Melissa Mpofu and Wayne Chiridza, Showbiz Reporters
IT is that time of the year again when fun lovers are preparing to head out to Victoria Falls for the carnival.
Now known as Africa’s biggest New Year’s Eve party, the carnival, which has been running for the past nine years, is quite an exciting event as it takes place in a town which has one of the world’s natural wonders — the Majestic Victoria Falls. So other than the carnival itself, there are a lot of activities which people can engage in like bungee jumping, crocodile cage diving, boat cruises and water rafting, making it more fun.
However, over the years, well at least during its inception years, the carnival has been mostly attended by foreigners at the expense of locals. This has not been going down well with many, even the organisers as they wanted to see locals enjoying their own carnival.
As a way to fix this anomaly, organisers worked on the artistes’ line-up which was not appealing to most locals as it had bands which did not excite them. But now, with a line-up which has artistes — AKA, Samthing Soweto, Jah Signal, Shekhinah, DJ Maphorisa, Prince Kaybee, Djembe Monks, Tammy Moyo, Ngoma Ingoma and DJs Tbass, Raydizz and Ryan Synth among many others, locals have no reason not to attend.
But before partaking in the fun activities, there is the issue of travelling to the resort town and accommodation, which many know, is not a walk in the park as it may prove quite costly, once again deterring many from attending this event.
It is against this background that tourism players who have support from carnival organisers, have come up with packages especially tailor-made for locals in order to try and make it possible for them to experience this annual event.
One of these packages is from Mbira Tours and Safaris who have secured a premier train coach from the NRZ which they will use to ferry carnival attendees to Victoria Falls from Bulawayo. This package will also see those interested getting accommodated on the coach for the duration of the carnival, saving them from the accommodation blues in the resort town. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
Mbira Tours and Safaris spokesperson, Englebert Karombo, said: “We’re offering a package where we will provide transport to Victoria Falls and accommodation on the premier (VIP) coach. The train is set to depart for Victoria Falls on December 29 returning in the evening of January 1, giving people more time to have fun in the resort town.”
He said for USD$300/equivalent, the package also includes three-day tickets for the carnival as Mbira Tours and Safaris (which has offices at the Main Railway Station) is a registered agent of the Victoria Falls Carnival.
“As we’re registered agents of the carnival, we’re also selling tickets for the carnival. So paying for the premier coach means that a person will also get a three-day gate pass to the event,” said Karombo.
Detailing the coach, Karombo said it has 24-hour electricity, charging ports, beds, clean toilets and bathrooms which have hot water all throughout the day. The rooms all have locks so people are ensured of safety of their valuables.
“People will use their rooms in the train as accommodation during the carnival. Once we get to Victoria Falls, the coach in which our carnival guests will be in, will be unhooked and parked at the Victoria Falls Train Station which is ideally situated near the CBD and close to the Rainforest.
“This will be very convenient for them as there’ll be no need to go through the hustle of looking for accommodation in Victoria Falls. Also, the location where the train will be parked will prove convenient for them as it will also cut down on their transport costs as it is right in the CBD, close to many restaurants.”
Added Karombo: “We’re offering an easy way to the carnival as a person will travel while sleeping compared to other forms of transport. This is the safest and most relaxing way to travel as it is accident free.”
The other advantage of travelling by train, Karombo said, was that locals can also have a rare opportunity of appreciating their wildlife as they approach Hwange.
“The other advantage of using the train is that one also gets a free game drive, if their lucky as they can see game as they approach Hwange. Also, food will be provided on the first day and when the train returns,” said Karombo while urging people to bring their own refreshments.
This package, Karombo said, was initiated last year and was a resounding success as most who took it up had a great time on board and bonded well. He said he hopes more locals would take it up as it was initiated specifically for them.
“So far, tickets have been bought by people from Botswana and a few locals. We’re, however, hoping that more locals take this up as we’re doing this for them so that they get to experience the carnival and also partake in activities in the resort town.”
Upon mention of an NRZ train, judging by the outlook of the trains, many may doubt that they are luxurious inside. But having boarded one last year and being pleasantly surprised, we recommend this train ride to fellow locals considering taking it up. You will not regret it, actually, you will regret wasting money sleeping elsewhere as this may actually be way better.