I have traveled all over the world, but my four days at Tonga was the most magical travel experience I have ever had. I think I left a piece of my heart at Tonga. As I was looking back at my travel diary under Tonga I had written, “I LOVE THIS PLACE AND NEVER WANT TO LEAVE”. That truly sums up how I feel about Tonga.
We stayed in Honeymoon House. Although I had scoured the web and looked at all the pictures for months before the trip, I was still awe struck when we were brought to our room. Usually a room is a room. I can remember that the Peninsula in Hong Kong was grand, but I cannot describe the room to you, but every detail of Honeymoon House will be forever engraved in my memory. The thing about Tonga is that the room is a very big part of the ambiance and charm of the place. We thoroughly delighted in spending time in the room, just relaxing and watching the view of the Zambezi. But back to basics. Our room, and a few of the other rooms, are open on one side. The room faces the river but there is no wall at all on that side, so the room only has 3 walls. The sleeping area and sitting area are entirely open and except for half walls, the shower and toilet area are also open. At first I was unsure about this, however it is totally private, very safe, fun and allows you to feel that you are really part of the beautiful environment. And no, there are not lots of bugs and critters to worry about. Honeymoon House is very luxurious and has all of the amenities you could want and more. Plus Tonga also has a wi-fi area.
The service at Tonga is just amazing. From the minute we arrived, to our departure, we were treated like royalty by everyone. On arrival we met our private butler Treger, who escorted us to our room. He was the only person that accessed our room and he did the cleaning, the laundry and brought us coffee or whatever else we wanted. Tregar was incredible and I was only sorry that I could not bring him home with us. The rest of the staff was amazing also. Julia and Rudy were always checking on us to see if we needed anything and we even got to meet Chef. The other thing I noticed was whenever we went on any activity, the Tonga guide was always there to make sure we were safe, helping us in and out of the jeeps, making sure we did not slip on wet rocks, making sure our canoe trip was safe. I felt like our safety was always a paramount concern to the Tonga staff.
Once we got settled and had lunch, we met with the activities director. We purposely did not want to be on the go every minute, so he helped us plan all our activities, including arranging for all transportation to outside activities and still leave free time to just enjoy Tonga. I was glad we had scheduled four nights at Tonga as there is a lot to do and even with four nights, you can’t fit it all in. Many of the activities are included in the Tonga price but outside activities are at an additional cost.
On arrival day we did the sunset cruise, of course with gin and tonics. Before we left on the sunset cruise, we told Treger that we had eaten so much at lunch that we planned to skip dinner. When we arrived back in our room after the sunset cruise, he had prepared a bubble bath in the large outside bathtub and had set out candles. So for about an hour we just soaked in the tub, watching the sunset over the Zambezi and being serenaded by the sound of hippos.
On our first full day we were up at 5:30 AM when our alarm clock (Treger) delivered our morning coffee and rolls. I had expected it to be cold in the morning, but it was actually not that cold and it warmed up quickly once the sun came up. We then headed out and did the Elephant Safari, which we really enjoyed and that afternoon we did the Livingstone Island Tour. We elected not to actually go to Devil’s Pool, but enjoyed the trip anyway.
On our second full day we were up early again for the sunrise boat cruise with Fabious. We really enjoyed watching the sunrise, drinking coffee and chatting with Fabious. In the afternoon we had scheduled the Tonga “Island Lunch”, followed by a canoe trip. We were thinking island lunch meant sandwiches, maybe some cookies, but that is not Tonga’s style. We arrived on an island in the middle of the Zambezi and the staff had already been there and set up a table with an enormous, delicious, formal lunch for just the two of us. It was one of the highlights of our trip. After the lunch we did our canoe trip, which was also lots of fun. That night we were just too full for dinner so Treger brought us wine and chocolate mouse, which we enjoyed in our room as we watched the sunset.
On our third and last full day we went on the walking tour of the falls and in the afternoon we both had massages in our room. A wonderful last activity at Tonga.
The food at Tonga is amazing and it is served in very large quantities. As a sample, our island lunch started with soup and soda bread, with an eggplant dip, followed by large plates of beef and fish, with delicious sauces, a pasta dish, a platter with a selection of fresh vegetables, salad and for desert mango sorbet. No wonder we were too full for dinner that night! Breakfast and lunch are served on the terrace overlooking the river. Dinner can be served at a variety of places, however we choose to eat on the terrace, which we enjoyed.
I am not sure what the cost of Tonga was, as it was part of a four camp trip put together by our well recommended safari company, Aardvark Safaris (aardvarksafaris.com), but it was worth every penny and more. It was a truly unforgettable experience and anyone going to Livingstone should definitely book into Tonga.
- 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
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- Also Known As:
- Tongabezi Hotel Livingstone