Ed's Note

For reasons known only to the gods I missed out on a trip to Zambia last month. Ok, if I am being honest, it had something to do with a passport that may or may not have expired, but let’s not let this get in the way of a divine angle. It would have been a splendid little getaway, with indulgent spa treatments and great food after game walks, and spectacular helicopter flips over Mosi-oa-Tunya at high water. It wasn’t to be, but I am still hopeful to make it there before the end of this month, to make up for an enjoyable if ill-fated first visit to the Victoria Falls area on the Zimbabwean side.

Over a decade and a half ago, I was put up in a charming hotel a brisk walk away from the Zambezi, then fighting tenaciously to remain open during the country’s state of economic freefall. On the morning of my planned chopper ride over the falls I was told there was a technical issue with the helicopter. I was shattered, sharing the news with anyone who would listen, including a porter who politely averted his gaze, shook his head slowly and, as he walked away, muttered the quiet part out loud: “There’s no fuel.” I rode elephants, drank G&Ts, and spotted crocodiles as I cruised along the Zambezi, but didn’t quite make it to the falls. You see, on that boat cruise I made some friends who would change the trajectory of my short visit.

There was the outdoorsy Australian lad on a slow meander up the continent and two dangerous locals. Local number one had a British dad and Zimbabwean mom and managed a local bar, the one we would be patronising that night. Local number two was a plucky descendant of old Rhodesians with a chaotic laugh and our designated driver with a heavy right foot. They picked us up, the Aussie and me, in a beat-up blue Mazda 323 that hadn’t been loved in years. The ride to the bar was a most harrowing 30 minutes — top speed, no backseat seatbelts, blonde Schumacher behind the wheel speaking with her hands and seeking eye contact when she had just one job. By the time we sat down at the bar, the tequilas couldn’t come quickly enough. And they never stopped. My recollection of the rest of that night offers flashes of my dancing awkwardly to Oliver Mtukudzi; talking, to the point of tears, to a Zimbabwean soccer fan about how much I loved Peter Ndlovu; and skinny-dipping at 3am in the Zambezi, on our way home in the battered blue killing machine.

And so, the next morning, having missed breakfast and my lift to one of the seven wonders of the world, I saw the falls not from a hair-raising vantage point in an iron bird or up close and wet, but from a considerable distance, out of my hotel window, nursing a 90s Charlie Sheen grade hangover.

Thankfully, the travel stories in this issue are not as reckless, as we take you through the sometimes difficult history of the island of St. Helena; on a safari experience with a difference in Brazil; for some lavish feasting in Portugal; and peace and luxury on the Garden Route.

Safe travels.

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