What We Love
- Falling asleep to the noise of hippos chatting to each other in the distance
- When you dine on a floating pontoon boat on the river, the waiters deliver each course by canoe.
- Ordering room service using a two-way radio
What To Know
- The all-inclusive rate also covers boat trips, bush walks, and game drives
- The resort often offers a free extra night when you book three
- Same-day laundry service is included
Quite possibly the most romantic setting in all of Africa, Tongabezi Lodge ticks all the boxes for a honeymoon or couples retreat: open-air bathtubs, private decks, candlelit riverside dining, couples massages, and a personal butler to deliver anything your heart desires. The honeymoon house, one of the more decadent of its sumptuous cottages and houses, has a private plunge pool that looks out over the river, but it’s the treehouse high up in the canopy that secures the best views. Groups of friends and the romantically unattached are still in for a good time, though—the lodge is close to Victoria Falls, which means an array of adrenaline-pumping activities, and you can dine communally under the stars on traditional Zambian dishes made with veggies from the onsite organic garden. Hippos grunt in the distance, exotic birds fly by, crocodiles float past and monkeys chatter in the trees—and that’s all before you’ve gone on a game drive or even seen the Falls.
In the Area
Due to the remote setting, you’d be hard-pressed to arrange outings yourself, but the resort has a number of activities to choose from. Visits to a village market, sunset boat trips, and fishing excursions are all included in the rate. The resort will also arrange day trips to Chobe National Park (known for its excellent game spotting), tours of Livingstone Island, elephant-back safaris, and heart-pounding whitewater rafting trips over the Zambezi River rapids. Victoria Falls is the area’s biggest attraction, of course, and you can see the pounding water from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides. The truly adventurous can take a microlight flight over the falls in a teensy aircraft—the thrill of seeing the enormous falls from above, as well as hippos and elephants far below, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
How to Get There
Perfect in every regard. Ambience, location, staff, food, amenities...... we loved the vibe and the staff are all clearly happy and engaged. Stayed in the Nut House with the substantial plunge pool and deck looking out on to a bend in the beautiful Zambezi. Huge comfy bed. Great bathroom. Plenty of space to lounge around. And we had a real treat with dinner served in the room. Valet/butler arrangement works well - attentive and efficient without being intrusive. Can’t recommend Tongabezi highly enough.
We came to Tongabezi for 4 nights as part of our 3 week honeymoon through Southern Africa. We were most excited for our time at Tongabezi after reading so many reviews including the CN Traveler’s ranking as one of the top 50 resorts in the world. I must say we were disappointed and totally shocked that Tongabezi made this prestigious list. Is it a horrible place? Absolutely not. The setting is beautiful on the Zambezi, the room was beautiful (we stayed in the bird house and we thoroughly enjoyed having our private plunge pool in the heat). The food was good, the wines were good and we really enjoyed the excursions including the sunrise and sunset boat cruises, the island picnic lunch and the Victoria falls tours. But I must say it is definitely not worth the price. Right now the entire country of Zambia is experiencing load shedding for about 15 hours a day which we were told is typical at this time of year. Funny though that we were only informed of this on arrival and not during the booking process (I booked directly with Tongabezi) or even before arrival if this is common practice at this time of year. Now I totally understand that Tongabezi is not to blame for this load shedding problem as this is a country wide issue over which they have no control but it would do them well to inform their guests of this before booking instead of having such a surprise on arrival. Tongabezi does have a generator but it seemed as though the generator simply could not carry the load of the entire lodge because even when the generator kicks in, it cuts off several times an hour due to overheating. When it is 100 degrees outside, this simply does not make for an enjoyable honeymoon or any kind of holiday. For the price paid, we felt that a more heavy duty generator or several generators should be used so that guests don’t have to deal with these issues on holiday. Another thing that we were disappointed by at Tongabezi is the service. We came to Tongabezi after spending a few nights at Sanctuary retreats chiefs camp in Botswana which was simply exquisite even though it is not included on any cn traveler best of lists. The service at Tongabezi was totally subpar. At Tongabezi, one person is designated to you for your entire stay as your 24/7 personal valet. Our valet Dadu did a good job but I think the actual system is flawed. This one person designated to you is responsible for everything from cleaning your room to setting your table and serving your meals. This is simply just not efficient. For example, if we needed something while we were having lunch, the other staff would not serve us, they would have to find our valet and then he would serve us. On our first morning, we woke up to find large insects on the inside of our net around the bed (this in itself was frustrating as the nets are designed poorly) so immediately we radioed for some bug spray. Because our valet was off site which is fine, it took 1 hour for us to get something as simple as bug spray because they were looking for him instead of just finding the quickest way to get it to us. We were most annoyed and we spent our first morning in Zambia looking for other lodges to move to before deciding to give Tongabezi a chance. Unlike at chiefs camp, the staff are not trained to know all guests names and no one greets you on return from activities with cold towels and refreshments. It’s just a whole other level of service that was not present at Tongabezi. So as I said before - did Tongabezi totally ruin our honeymoon? Absolutely not, we still had an enjoyable time in Zambia BUT Do we wish we stayed at an actual luxury 5 star lodge on the Zambezi? Definitely. Will we be back? Probably not. I hope you can do better Tongabezi. You have a lovely slice of paradise to work with.
The start of a family adventure...an amazing hotel on the banks of the Zambezi, away from the bustle of Livingston and the more densely populated areas nearer to the Falls. A genuinely warm welcome where nothing is too much trouble. Meals were all quite extraordinary and served at discreet tables, all with river views. The trip to Victoria Falls was as breathtaking as we'd hoped...do steel yourself and visit Devil's Pool, quite exhilarating! We treated ourselves to a 15min helicopter ride over the top of the Falls which was worth the extra cost to really appreciate the sheer size and majesty beneath us. Back at Tongabezi, the river cruises, both at day break and dusk were stunning with the variety of wildlife all expertly described by Captain Victor. Do also visit both the local reserve, Mosi oa Tunga, for a walking safari where you'll (hopefully) see rhino, and also the local village (take as many bags of sweets as you can carry and you'll soon make friends for life!). The Garden House worked brilliantly for our family of four.