A visit to Vic Falls is high on the list of many, so we wanted to share our thoughts on some of our preferred places to stay in the Vic Falls region.
Generally speaking, one of the most popular times of year to visit Victoria Falls is from March to July when the Falls are at their highest. Though obviously this year (2020) sadly, visitors have been in short supply as a result of Covid-19 which has caused nothing but headaches and heartaches for the African Travel Industry.
With a view towards the future when we can all travel again, and knowing that a visit to Vic Falls is high on the list of many, we wanted to share our thoughts on some of our preferred properties in the Vic Falls region – both on the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides of the river.
Chundukwa River Lodge is very much a guest favourite! On the Zambian side of the falls and about 35 mins out of Livingstone, this riverside lodge is small, owner-run and full of character! With just 5 stilted chalets and a Family Suite, all overlooking the mighty Zambezi, Chundukwa is certainly one of our ‘hidden gems’ in the region. With a wide range of activities on offer (and largely included in the rates) such as sunset cruises, day-trips into the Falls, rhino tracking on foot and horse riding, there’s no shortage of things to do at Chundukwa River Lodge and a 3 day stay is most definitely warranted.
Batonka Guest House is a mid-sized boutique lodge stay in the heart of Vic Falls Town (on the Zimbabwean side of the Falls). With 27 rooms in a horse-shoe arrangement around the gardens and pool, it really feels like one big house – and you’ll no doubt find yourself chatting with other visitors. The food was delicious when we stayed there and still ranks as one of the best steak dinners we’ve had in Africa! Slightly set back from the main action of Vic Falls Town, it has a bit of a suburban feel – though, it’s less than a 10 min walk down to the action and transfers can be arranged for those less inclined to walk.
Ilala Lodge is one of the stalwarts in Victoria Falls Town, on the Zimbabwean side. So close to the falls that you can see the ‘smoke’ that thunders. With 73 rooms it certainly is on the larger side and runs more as a hotel than a boutique lodge. Most of the rooms have been refurbished in the past few years and are tastefully furnished – what you would expect from a very good, mid-range property. Very much within walking distance to all the markets, the falls, the Vic Falls Hotel etc, Ilala Lodge is a good option for those wishing to be in the heart of things.
One of the great things about Ilala is that they have their own private boats that cruise the Zambezi – such as the Ra-Ikane, which only seats around 20 passengers and offers quite a private, old-world cruising experience on the mighty river.
The Victoria Falls Hotel is very much the ‘Grand Old Dame’ of the region and with good reason. Built in 1904 (and of course, refurbished a number of times since then!), this relatively large hotel has prime position for viewing the bridge connecting Zimbabwe and Zambia – over the Zambezi River. Historically being a favourite for celebs and royalty in the past, the old world feel of this lodge takes guests back to a time gone by and the traditional ‘High Tea’ is reminiscent of this and very much worth the indulgence. While some of the rooms are slightly on the small side (by modern standards) it certainly is an experience to stay here. For those who elect to stay elsewhere, we strongly recommend a visit in any case – for high tea, drinks in the bar and to wander the halls, adorned with photos and relics of Rhodesia’s Colonial days.
Stanley and Livingstone Boutique Hotel is located around 20 mins from the heart of Victoria Falls Town and therefore, no views of the Falls or river are to be had. Though, we wouldn’t let that detract you as the lodge is located within a private game reserve, which means you can very much have a bit of a bush experience, while being super close to the Falls! Just imagine – in the morning, you head into town and walk around the incredible falls, the buzzing markets and perhaps enjoy a bite at the Vic Falls Hotel, and then in the afternoon head out on a game drive and enjoy dinner in the African bush! Completely refurbished in 2018, the Stanley and Livingstone Boutique Hotel is a divine combination of the uber-chic and the traditional Colonial style that epitomises modern African interiors.
This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of the original Tongabezi, right on the banks of the Zambezi – on the Zambian side. A classic luxury African lodge, which features stylish design, incredible dining and a range of enjoyable experiences, Tongabezi has long been a favourite of travellers from wide and far. With just 7 individually styled cottages, some directly on the river bank and some set slightly higher in elevation, a stay at Tongabezi is sure to be memorable!
Its sister property, Sindabezi Island is located on an island in the middle of the mighty river and can be the base from which you explore the region, or perhaps an ‘island sleep-out’ for just one night. With glamourous open-fronted rooms and the water lapping at the edge of the island, underneath your elevated tree-house style room, a stay at Sindabezi has a very wild and adventurous feel to it, but of course, the luxuries you’d expect are never too far away. With just 5 chalets on the island, the experience is very intimate and exclusive.
The uber glam Thorntree River Lodge is on the Zambian side of the Falls, and is around 20 mins upstream from the Falls themselves. With a modern, African-inspired design, Thorntree River Lodge is well-suited for those visitors who aren’t big fans of the older Colonial-inspired styles and prefer a more modern feel when it comes to lodging. With a plethora of activities available, stylish rooms and an enviable position directly on the river, Thorntree River Lodge is pretty much failsafe when it comes to delivering a unique, memorable Victoria Falls experience.
Matetsi River Lodge is located on a private 15 km stretch of the mighty Zambezi River, and is the perfect escape for those looking to experience the river, its activities and the Zimbabwean wilderness – though, also still close enough for a day trip to Victoria Falls. Located about an hour from Vic Falls Town, and the Falls themselves, Matetsi is a luxurious lodge which is best enjoyed on a 3 or even 4 nights’ stay. The beauty of Matetsi (aside from the glamourous rooms and communal areas!) is that guests can experience a slightly more ‘normal’ safari experience with game drives and sundowners, but also canoeing and boat safaris. You’re located far enough away from the relative busy-ness of Vic Falls, but also close enough to visit this incredible location!