I’ve stayed at a lot of amazing places around the planet, but every so often, I can still be swept off my feet—and this place did just that! Tongabezi Lodge is located in Zambia (near Victoria Falls) and is one of the most magical properties I’ve ever experienced.
This place is straight out of a Mark Twain story; I fell asleep listening to hippos grunting in the distance and woke up in a tree house with monkeys playing outside the windows. We waited in stopped traffic as elephants crossed the street at sunset. And we sat on our river raft and sipped our tea as we watched crocodiles cruise slowly down the river.
Ready to share in my otherworldly experience? Welcome to Tongabezi Lodge!
Getting to Tongabezi Lodge
Straddling the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Tongabezi Lodge is nestled on the Zambezi River. While the lodge is remote, there are a couple easy travel options. You can fly into the new Victoria Falls International Airport which is just an hour’s drive from the lodge.
Another option is flying into the Livingstone Airport in Zambia, which is the closest airport to Tongabezi. If you’re coming from South Africa, there are direct flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town. From the Livingstone Airport, Tongabezi is a only a 30 minute drive away!
I stayed in the Tongabezi Lodge, which has a gorgeous array of cottages and houses on the Zambezi River, including the Bird House, with its open-air bathtub and private terrace; the Tree House, set high above the river; a luxe honeymoon house; and the Nut House, with gorgeous art and textiles from all over Africa.
I stayed at the Garden House for two nights and the Dog House for one night—three unforgettable nights.
If you’re traveling with a group, the Dog House and Garden House are great picks that both sleep up to five people. Whichever place you go for, you’ll get a private valet who will make sure that you have an incredible stay, and with the exception of the Garden House, each house and cottage is set right on the river.
While I didn’t get a chance to check them out, the Tangala House and Sindabezi Island also offer beautiful places to lay your head—they are both on my agenda for the next visit!
Food & Drink
At the Tongabezi Lodge, three open-air dining decks offer a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience. I had dinner on a platform floating above two canoes on the Zambezi River. The waiters delivered each delicious course by canoe.
With a few of my besties gathered around a table under an expanse of stars, we spent a few charmed hours eating, drinking, and laughing as the lanterns burned through the black of night.
With incredible local chefs using ingredients from the onsite, organic garden brimming with fruit, veggies, and herbs, the traditional Zambian cuisine is all about seasonal and local ingredients.
Visiting Victoria Falls
Of course, the biggest draw of the area is Victoria Falls. Tongabezi Lodge offers guided tours or you can book your own. I’d dreamed of visiting Victoria Falls for as long as I can remember, and it was even more incredible than I had imagined!
We organized a visit with Tongabezi and saw the falls from both sides, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
I took a microlight flight over Victoria Falls, and it was truly one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life. While the falls are stunning from the ground, there is nothing like taking it all in from above. Below you, you will not only see the falls, but countless wild animals too! I spotted elephants, crocodiles and hippos!
It’s one adventure that you’ll definitely want to add to your bucket list!
I highly recommend planning at least one full day at Victoria Falls. It’s open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. From the Zambia side, you’ll pay $20 US to get in; from the Zimbabwe side you’ll pay $30 US.
Helpful Tip: Be sure to opt for a KAZA visa when entering immigration through either country. It’s only $50 and allows entry to both Zim and Zam.
Staying at the Tongabezi Lodge on the Zambezi River is all-inclusive. On top of having all of your food and drinks covered, you’ll find tons of complimentary activities; game drives, bush walks, and boating trips are all included in the price at the Tongabezi Lodge.
You can also indulge in a variety of amazing noninclusive activities in the area that are well worth it.
Of course, Victoria Falls is way more than just a place to take selfies. You can go white-water rafting, swimming in the Devil’s Pool, bungee jumping, hiking, and canoeing. Cultural tours, cruises, and pretty much any other adventure you can imagine are available.
Everyone on the Tongabezi team is great at organizing excursions, so just tell the staff what you’re into and you’ll be set!
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