ministries of Finance in Zambia and Zimbabwe to start mobilising finances. The two have already anticipated this directive and they already wrote to the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) to take interest and to be the lead arranger,” Mr Munodawafa said.

He was hopeful that the funding for the project would be mobilised before 2018 after which procurement and tendering processes would start in readiness for the construction which is expected to be concluded between 2021 and 2024.

Mr Munodawafa said ZRA had also carried a lot of geotechnical investigations to establish on how Batoka Gorge dam would be constructed.

“A lot of drilling was carried out recently. Four major boreholes were drilled out of which two were drilled on each side of the banks and they were 100 metres in length as the structure of the dam has to be solid.

“Studies have indicated what stones to be used and where to get the stones from. Within the month of October, we will know how the dam will be. This is the major issue which has drawn us back as we did not have the data. We have learnt a lot in terms of Kariba dam and we won’t leave any stone unturned,” Mr Munodawafa said.

He also said about US$ 5 million had been spent to construct access roads to the site on both sides of Zambezi river. ZRA Board Chairperson Patson Mbiriri said all the previous studies had indicated that there would be no displacement of people during the construction of the project.

Mr Mbiriri, who is also Zimbabwe Permanent Secretary for Energy and Power Development Patson Mbiriri, also said that white water rafting activities would be disturbed during construction.

“In place of rafting, we will give you rowing. Between Batoka and Kariba, there will be scope of continued rafting.

“When you look at rafting, how many people are employed and who is benefiting from rafting as money is usually paid in offshore account?

People come from across the world and the numbers don’t justify 2, 400 MW. We can’t forget the need for power demand in our economies,” Mr Mbiriri said.

Zambia’s Director of Energy at the Ministry of Energy and Water Development Oscar Kalumiana said the power project was complex and it required careful planning before implementing it.

Mr Kalumiana, who represented the Permanent Secretary in his Ministry as co-chairperson, also challenged the media to package the power project into a simplified language that the public would understand.

“You can imagine how old Kariba Dam is and it is still standing. You need to check the firmness of the foundation before drilling the dam.

“From the two Governments points of view, there is progress being done and we are on schedule,” Mr Kalumiana said.

ZRA Project manager Ezekiel Kasaro said about US$20 million had been spent on the project since 1981 to conduct feasibility studies and other preparatory works.

Source: Plans for the 2, 400 Megawatts Batoka Hydro-Electric Scheme progressing well (29/09/16)

More on the Batoka Hydro Power Scheme

Dispute over Vic Falls truck inn $1m buy-out

Christopher Dube, Victoria Falls Reporter

A VICTORIA Falls businessman is at loggerheads with the municipality over ownership of a local truck stop facility.

The municipality entered into a partnership with Fusharn, a company owned by local conservationist and businessman Mr Trevor Lane to operate the facility.

Both parties are now seeking to end the marriage but are failing to agree on terms after the latter reportedly demanded $1 million buyout price.

The busy facility acts as a stop-over point for truck drivers to take a rest, refuel and unwind while also waiting for clearance to cross the border either via Victoria Falls Border Post and Kazungula Border Post into Botswana, Zambia and Zambia.

Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube reported during a council meeting recently that the partnership was on the verge of collapse.

He said the other party’s buyout price, which he could not disclose, was too high considering that the facility was not profitable.

“They want separation and we cannot force them to remain in the partnership because that is allowed in any business set-up,” Mr Dube told councillors and management.

The municipality owns 50 percent shares while Mr Lane shares the other half with other partners through his private company.

Mr Dube said Fusharn had engaged a private valuator who had overpriced the facility resulting in the council engaging Government whose report is out but not yet public.

“We needed to have a re-look into their demands and as management we decided to engage a Government valuator because their value was too high. The Government valuator came last week and we can now engage as their value is reasonable,” he said.

Mr Dube said the council had two options – either to surrender the truck stop to Mr Lane’s company or buy them out.

“We have a partnership with Mr Lane where we are supposed to do a number of businesses within the trucking area. ‘‘The council decided to go it alone and they gave us their valuation, which we felt was on the higher side,” said Mr Dube.

He said the truck stop was not making profits hence the municipality could not accept the amount demanded by Mr Lane, adding that the local authority had no problem continuing with the partnership.

Mr Dube could not be drawn into revealing how much Mr Lane wanted as buyout.
Chronicle Business, however, learnt that Mr Lane wanted $1 million dollars, a figure given by the private valuator.

Mr Lane referred questions to his company’s board of directors, saying they are the ones handling the issue.

“That figure ($1 million) is not correct but I am not in a position to say anything about that now. Talk to the board, they are the ones dealing with the matter,” he said.

No comment could be obtained from the board of directors. The truck stop is located near Masue River, a few kilometres from the town centre - @ncubeleon

Source: Dispute over Vic Falls truck inn $1m buy-out (29/09/16)

African Bush Camps expands into Zambia

African Bush Camps is expanding into Zambia after taking over the site of Thorntree River Lodge on the banks of the Zambezi in Livingstone, a short distance from the Victoria Falls.

The lodge is being rebuilt with an environmentally conscious design.
According to CEO, Beks Ndlovu, Thorntree River Lodge is being redeveloped to fit with African Bush Camps’ style. “We are not rebuilding from scratch but rather redeveloping the facility. Thorntree is currently in the style of stone chalets, so we are keeping those structures but tenting the roof structures so that it fits in with the style of African Bush Camps,” said Ndlovu.

He said the lodge would have eight twin rooms and two family units, each with four beds. Each unit will have its own indoor and outdoor bathrooms and a private plunge pool.

Ndlovu said the main lodge would consist of a lounge with an open dining area, a gym and a spa overlooking the Zambezi River.

“The communal deck is set on the edge of the stunning riverside and is home to a sunken boma area and an infinity pool.” He added that wooden decking floated on the edge of the river, moving with the water level to create the illusion of being on a boat.

According to African Bush Camps, the lodge is set to open on May 1.

Source: African Bush Camps expands into Zambia (27/09/16)

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Batoka project cost down $2bn

The projected cost of the proposed Batoka Gorge Hydro-electric scheme on the Zambezi River has been revised downwards from $6 billion to $4 billion. The revision comes as the Zimbabwe and Zambian governments intensified work on the project. Both Governments have since allayed fears that the proposed scheme could result in flooding in the resort town of Victoria Falls, threatening water sports.

Addressing journalists from Zambia and Zimbabwe at a two-day media tour at the proposed site of the project in Kasilili Village, about 80km from the resort town, the chairperson of Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), Mr Partson Mbiriri said it had been recommended that the dam will be “a runoff river scheme.”

He said the scheme meant that little amounts of water would be stored while the rest would be released immediately to generate power. There has been an outcry by tour operators in Victoria Falls and Livingstone that if the project went ahead, they would be forced to stop white water rafting.

“There have been outcries that Victoria Falls will flood because of the dam wall to be constructed and yes we have to be careful of how high the dam wall and flow of the river would be.

“This type of a scheme is referred to as run-off river scheme meaning there would be little storage. The water will just flow through, generating electricity and that will not flood Victoria Falls. We have learnt from how the Kariba dam was constructed,” he said.

Mr Mbiriri who is also the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development said the dam wall will be about 100 meters high, generating 1 200megawatts of electricity for both Zimbabwe and Zambia. He said both countries would each have a hydro power station.

“Both countries will produce 1 200 megawatts each and double the current production we have at Kariba Dam. “We however have more sites along the Zambezi River which we can utilise to produce power,” said Mr Mbiriri. He said they were looking for $4 billion to fund the project which is expected to be completed in 2024.

Source: Batoka project cost down $2bn (28/09/16)

More on the Batoka Hydro Power Scheme

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Zim Golf Tournament raises in $26K to combat poaching

THE war on poaching in the Victoria Falls region has been given a $26,300 boost by a fundraising golf tournament, coordinated and hosted by Africa Albida Tourism.

A total of 132 players, making up 33 teams, teed off for charity at the 16th annual fundraising Golf Day for the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU) at Borrowdale Brooke Golf Club on September 16, before a prize-giving function and auction.

The fundraising tournament was won by Sanjay Babbar and Tom Austin, with other teams including the Zimbabwe Special Olympics golfers sponsored by Delta Airlines, and Ambrose African Birds, who took the best dressed team prize in matching wildlife inspired outfits.

The tournament winners each took home a voucher for two nights in a three-bedroom Victoria Falls Safari Suite, valued at $2,400, while second and third prize winners each took home two-nights for two, including breakfast, at Victoria Falls Safari Club and Victoria Falls Safari Lodge respectively.

A Patrick Mavros bracelet and four travel packages were auctioned, including a 12 night self-drive for two around Zimbabwe staying at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, Camp Amalinda, Somalisa Camp, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Ilala Lodge and The Hide Safari Camp, which fetched $4,600.

In addition to the funds raised for VFAPU, goods such as 17 two-plate gas stoves and cylinders, and engine oil, were donated.

Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) chief executive Ross Kennedy said: “Once again the spirit and commitment of Zimbabweans was on show on September 16 at the annual VFAPU Golf Day when a sum of $26,300 was raised.

“In this challenging economic environment with so many demands on business and community, we are overwhelmed by this show of care, concern and shared commitment to anti-poaching and conservation,” Mr Kennedy said.

“The sense of genuine compassion and humanity for those challenges is truly valued by us all,” he said.
VFAPU head of operations Charles Brightman said: “It was a fantastic effort, and I’d like to thank everyone involved. It is tremendous to see so much support for such an important cause.

“The funds raised will go towards the operational costs of the unit, which at $7,500 a month included salaries, fuel and vehicle maintenance,” Mr Brightman said.

VFAPU’s 17 scouts, who tackle all forms of poaching in the Victoria Falls region, have arrested nearly 700 hardened poachers since the unit was established in 1999 by Mr Brightman, a local safari operator and conservationist, and Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, AAT’s flagship property.

The unit, which works closely with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police, has also removed more than 22 000 wire snares from its operational area, and rescued 183 injured mammals from snares.

Source: Golf Tournament rakes in $26K to combat poaching (27/09/16)