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Tuesday 14 December 2021

Batoka Zambezi Sands River Lodge To Launch In Zimbabwe In March 2022

 The Batoka Hospitality Group opens revamped five-star destination as part of its vision to boost African tourism and uplift local communities

A new dawn is beckoning at Zimbabwe’s magnificent Victoria Falls. 

In March 2022, the Batoka Hospitality Group will unveil the beautifully-refurbished Batoka Zambezi Sands River Lodge on the banks of the Zambezi River, the first major milestone on the ecotourism group’s journey to empower local communities and boost the African tourism market.

Located in the western part of the Zambezi National Park and only an hour’s drive from the world-famous Victoria Falls, the Batoka Zambezi Sands River Lodge offers guests the chance to luxuriate in the glorious African bush where they can take in the exquisite waters of the mighty Zambezi or marvel at elephant, buffalo, lion, hippo and abundant birdlife.  

Having previously partnered with Imvelo Safari Lodges, in 2020 Batoka Hospitality acquired 100% ownership of the former Zambezi Sands River Camp and its sister attraction, the Gorges Lodge.

The move has paved the way for the company’s spirited executive director, Vimbai Masiyiwa, to execute her vision for creating uniquely-African luxury destinations that are deeply connected to their communities.

As a daughter of Strive Masiyiwa, the Zimbabwean philanthropist and founder of technology giant Econet Global, Masiyiwa is determined to follow in her father’s footsteps by empowering Africans through sustainable projects that will provide partnership and employment opportunities for generations to come. 

She is driven to grow the hospitality sector for Africans, by Africans.

Particularly in light of the economic hardships brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, Masiyiwa is aiming to rejuvenate the African sector by appealing to African tourists from countries like Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and Tanzania – all the while improving the lives of the local Zimbabwean community. 

“We put people first – the people in our communities, the people in our teams, and our guests. We choose to learn from each other and consistently look for a better way to do what we do.  We create opportunities for our societies to thrive,” Masiyiwa says. 

The five-star Batoka Zambezi Sands River Lodge that will welcome its first guests in March is the picture of luxury in an African setting.  

The 11 suites have been reconceptualized by contemporary furniture and d├ęcor firm The Private House Company, under the astute eye of renowned South African interior designer Yvonne O’Brien.  

Known for creating rooms that are understated, personal and quietly refined, the Private House Company boasts an incredible portfolio, having designed and furnished luxury lodges at Londolozi, Lapalala and Simbithi, as well as high-end homes and residences in Steyn City, Hyde Park, Dainfern and Clifton in South Africa.

The natural materials and tones O’Brien and her team have brought to the Batoka Zambezi Sands River Lodge blend seamlessly into the Victoria Falls landscape, where breathtaking vistas greet guests from every suite.  

The 24-bed lodge comprises 10 standard suites, each with a private plunge pool and spectacular views of the Zambezi River. 

Later in 2022, a two-bedroom suite, complete with private swimming pool, lounge and dining room and deck for those desiring more privacy and opulent “home away from home” experience will be added to the lodge’s offering. 

Rest and relaxation, pampering and health are high on the agenda, and accordingly a spa and fitness centre facilities are included among the amenities on offer.

Ghanaian brand R&R Luxury has also partnered with the group to provide items like toiletries in each of the suites. 

A big part of Batoka Hospitality’s vision is sustainability, not only for local communities, but the environment as well. 

Masiyiwa and her team have gone to great lengths to instill a culture of knowledge and responsibility for the land, and have emphasised the importance of preserving Victoria Falls’ fauna and flora. 

Equally, they have made sure to extol the virtues of local customs and traditions. 

Over and above her role as director, Masiyiwa is a mental health activist who has spent a lot of time seeking to understand human suffering and initiating programmes for people to bring change to their lives. 

It is something that is close to her heart, and these values are reflected in Batoka Hospitality’s offerings.

“Our vision is to become a leading luxury safari company on the African continent, but we also want to create opportunities for economic growth in the communities we build in. We are empowering the African dream of success through ecotourism and hospitality,” she says. 

“As much as we enrich the lives of our guests through a truly authentic African experience, we are building self-sustaining communities across Africa through our brand.”

Later in 2022, Batoka will unveil its second major project of the year, the four-star Batoka Gorges and Little Lodge.

The 30-bed lodge comprises 10 tented suites and five stone chalets overlooking one of Zimbabwe’s most captivating attractions, the Batoka Gorge

This offering, which is targeting the younger adventure traveller, will boast many of the same amenities found at the Batoka Zambezi Sands River Lodge, and once again, be imbued with the African spirit of caring, hospitality and hope.

“For us, it’s all about becoming completely immersed in the local culture,”  Masiyiwa says.

Source: Batoka Zambezi Sands River Lodge To Launch In Zimbabwe In March 2022 (13/12/21)

Monday 13 December 2021

Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone concept under scrutiny

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

VARIOUS stakeholders from Government and private sector are meeting in Victoria Falls to interrogate the Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone (SEZ) feasibility study as efforts to operationalise the tourism corridor intensify.

Last year Government started crafting a blueprint to guide operationalization of the greater Victoria Falls SEZ and Cabinet approved the Integrated Development Programme/Conceptual Development Framework for the Victoria Falls-Hwange-Binga SEZ whose idea is to integrate economic activities, catapult growth and improve livelihoods in the province.

The SEZ will help create a tourism corridor stretching from Kazungula west of Victoria Falls, to Hwange, Binga, Sijalila and Kariba, including areas around Lake Gwayi-Shangani in Hwange.

Government wants to make Victoria Falls its tourism capital and the Second Republic has deliberately focused its priorities to the resort city and developments especially in the tourism sector, including plans to come up with Masue and Batoka cities are testimony to that.

Government established and appointed Mosi-oa-Tunya Development Company to spearhead tourism infrastructure development in the SEZ, including Masue City, about 10km outside the existing city centre and the company has been conducting a feasibility study with assistance of Old Mutual.

Mosi-oa-Tunya company is under the Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Ministry, which organized the SEZ feasibility study validation workshop.

In her keynote address, Tourism Minister deputy Minister Barbara Rwodzi said the SEZ is one of the key projects that President Mnangagwa has given priority as it will also unlock potential of tourism towards Vision 2030.

“Government envisions the Victoria Falls SEZ to become a competitive tourism destination and as Ministry we have now to move to mortar and brick stage in 2022,” she said.

Source: Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone concept under scrutiny (13/12/21)

Sunday 12 December 2021

Glow Petroleum Opens A US$1,5m New Fuel Station In Vic Falls

 VICTORIA FALLS: One of the country’s leading fuel dealers, Glow Petroleum has opened a new fuel station in this resort city after investing US$1,5 million into the project.

This becomes Glow Petroleum’s 42nd  branch in Zimbabwe.

  

Glow owner Aaron Chinhara partnered with Victoria Falls businessman Ozias Marange on the project, which will also see a mall being built to the tune of more than US$3 million.

While the opening of a fuel station might seem to be an ordinary development, the new facility exudes unparalleled quality.

It started with a competitive price of US$1.30 for a litre of petrol, US$0.7 cheaper than other dealers in city.

Just across the road from the site of the garage, are two fuel black market spots that have been booming for more than a year.

However, Chinhara said Victoria Falls will never run short of fuel again.

”We decided to come to this side of the country to join hands with those in the southern region and give each other energy in this business,” Chinhara said.

“This is the first phase and US$1,5 million was put. When the whole project is complete, it will be plus US$3 million and we want to put a one-stop- modern mall here for the people of Mkhosana and Chinotimba suburbs.”

He said as a company, Glow Petroleum valued quality.

Chinhara added the company would construct more fuel stations across the country.

“Glow petroleum is a 100% black-owned company and we have done numerous projects, and today (Wednesday), we have opened branch number 42 as part of our expansion policy.

“We always want to make sure that when we build the next garage, we always try to do better and make sure it is better than our previous one.

“We want to make our communities and country beautiful by creating beautiful facilities. If on any day Victoria Falls had no fuel, that time is over.”

Marange, who also runs a haulage trucking and hardware business, concurred, adding the joint venture would ensure the Victoria Falls community, especially the tourism industry does not run out of fuel.

“We want to make sure every business operates without the challenges of fuel. This will help the local industry as there will be no shortage of fuel,” Marange said.

The fuel station will operate 24 hours and it opened to motorists Wednesday.

Source: Glow Petroleum Opens A US$1,5m New Fuel Station In Vic Falls (11/11/21)


Saturday 11 December 2021

Vic Falls hive of activity with three new hotels

 DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – BOUYED by the official opening of a hotel, lodge and guesthouse in Victoria Falls at the peak of the COVID-19, President Emmerson Mnangagwa believes Zimbabwe is on course to meet its target of a US$5 billion tourism industry by 2025.

The tourism capital city has been a hive of activity in recent days as Mnangagwa presided over the launch of the Palm River Hotel, Nkosi Guest Lodge and Zambezi Boutique respectively.

The facilities were built during the grueling lockdown that has been in place since April 2021, much to the detriment of tourism.

“These new investments by the tourism sector demonstrate confidence in the country’s future and will go a long way in accelerating recovery of the sector,” Mnangagwa said.

“The target of a $5 billion tourism industry by 2025 is achievable as evidenced by the tourism investments. These will provide a competitive market driven and diversified product range,” he said.

The president commended the tourism sector for its continued focus towards the realization of the outcomes outlined in the National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025).

It is part of a strategy to attain Upper Middle-Income Society status by 2030.

Mnangagwa officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony for The Palm River Hotel in July 2020, marking commencement of construction and the hotel that opened its doors on December 1- fully booked.

There were 31 rooms on offer, with the rest in the 73-room facility to take bookings for 2022.

Palm River Lodge, Victoria Falls

Palm River Lodge, Victoria Falls

The Zambezi Boutique, with its high-end luxury suites was constructed under 12 months beginning in November 2020, at a cost of $900 000.

Nkosi Guest Lodge is a $48-million hotel.

Mnangagwa encouraged investors in Victoria Falls to adopt renewable energy and turn the city into a leading green tourism destination.

He also urged players in the tourism sector to develop new products and attract more investments leveraging on the opening up of new resorts in areas around Gwayi-Shangani Dam, Tugwi-Mukosi Dam and the emerging Binga, Bumi Hills and Kanyemba tourism corridor among others.

“We are determined to make sure that our country is an investment destination where capital feels safe,” Mnangagwa assured.

Source: Vic Falls hive of activity with three new hotels (10/12/21)

Wednesday 8 December 2021

Zimparks ropes in private players to boost domestic tourism

Blessings Chidakwa, Herald Reporter

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has partnered with private players in an effort to promote domestic tourism and also to ensure that locals enjoy previously unaffordable activities.

Zimparks has partnered with a helicopter company MJ Air, luxury coach company City Link Coaches and Rainbow Tourism Group to offer an all-year-round package to Victoria Falls for locals.

The packages is inclusive of transport, accommodation and tours in the tourist city. Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo confirmed the partnership saying this was part of promoting domestic tourism.

“We hope people will embrace this noble initiative meant to boost our domestic tourism. In order to achieve a $5 billion tourism economy by 2025, the tourism sector plays a critical role.

Mr Farawo also said in this Covid-19 era it is imperative that domestic tourism be boosted.

“We want to ease pressure on job losses in the Covid-19 era. We want money to cater for the animals.

“Through the support of domestic tourism, Vision 2030, as espoused by President Mnangagwa will be attainable,” he said.

Ms Gwemende said in Victoria Falls, they are providing activities at affordable rates and all in an effort to demystify the notion that it is an expensive destination.

“We are going to be running this package for the entire year. We call upon corporates, church groups, schools and clubs to take advantage of this holiday of a lifetime package,” she said.

She said they also have a credit facility with ZB bank to enable locals to enjoy their holidays now and then pay later in installments.

“All this is our quest to afford every Zimbabwean the chance to holiday,” she said.

Source: Zimparks ropes in private players to boost domestic tourism (07/12/21)

 


Friday 3 December 2021

UK teenager attacked by crocodile on gap-year trip in Zambia

 

Amelie Osborn-Smith was white water rafting in the Zambezi below Victoria Falls at time of incident.

A British teenager has been reportedly attacked by a crocodile while travelling with friends on a gap-year holiday in southern Africa.

Amelie Osborn-Smith, from Andover, Hampshire, was white water rafting in the Zambezi below Victoria Falls in Zambia when the reptile pounced at her, MailOnline reports.

The 18-year-old’s father said his daughter had been resting her leg over the side of the boat when the crocodile bit her and dragged her under the water.

Osborn-Smith, who was backpacking after finishing her A-levels at school in Winchester, was reportedly saved by a friend who punched the crocodile on the nose until it released her. She has been airlifted to hospital in the capital, Lusaka, about 240 miles (380km) away, where she is being treated for serious injuries to her leg.

Her father, Brent Osborn-Smith, told reporters: “She wasn’t actually swimming but just sitting on the boat and the crocodile saw her leg dangling in the water and thought: ‘There’s lunch.’

“She’s in a pretty bad state at the moment in Zambia and we’re doing our best to try and get her back to have some proper definitive care here, but obviously with a crocodile bite there’s a huge risk of infection and she’s got a very severely damaged leg. It’s quite a distressing situation.

“She’s been stabilised as best they can but it’s still pretty touch and go.”

He said Zambia was on the Covid red list, presenting further challenges in getting his daughter home.

An unnamed friend of Osborn-Smith’s told reporters: “As soon as it happened the male friend dived under the water and started punching the crocodile furiously. Then others jumped in to help. It was chaos. There was blood and people thrashing everywhere. She is lucky to be alive.”

Osborn-Smith was reportedly white water rafting with Bundu Rafting, based in Livingstone in Zambia. The company has been operating in the Victoria Falls area since 1996.

Its website says: “Be assured that we don’t compromise on safety issues on the river. Our trip leaders are the most experienced guides around: some with 20 years rafting on the mighty Zambezi.”

Another rafting company that operates in the area says on its website that the “Nile crocodile is endemic to the Zambezi River” but adds “they are not a problem”.

An adult male is usually between 2.94 metres and 4.4 metres in length and weighs between about 225kg and 414kg, although crocodiles exceeding 6.1 metres in length have been recorded.

In 2018, a woman canoeing above Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe with her fiance had her arm bitten off by a giant crocodile.

Zanele Ndlovu and Jamie Fox, from south-east England, were out in an inflatable raft when the reptile attacked and punctured the vessel.

Ndlovu fell into the water and her right arm was bitten off above the elbow, just days before her wedding.

She was taken to hospital where medics saved her life, and she was married in the hospital chapel the following month.

Source: UK teenager reportedly attacked by crocodile on gap-year trip in Zambia (02/12/21)