Way back in the early 80s when Paul Connolly was setting up his very successful Canoeing Safari business in Vic Falls, one of his then partners, Clive, took about 10 of us about 40km upstream of the great waterfall. We camped overnight, under the stars, on the edge of the Zambezi river sitting around a makeshift campfire sipping a few too many G&Ts. Over the course of the next 2 days we paddled down some tricky rapids in 2 man Canadian Canoes. Great fun.
Last weekend my Nzira Travel Zimbabwe Magazine editor and myself were invited to stay in the luxurious Mpala Jena Camp some 20km above the Falls. With all the wet weather they had been experiencing over the past month we chose to take a motorboat to our destination bouncing smoothly through those same rapids that my mates and I had traversed all those years ago.
The first thing you notice when you are given your introductory talk is the very different design and layout of the interior décor given the undivided attention of Cape Town’s Tracey Kelly. If you are one of those that love to sit in the luxury of well-appointed surroundings then that alone would make a trip there worthwhile: The seats at the bar are proper swings! – comfortable wooden bases hanging by ropes from high above; cushions galore; lampshades of very description….and then there are the fully kitted, tented bedrooms that ticked all my boxes for pillows, bed length, privacy, and stability – all within a few meters of the Zambezi River.
Situated well within the National Park, one is almost guaranteed to see a lot of wildlife on any game drive – whether you decide to “rough it” seated in the viewing chairs of the landrover or kickback in a pontoon with a cold beer watching the sunset at the end of the day. On return to the camp for a hot shower, the guests all sit around a Boma listening to tales of the wild from very knowledgeable guides with the sounds of those familiar-sounding rapids crashing pleasantly in the background.
One of the most important aspects of the best resorts worldwide is to have a world-class chef and Mpala Jena certainly has that – with so much good food at every meal one is almost forced to entertain an eating discipline. Our evening meals were, of course, eating under the stars tastefully digested with a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. Now that tourism seems to be happening once more why not book yourself on a fastjet flight to Vic Falls and stay a couple of nights at Mpala Jena? Email Jill to make your reservation- firstname.lastname@example.org
Look out for the Mpala Jena Article in our 19th issue.
Photo Credit- Great Plains Conservation