5 Hidden Gems at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

By Sarah Kerr

Photography supplied by Africa Albida Tourism

If  you have visited Victoria Falls before or researched  a  trip  to  this  particularly  scenic natural wonder you may have heard of the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. The esteemed lodge is famed for its nightly ‘Boma – Dinner & Drum Show’ which is often cited as a must-do whilst in Victoria

Falls. The property is owned by African Albida Tourism and despite the popularity of the lodge, there are plenty of lesser-known sights to explore on the property. Here are five hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.

1 Birdwatching/Nature Trails

The lovely nature trails set on the expansive property offers the perfect self-guided activity. The peace, quiet and solitude offered just a few minutes walk from the main lodge are incredible and the small bird-hides located along the trail offer the perfect way to spend a few hours recharging in nature.

The trails are within the fenced area of the lodge, meaning you are safe from large game animals and predators yet still afforded the chance to spot abundant small wildlife such as mongoose, bushbuck, warthogs and more.

I recommend taking along a large bottle of water, a pair of binoculars and even a good book. More than 400 bird species occur in the Victoria Falls region and the patient twitcher will be well rewarded!

2 ‘Sundowners’ at the Buffalo Bar at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

Probably the most well known of the activities listed watching the fiery red African sunset from the viewing deck at the Buffalo Bar is simply unmissable. Safari Lodge is one of the only true westward facing lodges in Victoria Falls and its hilltop location gives expansive views of the Zambezi National Park, private waterhole and setting sun.

The Buffalo Bar offers a tasteful selection of wines and cocktails served with small platters of complimentary snacks to patrons at sundown. It is advisable, however, not to become too caught up in food, drink and con-versation. Rather pay attention to the activity around the waterhole. It’s all too easy to miss animals coming in as the light turns dusky and binoculars are highly recommended. A leopard was recently seen coming down for a drink while clients sat sipping on cocktails from the viewing deck.

3The Siduli Hide at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

The Siduli Hide is a co-operative venture between Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and an anti-poaching trust in the area making it doubly rewarding as its proceeds benefit a good cause. The ‘Hide’ itself is a cleverly camouflaged viewing structure (it looks like a termite mound) that perches unobtrusively alongside the waterhole in front of the lodge.

Guests are concealed within the hide whilst animals stroll past unconcerned by the human their presence. As such, it offers a once in a lifetime chance to view animals natural behaviour at incredibly close quarters-spectacular encounters with elephant are common.

This is not a child-friendly activity as you must take a walk with a professional guide through the unfenced bush to reach the hide and are required to stay quiet and still whilst inside it. The activity is ideally suited to photographers or wildlife lovers who will be enthralled with the unique experience and images they are able to capture.

4 Victoria Falls Safari Suites

Africa Albida Tourism offers multiple lodging options on the same property as Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, all within a very large area so nothing feels cramped. The newest, and I feel least known of these, are the Victoria Falls Safari Suites. These lovely self-contained lodges have either 2 or 3 bedrooms with a modern African aesthetic. They suit travellers who have a longer stay or have visited Victoria Falls before, those who value privacy, larger families, or groups who will enjoy the shared lounge areas.

All rooms are en-suite and as they are on the same property as the main lodge they share the great sunset-facing location plus access to all the facilities such as restaurants and swimming pools. Breakfast is included and served at the nearby MaKuwa-Kuwa Restaurant just a few minutes walk away. You can opt to have a continental buffet delivered to your room and enjoy breakfast on your balcony to the sound of early morning birdsong while watching the resident warthogs on the lawns. The main bedrooms also offer particularly scenic views as they are located upstairs.

5 The Vulture Culture Experience: Each day at 1 pm

Sitting mere metres from a raucous melee of squabbling vultures may not seem like fun but this is what’s on offer at the Vulture Culture Experience! The absolute spectacle of seeing hundreds of vultures with wingspans in excess of 1 metre coming in to feed, raising a cloud of dust and feathers, is awe-inspiring yet, beyond this, the activity serves an important purpose.

Despite the large numbers of birds you will see, vultures are in fact declining at an alarming rate worldwide and feeding programs such as this one, that supplies safe meat for the birds to eat, are an important first step in halting their loss.

The lodge offers this supplementary feeding program in front of the main lodge dining area at 1 pm each day. A guide gives a fascinating talk before and during the feeding about the important ecological role these misunderstood birds play highlighting the threats facing them today. Hooded vultures, white-backed vultures, marabou storks, yellow-billed kites and tawny eagles all swoop in as you watch giving you great photographic opportunities and delighting watching children.

Despite African Albida Tourism’s long-running history (Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has been voted Zimbabwe’s Best Safari Lodge/Resort Hotel for 21 years running) they continue to be innovative and vary their offerings. Most of the hidden gems I have mentioned take advantage of what is to my mind the properties’ best selling point; its very special setting on the edge of the pristine African wilderness. Standing above all the mod cons and exclusive options available it is still being immersed in and surrounded by nature that makes a stay here exceptional.

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