Picture-Perfect Victoria Falls

Given the large volume of much-needed rainfall along the Zambezi River over the past two or three months, the Victoria Falls has been once again been restored to its former glory.

Flickr-Tony MendezTo celebrate the end of the High Water Season, we’ve put together a photoblog showcasing the year-round beauty of this magnificent waterfall.

Officially declared a World Heritage Site in 1989, with a height of 108m and a combined width of 1708m, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest waterfall in the world. It is locally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or ‘The Smoke That Thunders’, after the sound of 550 000m³ of water crashing over its edge each minute, and the plume of spray that can be seen from over 20km away.

While there’s much to be written about Victoria Falls, pictures do speak louder than words, so we’ll leave you to it:

Victoria Falls

Visit Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls Activities

Victoria Falls Accommodation

Mosi-Oa-Tunya

Victoria Falls Bridge

Smoke That Thunders

Aerial View of Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

Travel to Victoria FallsWondering when is the best time to visit Victoria Falls? Have a look at our handy blog post detailing the different seasons of the year in Zimbabwe. Cresta Hotel’s property in Victoria Falls, Cresta Sprayview, is located just 1.4 km from the entrance to the Falls. The perfect base from which to explore Zimbabwe’s adventure capital, it is offers guests the choice of 65 standard rooms, family rooms and executive suites.

To book your stay at Cresta Sprayview, today, simply email reservations@crestahotels.com or call +27 11 881 1200.

Flickr Image Credits: (in order) Damien Fauchot, George Lamson, Wendy, Lars Plougmann, Maya S, Damien Fauchot, Steven dosRemedios, Mike, Ninara, Digital Aesthetica

Harare International Food and Music Festival

Get ready to celebrate the taste and sound of Zimbabwe at the upcoming inaugural Harare International Food and Music Festival! Two of the greatest joys in life – music and food – will come together in a three-day extravaganza, from April 29 to May 1, 2016, at the iconic Borrowdale Race Course.

Michael SternPresented by the Jacaranda Culture and Media Corporation, it will see various local restaurants, chefs, culinary traders and stakeholders showcase their finest products to the melodious soundtrack of several local and international artists.

Commenting on the upcoming event, the group’s Marketing Executive, Tinashe Kitchen, said:

“Over the course of three days, local and international musical artists and food specialists from all walks of Zimbabwean life will converge in the nation’s capital for the once in a lifetime event for a cultural exchange programme.”
Harare International Food and Music FestivalHighlighting the overall importance of an event of this nature, he went on: “Music and food go a long way in defining a people’s culture and lifestyle. These two cannot be isolated if one is to speak of a certain society.”

Culinary clients who have already signed up to the Harare International Food and Music Festival include high-end hotel Imba Matombo, the Baraza Choma Grill, event and catering gurus Bdazzled, local favourite Super Pies and sushi experts K’s Kitchen.

The musical section of this exciting event will take the form of five separate music shows: Dream Star, Genesis Gospel Show, Jazz Night, The Streets Hip Hop Show, and the DJ Battle Night. HIFMAs can be seen above, Dream Star, Genesis Gospel Show and Jazz Night take place on 30 April, while The Streets Hip Hop Show and DJ Battle Night take place on 1 May.

Undoubtedly, the most exciting performer on this year’s musical line-up is local superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, who is considered to be Zimbabwe’s most internationally recognised cultural icon.

Other reputable entertainers include Mokoomba, Junior Brown, Trae Yung, Daniel Jenkins, The Movement, and DJ Dawee.

Oliver MtukudziIf you’re looking for somewhere to stay over the course of the weekend, Cresta Hotels feature not one, but three exemplary Harare accommodation options: Cresta Lodge Harare, Cresta Jameson, and Cresta Oasis. To secure your spot, or to find out more about the Cresta Hotels establishments, simply email reservations@cresta.co.zw, or call +263 4 788 161.

Purchase tickets for the Harare International Food and Music Festival on webtickets.

Image Credits: Michael Stern, Jacaranda Culture, Harare International Food and Music Festival, Phil Songa

Airlines and Flights to Zambia

When booking flights to Zambia, visitors are blessed with a diverse variety of airlines and destinations to suit their particular needs. With international airports in Lusaka, Livingstone, and Ndola, and a range of domestic ones scattered across the country, planning a holiday in Zambia is simple.

Zambia FlightHere, we outline the three international airports, providing you with a list of airlines flying to Zambia, interesting facts, and more.

Lusaka

The Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Zambia’s capital – Lusaka – is the country’s largest. Renamed in 2011 after Zambia’s first president, it has a capacity of almost two million passengers annually. Located 15km northeast of the Lusaka CBD, it features both a Domestic and International terminal, and is the home-base for local airline Proflight Zambia.

In terms of international airlines, the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport is serviced by just Emirates and KLM, while on a regional level, it is serviced by Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, South African Airways, and Air Botswana, among others.

Zambia flightsTogether, these airlines connect Lusaka with Amsterdam and Dubai internationally, and Johannesburg, Harare, Windhoek, Gaborone, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Luanda, and Durban regionally, among others.

Livingstone

The Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport, formerly the Livingstone Airport, is the closest airport to the legendary Victoria Falls. In 2015, the airport underwent a significant expansion and upgrade, with the introduction of an international terminal building.

International airlines flying to this airport include British Airways (operated by Comair), Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, SA Airlink, South African Airways, and Proflight Zambia. As such, the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport connects Livingstone with the cities of Nelspruit, Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, Harare, Nairobi, and Lusaka.

flights to ZambiaNdola

Once known as the Ndola Airport, the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport is located in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province, near the country’s border with the DRC.

Originally set up as a military base for the British Royal Air Force in 1938, it was converted into a civilian airport in the 1950’s and renamed in 2011 after a former Zambian vice president.

On both an international and regional level, this airport serves Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, and Nairobi, while on a local level it connects the city of Ndola with Kasama, Lusaka, Solwezi and Mansa. Airlines making use of the airport include South African Airways, SA Airlink, Kenya Airways, Interair South Africa, Ethiopian Airlines, and Proflight Zambia.

airports in zambiaWhile the Kenneth Kaunda, Harry Mwanga Nkumbula, and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe airports are Zambia’s only international airports, the country also boasts a vast array of smaller, domestic airports in cities and towns such as Chipata, Solwezi, Kitwe, Mansa, and Kasama. These enable visitors the freedom to explore each and every corner of this magnificent country.

To find out more about booking your first, or next, flight to Zambia, or to find out when is the best time to do so, visit www.crestahotels.com/hotels/lusaka, or contact us directly on +260 211 290770.

Image Credits: alexanderhamdy, carine06, thedavidlivingstone.com

What’s Happening at Cresta This Easter

Easter weekend is fast approaching and various Cresta Hotels across Botswana are running exclusive accommodation, dining and activity specials.

We’ve rounded up a few of the most exciting to help you and your family make the best of this long weekend:

Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa

Make your way to the most luxurious lodge along the Chobe River to take advantage of an unbeatable Easter special.hotels in KasaneFor only P3499 per person sharing, and P4426 for single occupancy, experience:

•    Three nights’ accommodation at Cresta Mowana
•    Breakfast daily
•    One boat cruise on the Chobe River
•    One game drive in the Chobe National Park
•    A signature Mowana massage treatment at the onsite safari spa

Located on the banks of the Chobe River, Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa offers a tranquil safari experience. Outstanding accommodation, impeccable service, delectable dining, and some of the most exciting activities in the region.

The nearby Chobe National Park boasts a vast array of wildlife, including massive herds of elephant, giraffe, cheetah, buffalo, lion and leopard.Easter BotswanaTo book this Easter special in Botswana, simply email resmowana@cresta.co.bw or call +267 625 0300.

Cresta Botsalo

Over this Easter weekend, Cresta Botsalo in Palapye will be running a number of specials and events, including exciting activities and discounted accommodation.

Each day, from 25 – 28 March 2016, the hotel will be featuring:

•    Jumping castle
•    Live music
•    Pool garden activities
•    Braais

What’s more, during this time guests can also benefit from an incredible 50% accommodation special.

Located in the small town of Palapye, Cresta Botsalo offers comfortable accommodation, personalised service, state-of-the-art conference facilities, and the popular Savuti Grill. Easter Special BotswanaTo take advantage of this special, email the hotel directly at grelationsbotsalo@cresta.co.bw, or call them on +267 4920 245.

Gonarezhou National Park

Established in 1975, Gonarezhou is Zimbabwe’s second largest, but least visited national park. Covering an area of 5,000km² it is characterised by an exciting array of wildlife, an awe-inspiring rugged landscape, and a sense of inherent remoteness. What are you waiting for? This is a pristine wilderness just waiting to be discovered!

travelswithstephen Location

Part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, the Gonarezhou National Park is located in Zimbabwe’s Lowveld, in the south eastern corner of the country. It is situated approximately 500km from Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, just under 200km from the city of Masvingo, and just over 500km from Bulawayo.

Brian GratwickeWildlife

Given that the name gonarezhou translates from Shona to “place of many elephants”, it goes without saying that the park is most known for its vast population of elephant. Other major players to be spotted include lion, leopard, buffalo, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, and the illusive African Wild Dog. Intriguing smaller game which call Gonarezhou home are nyala and suni.

Andrew AshtonRivers

Three major rivers – The Runde, Save, and Mwenezi – carve their way through Gonarezhou National Park, defining the landscape and forming natural pool from which various game, fish and bird species gain sustenance. The gorgeous Chivilila Falls can be found on the Runde River. 600m wide, and 7m deep, they are a stunning attraction, and well-worth the visit.

Andrew AshtonChilojo Cliffs

Undoubtedly the most spectacular attractions in the Gonarezhou National Park are the iconic Chilojo Cliffs. These breath-taking red sandstone formations have been established through billions’ of years of erosion. Jutting out dramatically from the surrounding landscape, they are an impressive site to behold, and an absolute must on your African Bucket List.

Andrew AshtonAccommodation

Places to stay in Gonarezhou range from boutique safari lodges and basic campsites, to various self-catering lodges. The Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge and Pamushana Lodge are two of the many accommodation options on offer.

Like what you see? Waste no time in planning your trip to Gonarezhou National Park, today. Located approximately 7 hours’ drive from our very own Cresta Churchill in Bulawayo, it is well worth the journey. To find out more, simply contact us on reservations@churchill.cresta.co.zw, or call us on +263 924 4244.

10 Reasons to visit the Okavango Delta | Part 1

One of Mother Nature’s great masterpieces, and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Okavango Delta lies deep within the Kalahari Basin in Botswana. A largely untouched freshwater wetland, it is a multi-faceted spectacle, with heart-breaking natural beauty, and unparalleled game viewing.

Okavango Delta WildlifeEach year, more than 11 km of water spills into the Delta by way of the Okavango River, originating in the Angola highlands. This seasonal flooding is what makes this region so very unique, attracting a constant stream of visitors from near and far.

To further entice you, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 reasons to visit the Okavango.

This is Part 1:

1) Breath-taking Aerial Views

One of the most spectacular ways to view the Okavango Delta is by air, and it is only from above that you can even begin to grasp its sheer enormity. The Gateway to the Okavango, and Botswana’s tourism capital – Maun – features the country’s busiest airport.

Tim Copeland

It is from here that travellers transfer to lighter aircrafts, and make their way into the heart of the delta. Beneath you lies 15000km² of endless sparkling water, vast flood plains, and lush islands.

Okavango2) Great Concentrations of Wildlife

Both the Moremi Game Reserve, situated in the heart of the Delta, and the adjoining private concessions are home to a diverse abundance of wildlife. With huge numbers of elephant, lion, giraffe, buffalo and zebra, the Okavango offers some of Africa’s best game viewing. It is also a world-renowned stronghold for wild dog and leopard, as well as fellow predators: hyaena and cheetah.

Leopards Okavango Delta3) Incomparable Sunsets

The pictures simply speak for themselves.

Okavango Delta SunsetOkavango Sunset4) UNESCO World Heritage Site Status

In mid-2014, the Okavango Delta became the 1000th site to be placed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. This was done as a result of its rare beauty, remarkable habitat, replenishing annual flooding, and the fact that it is home to several of the world’s endangered mammals: namely, wild dog, lion, white and black Rhinos and cheetah.

Okavango Delta Botswana5) Mokoro Trips

A fantastic way to explore the Okavango Delta on an intimate level is onboard a mokoro – a traditional canoe fashioned from the truck of large trees. These small dugouts offer a relaxing and unobtrusive experience of these magnificent wetlands.

MokoroTo book your next Botswana adventure, contact Cresta Riley’s, a stunning hotel situated in Maun. Simply email resrileys@cresta.co.bw, or call +267 686 0204.

What’s Happening at Cresta

It’s an exciting time here at Cresta Hotels, with a wide range of enticing specials and promotions on the go. To tickle your tastebuds, we’ve put together a list of upcoming events across Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia.

French Delights at Cresta Churchill

Next month, prepare to embrace your inner Parisian, with Cresta Churchill and Alliance Française. On Monday, 21 March, the Inglehook Restaurant at this gorgeous Bulawayo hotel will be holding a fantastically French-themed dinner.

Ideally aligned with the theme, apéritifs and canapés will precede stuffed cucumber hors d’oeuvres. Appetizers on offer will include fettucine consomme, and the main course is a choice between Lyonnaise steak, Nutzel chicken, and bean picatta.Cresta Churchill SpecialsAll this will be followed by the unofficial staple food of France – cheese! Take your pick from a cheese board featuring camembert, gouda, cheddar, brie, and much more.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, this Bulawayo restaurant will be serving up an exotic-sounding Tropical Treat, and a mouth-watering Sweet Basket.

Entertainment for the evening takes the form of a traditional French Cancan, danced by the incredible MacDonald Academy of Dancing.

Date: 21 March 2015
Time: 7h30pm
Price: $25 per person

Please note, with the exception of apéritifs, the cost of the dinner doesn’t include beverages.

To book your spot at this enticing affair, merely phone +263 9244243, or email reservations@churchill.cresta.co.zw.

Wedding Bells at Cresta Lodge – Harare

In line with this Month of Love, Cresta Lodge Harare will be running a Wedding Expo on Saturday, 27 February 2016.Harare WeddingA bride-to-be looking for some inspiration, a wedding photographer wanting to showcase their work, or an eager groom tagging along for the ride, this event has something for everyone.

Set in a scenic garden in the heart of the Sunshine City, it will exhibit a range of wedding specialists, from dressmakers and bakers, to musicians and event coordinators.

To RSVP, simply phone +263 864 411 5964, or email leonard@lodge.cresta.co.zw.

Do’s and Don’ts of Matobo National Park

Composing an area of 44 500 hectares, the Matobo National Park is situated in the stunning Matobo Hills, just 35 km from Bulawayo. One of the most under-rated parks in Zimbabwe, the landscape is littered with granite kopjes, balancing rocks, smooth whale-back dwalas, and lush vegetation.

Matobo National ParkA vast granite plateau subjected to millions of years of weathering forms the base of this picturesque landscape.

What’s certain is that this is one of Africa’ must-visit destinations. To further persuade you, or to provide you with a helpful guide, we’ve put together a few Do’s and Don’ts for this magnificent region.

DO make the trek up to World’s View

Following his death in 1902, Cecil John Rhodes was buried at the summit of Malindidzimu or World’s View – a granite hill in the centre of the park. The burial site, however controversial, boasts one of the most breath-taking vistas in Zimbabwe – an awe-inspiring 360° view of the park.

World's View MatoposLook out for the rainbow-coloured Platysaurus lizards, which hide under the humongous boulder which dot the summit. The gently sloping walk from the parking lot is suitable for all levels of fitness, and a small entry fee is payable before you set out.

DON’T expect to see ALL the Big Five

While the Matobo National Park is home to a diverse variety of wildlife, they are but three short of the Big Five. The park contains black and white rhino, and leopard, but there are no lion, elephant, or buffalo. Don’t despair though, this fact is made up by the large presence of giraffe, kudu, sable, eland, wildebeest, and waterbuck.

Rhinos Matobo National ParkMore infrequent visitors include hyena, cheetah, ostrich, and hippo. To stand at chance of spotting most of these, DO book yourself on a guided game drive.

DO explore the numerous caves

With over 3000 registered rock art sites in the Matobo Hills, it is of vital historical importance to the country, and local Mwari religion. Paintings can be found along many cave walls in the park, which shine light on day-to-day life as far back as 13000 years ago. Same examples of those to visit include Pomongwe Cave, Inanka Cave, Bambata Cave, and White Rhino Shelter.

Cave Paintings MatoposDON’T forget your camera

Featuring unique, spectacular rock formations, tranquil dams, various lofty viewpoints, and incredible wildlife, the Matobo National Park is one of the most snap-worthy destinations in Africa. While it’s difficult to capture the devastating beauty of this land in a mere snapshot, it’s definitely worth a try. Make sure to take a wide angle lens with you, in an attempt to get it all in.

Matobo HillsDO pack your hiking boots

There are a variety of hiking trails around the park, catering to a range of fitness levels. For a relatively east and short hike suitable for exercise novices, climb the Pomongwe Hill, situated near Maleme Dam, and gaze upon stunning aerial views of the central park. While you’re in the area, set off on a walk from the Maleme Dam to explore the the Pomongwe Cave rock paintings. For a more challenging day’s out, table Mount Shumbashawa, near Gordon Park.

To book your Bulawayo accommodation nearby the Matobo National Park, or to find out more about exploring the area, contact Cresta Churchill on +263 924 4244, or reservations@churchill.cresta.co.zw.

Top 5 Chobe National Park Activities

If the Chobe National Park isn’t on your Bucket List, then it should be. One of the largest, and most beautiful game reserves in Botswana, encompassing vast floodplains, marshy swamps, and lush woodlands, it covers an area of approximately 11 700km.

Chobe National ParkTo provide you with the holiday of a lifetime, here are our top 5 picks for things to do in the Chobe:

1. Go on a Game Drive

A safari-lover’s paradise, the Chobe National Park boasts one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa, teeming with a wide variety of different game.

Take full advantage of this fact in the best way possible – with a guided Chobe game drive. Among some of the animals you stand a chance to spot are lion, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, and hyena. More uncommon antelope species to be found in the park include tsessebe, sable, Roan, puku, Red Lechwe, and the elusive Chobe bushbuck.

Chobe Game DriveMost excitingly, however, is the opportunity to observe part of the world’s largest elephant population. Tens of thousands of elephants move between the Chobe and Hwange National Park along their seasonal migration routes each year.

The best time to spot these majestic animals in the Chobe is now, during the region’s rainy season, as large herds gather in the south-eastern area of the park.

2. Take a Cruise

Nothing quite says relaxation like slowly drifting down the Chobe River onboard a lavish river cruiser.

Chobe River CruiseThe Chobe River skirts around the edge of the park, and provides sustenance for a vast array of game in the area, as well as playing host to large pods of hippo, crocodile, and the occasional ele’ having a bath.  The river is also a popular birding destination, with large numbers of carmine bee eaters, spoonbills, ibis, African Fish Eagles, Openbill Storks, and other waterfowl.

Celebrate the end of another fantastic day in Africa, watching the wildlife along the river banks, and the sun go down – drink in hand!

3. Grab a Rod

A trip to the Chobe would be incomplete without a morning spent Tiger Fishing along the river. The elusive Tiger Fish, known to be one of the finest fighting fish in the world, eludes capture more often than not.  However, there’s much fun to be had in the attempt.

Chobe FishingWhile fishing is not allowed in the Chobe National Park itself, Cresta Mowana take guests to a stretch of river adjacent to the park, to try their luck.

4. Take a Walk on the Wild Side of Life

For a chance to experience the Chobe wilderness up-close-and-personal, opt for a revealing guided bush walk. The team at Cresta Mowana can easily arrange this exciting activity for you, setting you up with an experienced safari guide, who will provide you with endless bush tales and interesting tid-bits.Chobe Bush Walk5. Unleash Your Inner Ornithologist

Home to over 460 different bird species, the Chobe National Park is one of Botswana’s finest birding destinations. Common species to be spotted include Egyptian Geese, Sacred Ibis, Spur-winged Geese, the Martial Eagle, and the Pel’s Fishing Owl.

Rarer sightings include the Racket-tailed Roller, the Pygmy Goose, the Coppery Sunbird, the Pinkt-hroated Longclaw, and the Brown Firefinch.

Chobe Bird WatchingTo book any one of these Chobe activities, or to find out a little more about things to do in the region, simply visit the Cresta Mowana website, email resmowana@cresta.co.bw, or phone +267 625 0300.

Image Credit:
Michael Jansen, Di Gazdar, Philip Milne, Steven dosRemedios, Brendon Cremer

Zimbabwe Bucket List

It’s been said before, and we’ll say it again – Zimbabwe is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, boasting a stunning variety of scenic landscapes, and an abundance of wildlife. Many of the country’s most iconic destinations are centred around unbridled wilderness areas and game reserves, and the largely untouched nature of these regions is part of what makes Zimbabwe so appealing.

To showcase the beauty of Zimbabwe, and to provide you with some travel inspiration, we’ve put together a photo blog of the places you should add to your Bucket List.

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls Accommodation

Bungee Jumping Victoria Falls

Lake Kariba

Lake KaribaKariba FishingNyanga National Park

Nyanga ZimbabweVisit NyangaMatobo National Park

Matopos ZimbabweMatobo HillsGreat Zimbabwe

Great ZimbabweVisit Great ZimbabweMana Pools

Mana Pools ZimbabweVisit Mana PoolsHwange National Park

Hwange ZimbabweHwange ElephantsLike what you see? Fortunately for you, Cresta Hotels have five Zimbabwe accommodation establishments, scattered across the country. Three can be found in Harare, the country’s capital, one is located in Bulawayo, and the last is perfectly situated in tourism hub of Victoria Falls.

To book your Zimbabwe holiday today, simply email reservations@cresta.co.zw, or phone +263 4 788 161/2.

Image Credits:
Tee La Rosa, Christina Chan, Aristocrats-hat, Harvey Barrison, Annette Lyn O’Neil, Andrew Ashton, Susan E Adams, tfengreen, Andrew Ashton, Richard Pluck, Peter Glenday, Vince O’Sullivan, Terry Feuerborn