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Destination Specialist Update on Southern Africa: 10 Questions with Vanessa Lloyd

Southern Africa remains one of the most appealing parts of the African continent. Vanessa Lloyd, one of our Destination Specialists, visited Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in the late spring, so we’ve chatted with Vanessa to learn more about travelling to Southern Africa right now. The following 10 questions offer highlights about her trip as well as insights on selling Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to your clients.

1. Where did you travel?

I went to Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

2. What is the number one thing agents should know about Southern Africa?

COVID restrictions have been lifted, so Southern Africa is once again ready to welcome travellers. It’s safe and the individual countries are extremely careful regarding health and safety, so your clients can rest easy.

3. What is the biggest misconception about Southern Africa?

Bush camps may sound rugged, but many of them are extremely luxurious and they are by no means “roughing it.” As well, they can cater to special diets and traveller requests. People should also know that much of Africa is affordable and malaria is not present everywhere, which can make travelling as a family much easier.

4. What was your favourite lodge?

I loved Thorntree River Lodge from African Bush Camps in Zambia. The property is relatively new and has a great location on the banks of the Zambezi River. It’s close enough to Victoria Falls, which makes visiting the waterfall easy to work into your trip. The game viewing in Mosi Oa Tunya National Park is amazing. The property itself is eco-conscious and contemporary. There’s a sunken Boma area and an infinity pool, a gym, a spa, and a library with WiFi. You can go on day trips that include river cruises, cultural visits, fishing expeditions, canoeing, rhino tracking, and guided activities such as rainforest walks, bungee jumping, and helicopter flights over Victoria Falls. It’s also a great spot for family travel as they have a kids club.

The Mokoro Khwai Concession in Botswana. (Credit: Vanessa Lloyd)

5. What new things did you learn about Southern Africa?

I learned how easy it is to travel between Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. We used bush planes, helicopters, and overland vehicles to connect between the three countries. I also learned that it’s good to stay at properties that provide off-road vehicles, ensuring optimal game viewing. It’s also easy to pack light on an African safari, as there’s daily laundry service at the properties, which makes it easy to meet the 15kg luggage requirements.

6. What was your favourite local experience?

Tracking leopards. We did this for a couple hours without success, but we learned how to tell what kind of cat we were following and that there was a male, female, and cub. Although we didn’t see the leopard the first day, the following day we spotted a mother and cub.

7. What was your favourite individual landmark?

It has to be Victoria Falls, which was amazing. I was able to see it from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides. Being there in April, the falls were full and raging. On the Zambia side, you’re able to get close to the falls. You’ll get wet, but it’s a part of the amazing experience. On the Zimbabwe side, I had a better view of the falls and you can walk the distance to see it. You still get a bit wet, but not as much as on the Zambia side. There’s also a lot of history to learn, about David Livingstone and the various gorges. The falls were formed around 200 million years ago, which is mindblowing. The area around the falls has a variety of vegetation that supports the local wildlife.

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls from Zambia. (Credit: Vanessa Lloyd)

8. What were your favourite local dishes or drinks?

I liked to try all the grilled game meats as well as the hunters stew! The local fish, Zambezi Bream, was also fantastic.

9. What would be the perfect complement as an extension to this trip?

Adding a stop in South Africa would work nicely. Cape Town Discovery would be a great 4-day add-on tour. If your clients are interested in wine, they could also consider Cape Winelands, which is a 3-day trip around the Cape.

10. What are your top three tips for agents who want to sell Southern Africa?

One: Don’t assume your passengers can’t afford the destination. Africa can be very affordable.

Two: Families can absolutely travel to Africa. In fact, a safari would be the ultimate family vacation.

Three: Allow a decent amount of time in each destination, as getting to the continent is a long way for most travellers. Make the most of the time.


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