Victoria Falls makes the must-visit list of many travellers and both Zimbabwe and the Zambian side of the Zambezi River offer excellent accommodation choices.
Tongabezi, a privately owned lodge is one the less intrusive on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River, outside of the town of Livingstone. Rustic, yet beautifully appointed, the lodge provides the ultimate relaxation experience. Activities like game drives, sunset cruises, helicopter rides to view the Falls, tours of the town, sundowners on an island, and more are either inclusive or available.
Guests love Tongabezi as you choose just how much you wish to do. Each unit comes with a personal valet who goes to extreme lengths to make your stay perfect. The lodge offers several accommodation options, from those suitable for couples through to family units.
1. Tongabezi River Cottages overlook the Zambezi River and sleep up to two people
A former resident of Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side, and having lived a widely-travelled life across Africa, I have to say that “cottage” or “hut” really cannot capture the ambience of Tongabezi. Suitable for couples, the cottages bring your very own private space in the heart of Africa. Tastefully furnished, yet not cluttered, the decor will have you wanting to rush home and start redecorating. Five cottages on offer come with lion-claw baths, large mirrors, wide vistas, and a private deck. Expect to spend a large part of your days and evenings on the wooden deck raised high above the water. From there, the cry of the fish eagle and the primaeval grunting of the hippopotamus will enthral you.
The simple but spacious design puts you right in nature, and the thatched roof keeps you cool. Wide glass frontage opens up to allow you to relax in cool comfort, so the African wilderness is never far away. Mosquito nets keep away any bugs while you sleep the night away in your nook on a super-comfortable bed. Added wooden furnishings, shelving, and tables keep the rustic feeling, but you’ll also find an air-conditioning unit to help regulate the temperature. There’s comfortable seating inside, and outside, sun loungers, a table, chairs, and benches invite you to relax in total privacy.
2. The Nut House at Tongabezi
Tongabezi’s Nut House seems flooded with light as it’s designed to let the African vista flood through windows and doors. When you sleep here, every morning you’ll wake to the view of the river. The main bed’s accessible up a short flight of steps and below it, a comfortable seating area faces the patio area where you have your own sparkling plunge pool. For cooler weather, there’s a wood burner, and once again the understated furnishings do away with clutter, making it feel spacious and very African.
The Nut House bathroom comes with a gorgeous view over the river as well. It comes with double wash basins and floor tiling. The attractive curtains guarantee privacy. Outside on the spacious wooden deck, you’ll find loungers, chairs and a table where you may often have your meal served to you. Inside, there’s the splash of retro to enliven the colours of the house. The pleasing artwork and textures represent African countries like Morocco, Zambia, and Mali. The house is best suited for couples.
3. The Bird House on a cliff brings stunning vistas
The Bird House is yet another unit suitable for couples. Once again, expect the lovely claw-footed, open-air bathtub. The privacy here’s so guaranteed, that you can bathe on your private deck in the open. The standard private deck-terrace offers beautiful views. The double wash basins inside face directly out the window with a river view and you can access them via the arched doorway entrance from your living space. Basket-weave lampshades bring a nice tawny touch of Africa to the internal lighting.
You don’t need to climb any stairs in the Bird House to reach your bed. At the foot of it, you’ll find a wonderful wooden kist that’ll get you salivating. Pity you can’t fit that in your suitcase! The wardrobe off to the side is a stand-alone that takes you back in time, and comfortable chairs are dotted around. Expect the standard loungers next to your personal plunge pool on the terrace.
4. The Tree House, set among Ebony
The Tree House is set amongst indigenous Ebony trees, and once you arrive there, the first thing you’ll notice is the open front. The wilds are all around you, but you’re safe in your comfortable space. Themed on West African art and a touch of Asian influence this unit feels very exotic. And, you have the view to reinforce that. Plus, the trees actually pass through your home and out the roof, so this really is a treehouse in the riverine forest of the Zambezi.
Your claw-footed bath provides privacy with wooden terracing, but imagine bathing with a direct view across the murmuring river? Like everything else in the house, your flooring is beautifully finished wooden decking. Reed mats, thatch, wooden railings, and the big deck infuse nature with every breath you take. Even the back wall’s basalt, the very basis of the mysterious continent. Like the rest of the houses at Tongabezi, that deck will grab your attention. It’s spacious, comfortably furnished, and cool.
Enjoy relaxing through the nights or the heat of the day on your king size bed with its canopied mosquito net. If you feel uncomfortable, you can cool down with the air-conditioning unit.
5. Honeymoon House for perfect privacy
Step into your romantic getaway in Victoria Falls and your eyes are immediately drawn to the private plunge pool just steps from a comfortable bed with a stunning view of the river. Explore a little further and discover the basket-weave chairs, wooden tables, and the canopy netting to keep the bugs away. There’s plenty of space inside if you wish to dine there, and a pleasing brickwork design on the mantlepiece compliments the old maps of Africa on the walls.
Nice African touches are the lampshades and throw-rugs. In the bathroom area, the blue tiling around the twin washbasins is reminiscent of East Africa. I’m thinking Zanzibar and the adventure grounds of the early explorers. The romance doesn’t end with tasteful decorations and comfortable beds. The claw-footed bath is deep and set out in the open. Safely screened for privacy, you can enjoy a lazy and refreshing bath out under the stars after a romantic dinner for two on the balcony.
6. Family accommodation, the Garden House
Many luxury safari lodges in Africa don’t allow children. However, Tongabezi not only caters to families but holds their safety in mind. Their Garden House is suitable for five guests. Set back from the river, you need not worry about accidents involving falling in the Zambezi. Nevertheless, there’s a lovely splash pool to cool down in and beautiful bush surroundings. The Garden Home’s great for younger teens and kids as they can run around in the garden in safety. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of personal space for everyone. An added advantage is a dining room for your exclusive use.
With family entertainment in mind, there’s even a bar in the Garden House. The first thing you notice in the Garden House is the sense of spaciousness created by the high A-frame thatched rooves. The place looks lovely with its African-style wall-hangings and rustic furnishings, wooden carvings, and throw rugs on cool flooring. Once again, the thrill of choosing to bath in the outdoors is available to Tongabezi guests. Comfortable beds, cozy seating areas, and big doors thrown open to the African sunshine make for a very pleasant family environment.
7. Gather friends and stay in the Dog House
The Dog House provides the opportunity for family or friends to gather in their own exclusive patch of Africa. Here, you connect via walkways to three decks. That way, you safely navigate when the Zambezi River rises in the high season. Thinking conservation, the walkways, constructed from pine, come from a sustainable source.
As you stay on the outer edges of the Tongabezi gardens, you don’t need to trek anywhere as there’s a unique bar to call your own. It began life as a boat. Plus, talking of renewable and recycling, there’s a delightful rustic table that once served as a door. From the wooden decks and balcony, you overlook the river from the shelter of the native forest.
The white ceiling area, light-colored wicker basket touches, and drapes make for lightness in the house. The big doors open up so your comfortable seating area on the wooden flooring extends into the open air. This means you’re mere steps away from your private plunge pool with views over the river. Even when you’re enjoying your deep bath, the view looks straight out over the water. Fans set high above you, the wooden sculptures artfully displayed on the walls, and the throw rugs somehow create an olde-Africa feel. I’m thinking “Out of Africa” ambiance.
What you are looking forward to with Tongabezi Lodge
Tongabezi accommodation units manage to combine style with rustic Africa without compromising on comfort. There’s as much privacy as you could wish for, but opportunities arise to meet and mingle at the main river decks and dining areas, or, enjoy a drink at the bar. Room service, pools, Wifi, and a gym area comprise public spaces, but your very own slice of peaceful Africa lies just a short distance away.
The four-star lodge is not the biggest in Zambia near the Victoria Falls, but it’s beautifully and artfully styled to make it one of the most pleasant natural spots to enjoy a safari vacation in the Livingstone area.
Address: Private Bag 31, Livingstone Zambia
Price: from $700 USD
Star Rating: Four Star
Website: Tongabezi Lodge
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