We have just returned from a 3 night stay at Tongabezi over the Easter weekend. Wow - I am not sure my words will ever do the experience justice, but I'll try my best!
The accommodation is stunning. We have 7 year old twins so the bookings staff recommended the Garden House for us as it was set back from the river, and completely enclosed by a wall, representing the safest option with young children. The 'house' was divine. It is 3 separate buildings - an open bedroom with king sized bed for the parents, an enclosed bedroom with twin beds for the children, and another building with dining and lounge area. Also a private plunge pool - it was like being in our own resort! I could not fault the accommodation. It was supremely comfortable and had everything we needed and more. Add to that our own private valet (Given) who would wake us in the morning with freshly brewed coffee and hot chocolate for the twins, and the experience was well over the top! Given (our valet) was attentive, without being intrusive, and made sure he knew our schedule and ensured that we had everything we needed. He was extremely polite and very sweet with our children. For safety, due to hippos and other wildlife, he was on hand to walk us to and from our room during the evening.
The setting for the lodge is stunning. Right on the river there are plenty of options for guests to choose from in terms of areas to relax with a drink, or where to eat, including dinner on a floating platform where you will be delivered each course via canoe (not to be missed!). And speaking of eating, the food at the resort is superb. Guests are given a set menu for lunch and dinner, with a choice of two mains, but the chef was more than happy to accommodate the kids or fussy eaters if required. Same with breakfast, an extensive menu but my children asked for pancakes on our last morning and they were happily accommodated. The picnic lunch on the island was also superb and well presented. Thumbs up to the chef, who makes the effort to leave the kitchen and ensure his guests are happy.
Activities - many included in the price of the stay (as is all food and alcoholic drinks - within limits). The activities manager Quentino came to see us after we had checked in to help us arrange our activities for the duration of our stay. On our wish list was a day trip to Chobe. He was very helpful ringing around different tour companies to find one that would let us do the trip with our 7 year olds. Lots of conflicting info from "no, they need to be 8", to "no they need to be 13" etc. Then all the companies came back with, "they have to do it privately". This was for an exorbitant amount of money! Seeing our disappointment Quentino (and some of the other staff who knew we had our hearts set on the trip) suggested we leave our twins at the lodge for the day. Our girls were happy to do that and they were well looked after by the staff with plenty of fun and adventures to tell us about when we returned from our trip. As an aside, it turns out that there were some other kids on our trip who were aged between 8-12 years, so it pays to ring around and try to organise it beforehand. So many activity highlights to choose from at the Lodge - the floating sampan dinner on our first night where our meals were delivered by canoe was great fun, as was the island lunch (spotting hippos and crocs on the way), the sunset boat ride and the canoeing trip (all very safe as the guide is with you in a canoe and a 'safety' boat drives in front to spot potential danger). Of course the trip to Vic Falls (also included except for the USD20 park fee pp) is a must do. At this time of year the falls were at their highest in terms of water and it was magnificent to walk the paths being drenched by the falls.
Saving the best till last .... the staff! All the staff, from the cleaners to the gardeners, reception staff, the waiters, the valets and the guides were fabulous. They all walk around with big smiles and greet their guests warmly. Nothing was ever too much trouble and the service was prompt. A special mention to our favourite guides Felix and Keegan - very knowledgable and friendly, great with kids.
In summary - as other reviewers have mentioned, this is not a cheap experience. But it is comparable with many quality 'all inclusive' lodges in southern Africa. The fact that there are a lot of activities included in the price makes it better value. Regardless, the quality of the lodgings and the service and friendliness of all the staff make this such an amazing experience that you'll soon forget about the price! Highly recommended.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Tongabezi Lodge, the first river lodge on the Zambian side of the Victorian Falls, is a privately owned up-market lodge, built with emphasis on exclusivity and romance, located on the banks of the Zambezi River. Tongabezi has four open-fronted thatched houses and five river cottages all with sweeping views over the river and a Garden Cottage set in its own private walled garden. In addition we have the private island bush camp at Sindabezi Island and the Tangala House family home. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Hotels.com, Agoda, Evoline ltd, Ebookers and 5viajes2012 S.L. so you can book your Tongabezi reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Tongabezi Hotel Livingstone