If you live in Africa, a weekend getaway in the bush on one of Africa's greatest rivers is something that is part of your culture, essentially something you can relate to. If you live elsewhere in the developed world, it is one of the most exotic things you can imagine. Welcome to the magical world of Tongabezi and the amazing Zambezi River.
Located twenty kilometres upstream from Victoria Falls, you will find a retreat that is simply out of this world, in terms of views, comforts and luxuries. Situated along the bank of the Zambezi River, there are eleven different cottages of varying sizes and luxury. What unites them is a sense of tranquillity and a warm intimacy. The local Tonga staff are more than welcoming and greet you by your name as soon as you arrive. With the luxury of a butler who brings you whatever you require and sits down and explains to you all the activities, you have already a feeling of the place.
What struck our own Nicky Searle on a recent honeymoon stay was the pervasive air of being in your own private kingdom. Even if the lodge is fully booked, there are so many different spaces to retreat to that you hardly see anyone else at all.
The decor is a relaxed mixture of African influences and materials, with Colonial and Zanzibari being the dominant themes. Nearly all the cottages are completely open with no windows yet are completely exclusive, with no one overlooking anybody else. There are separate lounges or nooks where you can sit or lie. They have a rather special sanpan or floating deck anchored to the river floor, which has as its furniture a table for two where a silver service dinner is rowed out to you.
As for activities, the whole point is that you can do as little or as much as you want. In this relaxed environment (apologies for using the word relaxed again, it is a dominant theme!), you could be excused for being a lotus eater. There are however numerous excursions which you can do. Paddling out in canoes to the nearby islands, mountain biking to the village, lunching on Livingstone Island, going for game drives to the national park, guided bush walks, visiting the Falls by foot, vehicle, helicopter or even a bungee jump over the railway bridge!
Tongabezi is not a game lodge. It is a retreat, a rather special place on the banks of one of the worlds most beautiful and romantic rivers. It is perfect for couples or those who want to refill their tired urban batteries.
Writing now from Cape Town, where snow has just fallen, I am falling in love with my own picture. I think a plane flight is calling!
Tongabezi Lodge Victoria Falls