With the world still in lockdown, life at the Victoria Falls River Lodge is moving at a far more sedate pace than usual. We thought we could make use of the global lull in activity to introduce you to a few more members of our Team. This will enable you to get to know the very people tasked with taking care of you during your next stay with us – both behind the scenes and front-facing. 


To kick start this initiative we’d like to introduce you to someone special.  


Meet Jena Gradwell, Victoria Falls River Lodge’s official lead designer. A health and fitness enthusiast, from a small beach village on the east coast of South Africa (Kidds Beach). She currently resides in Port Elizabeth, travelling to Zimbabwe every so often for all of the Lodge’s design needs. 

Images of Jena Gradwell looking at Giraffe & Elephant

Jena also loves the great outdoors and during a recent catch-up shared a few strategies that she’s been using to cope with being cooped up during the lockdown. Her creativity and enthusiasm for wellbeing are evident in her food preparation and her dedication to movement and exercise, all of which are visible in the content she puts out on her personal Instagram. 

The pilates and nature-enthusiast was happy to share her passion not only for her craft but for our beautiful Lodge as well, and the following is what she had to say about life, health and mental vitality.

Image of Jena Gradwell styling the Island Treehouse Suites of Victoria Falls River Lodge

The very first question we asked Jena seemed an obvious one, but we had to know what it was that she enjoyed most about her work at the Lodge. She responded that she was torn, adding that choosing only one aspect would be tricky. 

“There are many answers to this question! I am, however, so inspired by the people I work and interact with. Also – being in a position that grants me the opportunity to grow a thought into a concept, a concept into a design and then see that design come to life in one of the most beautiful places in the world is so incredibly rewarding”.

We all know how trying these last few months have been, for some more than others. She admits that practising gratitude has played a huge role in keeping her grounded during this time, and attributes much of what’s helped her maintain her motivation to friends, family and loved ones, whom she regards as being a constant rock for her to lean. 


While she admitted to missing her colleagues and being in a workspace where she was able to bounce and share ideas, Jena shared a few ways that she has been able to keep creative during some of the more restricted times of the national lockdown:

“I have a few work projects on the go which push me creatively and spent some time assisting my Mom on a  very rewarding room revamp at our family home. I have also found great joy in preparing meals. I just love the process of creating a meal/dish that is healthy, delicious and aesthetic as a whole”, she enthused. 

Being the creative she is; following a strict routine is not something Jena adheres to. Hers is more of a loosely patterned day where she sets out certain goals she’d like to achieve and experiences she’d like to have throughout. 



According to Jena, those days look a little like this:

“I generally wake up at around 6 am. This is followed by some form of exercise. I love to run and cycle but a nice walk along the beachfront is also great. I take this time to set my intention for the day, not task-for-task, but rather an end goal or something I would like to experience or achieve for that day. If I have had a big morning – with a lot of activity – I like to have a two-part breakfast. A smoothie packed with superfoods to start, followed by something that will see me through to lunch, I love boiled eggs, smashed avo and cream cheese on toast when it’s warm – and delicious oat bowls on cooler days.” 

Jena Gradwell riding her bike and an image of Jena's breakfast


While we haven’t been able to travel ourselves, and though Jena herself has been stationed at the Lodge’s headquarters during this time, we asked her one last question we’re sure you would all have liked to know the answer to;

You’ve been to the lodge a few times, can you tell us what your favourite things about it have been? 


“I go up every so often to keep updated on our projects, building, or renovations. The staff at the lodge are hands down the kindest and most friendly people you will ever meet, it is always such a pleasure to be there.”


“The environment is ever-changing and so beautiful. To see the animals moving in and out of camp and around the river is truly humbling. I have experienced nature there as I have never dreamed I would.” 

Jena Gradwell riding her bike and an image of Jena's breakfast


“The ‘Smoke That Thunders’ – Victoria Falls – should be on every person’s bucket list and it is always such a highlight, no matter how many times you have seen it.”

Jena Gradwell riding her bike and an image of Jena's breakfast


“My favourite activity is the river cruises. Both sunrise and sunset cruises offer such unique experiences. It is an incredible way to experience the great Zambezi River, immersed in nature and up close to some of the most spectacular sightings and views you have ever seen.” 

Jena Gradwell riding her bike and an image of Jena's breakfast


We couldn’t agree more; the tranquillity and beauty of the Zambezi are truly a sight best enjoyed with one’s own eyes. Though we may not currently be able to witness this natural splendour ourselves, we wait patiently and in anticipation until it’s safe to travel again. 


We hope that you have enjoyed getting to know Jena as much as we have and can’t wait to introduce you to the next member of our team. Until then, stay safe. 

Jena Gradwell riding her bike and an image of Jena's breakfast