Charley Boorman

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Charley Boorman is a modern-day adventurer, travel writer and entertainer. His charismatic “let’s just do it” approach to challenges has won him over to a massive television and literary audience.  In 1997 he met Ewan McGregor the star of “Train Spotting”, “Star Wars” and “Moulin Rouge” amongst others, who became his co-adventurer and co-star in the Long Way Round and Long Way Down series.

During late August and early September Charley led a group of bikers on an incredible trip from Cape Town, travelling north along the coast before cutting inland through Namibia and east along the Caprivi Strip, finishing at the ‘Smoke that Thunders’ – the iconic Victoria Falls in Zambia.  After a few days in Livingstone to service and repair the bikes, get new rubber and experience some of the amazing activities in Zambia, the downward leg of the trip started, heading east towards the coast, covering Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and the eastern side of South Africa.

Covering over 5,000 kilometers, the bikers saw some of the very best that Africa has to offer – beautiful landscapes, amazing sunsets and incredible wildlife.  Each year Charley, together with Moto Adventures, takes nearly 50 guests in total on these adventures.

The Zambezi Sun was delighted to welcome Charley back to our very special part of the world!

Warmest

J

 

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Nsongwe Vegetables

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Our guests at the Falls Resort love to eat traditional Zambian food. Zambian meals have become so popular that we knew we had to find more local vegetables to use in our kitchens.

Near the village of Nsongwe, about 5 km away from the Resort, a group of entrepreneurial women had started a banana plantation. Their banana plants had died several years running because of frost and the women had become disheartened. We knew that we could help these women, replacing the bananas with vegetables.

Stain Musungaila, in charge of our corporate social investment programme, Rays of Light, has been working now for a few years with the 18 women from the village. They sow the seeds, transplant, weed and harvest the vegetables. When the vegetables have been sold they share in the profits. Partnering with USAID and ASNAPP (Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products), we have helped supply them with drip irrigation, a pump for the borehole and a large tank to store water. We are also doing trials of different seeds which have been brought from Kenya. All the seeds have been planted at Nsongwe in trial beds; they have been labeled and the women are analysing the success of each variety. Comparing the yields from the different varieties and getting comments on flavour, they are able to see which ones work for us in Zambia.

Rays of Light - Nsongwe Vegetable farming

While on a visit to the vegetable plot I met Mary and Mildred tending the plants. The rains had just finished and all the maize and rainy-season vegetables had been harvested. Some of the other vegetables had been left to seed so that the seeds could be used for replanting.

I asked them which vegetables were doing well. They showed me one variety of spinach which they said was very popular. They told me that when they took this one to the market everyone wanted to buy it because it was different from other varieties and tasted really good.

Mary told me: The other women flood the market with the common spinach and have to sell it cheaply, but because we take different ones we get a better price.

I hope you make sure you have enough for the hotels, I said.

Oh yes, we supply Sun first. It is only when we have some left over that we take it to the market, Mary replied.

We’re thrilled by the success of this project, and know that when our guests dine in our restaurants on the resort, that they are making meaningful a contribution to our community with every bite… I can only think that this adds a little something extra to the taste!

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David Livingstone’s Bicentenary

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This year we are celebrating the bicentenary of David Livingstone’s birth. He was born in Scotland in 1813; two hundred years ago. It is quite a milestone for us in Livingstone, the town which was named after him.

David Livingstone was born to working class parents and struggled to improve himself. He started work at the age of 10 in a cotton mill, but studied in the evenings. By the age of 27 he had received qualifications in medicine and had been ordained a missionary by the London Missionary Society. With this training he took a boat to South Africa and ox-cart to Kuruman, the mission station of Robert Moffat.

From Kuruman he ventured into the interior of Africa meeting many of the villagers and helping them with their medical problems and teaching Christianity. In 1855 he reached the Victoria Falls and it was through him that the largest curtain of falling water on the planet and was brought to the world’s attention in his journal, published in 1857.

David Livingstone was a driven man, intent on exploring the Zambezi River and its tributaries. He was convinced that rivers formed the transit routes for goods and trade into the middle of the continent. He made many journeys along the rivers to find trade routes. He had his ups and downs; sometimes he made major discoveries; sometimes he experienced failures. But he never gave up.

David LivingstoneDavid Livingstone spent most of his time exploring Zambia, from the south at the Victoria Falls to the north and Lake Tanganyika. He met hundreds of people on his journeys, always inspiring them. He was also passionate about abolishing the slave trade. He made European people listen to his first-hand experiences of meeting with slavers who had chained captured people together to walk for miles to the coast where they were sold. He urged governments to work harder to stop the inhumane practice. It was through him that more effort was made to end it forever.

It would be interesting to know what David Livingstone would have thought of us now if he could witness the advancement of the people of Zambia, and the rest of Africa. Yes, we have had our ups and downs; we have had our successes and our failures, but, as the fastest growing continent in the world, we know that he would be proud and know that his life had not been in vain.

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The Kwacha

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Our currency in Zambia is called the kwacha (K). The name derives from the Nyanja word for ‘dawn’ and has been used as the name for our currency from 1968; before that we used the British pound. The coins were called ‘ngwee’ which means ‘bright’.

Over the years the kwacha devalued. By the end of 2012, US$1 = K5,000. Our coins stopped being in use many years ago as they had no value. For years the 50-kwacha note was the highest note available and we had to use lots of them to buy anything. The notes were pinned together in bundles of 20. After sometime one pinned together bundle of 50-kwacha notes became known as a ‘pin’; it was equal to K1,000.

Barclays BankThe use of the ‘pin’ has got such wide usage now and rarely do people say ‘kwacha’. Our guests at the Sun International Zambia Resort are often confused when a taxi driver tells them that the price of their ride is ‘50-pin’ instead of 50,000 kwacha! But it always brings a smile to their face when they are told the story.

Now, all that has changed. In order to revitalize the kwacha, the government decided to rebase it by knocking off three zeros at the end of December 2012. Hence K50,000 became K50 and K100,000 became K100, and so on. It meant that the kwacha became slightly easier to manage and that we also have coins again.

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Kamp Kwena Open to Livingstone Residents

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The Falls Resort is about 10 km away from the centre of Livingstone and, although we are part of the wider Livingstone community, some residents feel that we are sometimes inaccessible. I expect it is because we are surrounded by National Park and wild animals can be found all around us, and at other times, as we have large high profile groups on the resort that have bought out the entire property.

Our Kamp Kwena is the children’s playground at the Zambezi Sun Hotel where the children can enjoy themselves while the parents can relax without worrying about their children. It is very popular with our guests and we decided that we could extend the facility to use by residents of Livingstone.Pool side at the kamp kwena -  Royal Livingstone

This weekend saw some Livingstone children come to the Zambezi Sun and have fun at our children’s facility. They were treated to activities at Kamp Kwena – drawing and painting, fun on the inflatable crocodile and later came to the swimming pool to play.

I met up with them in the morning and found two youngsters laughing and playing in the pool. One of the little girls could not keep the big grin from her face. They had been given arm bands although this end of the pool is very shallow; they were watched by one of the Kamp Kwena team. What a wonderful time they seemed to be having.

How’s it going, I asked?

Fine. We only have two children today. They are the children of members of staff. We know it will get busier once Livingstone parents find out about it. These two girls have been painting, playing on the jungle gym and now are having fun in the pool. I don’t think either of them have been in a swimming pool before. We don’t have public pools in Livingstone anymore, just at private lodges and Livingstone children rarely go to those places.

It looks as though the opening up of Kamp Kwena is going to be a huge success. We do charge for a morning or afternoon session, but it is not expensive and they are given a snack mid-session. It will mean that Livingstone residents came down for a meal and a drink, relax in the shade and know that their children are having a wonderful time with other children from all over the world in the safety of Kamp Kwena.

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Can Elephants Swim?

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Elephants Swimming in ZambiaFrom the deck of the Royal Livingstone we occasionally see elephants crossing the river. They know their age-old routes, crossing where the river is shallowest. Our guests often ask: Are they swimming or walking on the bottom of the river?

The answer is that elephants swim. It may seem incredible that an animal weighing up to 6 tons can swim, but they do. And they seem to enjoy it, too.

When the water is high and there are speeding between the banks on the way to the Victoria Falls, elephants do not cross the river that is the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Those elephants which chose to stay in Zambia during the rainy season knew that they would not be able to cross again until the river went down. They spread out in the surrounding forests, drinking water from all the seasonal rivers and streams; eating the plentiful grass, fruit and leaves, readily available during the rainy season.

Gradually the seasonal rivers dry up and there is less and less water for elephants to drink. They drink up to 120 litres of water a day; this is a massive intake. You can imagine the need for a herd of possibly 50 elephants all in one area. For this reason slowly the herds make their way back to the Zambezi River where they know they can always find water.

The other day I noticed many people standing on the bridge over the Maramba River. The Maramba River is a seasonal river which runs into the Zambezi; the bridge is on the road between Livingstone and our Resort. I stopped to see what everyone was looking at. There, on the banks and in the river, was a herd of 30 elephant. They were drinking, swimming and playing in the river. Everyone was delighted with the spectacle.

The herd was made up of families with several small babies. I watched as one mother walked into the river and then the baby followed, not in the least bit afraid, swimming by her side. His trunk was held high up out of the water so that he could breathe and he swam while his mother waded. He did not rush across the river but stopped for a while to play with his mother and ‘aunties’, splashing as if having lots of fun.

So, it looks as if elephants can swim even when they are very small – which makes a great deal of sense given our long hot summer days!

Warmest
Joanne

 

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Abraham Jere returns home!

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It is always good to be home and that is exactly how Abraham felt when he was promoted to Executive Chef at The Zambezi Sun Hotel.

For many years Abraham has been working in Botswana at the Gaborone Sun Hotel. He has enjoyed his time there, but Livingstone is where he was brought up so it has a special place in his heart.

After his schooling in Livingstone Abraham wanted to join the army so he enlisted for training. He found, though, that is was not to his liking and Abraham re-thought his career!

He had always been one of those children who liked to help his mum in the kitchen even though it was not common for boys to like cooking. When there was an opening in a nearby hotel as a trainee in the kitchens he applied. He enjoyed the work and knew that he had found his calling.

He worked for Intercontinental Hotel for a few years learning on the job but when the hotel closed he moved on to other hotels in Zambia, always learning.

Sun International opened in 2001 in Livingstone and Abraham was one of our first employees. He worked hard; he continued to learn and helped other staff too. After two years he decided he needed a change and moved to Botswana, taking his young family with him.

I asked him if he ever went to college to train. No, he said. I have always worked and learned along the way. I have been sent on lots of courses and experienced many hotels. I have been to Ghana and Nigeria; to Kenya, Dubai and South Africa. I was one of the chefs who went to start up the Federal Palace in Nigeria; I was there for the first month to help train the staff.

I then asked him if it was different working in the Gaborone Sun compared to the Zambezi Sun. Gaborone Sun is a business hotel whereas the Zambezi Sun is a tourist hotel, so the atmosphere is very different. Also, although I learned the language Setswana while I was there, I find it easier to give instructions in my Zambian language.

We can see that Abraham is settling back into his Zambian life; his children in local schools. We know, too, that The Zambezi Sun kitchens are safe in his hands.

Abraham, Sun International Zambia is proud to welcome you home!

Warmest
J

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The Royal Spa

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For our guests, one of our most popular facilities at The Royal Livingstone Hotel is the Royal Spa.

Our open air Gazebos have a unique positioning on the banks of the Zambezi River, which allow guests to feel enveloped by the elements of water, earth and air as they appreciate the indigenous flora and fauna that makes Zambia such an unspoilt destination. This while enjoying a world class massage or treatment!

Our Royal Spa menu caters for the most popular treatments as well as our signature Zambian treatments. Exquisite finishes, delightful moments and inspired views ensure that our guests’ experience of the Royal Spa at The Royal Livingstone is memorable and to be relived time and again.

For guests who have enjoyed an action packed day, the salon offers hairdressing, manicure, pedicure and massage services. Leandre, the manager and her team of 14 therapists are always on hand to offer one of our special treatments.

I asked her how well her team coped with the demands of guests from all over the world, and she told me “These girls have magic hands. When I first came to Livingstone I did not like to have massages, but they are exceptional and I regularly have a massage now. I tell myself it is just to test their techniques but really it is because I enjoy it so much. In fact one of our guests was so impressed that he told his therapist she was fit to massage royalty!

And at The Royal Livingstone that’s exactly what we like to hear!

Warmest
J

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Royal Livingstone’s New Gym

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Do our guests comment about their experience at the Royal Livingstone? Yes, they do and generally their comments are exceptional. Occasionally, though, we get a constructive comment and know that we have to do something about it.

When on holiday we eat and relax too much and this is definitely the case at The Royal Livingstone Hotel. The food is delicious. Apart from our breakfast, lunch and dinner, we have the high tea in the afternoon with cream cakes and many delicacies. It is too tempting to resist. The concern from our guests was that they needed to burn off some of those calories.

Up until now we have offered swimming in our large pool or jogging and walking around the Sun International Zambia Resort. However, some of our guests were used to going to a gym regularly and missed it when they were staying with us. This was something we needed to rectify.

Adjacent to The Royal Livingstone Hotel rooms there is a building which we used as a storeroom. Being just a short walk from the reception, it would fit the bill as a gym, but needed some major renovations. Our design and development team knew at once they could make it look spectacular. They opened it up by putting in huge windows looking out onto the woodland, laid a timber floor; added a veranda and all those extras to bring it up to Royal standards. We had it professionally fitted out with exercise bikes, treadmills, weights and all the accouterments required by our discerning clientele.

Guillaume, the Hotel Manager, and I went to have a look to check that all was as it should be. We found the cleaners polishing the windows and sweeping for floors; the gardeners had been to tidy up the surroundings, planting some lawn near the veranda. Even the zebras had wandered by to take a look. After tweaking the layout slightly, Guillaume and I knew it was ready to go.

The gym is exclusively for our guests at the Royal Livingstone and it has become an instant success. There are not many gyms that offer exercise while watching impala nibbling on the grass nearby, or with giraffe and zebra ambling past. But that is the experience at The Royal Livingstone gym. Listening to our guests is an important aspect of running any hotel. At the Resort we take notice of all our guest comments and act accordingly – hence our new gym!

Warmest
J

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World Environment Day

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Think ● Eat ● Save for World Environment Day – 5 June

Since inception Sun international Zambia, as a responsible tourism destination, has committed to reduce our carbon footprint by ensuring that the majority of foodstuffs served to guest and staff are sourced locally. Hand in hand with our community upliftment initiatives, a number of programmes such as our onsite worm farm, local farmers’ market, herb and rose garden, hydroponics, conservation agriculture, SME support programmes and ‘buying local’ policy for products, have been implemented. This ensures that healthy and sustainably grown vegetables, meat and meat products, milk and milk products and other products required for food preparation are sourced for our valued guests and team members.

So think before you eat and help save our environment!

Warmest
Joanne and team

To learn more about World Environment Day, visit the United Nations Environment Programme

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