Tongabezi was the final stop on our holiday – a luxury lodge on the Zambezi, voted in the top 100 hotels in the world and number one safari lodge in Zambia. We’d also managed to get an extra night thrown in for free so we were looking forward to a relaxing 4-night stay.
We booked Tongabezi so we could completely switch and do as little as possible – it didn’t fail to deliver. On arrival, we were welcomed by the lovely Jo and served a wonderful drink whilst running through the set up and activities. We also met with Conceptor who would be looking after us during our stay.
We went for one of the four river lodges which overlooked the Zambezi River. The house was wonderful and so private – a little hut with high ceiling, floor to ceiling windows with a really rustic feel and walk in rainfall shower/bathroom. Along with the private deck with soft furnishing, the lodge really did feel like our own little utopia! It was wonderful to watch the world go by with little boats nipping along the river or seeing (and hearing) the rhinos pop up. We spent most of our time at Tongabezi relaxing either along the river, at the pool or on one of the comfy sofas. Despite the range of activates on offer, we decided on Victoria Falls and a Zambezi boat trip.
Every meal was served in a different location around Tongabezi which gave such a romantic and intimate feel. I was a little concerned that it may feel similar to when you eat in an empty restaurant with no atmosphere, but far from it! Conceptor collected us from the lodge for each evening meal due to the potential for wandering hippos! The lanterns doted along the footpath were magical, and took you straight to one of the two fire pits for a pre-dinner drink. This is most interaction you will ever really have with the guests and it’s completely up to you if you wish to chat. Our first evening was spent on the terrace of the Hangout, overlooking the Zambezi and a storm in the distance. The food was incredible, each course delivered by Conceptor and the final with a singing choir! Other evenings we are in the nook and the Lookout area. One evening we were treated to a rendition of ‘happy birthday’, a birthday cake each (I had my own gluten and dairy free), birthday cards and hats from the nearby school! Such a nice touch and really did make the birthday trip special!
On our final full day, we were given the option to upgrade free of charge to the honeymoon, erm yes! Perched above the indoor dining area with a perfect view, the lodge was huge and felt bigger than our actual flat! Lovely touches with the openair bathroom, plunge pool and Conceptor had even left a bottle of Rose and White for us. We spent our last evening relaxing around the river and the pool before enjoying lunch and a performance from the local school. The school nearby is funded and supported by Tongabezi and guests can visit and take part in activities.
The most active we got during the whole stay was when we went for a morning trip to Victoria Falls. Laurence and Joseph were our guides from Tongabezi for the day around Mosi-oa-Tunya, which is the local name for the falls ‘The smoke that thunders’ due to the appearance from afar. The guys were none stop about facts from driving through nearby Livingstone town and all the way around the falls, I love a fact so I was in my element. There was so much water in the river and pouring down the falls, it was hard to get your head round that at some parts of the year you can walk across parts of the Falls to the islands.
The guys also gave us time to explore on our own and offered to take photos and at no point did we feel rushed. Unfortunately, the river level was too high to try out the Devils Pool, hopefully we’ll be back again and can give them a go!! We got absolutely drenched despite wearing a waterproof jacket and poncho, to be honest we should have gone barefoot around some of the falls when we saw our guides take their shoes off!
We had looked into seeing the Falls from the air, either a helicopters or micro-light but decided against it. Due to the volume of water and the spray from the Falls, we realized that we wouldn’t actually see that much and arguably left from when we were down on the ground. Instead we decided to do a tandem zip wire across the Zambia/Zimbabwe gorge which had been recommended to us by Chris’s dad. We are too lame to do the bungee or gorge swing. I must admit, I was nervous before hand but it did feel relatively tame when we’d finished it! It was surreal leaving Zambia and arriving in Zambia, before walking back over the bridge to Zambia! I would really recommend doing this activity – really fun and an incredible view!
Our last evening started with the Sunset Cruise at 5pm, just the two of us with a driver on the river – it really was breath-taking. I hadn’t appreciated that we were sailing up the Zambia/Zimbabwe boarder or how massively the water level could change. The river was so high to be point it was close to flooding, but in the Summer season part of it would be dry! It was interesting to hear about the river and get the chance to see some more of the animal we’d seen on safari – hippos, crocodiles, baboons and impala. A wonderful touch was the ‘bush bar’ which was a complete surprise when our boat moored on a little island! We shared the bar with another family, whilst hearing about the local plant and bird life with a G&T.
Before we knew it, the sun was setting and it was time to head back whilst enjoying the wonderful views (with another G&T for good measure!). Our final meal could be anything we requested to have made and wherever we wanted to eat around Tongabezi – such an amazing touch! Chris went for his favourite lasagne and we decided to eat at the top of the Nook that overlooked the river- perfect end to the stay!
As always, this is just my opinion!