SEYCHELLES MEETS ZAMBEZI
Chundu Island is a 1.4km long island on the mighty Zambezi River, only 21kms upstream from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
With 8 spacious, ‘Seychelles meets Zambezi’ type suites sheltered by huge riverine trees on the island banks, Chundu Island is the ideal place to relax and enjoy nature and one of Africa’s biggest rivers, maximizing your visit to the world famous Victoria Falls.
Enjoy the many delights of island living: from secluded island walks, canoeing on the river and sunset cruises to game drives and walks in the Zambezi National Park.
Zimbabwe is coming into its own as a destination, with strong focus on anti-poaching and a lively change in the political situation. While the Victoria Falls remains a major drawcard to nature lovers around the world, a number of new and exciting tourist destinations and attractions are opening up. One of these is island experiences, and we believe that an island inside a National Park gives travelers the best of both worlds. Even better, it’s not just any island, we consider Chundu Island one of the most beautiful river islands in the world.
WHAT'S THE FUSS ABOUT THE FALLS?
It’s been centuries since David Livingstone was the first known European to set eyes on Victoria Falls, and now, not only intrepid explorers, but ordinary people from all walks of life, continue to travel great distances to see this phenomenon. So what’s the fuss all about?
Well firstly size certainly counts when it comes to waterfalls, but it’s not that easy to measure.
Waterfalls are measured either by height, by width or by the volume of water that spills over per minute – or all 3, and these change according to season, making it difficult to judge which is ‘biggest’. Whichever way you look at it, Victoria Falls, which is up to 100m high in places, and 1.7km wide during the wet season and has anything from 20 000 to 70 000 cubic meters of water hurtling from its height at any time. This makes it one of the world’s top ten waterfalls. Not all of which are accessible.
With such an awesome sight, bringing people from all over, it was inevitable that the area would develop to cater to visitors. This development has included the proclamation of the Victoria Falls National Park, which later split to form two parks, the 2nd being the Zambezi National Park.
These conservation areas quickly became attractions in their own right, bringing even more tourism into the Victoria Falls area. It’s a long way to travel, and you can only spend so much time admiring the falls, so locals started coming up with other ways to entertain the many people arriving on their doorstep. These many activities, include: helicopter flights over the falls, restaurants and cafés, white water rafting, canoeing, bungee jumping, zip lines and wild swings, game drives, game walks and boat trips on the vast Zambezi River.
All this extra activity has turned the small town into a very busy tourist hub, with hotels, bed and breakfasts and backpackers popping up in town. Now, with a new international airport and a number of airlines increasing their routes and the size of their aeroplanes to meet growing demand, the little town is booming.
This brings us to the next step in its development, with visitors who have travelled far to see the falls looking to extend their stay, explore the National Parks, and make the cost of the flight worthwhile.
Chundu Island is one of only 4 private concessions on the Zimbabwean side of the Zambezi River, in the Zambezi National Park, providing a peaceful base from which to explore this exceptional area.
Zimbabwe’s climate is hot in Summer with temperatures reaching into the mid 30’s (centigrade) and dropping as low as 14 C; and cool to cold in winter (Maximum 27 C and minimum 3 degrees).
It is not subjected to weather extremes in terms of gale force winds, cyclones or snow; but does have spectacular sunsets and afternoon thunderstorms in the summer months.
Chundu Island with its magnificent riverine trees is home to a family of Nyalas, a troop of monkeys and diverse birdlife, including the rare Schalow’s Turaco.
Regular visitors to the island include elephant and hippo. The bar, lounge and rooms overlook the Zambezi River, most have views of the Zambezi National Park, and all safari activities take place in this park which is home to a variety of
species including: elephant, buffalo, warthogs, giraffes, zebra, hyena, sable antelope, lions and leopards.
Birdlife is abundant, with more than 400 species recorded in the park, including some very special sightings such as the Schalow’s Turaco mentioned earlier, Pel’s fishing owl, African finfoot and African skimmer. For the fishing enthusiasts highlights of the 75 species of fish that inhabit the river have to be the Nembwe bream and tenacious Tiger fish.
THE ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK
The Zambezi National Park owes its status and existence to Victoria Falls, one of the world’s largest waterfalls when it is in full flow, with a width of 1.7km. The area became internationally recognized after David Livingstone was led there by the Makalolo tribes in 1855. In 1937, the Victoria Falls and surrounding area were declared a ‘special area’, and later proclaimed as a National Park in 1952. The original 56 000 hectare park was called the Victoria Falls National Park. In 1978, an area of the Victoria Falls National Park split from the rest for very prosaic reasons – to allow the Town of Victoria Falls access to the Zambezi River; hence the re-naming of this section: the Zambezi National Park. The combination of the Zambezi National Park, Victoria Falls National Park and of course the falls themselves comprise a UNESCO world heritage site.
Recognised because of its proximity to the Victoria Falls – one of the 7 wonders of the world – the Zambezi National Park has become a sought after destination in its own right. With 4 of the ‘Big 5’ as well as rarely seen wild dogs, and a wide variety of game including sable antelope, kudu and eland it is a natural attraction. Adding to its appeal is the scenic beauty of this park. The park is split by the road to Kazangula into riverine vegetation and the Chambonda Vlei, comprised largely of mopani woodland, and huge riverine trees. Some of the most magnificent views of the Zambezi River, the 4th largest river in Africa – flowing through 6 countries, are found in this park. The river is also the lifeblood of the park, providing sustenance to its wildlife.
The different landscapes in the park make it an arborialist and bird lover’s paradise, and of course for the fishermen, the Zambezi River holds both charm and challenge. We are privileged to be allowed to live, work and play in this unique environment, and do so with utmost respect. We look forward to sharing this honour with you as you discover its delights for yourself.
The park, managed by the Zimbabwean Wildlife Authority (ZWA) is divided into riverine area – where the river forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and Vlei lands – wholly on the Zimbabwean side. Chundu Island is situated in the river, and forms a part of the Zambezi National Park. It is one of only 4 private concessions in the national park providing much needed income to the conservation efforts of the ZWA.
Most of the vegetation within the park consists of Zambezi and Mopane woodlands with a small section of Zambezian Baikiaea woodlands in the south.
The best game viewing routes in the Zambezi National Park are located directly across from Chundu Island, where a number of large mammals can be seen, including:
Amongst the other plains game and smaller animals that can are:
A vast number of birds, more than 400 species, have been recorded in the park, including a number of rarer species such as:
Collared palm thrush
Long toed lapwing
Pel’s fishing owl
And of course a real regional speciality is the Schalow’s Turaco which is endemic to the Zambezi National Park and Caprivi. This spectacular bird is reminiscent of the Livingstone’s Lourie, only with a bright blue tail instead of green and a longer crest. As their habitats do not overlap there is little chance of confusing the two.
THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL FOR:
Viewing the Falls: The high water period runs from February to July – this is when the falls are at their most spectacular. The low water period occurs from August to January, when the spray is less, and the geological formation of the falls is most visible
Game Viewing: is at its best from May through to October (inclusive). May to August are the cooler months and May to October dry months. This makes game viewing easier because there is less foliage and animals are drawn to water holes and rivers.
Canoeing and sunset cruises: are available all year round, although the water levels differ, these are generally gentle, tranquil experiences which may become a little more exciting in the period from August to December when the water is lower.
Birding, Newborn Animals and Plant identification: April to November
Tiger and Nembwe Bream Fishing: June to December
Good Weather: April to September (October is usually also known for clear weather, but can get quite hot.
Special Rates: November to May. This includes the rainy season.