Luz Barrueto, one of our Destination Specialists, visited South Africa and Zimbabwe in the fall. We caught up with Luz to learn more about her trip and to get some advice on selling these destinations to your clients.
1. Where did you travel?
I went to the Western Cape and Kruger in South Africa and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
2. What is the number one thing agents should know about South Africa and Zimbabwe, respectively?
South Africa is a very diverse destination. It’s a place where you can enjoy city life, beaches, and safaris all on the same itinerary. For Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is an amazing destination where you can relax or enjoy some amazing and thrilling activities, like whitewater rafting and bungee jumping. During the low-water months, you can even cross the old iron bridge to the Zambian side of the falls for a swim in the Devil’s Pool, right on the edge of where the water plummets into the gorge below.
3. What are the biggest misconceptions about South Africa and Zimbabwe?
People think that South Africa is just a city destination, but it has a lot more to offer. Sure, it has city life, but there are also beaches, beautiful landscapes, wine country, fascinating history, and of course, safari adventures. It’s a country that has it all. As for Zimbabwe, it’s mostly known for Victoria Falls, but it also has more to offer, such as land and river safari adventures both along the Zambezi and in the interior.
4. What was your favourite lodge stay?
The Wallow Lodge in Victoria Falls. The location is very peaceful and quiet on the Masuwe River with 4,500 acres of wilderness outside. All 16 tented rooms face the river with uninterrupted views from your private balcony. The panoramic river views create a sense of space and freedom.
5. What new things did you learn about South Africa and Zimbabwe?
For one, I learned that Route 62 in the Western Cape is the longest wine route in the world. I also learned that it is fairly easy to connect from South Africa to Zimbabwe by small aircraft. As well, I found that you can easily pack light for a 10-day tour, as laundry facilities are accessible.
6. What was your favourite local experience?
In South Africa, Kruger National Park was amazing, and we were very lucky to see many animals, including lions, even though we were not allowed to drive off the road. Since I had not visited Victoria Falls before, it was an amazing experience to see them up close. They were majestic.
7. What was your favourite individual destination or landmark?
It has to be Victoria Falls. In November, the water levels were a bit lower, but they were still amazing. There’s a lot of history and beauty here. I thought that it was going to be a lot of walking, but to my surprise the paths are very even with small ups and downs, and overall, very accessible, even for wheelchair access.
8. What were your favourite local dishes or drinks?
I ate a lot of good food, but I particularly liked the crocodile and Cape Malay curry, as well as the abundance of fresh fish. The Malva pudding, a South African favourite, was also great.
9. What would be the perfect complement as an extension to this trip?
It would be very easy to add on Chobe National Park in Botswana. The 3-day Stay of Distinction at Chobe Chilwero would be ideal. You can also easily add on a 2-night extension into Zambia, as it’s right next to Zimbabwe.
10. What are your top three tips for agents who want to sell South Africa and Zimbabwe?
One: South Africa and Zambia are great destinations for family safari vacations.
Two: Allow plenty of time in each destination, with at minimum a 3-night safari experience that allows time to see as many animals as possible as well as to enjoy the facilities within the lodge.
Three: South Africa can be very affordable, as there are all levels of accommodations throughout the country.