Improvements at Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa

The luxurious, four-star Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa in Kasane recently underwent a revamp, with a specific focus on structural improvements.Cresta Mowana

The main road leading up to the resort was repaved, giving visitors from all over the world a fitting welcome to this prestigious lodge bordering the Chobe National park, one of southern Africa’s prime wildlife reserves. For guests wanting to explore the Chobe River up-close-and-personal on one of the mokoro (canoe) river trails, or on a tranquil Chobe River cruise, a new jetty was installed to replace the old one which had fallen into disrepair. According to Cresta’s Group Operations Manager, Jonathan Cox, the total cost of the project amounted to P900 000 (just over R1 million).

The hotel hosted the 2015 Illegal Wildlife Conference in March, which saw the upgrade of all hotel gardens and grounds, and an extension of suites in order to accommodate senior government representative from 31 countries, including several Heads of State.Chobe Accommodation

“A soft refurbishment was carried out to enhance the look of six extra suites that can now also be utilised as inter-leading family room,” explains Cox. The walkways and decking throughout the resort were refurbished, as were the bedroom door-locking systems and safes. “In addition, the Wi-Fi system was upgraded so guests can access the Internet from all bedrooms and public areas throughout the resort,” he adds.

According to Glenn Stutchbury, Cresta Hotel Group’s chief executive officer, the resort is truly “the jewel of the Chobe River,” and it is hoped that “the improvements have served to further enhance its attractiveness to visitors from all over the world.”Kasane Accommodation

Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa has 112 lavish, en suite bedrooms to choose from, as well as 4 luxury suites, decked out with inviting four poster beds, 1.5 bathrooms, and a jacuzzi tub. Each of the accommodation options also have spacious balconies which overlook the gorgeous Chobe River.

Cresta Mowana also features a decadent on-site restaurant – Serondela – which serves up an exceptional array of both local and international cuisine, and a tranquil spa, which offers a wide range of specialised treatments delivered by experienced therapists.Chobe National Park Accommodation

An extraordinary safari resort like no other, a visit to the newly refurbished Cresta Mowana is a must!

Honeymooning in Zambia

A Zambian honeymoon has many unique adventures and luxurious treats to offer the newly-wed couple, with more and more people discovering the joys of honeymooning in the country, one of Africa’s last true wilderness destinations.Zambian HoneymoonHere you can look forward to warm weather, wide open spaces, thrilling adventures, unforgettable scenes and genuine hospitality.  A range of well-appointed, yet affordable accommodation options are also up for grabs, with Zambia’s exchange rate being in favour of international travellers.

If you simply can’t do without some beach-time on your honeymoon, you can combine your Zambian trip with a few days at Lake Malawi, just a two-hour flight away.

The walking safari is Zambia’s signature holiday activity, and these are in no short supply in private wilderness areas and national parks such as the gorgeous Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa or untamed Kafue National Park.Zambian WildlifeSeasonal bush camps are most closely associated with the pure Zambian walking safari, and while these offer little in the line of conventional luxuries, they make up for this with personalised hospitality and unforgettable wildlife experiences.

Accommodation in Lusaka, provides access to cocktail bars, restaurants and a casino for a city-lovers wanting a tame start to their safari adventure. Cresta Golfview, in particular, is a stunning establishment with 78 comfortable, air-conditioned rooms to choose from and a vibrant on-site restaurant and cocktails bar.

Generally, Zambia offers exclusive and intimate safari accommodation in lodges and tented camps. These establishments provide all the creature comforts like private dining areas, exquisite cuisine, supremely comfortable rooms with a range of onsite activities and excursions.Victoria Falls AccommodationA traditional Ukuchina massage is a real treat, and many places offer these, along with a range of more traditional treatments which can be enjoyed with river views or wilderness vistas.

If it’s action you are looking for, Livingstone, on the verge of the Victoria Falls, provides every opportunity to take part in helicopter or micro-light flights, canoeing, zip lining, bungee jumping, horse riding and elephant-back safaris.  More gentle pursuits include dining on Livingstone Island, sunset cruises, cultural tours and ultra-romantic moonlight walks to view the lunar moonbow over the falls.

Crests Sprayview can be found just over the bridge on the Zimbabwean side, in the town of Victoria Falls. The lavish Executive Suite at the hotel is ideal for honeymooning couples wishing to get away for a while.Horse-back Safari ZambiaAll in all, Zambia offers a great variety of his and hers activities to get your married life off to a memorable start.

Many Ways to ‘See’ a Cat

Lion, leopard and cheetah – these are just three of the many reasons to embark on an African safari in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.  These three countries offer a wealth of ways to view these apex predators in their natural environment.Lion in BotswanaBotswana’s high populations of the big three of the feline world make this country one of the top choices for big cat sightings.

Leopard and lion thrive in the Okavango Delta, especially during times of flood, when prey species flock here in vast numbers. Duba Plains provides a fascinating insight into the volatile relationship between lions and their archenemies, buffalo.Lion in HwangeFor survival scenes to match any documentary, head to Botswana’s Kalahari, where the big cats battle harsh circumstances, alongside the eternal Khoisan people and other stalwarts of this desert landscape.Zambia’s South Luangwa is the place to be for lion and leopard sightings during the dry season.  These furtive beasts are much easier to spot when the grass is sparser in times of little rain, and their whereabouts are easier to predict while prey species are concentrated around sources of water.

The Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP) is a worthwhile place to visit while in Zambia.  Here, you can learn more about how these large predators are monitored with camera traps, join rangers while tracking lion and leopard, and also find out how local schools are getting involved in this conservation project.Leopard in AfricaAt Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, there are ample opportunities to spot lion and you may even get to do so on foot. In between the Zambezi River and Vundu Camp, there are large numbers of lion and leopard along with endangered wild dogs. Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe is also fully stocked with leopard, lion and cheetah, along with elephants and rhino. Cheetah Zimbabwe

Hwange National Park, in further west, is famous for excellent game sightings, including lion, leopard and cheetah, just a few hours from Victoria Falls. At the Falls themselves, you can experience the exciting opportunity to walk with lions and interact with lion cubs – a memorable experience indeed!

Exceptional Zimbabwean Safaris

Zimbabwe provides some of the world’s best safari experiences, which allow for travellers to get in touch with the rhythm and heartbeat of Africa. There are many different types of Zimbabwe safaris, from day and night drives, to exploring the landscape on foot, by horseback, elephant-back, or by boat along the mighty Zambezi River. Simply have a read through our detailed list and take your pick!Image Credit: Vince O'Sullivan

Nothing beats an exhilarating game drive through the African wilderness with an experienced guide. Game drives in Hwange National Park are an experience like no other. Hwange is the largest game reserve in Zimbabwe, located between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. The park is home to over 100 mammals including the endangered African wild dogs, lion, leopard, cheetah, and hyena. Massive numbers of elephant are also prevalent in the park, as well as buffalo, giraffe, gemsbok, and several other antelope. All of these incredible creatures can be spotted from a game drive offered by a number of safari tour guides in the area. The activities team at Cresta Sprayview in Victoria Falls offer a full day safari in the Hwange National Park, so make sure to enquire at Reception.Image Credit: Andrew Moore

The nearby Victoria Falls National Park also offers the opportunity for game drives, both during the day and at night. The park extends along the Zambezi River from the significantly larger Zambezi National Park to further below the Victoria Falls. Catching a glimpse of nocturnal predators in action is an adrenaline-charged experience, and with the backdrop of the spectacular African night-sky, the occasion is completed.

Take the time to speak to the staff at Cresta Sprayview about all the safari-style options available to you in the Victoria Falls National Park. Bush walks, game drives, horse-back safaris, hide sits and more. Elephant back safari trails are also an incredible experience that can be arranged by the team at Sprayview. There is no closer way to get in touch in the African wilderness than on the back of one of these magnificent creatures.Image Credit: Jason Wharam

A completely different safari experience can be had at the Matobo Hills National Park (or Matopos National Park), just outside of Bulawayo. While a relatively small park in size, it is easily accessible and teeming with exciting wildlife and arresting scenery. Massive red-tinged granite boulders litter the landscape, interspered with huge smooth whalebacks and dense vegetation. Over 2000 years ago, Bushmen lived in this area, leaving behind an incredible collection of rock art, most of which can be viewed on a standard Matopos safari. Wildlife to be seen on game drives through the park include white rhino, sable antelope, impala and Africa’s largest concentration of leopard.

As there are no elephant or lion, visitors are free to walk freely amongst the hills, creating their own unique safari experience. Guided walking safaris are also an unforgettable experience: each walk is led by an armed and experienced ranger and field guide who point out the animals, birds, plants and insect life as you pass through the bush. Enquire at the reception of Cresta Churchill in Bulawayo as to the variety of activities you can undertake in Matopos.

 

Changing Seasons – The Best Time to Visit Victoria Falls

There are three distinct seasons in Victoria Falls, which determine the climate, the amount of rainfall, and importantly, the cascade of water over the magnificent Falls.Best time to visit Victoria FallsHigh Water Season: March – May

The summer rains in Victoria Falls fall between November and April each year, with the height of the rainy season occurring in January. Following the refreshing summer rainfall, some might argue that the best time of the year to visit is throughout March – May, when the sheet of falling water over the Falls is at its greatest volume. The spray is so thick that it rains upwards, making the walk through the famous Rain Forest a real adventure! However, often the spray is so thick that is blocks one’s view of the Falls – an often disappointing occurrence.

Hot days and warm nights are often interrupted by brief, refreshing rain spells. While this is a special time to view the Victoria Falls, it is not a prime time to attempt white water rafting as the levels are often too high for operation, or too elevated to deem enjoyable.Travel to Victoria Falls

Medium to High Water Season: January, February; June to August

While there isn’t an enormous difference between the medium and high water periods, often the medium water season is considered the best time to view the Falls. Sections of the wide cliff face are exposed during this season, and often you can see all the way to the bottom, which still enjoying a significant amount of spray to keep things interesting!

Between June and August, the town of Victoria Falls experiences it’s version of winter, which is in fact mild and often preferable to the extreme summer heat. Warm days and cool nights, this is a time to pack warm clothing, to keep back the odd cold spell.Victoria Falls Seasons

Low Water Season: September to December

Between September and December, a clearer view of the rocky ledge beneath the Falls is possible – a site which is spectacular to photograph. Strolling along the knife-edge walks is not quite so scary, and the Rain Forest walk is much less crowded. Low water levels mean that white-water rafting experiences are at their best – the rapids most vicious and unrelenting.

October is undoubtedly the hottest time of the year, temperatures building up to the start of the rainy season. However, when the rain hits in November, the heat is forgotten, and the relief is palpable.

In conclusion, while a trip to Victoria Falls is spectacular any time of the year, we suggest planning your holiday according to your tastes. If you’re looking for an all-round experience, we advise visiting Victoria Falls in the medium to high water season, ensuring brilliant view of the Falls, game-viewing, and weather!

 

Cresta Hotels To Open New Hotel in Maun

Last month, it was confirmed that Cresta Marakanelo Ltd will open up another hotel in Maun, the tranquil Gateway to the Okavango Delta, in Botswana.thalefang.files.wordpress.com

Cresta Maun – the proposed name for the new 83-bedroomed establishment – is set to be completed by November 2016. The hotel will look to complement another reputable Cresta property in Maun – Riley’s Hotel.

Botswana’s Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, recently officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony in Maun.

The Minister explained that as well as improving the stature of Maun as a tourism hub, the hotel would aid the area’s development from a village to an economic zone in Botswana’s Ngamiland District.

Specifically, he applauded Cresta’s overall strategy of growth: “As the government continues to encourage the development of capacities in the villages in order to accelerate, deepen and expand economic growth, initiatives such as this are inspiring,” he said.Ngami Times

Seven years ago, a strategic drive was put in place to expand Cresta, a prime feature of which was a number of infrastructural developments directly translated into revamped looks for hotels such as Cresta Lodge, Cresta Thampama, Mowana Safari Resort and Spa, Cresta Marang Garden, Cresta Riley’s, and more.

At the ceremony, Managing Director for Cresta Marakanelo, Tawanda Makaya, revealed that the Cresta brand is the fastest growing in Botswana. “Our growth has been labelled vigorous, energetic, enthusiastic and robust,” he said. What’s sure is that the development of Cresta Maun signifies a continuation of this impressive growth.

As well as extending the growth of the Cresta brand, the construction of Cresta Maun will assist in alleviating poverty, through the creation of various employment opportunities in the immediate region. Not only did Makaya state that the hotel would create at least 100 jobs, but he also noted that a minimum of 90% of all employees hired would be from Maun itself, and the surrounding areas.Cresta Rileys Hotel

The river-front based hotel will include 77 standard rooms, five junior suites, and a single presidential suite to be named Tshekedi Khama, in honour of the Minister. Two conference facilities at the hotel will equipped to accommodate 230 people, and the on-site restaurant will be able to seat around 196 people.  It has also been announced that the hotel will partner with Rainet Safaris, a move that will secure a number of exciting, game-based activities for future guests.

April Accommodation Specials

During April and May, in celebration of the Public Holidays, all Cresta Hotels in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe have fantastic specials on offer. Here, we highlight two exclusive specials in Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa

The luxurious Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa on the banks of the Chobe River, invites both local and international guests to enjoy 3 nights of accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis, for only P 3180 (per person sharing) or P 4020 (per person single). Kasane LodgeThis exceptional special includes one game drive through the incredible Chobe national park, where there is the chance to spot the a vast number of big game, as well as a host of other exciting wildlife. Also included is a leisurely, relaxing cruise along the Chobe River. Speaking of relaxing, Cresta Mowana’s special likewise enables guests to take advantage of one signature treatment at the renowned on-site Clarins spa.

This outstanding offer is valid between until May 11, 2015.

Competition for the special is fierce, so make sure to book your place as soon as possible. Simply contact: +267 625 0300 for bookings, or email: resmowana@cresta.co.bw.Chobe ActivitiesCresta Lodge – Harare

Throughout the month of April, treat yourself and your family to a rejuvenating break at Cresta Lodge Harare. These exclusive offers vary between Single and Double occupancy, and between Bed and Breakfast, and Room Only occupancy.

Find a summary of these exceptional specials below:

Single Bed and Breakfast     US$ 86
Double Bed and Breakfast     US$ 107

Single – Room Only         US$ 69
Double – Room Only         US$ 73

Harare AccommodationRates are on a per person, per night basis, and delectable breakfasts will be served in the vibrant Chatters Restaurant, from where guests will be able to choose from a wide-ranging, mouth-watering menu.

This offer is valid until April 30, 2015.

To reserve your spot at Cresta Lodge Harare during April, simply contact +263 448 6870, or email: reservations@lodge.cresta.co.zw. Availability is limited over this busy period, so make sure to secure your booking as soon as you possibly can!

* T’s and C’s apply *

Mahalapye: An Undiscovered Gem

On the edge of the Kalahari Desert, between Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone, and its second-largest city, Francistown, lies the little-known town of Mahalapye. Often overlooked as simply a convenient stopover on the way to and from Botswana’s larger cities, Mahalapye, in fact, has more to offer than initially meets the eye.Image by: Karoo Information

The town is the headquarters of Botswana Railways, and the railway line running through the town forms an important part of Mahalapye’s history. The line, which transverses Botswana from Ramatlabama in the south, to Bakaranga in the north, was originally part of Bechuanaland Railway Company’s line from Vryburg to Bulawayo (later to become Rhodesia Railways), and was an important section of the unrealised vision of a ‘Cape to Cairo’ railway. The railway line currently forms a direct link between South Africa, and the countries lying to the north, including Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Mozambique.

As a result of the development of the Botswana railway system, the town of Mahalapye came into being in around the 1920s, attracting construction workers from far and wide.

The town also became an important stopover point, both to restock on coal and as a changeover for traffic and train crew of South African Railways and Rhodesia Railways. The Tswana people from surrounding areas used this stopover as a chance to trade, and eventually set up temporary and then permanent homes in the area. The town grew, and, interestingly, some of the first electric lights to flicker in Botswana  were in this town, earning it the nickname of ‘Ko Diponeng’ – the place of lights.Image by: Karoo Information

The result of all the construction and trading that took place in the area is that today, Mahalapye is an ethnically diverse area, with many Xhosas from South Africa, Bahereros from Namibia, and Tswana, and Lozi people from Zambia.

The modern village, while not front of mind as a tourist destination, certainly has a few noteworthy attractions that are worth a visit. To the south of the village, just off the A1 highway you will find the southern-most naturally occurring baobab tree in Africa, an immense and long-standing specimen that has been declared a national monument.

More natural beauty can be found along the dried-up Mahalapye River, where you can take a walk among the impressive granite boulders. It may also be a good idea to take your bird books and binoculars along, as the bush is home to many species of birds. Alternatively, arrange a picnic to experience a uniquely African alfresco dining experience.

About 45km from the town are the Shoshong Hills, where some of Botswana’s richest history can be discovered. These hills were home to mineworkers as far back as the 8th century, and today feature stone-walled ruins from early tribes.Image by: Mindy McAdams

Only two hours’ drive north of Mahalapye is the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, a community-based wildlife project established in 1992 to help save the vanishing rhinoceros and restore an area formerly teeming with wildlife to its previous natural state. Visit for the day or take more time by spending a night or two at one of the campsites or chalets. The park is home to white and black rhinos, giraffe, zebra, various antelope, ostrich, black-backed jackals, warthogs and more, as well as a plethora of birds.

Where to stay

Mahalapye has a history of being a stopover village, and even today, it is a convenient refreshment stop between Gaborone and Palapye, or Francistown further north. Whatever your reason for visiting Mahalapye, whether you are simply stopping over, in town for business, or staying a bit longer to see the sites, Cresta Mahalapye has you covered.

The hotel, one of very few in the village, started up in February 2013.

“We saw the a huge potential for an upmarket hotel to be built in Mahalapye, as most accommodation facilities are small lodges or bed and breakfast outlets,” said Jonathan Cox, Cresta Hotels’ group operations manager.Image by: Cresta Hotels

The hotel is fully licensed, and has 64 fully-equipped rooms, including two presidential suites, four junior suites, two paraplegic rooms and 56 standard rooms.

For holidaymakers, a restaurant and cocktail bar, lush gardens, a swimming pool and a children’s playground with splash pool promise good times. For the business person, the hotel offers state-of-the-art conference and banqueting facilities, which can accommodate up to 200 people, as well as several meeting rooms. The hotel’s business centre and free Wi-Fi ensure that you can carry on with your business without a hitch.

Article by: Loren Shirley-Carr

Famous Landmarks in Zambia

Zambia is a country that is as rich in history as it is in culture and adventure, offering a large variety of things to do while visiting this beautiful country. However, there a number of landmarks that stand out when considering the particular places to visit.Image by: Paolo

The Victoria Falls is one of the most well-known landmarks in Zambia, the Kololo people who originally lived in the area, named the falls Mosi-oa-Tunya, which roughly translates to ‘the smoke that thunders’. The name was used to describe the thick mist that rises from the crashing falls during the wet season, which can often be seen from miles away.

The Livingstone Memorial is a landmark that is etched in history. The memorial marks the place where David Livingstone died in1873; he was the first to discover Victoria Falls in 1855 while he was exploring the Zambezi River. The memorial stands in the same spot where Livingstone’s heart was buried, whilst the rest of his body was sent back to England. Image by: Hankering For History

Another gem in Zambia’s treasure chest is the South Luangwa National Park. It has been referred to by experts as one of the world’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife and vegetation and the intensity of the game around the Luangwa River and the ox bow lagoons are amongst the largest in Africa. The world famous ‘walking safari’ originated in this national park and up until today it is still considered one of the best ways to experience the African bush. The park is home to numerous animals, including the Thorneycroft giraffe, Crawshay Zebra, leopard, wild dogs, and several prides of lion. Unfortunately the rhino that used to inhabit that park have been poached to extinction. Image by: ninara

Kalimba Reptile Park is only half an hour’s drive from Lusaka and is a well-known favourite amongst tourists. The Park is home to the giant Nile crocodile, tortoises, a large variety of indigenous snakes and other reptiles. It is one of the few places in the world where you will be able to see the shy slender-nosed crocodile. In addition to this, the Park has its own farm shop, restaurant, braai area, and picnic facilities. If you have an adventurous palate then a piping hot crocodile burger is just the thing for you, these burgers are available directly from the restaurant and are said to taste quite similar to chicken.

If you are looking for accommodation during your travels throughout Lusaka then stay at our luxurious Cresta Golfview Hotel, which is classy, modern and authentic in every way.

The Cultural Side of Lusaka

Lusaka is often overlooked as a city in its own right and is seen as a pit stop en-route to greater things such as the amazing wildlife destinations in this large country of remote destinations. However, the city holds much beauty, which appears in many forms – such as within the vibrant art scene.

Art by: Henry TayaliLusaka is is a bustling city, located just south of the ‘copperbelt’ on the Zimbabwe-side of the country and is becoming increasingly modernised as ever more people discover the benefits of this well-run city.

The noise and commotion, packed streets and rapidly increasing urban population are countered by tree-lined avenues and spaces which make it worthwhile to stay a little longer and explore Lusaka beyond the surface. For exceptional accommodation in the Zambia capital, choose Cresta Golfview – an affordable, and yet luxurious option.

A number of Lusaka activities have emerged to attract and keep tourists in town for a little longer, but these modern malls, markets and entertainment venues do not provide a true reflection of Zambian culture. If you would like to find out what to do in Zambia in order to get a more realistic idea of local living, you won’t’ need to travel too far off the beaten track.  There are places in Lusaka that have kept their original ethos, for now.

Image Credit: andrewmulenga.blogspot.comFor a quick and convenient insight into Zambia’s soul, start off at the National Museum for a summary of Zambian ethnography and history. Kabwata Cultural Centre will get you up to speed with the vibrant heart of Lusaka – here vendors will smilingly vie for your attention among the 40-or-so huts set up to display their hand-made curios, souvenirs, jewellery and carvings. Kabwata reveals the jovial, never-say-die spirt of the Lusakan population and is a shopping experience unlike anything you will find in a mall. The Freedom Statue is located nearby as a reminder of those who perished in the struggle for independence.

If you prefer a less informal introduction to the artistic creations of Zambian folk, head off to the Henry Tayali Visual Arts centre and the Namwandwe Art Gallery to view, and even purchase, authentic Zambian paintings and sculptures.

Tour companies offer insightful city and township outings which enable visitors to get to grips with the city’s intricacies easily. By booking a tour online or through your hotel, you can get to discover the traditional aspects of Zambian culture, such as traditional medicine and beer-making, which are fading fast in the face of modern pursuits.

Art by: Zenlele ChuluDo you know of any interesting cultural spots in Lusaka?