Thursday 23 May 2013

Afternoon Tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel, Zimbabwe

The Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe is apparently popular with royalty, heads of state and the discerning traveller - so I'm not sure what I was doing there! In 2011 I spent a few days on safari in Africa - it cost a fortune but I also feel very privileged to be able to have done that. I decided that since it was all costing so much anyway, I may as well stay somewhere nice - and at the time I thought I would be travelling alone so wanted somewhere I would feel safe. In the end I had a travelling companion for three of my five days but I was still glad when I was alone to be somewhere so central and secure.

The colonial-style hotel was built in 1904 and is set in beautiful gardens within sight of the Victoria Falls. The hotel is the height of luxury, which to me seemed a little incongrous with the local area, but at the same time I guess it is providing employment and boosting the local economy. The service is top-notch and the rooms are beautifully decorated, with four-poster beds (complete with mosquito nets) in the bedrooms, and animal heads and furs decorating the communal areas.There's a swimming pool, beautiful gardens, dinner entertainment (local musicians and dancers), and is generally fabulous. It's one of the most upmarket places I've ever stayed, and certainly the poshest hotel I've ever paid for myself.

Afternoon tea at the Victoria Falls hotel is apparently something of an institution so one day when I was alone (after my friend had left to fly back home) I decided to treat myself. I sat on the terrace, from where I could actually see the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls (more on this later) and ate a selection of sandwiches, cakes, scones and pastries. This was quite a traditional afternoon tea, with no real surprises, but it was still impressive. I loved the placemat too, which you can see at the bottom of the photo - it has a drawing of the Falls.

This is the view from my seat on the terrace as I had afternoon tea. If you look closely in the middle of the photo you can see a small bridge - this is the Victoria Falls Bridge that crosses the Zambezi river and joins Zimbabwe and Zambia. The 'clouds' to the right of the photo is actually spray from the waterfall - the Victoria Falls are also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or 'the smoke that thunders'. The first European to view the Falls was David Livingstone, of "Dr. Livingstone, I presume" fame - there's a statue to him and one of the big hotels is named after him. He named the Falls after Queen Victoria, and the Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world (taking both width and height into account). It really is an amazing sight.

Here's a close up of the bridge, which I took from walking across the grass to the edge of the hotel's property.

Visiting the Falls itself - you can often see a rainbow

I also decided I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the Falls from the air, so my friend and I paid for a short helicopter flight. Each helicopter takes four people - there are three seats in the back and one in the front next to the pilot. I felt very lucky to get the front seat as I had a much bigger window all around me - and, I suddenly realised, underneath my feet, as part of the floor was transparent! This is one of the most amazing sights I've ever seen and it will stay with me always.

So getting back to the topic of food rather than my holiday snaps, the other meals we had in the hotel were delicious though not cheap. There was an evening buffet option, which I think cost £35 (or was it $35?) and also a separate restaurant that was very beautifully decorated. We ate in the restaurant once, which wasn't actually much more expensive than the buffet, and I remember feeling distinctly under-dressed and as if I should talk in a hushed voice!

The buffet restaurant was much more informal and featured several cooking stations with chefs who would cook whatever you wanted to eat from the raw ingredients they had in front of them.

There was also an impressive dessert table - I think the tall thing you can see is a pile of profiteroles or probably a croquembouche. You can also see a selection of cheeses at the front of this picture.

I can't even remember what anything was on this plate apart from the small item at the front, which looks like a piece of chicken - it's actually crocodile! Funnily enough, it tasted a bit like chicken...

Breakfast was served in the same buffet restaurant area and was delicious. Among other things I had this kiwi, museli and yogurt concoction which was beautifully presented in a glass.

One of the other lovely things about this hotel is the proximity to the wildlife... one day there was an elephant right outside, and as I ate breakfast I saw this warthog wandering nonchantly across the lawn.

Speaking of animals, I also visited a lion sanctuary and met some friendly lion cubs - these were born in captivity but will gradually be weaned off human contact and when they are older be able to go and live in the wild and hopefully breed. For the moment though, they love having their tummies tickled!

Despite being scared of heights I managed to get on an elephant without having a panic attack - but I'm sitting in the middle as I decided that was where I was least likely to fall off! Of course, I needn't have worried.

I also went on a game drive in Botswana and saw all sorts of animals including giraffes, lions, hippos, and elephants. This is one of my favourite photos - the elephants were having a mud bath and you can see this one is scooping up mud with its trunk and flinging it across the river. We were so close we actually got splashed!

Sunset boat ride on the Zambezi

 This was intended to be a review of afternoon tea at the Victoria Falls hotel but I've gotten rather sidetracked, it has brought back some amazing memories! If you ever get the chance to go to Africa, you must.


  1. lovely views and lovely food.

  2. Its nice. Before going to a vacation you should always book a hotel beforehand and while hiring a hotel you should keep in mind that the hotel is Eco-friendly and has a beautiful surroundings. You can go for the best Kambalda hotels in Australia.


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