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“Great lodge!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge

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Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge
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Matetsi Safari Area | Upper Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe   |  
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Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Victoria Falls
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Tampa, Florida
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Great lodge!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2014 via mobile

We stayed here after 3 days at Moremi tent camping. What luxury: shower, real toilet, nice bed, electricity. Evening meals were served on the lawn while impala grazed and hippos grunted. Game drives and river rides were wonderful. Even had wifi so we could make connections with family.

Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
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233 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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london
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 11, 2014

We stayed at the Imbabala for 3 nights in April after a lot of travel in South Africa but WOW....what an experience ! The husband and wife team managing the lodge make you feel part of their family. The staff around them are all very hospitable and helpful. Our thanks to the chef for making sure that my wife, who is vegetarian, was catered for. Everyone would sit at together for dinner or lunch or breakfast which was nice as we met people from all over the world and share our experiences. Also all the guides who take you on the daily game drives are so knowledgeable and experienced. We certainly learned a lot about animal behaviour and their environment from Abraham (AB), who took us on our game drives.

The location of the lodge is perfect on the border with Botswana if you want to take a day trip into Chobe. If you like nature and want to experience the wilderness of Africa than you can not do better than staying here at Imbabala.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Darien
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 5, 2014

Wanted to post a review of this amazing property. My wife and I had bid on and won an African safari trip through a charity auction (see my other review on that). We figured since we were going from the US all the way to southern Africa we might as well extend our trip from the 6 days/nights for the auction item and enjoy our time even more. After looking over several reviews on Trip Advisor and also looking at many other sites we decided on adding the Victoria Falls area to our itinerary. We are so happy that we found the Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge and were able to make this a part of our once in a lifetime trip to Africa. We also added on The Elephant Camp which I will review as well.

So, for Imbabala we really didn't know what to expect, but after spending our time there we are so happy that we added this to our trip. The entire staff, from the top to the bottom, were just amazing.

We flew from Chicago to London and then had an 8 hour layover there after that 8 hour flight. Then we had an 11 hour flight from London to Johannesburg with another short layover there. Then our last leg from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls airport in Zimbabwe. The flight was short, maybe 90 minutes. The airport in Victoria Falls was not big, but it went fairly smoothly to get through immigration there. We found this article very helpful, but make sure to research if anything has changed after I post my review:
http://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/zimbabwe-visa.html
At the time we visited, end of March 2014, there was a $30 USD fee per person to enter Zimbabwe for a "Single Entry Visa". We knew we were not going to be leaving Zimbabwe until after we were done and going to South Africa so that was all we opted for. But, after knowing that the Chobe Game Reserve was an option and very close to Imbabala we might have added that had we not had our other auction safari already. Chobe is in Botswana so that would require re-entry back in to Zimbabwe and would require either a "double entry" or "multiple entry" visa to save you money, again see the web site so you know what to do before you get to the airport. Also, keep in mind they only take cash, specifically US Dollars as of my writing of this, so be prepared.

After we got our baggage there was a friendly staff member from Imbabala Lodge waiting for us. Imbabala is part of the Wild Horizons Group (http://www.wildhorizons.co.za/) which includes both Imbabala and The Elephant Camp. He drove us from the airport in Victoria Falls to the Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge about 80Km away, which is about a 90 minute drive. He was friendly, talkative and knowledgeable, he made the 90 minute drive fly by. He had a color full of cold water waiting for us in the van as well for the drive, it was a nice start to our time at Imbabala. Along the way we saw some of our first wildlife, specifically some baboons crossing the street at one point.

The van took us to a border crossing area just past the actual Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge, as our driver told us that the road to the lodge was a bit too rough for his van. We transferred from the van to a Game Drive vehicle with our guide for our stay at Imbabala waiting for us. They unloaded our bags from the van to the Game vehicle and said it was about a 5-10 minute drive to the lodge. We took the side roads and in that 5-10 minute drive, which turned in to probably 20-30 minutes, we saw elephants, impala and birds galore. What an amazing way to start our time at Imbabala and we hadn't even arrived at the lodge yet.

Our guide was Richard (His picture http://tinyurl.com/lscag38) and he is such an amazing guide, we were so blessed to have him for our trip. And on top of being an amazing guide he is such a kind, wonderful and thoughtful person. He is just one of the fine examples of the great people working at Imbabala. His knowledge and passion for guiding were the wonderful and made our experience that much better. We found after our entire 2 weeks in Africa that Richard was far and away the best guide we had at any resort for any property we visited. If you are lucky enough to get Richard you won't be disappointed.

The check in process was smooth and quick. When we arrived at the camp we were greeted by the camp hosts, Brad and Annie, who were so friendly and inviting, they made us feel right at home from the second we stepped on to the property. We were given wash clothes to freshen up and our bags were unloaded and brought to our rooms while we went through the orientation process. They sat us at the bar and gave us a refreshing welcome drink while they went over how the camp works and what to expect. This took about 15 minutes and gave us a really good understanding of what to expect while at Imbabala. At the end of the orientation session they said it was almost time for the afternoon game drive and if we were up for it we could go. Even though we were going on about 2 hours of sleep after 22+ hours of flying from Chicago (bad sleeping flights ugggh!!) we were very excited to get out. We were shown to our thatched lodge room and given the tour by Brad. The room was huge and very clean and inviting (more on the room shortly). After Brad left we washed up a bit more and got our things organized and got ready for our afternoon game drive, again, wow, what a start to our time here!

Imbabala can accommodate a maximum of 20 guests at any one time. That sound like it is going to be a small place, and it isn't a huge resort, but we never felt cramped at all. The lodge rooms are individual structures and are well spaced out to give each guest privacy. We were in room #9, which was all the way at one end of the grounds, which was nice for us being away from everything, though it was maybe a 2 minute walk back to the main lodge room where we had the orientation at the bar area. The central area is the main lodge, with the bar and eating area, as well as a pool area and outdoor eating area near the pool. The thatched lodges rooms extend off either side of the main lodge. When we started our trip, we were there from March 24, 2014 through March 27, 2014, the number of guests varied. Our first day at camp there were probably about 12-16 guests (my memory is foggy on that). The second and third days at camp we were down to 12 and on our final morning we were down to 6 of us. There was never a problem with having your own space or room in the main lodge or anywhere on the grounds, it was wonderful not having hundreds of other people around.

The thatched room was very large and had everything you could want for a wonderful stay at Imbabala. We had a king size bed surrounded by mosquito netting for when we slept at night. There is no air conditioning, but even though it was hot during the day the night time temps cooled off and we were never uncomfortable. There is a ceiling fan directly over the bed, so that is very helpful. The bathroom area is huge, but is an open concept, there is no door for the shower or for the toilet. Not a big deal for my wife and I, but something to keep in mind if traveling with a friend or with kids or with someone from a group. Just takes a bit of communication so you don't pop in on someone while they are in the bathroom area is all. There is also an outdoor shower area, this is in addition to the indoor shower. It was wonderful being able to shower under the stars every night, what an amazing experience. There is also no glass on any of the "windows". They window areas are all covered by netting, so you get great airflow as well. These thatched rooms are not sealed up tight, so you will get bugs inside of the room, so keep this in mind as well. The netting around the bed was very nice at night, we did not have any problems with any kind of bugs at all while we were sleeping. But I will say we did have some "pet" spiders in the bathroom area. They are super fast and we found that if we left them alone they really didn't move all that much and kept to themselves, so they weren't an issue. There is also a wall safe in the room and it was fairly good sized, I probably could have fit a full size Windows based laptop inside of it if I wanted too, though I never did try to be honest. We did keep essentials in there though and it was nice to know they were safe. There is a chair or two on the front porch as well as a nice hammock for relaxing during the day time. Overall the room was nice, but it will not be bug free. The bed was super comfortable and we were very happy with the room overall.

Food - They serve two (2) meals a day, brunch and dinner, but they also do some snacks several times a day as well. They offer coffee and snacks before the morning game drive and then coffee, tea and snacks before the afternoon game drive again. The bar area is available during the day time for any kind of drinks. They have both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks available and the drinks were all included in the package we did at least. The food is served buffet style, but the quality of the food is not what you would expect from a buffet, it was truly amazing, the chef is outstanding and very accommodating. They ask during your orientation at the start for any allergies and they try to accommodate for that as best as possible. But I would always recommend that you know what bothers you and make sure you ask what is in a dish before eating, even after the orientation. You can always talk to the chef as well, or to a staff member who will communicate it to the chef, any special requests you might have for yourself or for kids. I won't go in to specifics for food, as my memory on it isn't the best to be honest, but again, the quality of the food was terrific and there were options at each meal so you weren't stuck with only one thing.

We actually ended up having two guides while we were here at Imbabala as Richard was at the end of his 20+ days of working and about to get some much deserved and needed time off to go home and spend with his wife and kids. While we wish we had Richard 100% of the time, we had no complaints with our other guide, Jefferson. We had Jefferson for an afternoon river cruise as well as for two game drives, and he was just as knowledgeable and friendly as Richard was. I don't think you can go wrong with any of the guides at Imbabala.

They do 2 game drives per day as well as a river cruise for one afternoon out of the 3 you are there. They also can opt to do a 3rd game drive after dinner at night, but that is up to the guests and the guide from what we gathered. We did not personally do the night drive as it just didn't fit in to our schedule while at Imbabala. The game drives start right from the lodge. The morning drive does start pretty early with the wake up call coming at 0530 during our time at the camp. I am sure this will vary with the season though so keep that in mind. At about 0600 is when they offered the coffee and snacks before the game drive left around 0615-0630. We went out for about 3 to 3.5 hours on the morning game drive. You are in an open air vehicle that can seat up to 7 passengers and the guide/driver. We only had my wife and myself along with our guide for our first 3 drives, that is just how it worked out. We did see other vehicle with 4-6 people in them plus the guide, that will vary depending on how many people are in camp and how many drivers are there at that time as well. It never felt overcrowded at all though. The vehicles are comfortable, but you do have to climb up ladders on the side of the vehicles to get in to them. You are in the open, so bring appropriate clothing and protection. We had long sleeve shirts, bug spray, sun screen, hats, sun glasses and both short and pants. You will use some or all of these depending on the time of day and conditions. The roads you drive on are not paved and can be bumpy at times, but the guides do a great job of knowing the area and when to slow down and do their best to keep you from being bounced around too much. The guides also know general areas on where to see certain animals, though since this is NOT a game reserve there are no guarantees of what you will see of where, that is up to the animals! We did have some bug problems coming back from one afternoon drive, but that is no one's fault, just part of being out in nature and in an open vehicle. You may want to have a blanket or towel or something to put over your face in case this happens though, keeps the bugs out of your teeth and mouth and also why we suggest having some kind of sunglasses with to keep them out of your eyes.

There are also options to do excursions to do other things that are not included as part of a package at Imbabala, though we did not do any of these options. One of them if a visit (as mentioned earlier in this review) to Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana. There is also an option to do some fishing on the Zambezi River, which is different that the river cruise. All in all a great many options for things to do while at Imbabala.

A few other things, all of the dining is done outdoors, whether it is by the pool area or in the main lodge area, there is no option to eat inside. So, you will be near bugs, but they really aren't all that bad and the staff does its best to keep lights down to keep the bugs away as much as possible. This can be affected by the time of year you are at the camp though, so keep that in mind as well. Overall it wasn't a big issue for us while we were at camp.

They do provide a bottle of water or two in your room, this is nice since you shouldn't drink the water in the rooms. You can always get more bottled water from the bar area to take back to your room with you as well.

At the end of our stay at Imbabala the checkout process was super easy, you just say goodbye to your guide and to Brad and Annie and Hercules (their dog). Then you get on a game drive vehicle and head back to the border area to get back in a van. We were on this van with a family of 4, plus us and all of our luggage and there was plenty of room. We were all now headed to The Elephant Camp, but before we went there we stopped at Victoria Falls and the Wild Horizons guide driving the van gave us a 90+ minute tour of the Victoria Falls area. This was included in the package we had through Wild Horizons. A nice way to end out time at Imbabala and start our time at Elephant camp.

There are plenty of outlets in the thatched rooms for power, but keep in mind they are 220v, not 120v like in the US. They also will require a adapter to us them, it is a Type-D adapter. An adapter does not convert the voltage from 220v to 120v, it only allows you to change the plug type from the Type-D to the Type-A/B plugs used by items in the USA. You still need to make sure anything you plug in is either rated for 220-240v or is dual voltage, meaning it can be plugged in to both 115-120v or 220-240v AC. If you are unsure check with the manufacturer of your product.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Falls Church, Virginia
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 2, 2014

The lodge is set on the side of the Zambezi River and in the middle of Eden. There was no place in this lodge that did not give you a glimpse of heaven on earth. The staff were attentive to all of your needs an the owners were always on the property awaiting to satisfy all of the guest. Thank you Richard for your kindness and guidance throughout my visit in Zimbabwe. The safaris that I was taken on were wonderful and full of wild animals in their own habitat. I took some of the best pictures I have every taken in all of my travel.

Room Tip: The huts on the left side of the meeting area.
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wigan, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2014

We had a great time at Imbabala, excellent location, so friendly and welcoming. It was really a great experience for our first visit to Africa. Food was delicious and the host's are lovely people. We would defiantly recommend this lodge.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

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Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

My sister and I stayed here for 3 nights and enjoyed every minute. From the moment we arrived we received a warm welcome and this continued through all the staff. Annie and Brad were great...our guide Abraham was so knowledgeable making each game drive an adventure. We would definitely recommend Imbabala and have already made plans to return!

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2014 via mobile

Imbabala lodge was welcoming and comfortable. The staff were very nice, and our safari guide was good and knowledgeable. We saw many elephants by the water and lots of hippos, giraffe and a good range of birds. Really enjoyed our short stay.

Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge

Address: Matetsi Safari Area | Upper Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Location: Zimbabwe > Matabeleland North Province > Victoria Falls
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#2 Family Hotel in Victoria Falls
#3 Romantic Hotel in Victoria Falls
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge is situated on a riverine fringe of the mighty Zambezi River where Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia converge. Located 80 kilometers west of Victoria Falls, access is by transfer from Victoria Falls, Livingstone or Kasane. Imbabala offers the chance to unwind but also some of the most amazing game viewing and bird watching in the region, in the seclusion of a private National Parks concession. The 5,000 acre concession has 14 kilometers of private Zambezi river frontage and borders the Chobe Forest Reserve, which is renowned for its massive Elephant population. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Imbabala Zambezi Safari Hotel Victoria Falls

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