A group of media practitioners from different countries have been touring the southern African nation of Zimbabwe to familiarize themselves with some of its tourism sites, experiences and potential ahead of the Sanganai Hlanganani World Tourism Expo.
The tourism expo, which takes place from Thursday September 28 to Sunday October 1 at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds in the second largest of city of Bulawayo, will bring together different players in the travel and tourism value chain from across Zimbabwe, Africa and the rest of the world.
The international media, which is made up of reporters, travel and tourism writers, photographers and bloggers from Ghana, Nigeria, the United States, Germany, Australia, Korea and Zimbabwe started arriving in the resort city of Victoria Falls in northern Zimbabwe from last Thursday for the pre-tour experiences.
Put together by the Zimbabwean Tourism Authority, the media familiarization tour was meant to show to the world the best that Zimbabwe has to offer in the area of tourism and to invite them to visit and explore their beautiful country.
The team took part in may activities first at Victoria Falls and then at the Hwange National Park before traveling to Bulawayo to be part of the Sanganai Hlanganani World Tourism Expo, some of the experiences are as below:
SUNSET CRUISE ON THE ZAMBEZI
The team had its first event on the tour with a water safari and to experience the beauty of the African sunset on the Zambezi River. The cruise was to experience the various thrills that the fourth largest river in Africa (after rivers Nile, Congo and Niger) has to offer to tourists.
An encounter with an elephant grazing on the Zambian side of the Zambezi (the river divides Zambia and Zimbabwe with both countries on either side), a crocodile on the Zimbabwean side, a swimming elephant, swimming hippopotamuses and several species of birds summed up the water safari.
The sun setting in the horizon along with the tea, coffee, drinks and snacks served by the captain and his crew summed up a wonderful late afternoon cruise on the mighty Zambezi.
TOUR OF VICTORIA FALLS RAINFOREST
The Victoria Falls is a group of waterfalls, eight falls in all, located in a rainforest between Zambia and Zimbabwe, with 16 viewing spots on the Zimbabwean side and two on the Zambian side, tour guards told the visiting team.
The Victoria Falls is one of the seven wonder of the world and also “the only Natural Wonder of the two wonders found in Africa.” It is among the top four waterfalls in the world and it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Scottish missionary and explorer, David Livingstone is said to be to the first European to have seen the falls and he named it after the British queen at the time, Queen Victoria.
For obvious reasons the Victoria Falls is the biggest attraction for tourism to Zimbabwe. It is also a place for other high adrenaline activities such as bungee jumping, ziplining, Godswinging, helicopter rides and others. Members of the media team took turns to take part in some of these activities.
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK EXPERIENCE
The media team had two early morning safari experiences at the Hwange National Park, where it spent two nights at the Hwange Safari Lodge. Hwange, which is located in the northern part of Zimbabwe, is the biggest wildlife reserve in the country and the third largest in Africa.
The game drives planned for the media team, which took place both on the concession of the lodge and in the wider national park enabled the team to encounter herds of elephants, bush bucks, kudus, impalas, steenboks, monkeys, giraffes, eagles, vultures and other different species of birds as well as siting the very elusive and almost extinct wild dogs (or painted dogs) hunting down a male kudu.
The team also visited rural communities within and along the national park to familiarize with sustainability projects embarked on by some charities such as Africa Bush Camps Foundation (ABCF) and The Hide.
These foundations and others have been supporting schools to build classroom blocks and teachers’ accommodations, empowering women to acquire skills, helping farmers to protect their crops and residents to protect their livestock from predatory animals like lions from the game reserve.
The members of the international media team arrived in Bulawayo on Tuesday afternoon to a press briefing by the Communications Director of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Mr. Sugar Chagonda, who welcomed them to Zimbabwe and hoped they would find the visit worth their time.
He noted that the objective of organizing the Sanganai Hlanganani World Tourism Expo was to increase the opportunities created for the thriving of the tourism business. “The benefits of such a forum may not be seen immediately, but we are sure that its benefits will be seen in the long term,” he said.
The 2017 edition of the Sanganai Hlanganani World Tourism Expo is in its tenth year and it is expected to bring together 350 exhibitors and 225 buyers across the tourism trade from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, Namibia, Botswana and other countries.