One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Victoria Falls is recognised as the greatest curtain of falling water in the world. At the height of the rainy season, between February to May each year, more than five hundred million litres of water are known to plummet over the edge per minute, shooting up columns of spray that is visible from kilometres away.
As written for Amadi Travel and appears in Hamaji Magazine.
The spectacular sight of awe-inspiring grandeur was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800s, as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. Shared by Zambia to the north, around two- thirds of Victoria Falls can be seen from the Zimbabwe side which boasts classic views towards the broad expanse of water, and neat paths that lead through the rain forest to the Devil’s Cataract, Main Falls, Horseshoe Falls and the aptly-named Rainbow Falls viewing points.
Its namesake city is an iconic destination that has been included on every Southern African itinerary for decades. Yet in the early 2000s, Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis saw tourism to the country fall away, sadly putting stop to Victoria Fall’s flourishing industry. This was thankfully not to last, and the last years have seen a welcome revival with numerous quality guest houses, coffee shops and diverse activities drawing back the travellers.
One company, in particular, stands out among the rest. Pure Africa, an owner-run sustainable tourism operator with copious amounts of flair that have successfully established itself with a range of reimagined experiences and an unwavering level of service and sophistication.
Cruising the mighty Zambezi River
For Pure Africa it all began in 2013 under the leadership of Swiss businesswoman Elisabeth Curiger and her son Raphael – who had both forged a strong connection with Africa during their many trips to the continent. Reconceptualising the Zambezi River cruise, Elisabeth and Raphael created a bespoke activity under the name of the company’s first vessel, the Zambezi Explorer.
Commissioned and custom-built to the highest standard with a strong focus on sustainability, it has solar panels and a hull design streamlined by engineers at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology to maximise fuel efficiency. The company’s flagship boat was soon making waves and garnering loyalty, with the Sunset Cruise particularly popular.
Recently refurbished and has never looked better, the Zambezi Explorer has three decks, the upper ‘Signature Deck’ the most select. Utter spoiling with deep-set couches and chairs in muted colours that reflect the earthy tones and river blues found within the surroundings. Enjoy uninterrupted views while a selection of hors d’oeuvres freshly prepared in the onboard kitchen and paired with premium beverages by the dedicated mixologist are served. The Zambezi Explorer’s two Luxury Decks are equally inviting.
Having expanded to offer popular Sunrise, Lunch and Dinner cruises, each bringing the river to life in its own way. Soak up the sun’s energy as you seek out various bird species, pause to appreciate the size of the Zambezi crocs and pods of hippos, and be enthralled by one of Africa’s most distinct sounds – the call of the Fish Eagle. All the while sipping on your preferred cocktail and being indulged with delectable dishes. You may even see elephants drinking at the water’s edge. As the sun sets and a symphony of colour dances across the sky at golden hour, allow yourself to be lulled by the rhythm of the water, the magnificence of the setting and the elegance of the moment.
Discerning Experiences for the adventurous soul
The best way to see and understand the magnitude, historical relevance and sheer beauty of Victoria Falls is with an expert guide. Pure Africa’s established relationships with the best in the business ensure that you witness the wonder from all the best angles and learn the lesser-known secrets about the region. But don’t stop there, the guided tour can be followed by one of Pure Africa’s Exclusive Experiences, designed with the most discerning guests in mind – be it a couple seeking privacy on the water’s edge, or an occasion that calls for a bit of an edge.
After your tour, arrive at a location where a private brunch or cocktails has been set up in the Rainforest, near the David Livingstone Statue is a popular option. Pure Africa loves creating these experiences as a surprise, which it certainly is as you round the path to find meticulously set tables perched on the edge of the crevice, a full bar awaiting and the chef presenting an array of delicious treats. A moment you’ll want to stop in time.
There is the alternate option of a Riverside or Island Picnic with rugs, plump cushions, comfy throws and a basket that bursts with gourmet treats served. As this is an activity fashioned specifically to match the discerning client’s needs, it can be tailored to the group’s interest and preferences – and will take you to the most surreal otherwise inaccessible settings.
The Eatery at the Pure Africa Waterfront
With all Pure Africa’s cruises leaving conveniently from the Pure Africa Waterfront, you’d do well to combine one of the Sunset Cruises with a meal at The Eatery. Perched on the banks of the Zambezi River with ilala palm trees and cascading manicured lawns, the Pure Africa Waterfront enjoys 110 m of private river frontage. Here the Eatery Dining Experience serves al fresco lunches and dinners, serving crisply salads, roasted vegetables, freshly baked bread, home-made pasta and Zimbabwe beef fillet prepared to perfection alongside a selection of potjie pots – traditional stews cooked patiently for hours over an open fire. After your cruise gathers around the fire pit on the water’s edge and recap on a day well spent, before following the lanterns to your table, for dinner. Grunting hippos, the call of the fiery-necked nightjar and distant yipping jackals for company.
Pure Love and Romance
If your dream is an African destination wedding, you’d be hard-pressed to imagine a more romantic setting than on the banks of the Zambezi River or overlooking the sheer magnitude of Victoria Falls. Undeniably one of the most sought after wedding locations in Southern Africa, Pure Africa has established itself as the go-to organisers priding themselves in making dreams come true here. Their beautiful sites, including the Pure Africa Waterfront and flagship Zambezi Explorer, promise that unique je ne sais quoi to set your celebration apart, but if they don’t suit, the professional team will help you source something else.
Seeing to every aspect of the day from perfectly pairing culinary delights with a fine assortment of their branded wines and beverages, to booking accommodation and finding the best hairdresser and photographer in town, you’re in good hands. If a wedding is not on your mind – especially in 2021, know that Pure Africa welcomes vowel renewals, intimate elopements and other celebrations of devotion, no matter how lavish, grand, informal or discreet they may be. They also create the most special setups for proposals and have had a few heart-warming moments onboard the Zambezi Explorer in the last months. They also host phenomenal corporate events.
Design at their Core
Design, style and absolute flair are at the core of Pure Africa. These elements are personally driven by Elisabeth and her Italian partner Enrico Longhi, who enjoyed a long career in fashion in Como, an Italian city that bursts with art and culture. Together they approach the company’s projects with a blend of worldly sophistication and Swiss-Italian elegance, always drawing inspiration from the natural elements, local crafts and sustainability of materials. This is can be appreciated in the restyling of the Zambezi Explorer and Zambezi Reflections vessels, the Pure Africa Waterfront, The Eatery, the uniforms, tableware, photogenic jellyfish light-fittings and menu.
Anchored in the Community Spirit
Pure Africa has its heart in the right place. With deeply embedded sustainable practices and a commitment to the environment, their ongoing product enhancement and refurbishments are carried out with the support of the local community. Examples of this are the Zambezi Explorer’s beautiful Ndebele hand-woven chairs and embossed cushions, which were created in collaboration with Greenline Africa, a local NGO. Their drinking glasses are crafted from their used bottles by Victoria Falls Recycling, while hand-woven carpets were commissioned of a non-profit in Bulawayo for the boats. As an impact partner, Pure Africa supports the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU) and hosts their annual fundraiser in support of the important conservation work that they do. It’s always a party of note!
Beyond The Falls
To maximise on your time in Victoria Falls, Pure Africa can arrange White Water Rafting, Bungee Jumping or the Gorge Swing for the adrenalin seeker. Alternately, take a guided game drive into the Victoria Falls or Zambezi National Park. A must is a High Tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel, the epitome of grand travel with total relaxation guaranteed on the terrace overlooking Batoka Gorge. An absolute triumph is the helicopter flight over the falls and up the Zambezi River. The perspective brings to life the quote by David Livingstone – ‘Scenes so lovely they must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight’.
What we love about Pure Africa
- Relishing the African sunset from the Zambezi Explorer Signature Deck, undeniably the most refined option on the river!
- Pure Africa Waterfront’s close proximity to the Zambezi River where meals are enjoyed within site of the resident hippo.
- The company’s Exclusive Experiences create uniquely private moments in the most beautiful settings and activities that are quite literally otherwise unavailable to the public.
- That a visit to Victoria Falls can be combined with Zimbabwe’s lesser-known Hwange National Park, the Matobo National Park and magnificent Mana Pools.
- Elisabeth Curiger’s deep love for the area, her passion for seamless service and her deep commitment to sustainable practices.
Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) is the second largest airport in Zimbabwe and welcomes scheduled flights on several airlines including Fastjet, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airways, Air Namibia and British Airways. It also serves domestic flights from Harare and Bulawayo. Conveniently reached by road, Victoria Falls is a short transfer from Livingstone in Zambia, and Kasane in Botswana. Airport Transfers are arranged with Pure Africa.
As recommended by AMADI, a conscious luxury travel brand that designs journeys for like-minded travellers across Africa. Pure Africa offers the perfect balance of sophisticated style and service that AMADI clients appreciate. Connect with Pure Africa for additional details at www.pure.africa | firstname.lastname@example.org and +263 777 892 937. A minimum of three nights stay in the area is advised.
** Read my other articles from AMADI travel as featured in Hamaji Magazine.
** Some pics supplied by Pure Africa.