Tourism: New Victoria Falls Airport opens the 7 Wonders product to more people
An experience of the definitive panoramic, unforgettable allure of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is one of life’s ‘must see’.
By Renn Offor
Victoria Falls, also called known by tge Locals as Mosi-oa-Tunya meaning “smoke that thunders”, is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Statistically speaking, it is the largest waterfall in the world. This recognition comes from combining the height and width together to create the largest single sheet of flowing water.
And in an effort to further open the Victoria Falls Wonder to more people all over the world, the government of Zimbabwe commissioned a new $150-million Victoria Falls International Airport, with its new and upgraded facilities, which was officially opened to the world on Friday November 18, 2016.
According to a report published on www.iol.co.za, an online news website, the new international airport, which now has the capacity to handle 1.5 million passengers per annum – tripling its previous volume – and is capable of landing some of the world’s largest aircraft, has been officially opened by President Robert Mugabe.
“The positive impact of the new Victoria Falls International Airport will be very significant and should take the destination and region to a new level in terms of arrivals,” says Africa Albida Tourism chief executive, Ross Kennedy.
“The socio-economic benefits will be widespread as increased and new access drives the tourism sector’s growth with arrivals from additional source markets.”
Kennedy added that increased interest was shown in the new Victoria Falls International Airport at the World Travel Market – a major global travel trade show – held in London last week.
“I met with many tour operators, media and airlines at the show, and I can confirm that interest is very high and the travel industry is excited by the opening.
“Zimbabwe remains a ‘hot destination’ on the schedules of many tour operators across the globe,” Kennedy said.
Annajulia Hungwe, PR & Communications Manager of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, said the new airport could accommodate more than three times as many passengers as before, and had been built to accommodate further expansion should rising tourist numbers in the future deem it necessary.
The new airport in Zimbabwe’s leading resort town has been fully operational since September. The development included the construction of a new international terminal building and the rehabilitation of the existing one into a domestic terminal.
The airport features a four-kilometre runway, a state-of-the-art control tower – which is one of the most advanced in Africa – and a fire station, equipped to respond to fire and medical emergencies.
Facilities at the international terminal include 14 check-in counters, nine boarding gates, three baggage carousels, a dozen shops, two restaurants, 28 aircraft parking bays and parking facilities for 400 vehicles.
The domestic terminal features six check-in counters, two passenger security-screening facilities, one restaurant and three coffee shops, eight other retail outlets and a business-class lounge.
The allure of Victoria Falls
Defining the magnificence that makes Victoria Falls a must see for everyone, at least once in a life time, Praise Mazhandu, Destination Marketing Head – Africa and Middle East for Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, in her write up explained why one of the Seven Wonders of the World, an acclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the largest waterfall in the world is iconic and magnificent.
“The Victoria Falls located on the Zambezi River, the fourth largest river in the World. The noise of Victoria Falls can be heard from a distance, while the spray and mist from the falling water rises to a height of over 400 meters and can be seen from a distance as one is approaching the rainforest”, she says.
Speaking on the best time to visit the falls, Praise explained that while Victoria Falls is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1,708 meters (5,604 ft) and height of 108 meters (354 ft), resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water.
“Victoria Falls is the only waterfall in the world with a length of more than a kilometer and a height of more than hundred meters. The water level varies throughout the year; it is at its peak in April, at the end of the rainy season when on average 500,000,000 liters of water flow and it is at its lowest level in October and early November. Each season offers a different feel to the experience. One would imagine the rainy season with more water would make the falls magnifique but alas the mist in the air makes it impossible to see the base of the falls and the pictures can be a challenge for that memorabia’.
She advised that June, July and August would be the best times to view the falls as water levels are still high enough to show the awesome wonder in full splendor as there is less spray and more visibility.
It would be noted that the dry season presents more of rock face on the Zambian side of the falls however; it brings on unique, adventure thumping activities of walking across the falls and swimming on the edge popularly known as the Devils Pool. So in a nutshell Victoria Falls anytime will be exhilarant to the tourist.
A panoramic, unforgettable view
Praise captures a step by step detail of the growing anticipation and excitement one experience getting closer to the waterfall. ‘As one walks down a path towards the Falls, a veritable tropical jungle hems you in: tall swaying trees and thick branches and leaves cutting off the sunlight trying to sneak its way in. Water drops sit on or drop thick green leaves, glinting like diamonds.
‘The air is thick with moisture and the ground damp from the waterfall spray, while all around a thunderous roar hits the ears making one quick to understand the name, ‘smoke that thunders’. The noise increases with each step one takes towards the falls. There are various viewing points on the Zimbabwean side which provide visitors with the greater panoramic view of the falls’, she enthused.
She went on to explain that interestingly, during the dry season the water level in the Zambezi River drops sharply, and it becomes possible to walk through some parts of the waterfall adding onto the to-do list of the world’s adventure capital.
However, during the rest of the year Victoria Falls is thunderous with a constant roar from the waters.
Going down the annals of history, it should not be forgotten that Victoria Falls was first marketed to the world by the Scottish missionary and famous explorer David Livingstone in 1855 and named it after his Queen Victoria.
Describing the Falls, Livingstone wrote, “…..…scenes so lovely must have been gazed by angels on their flight ’’, is how well he described the awe inspiring falls. A definitive example of breath-taking power and splendid beauty wrapped up in one package – a place which everyone should try see at least once in their life time. The view from the air is the most impressive and can be accomplished by a helicopter. There is a fair chance to view game as one takes this amazing experience.
Things to do around Falls
But the Falls themselves are not the only attraction in the area, with over 50 activities to choose from, Victoria Falls is truly the Worlds adventure capital.
‘From Adrenaline rush activities which include the 111meter bungee jump from The Victoria Falls Bridge, White water rafting in the Zambezi river gorge, Crocodile cage diving to High wire activities over the gorges. The power is ready to be unleashed on anyone who dares try. More sedate activities which include sunset cruises experiencing the breath-taking African sunset, golfing, game viewing, canoeing or simply relaxing, having a cocktail or high tea overlooking the Falls are but a few activities one can choose from.
‘A visit to the village adds to the list of the activities cultural enthusiasts would enjoy. Stop and gaze at century old majestic Baobab trees or be mesmerized by a pride of lions tussling over a morning kill or maybe just give way to herd of elephant crossing the road , such is the way of life in our world of wonders – in harmony with nature’, Praise explains.
Where to stay
Ranging from backpackers to celebrities, Victoria Falls is the address for discerning travelers. Five star accommodations to camping facilities are available for all type of tourists to fit the different budgets. Excellent conferencing facilities are offered within the resort town which has emerged as a popular incentive travel destination.
Welcome, Tigashire, Sethule to Zimbabwe – A World of Wonders
‘There are just certain places on earth you just have to experience for yourself. Places so unique in landscape and so rich in culture and heritage that only a first-hand encounter will do them justice. Why not visit and share with us our unique and diverse cultures, warmth, hospitality and friendliness,’ she drops her pen.