When Paul, Director of WildWeb, informed me that as part of the Account Manager role at WildWeb, I would be expected to visit the lodges that become my clients to get a real feel for what I am marketing, I was naturally devastated and dreaded it from the outset…I’m joking (obviously!).
What a perk to the job and, to a mother of two children under three, the thought of a few nights tucked away in Zambian luxury away from tantrums and nappies was like a dream and to be honest it felt like just that the whole time we were there.
Tongabezi Lodge is situated on the banks of the Zambezi river in Zambia, just upstream from the magnificent Victoria Falls. From the moment my husband and I arrived and were greeted by our personal valet, we just knew we were going to fall in love with the place. The lodge has managed this perfect blend of tradition and luxury. There are no marble floors, gold fixtures, and fittings or dress codes but rather spacious wooden decks that have been built around the existing trees, impressive chandeliers made of shell and the more relaxed your attire the more you will fit in. The décor is elegant, understated and incredibly stylish and the service is attentive and very friendly and chatty.
We were lucky enough to be moved around during our stay meaning we could experience more than most guests in one trip. Our first and second night was in the River Cottage which sits right on the river bank, the third night at Sindabezi Island (a private island in the middle of the Zambezi with rustic yet indulgent private suites boasting outdoor freestanding baths and the soundtrack of the hippo frolicking in the water) and the last night was at The Nut House . Now I do not have words to describe the beauty, grandeur, and grace of this house.
Tucked away in the treetops away from all the other houses and accommodation, The Nut House has a serious case of the ‘wow factor’! With its private infinity pool and views from up high of the river, it’s four poster bed and elaborate bathroom…this place makes you want them to lock you in and throw away the key. If it wasn’t for the pull of the activities on offer, then we probably would have done exactly that!
During our 4 night stay, we managed to fit a perfect blend of adventure, chillaxing and romance. Our activities included;
- Visit to Livingstone Island and a little dip in Angel’s Pool, which by the way, isn’t so angelic when the water is high, and you feel as light as a feather in the rushing current around you at the edge of a 108-meter drop! But great fun none the less.
- The Victoria Falls park tour which gives you an alternate perspective of the falls from the other side of the gorge. Here we got very wet as the spray was so heavy it was like we were in a storm.
- Bike ride through the local bush, stopping off at the Simonga Village where we enjoyed a tour and got to see how the local community lives.
- Stay on Sindabezi Island
- Sunset cruise along the river where we got to see plenty of hippo and crocs and enjoyed sundowners at their pop-up beach bar.
- Breakfast on the Sampan – a floating table for two out in the river where couples can enjoy a romantic meal together delivered by canoe.
- Visit to the Tongabezi Trust School – Tujatane. This is a school set up and managed by Tongabezi and which runs solely on donations. They now have over 200 children attending the school receiving a good education in a beautiful environment. Our private valet’s name was Conceptor and her little son attends the school, as is the case for any staff’s children from the lodge. This was a very humbling experience and we came away so impressed with what the lodge has achieved and what they do for the local community.
Food and Drink
I was so pleased to get to meet Chef Simon, the Executive Chef at the lodge, whom I had been in contact with many times as part of my job in the past. At last, I got to enjoy his incredible food which I had been drooling over in photos for months! Influenced by the locally grown fruit and vegetables at the lodge’s food garden, Simon is very creative in his dish creation adding flavours you wouldn’t normally expect to put together but just work so deliciously well. He enjoys using a lot of Asian flavours which worked well for us as we love that too. Fresh, healthy yet indulgent, extremely tasty and plentiful dishes were served pretty much where you want and when you want. We ate in The Lookout one night and of course on the last night we had room service at The Nuthouse because, quite simply, it would have been rude not to!
In summary, life will never be the same again after doing time at Tongabezi . We have never experienced such a magical place and as we are now back in the daily grind, eyeball deep in work and nappies, we regularly find ourselves daydreaming about this little slice of paradise that has stolen a piece of our hearts. We will be back.
We flew via Airlink from Johannesburg to Kasane (Botswana) and then took an overland transfer with Bushtracks Africa to the lodge. Alternative flights options include Airlink Cape Town to Victoria Falls and Airlink Nelspruit to Livingstone