An insider’s look into Africa, and their top tips for making your trip as smooth as can be:
“Travelling, it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” IBN Battuta
Battuta put it best when describing the lifetime effects of travel, and we couldn’t agree more that some things are better felt than told.
We’re also of the notion that if the experience is the best teacher, why not go straight to the source? That’s why when it came to compiling a list of things you should know before visiting Zimbabwe, we enlisted the help of someone with first-hand experience. Someone who’s been to visit the Victoria Falls River Lodge and collected some insights that might help you better plan your trip.
Meet Matt Hales; influencer, foodie and travel enthusiast. We asked Matt a few questions in the hopes of making your trip to Zimbabwe as smooth as can be. He gave us greater insights on what to expect; from knowing how to practise a little ‘street savvy’, to which digital accessories to bring; he walks us through the things he wishes he knew before visiting South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Hi Matt, thanks for taking the time out to chat with us. First things first; where are you from?
Hey! Thanks for reaching out to me to chat about all things travel. I’m from the UK, which is a lot colder than there right now. I always try to escape January/Feb time.
What inspired you to visit Southern Africa?
Well, I was already in Cape Town, on a model season with my agency, and it was coming close to the end of the season. I just wanted to explore more of Africa as I didn’t know whether or not I would be returning soon – plus – why not travel when you’re already so close? The hardest part, however, was choosing where to go. But my friends (@indiaharl & @ramzan_miah) and I were just drawn to Victoria Falls. I mean, it is one of the Wonders of the World after all! Plus, our accommodation at the Victoria Falls River Lodge Island Treehouse Suites was next level!
Apart from this very special visit, have you been to Africa before?
Before this particular visit, I had only been to Morocco, which also was such an incredible experience. The highlight of that tour was probably quad biking in the desert – I love adventurous activities.
Sounds great! But tell us more about your experience of Zimbabwe – what were your initial expectations?
I was expecting it to be beautiful but I was genuinely amazed at how beautiful Zimbabwe was. It really made me think about nature in a different way. I was mesmerised, watching all the animals in the waters or on land.
Do you feel like your expectations were met?
100%! I felt like I was in a movie
Tell us, would you do it again?
IN A HEARTBEAT! #takemeback
What did you find most pleasing?
I felt so relaxed, being out in nature, I was completely unwound. I usually get wrapped up in my own world. This instantly gave me a new perspective! You know when you’re doing nothing, just looking out, by yourself, and thinking wow this world is incredible. More moments like these are definitely needed.
We couldn’t agree more!
What would you say are some common misconceptions about Southern Africa?
Safety. When I first went to Cape Town [South Africa] I was told to be cautious and smart with my safety which worried me a little. When I arrived it was absolutely fine, there wasn’t much to worry about at all it’s just about being street smart. If you’re looking at getting around, I’d recommend using Uber as transport for sure.
What is something you wish you’d known about the Lodge?
All the activities you can do, I really wish I had had more time there.
If you could have taken extra items, what would they have been?
A better camera maybe? I have so many great images from the trip. Some of them I still use as my phone screensaver and background.
Tell us about the Lodge surroundings?
Victoria Falls River Lodge, and the Treehouse Suites in particular, are places I’ve only seen in movies. It felt very special staying in a place like this. I mean, you’re above the ground in a luxury treehouse! I caught myself thinking (a lot of the time) “this place can’t be real” – haha!
There are some monkeys in the trees above you, warthogs roaming about underneath, spotting a hippo in the water from your balcony viewing the river. You’re really immersed in nature here, but also feel extremely relaxed and looked after. Everything is an open plan like the reception, restaurants etc. I loved that there was a telescope as well because the skies are so clear at night time, it’s quite magical. Also another thing, the food was incredible! Every mouthful was heaven.
That sounds marvellous! So, what advice would you give to someone coming to Zimbabwe for the very first time?
Go White Water Rafting! Honestly, it’s the most fun I’ve had, we couldn’t stop laughing the entire time and it’s a brilliant way to explore! I’m laughing writing this – thinking about my friends falling off. It’s crazy when you’re leaning all your weight on the oar off the side of the boat to make it stable while going down the rough water spots.
What else should visitors definitely do?
Sunset boat cruise. The most relaxing and incredible time of day, watching the gorgeous sunset while hippos are about and birds flying above. Watching wild animals in nature, you can’t beat it!
Which activities did you wish you’d signed up for?
My friends were very tempted to sign up for bungee jumping off a bridge. Personally, this wasn’t my cup of tea, which is strange because I feel like I could do a skydive and love it!
I’m also gutted that I didn’t have time for the Devil’s Pool. That would have been another amazing experience, so definitely check that out.
Which activity do you think visitors can skip?
Do what suits you, I personally wanted to skip bird watching because I’m not that interested. Although it was great on the sunset boat learning about all the animals and their habits when we were passing – including the birds. My best advice would be doing the activities you’re most interested in first, and if you have time, then slot the other activities in.
Any closing comments?
I really, really want to go back now, reminiscing about my time there. The staff are also lovely and cater to every need. They changed a lot of my food orders because I have a dairy intolerance which they did super easily and were a massive help.
And so, our Q & A with Matt comes to an end. Thanks, Matt!
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about his experiences, and that you’ve learned a thing or two about what to expect when visiting Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls River Lodge.