An East and Southern African Dream

Matetsi Victoria Falls located on the vast 55 000 hectare wilderness that is Matetsi Private Game Reserve is the realisation of the Gardiner family’s dream to showcase everything exceptional about their beautiful home country, Zimbabwe. The history of the private concession is both lengthy and fascinating, and possibly deserving of a book one of these days. Though the part most relevant here is that in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the concession was held by Conservation Corporation Africa (CCA - which later rebranded to andBeyond) under the leadership of Steve and Nicky Fitzgerald.

Steve and Nicky were instrumental in the conversion of the private concession from hunting to photographic safaris, and the establishment of Matetsi Water Lodge and Matetsi Safari Camp on Matetsi Private Game Reserve, the former of which now forms the foundations of Matetsi Victoria Falls.

After creating over 50 lodges over the course of their careers, Steve and Nicky had retired in 2011, but they came out of retirement in 2015 to realise a personal dream of their own. This culminated in the development of the beautiful Angama Mara safari lodge, which sits on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, overlooking the vast open plains of the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

In May 2020, due to the historical connection, Sara Gardiner, Co-founder of Matetsi Victoria Falls, and Hayley Walls, Director of Sales and Marketing, with the encouragement and introduction from one of our very loyal clients, Dionne Bunyard of African Pathfinder, came to have a call with Nicky and her lovely daughter Kate Boyd, who is also part of the Angama family. The four shared stories of Matetsi Private Game Reserve – a place that is very special to all of them, and still so close to the Fitzgerald’s hearts as it was one of Steve’s most special places. They also discussed a combination itinerary between Angama Mara and Matetsi Victoria Falls.

With two families, the Gardiner’s and the Fitzgerald’s, having a shared passion and vision for conserving these special wilderness areas in Africa and offering an excellent guest experience, it was a match made in heaven. And so Waterfalls and Wildlife came to be (thanks to Kate for that wonderful name): a 7-night itinerary offering a taste (no pun intended – though both properties strive for an exceptional culinary experience) of both East and Southern Africa.

Hayley and Sara experienced this trip of a lifetime in December 2020, and have documented it in a travel diary – which gives insights into what the combination experience has to offer as well as what it’s like traveling during a pandemic . We hope you enjoy experiencing it vicariously through them whilst reading this.