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“Barefoot Luxury - Done Right” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tongabezi Lodge

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Tongabezi Lodge
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Private Bag 31, Livingstone, Zambia   |  
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Hotel amenities
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Ranked #2 of 13 Hotels in Livingstone
Diani Beach, Kenya
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Barefoot Luxury - Done Right”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 26, 2013

I spent 3 nights here with on honeymoon and was completely blown away. Myself and my wife own a small hotel in Kenya, and have a real appreciation for quality of service in the hospitality industry, which made my experience all the more special.

We had come from Rwanda and were at the beginning of a month long journey through Africa, and Tongabezi was a genuine highlight. After arriving into Livingstone we were greeted by our friendly driver who transferred us to the lodge. The drive was short and he gave us a little bit of history about the area along the way.

Upon arriving we were greeted with cold towels and drinks - always a nice touch as it was pretty warm - and then shown through the main lodge area and onto our room. We were staying in the Tree House - which was recommended as their best room, and i have to agree. I didn't see all of them, but this one swept me away. It's hard to properly describe how luxury can be achieved without closed rooms, air conditioning, marble clad sinks and rich carpets - but some places get it just right, and Tongabezi is one of those places.

The room was set against a large rock face behind the bed with everything facing out towards to the Zambezi river. There was a gorgeous free standing bathtub, with a starlight shower, sitting area, safe, fridge, lovely selection of books, and a small sun deck that sticks out of the front. As this is the last room on the property, there will be no one coming anywhere near you - especially if you put the "come back later" sign up, which can be seen a good 20m before the path reaches the room. Perfect honeymoon touch. Speaking of which, upon returning from our first days activities, there bath was run with a complimentary bottle of champagne on ice!

After Nyambe - our super friendly room steward - showed us around, we went with him back to the main area where we were seated - alone - for lunch. We were then greeted by - forgive me for forgetting the name - but the guy who would help plan our activities for the next few days. I thought this was a particularly nice touch, as there is a lot to do around the falls, from bungee jumping, to white water rafting, helicopter rides, falls tours, Livingstone Island etc, and so having a solid plan really helps.

During lunch, Rudy, the Manager, came over to chat and i quickly asked my usual set of questions, trying to obtain a bit of the history behind the owners and how the lodge came to be. He was a lovely guy with great knowledge.

All in all the service was top class, and food is some of the best i have ever experienced a lodge / camp. The dining is wonderful as they spread the groups of guests around the main area, offering you options of where to dine each night, and so, if you're looking for honeymoon privacy, it really works.

The evenings are spent by the camp fire whilst you exchange stories with other guests / managers. Juliet was a pleasure to be around, with a fantastic knowledge of the country and Tongabezi itself, as she's been with them almost since the beginning!

So to sum up:

- Amazing outdoor back to nature experience, waking up with a view of the Zambezi river is breathtaking!
- Superb service from all the staff, in particular - Nyambe, Juliet, Rudy & Raphael
- Excellent food, each and every meal was a treat
- Do the sunset cruise one night, Devils pool if it's open and heli ride through the gorge!

All in all a wonderful little piece of our honeymoon and if i visit the falls again - i'll be staying in the tree house!

Thanks to all of you

Leo & Gemma

Room Tip: We stayed in the Tree House at the Main Lodge, and then spent one night on Sindabezi Island (their s...
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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
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244 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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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
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (66)
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English first
Launceston, Australia
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2013

We stayed at Tongabezi for 3 nights whilst on our honeymoon.
We were expecting luxury & it was not. We had just come from an amazing lodge in South Africa but even so luxury is stretching it.
Yes it is unique, the two rooms we stayed in the Tree House & the Honeymoon house had beautiful views of the river but it just didn't quite cut it in terms of quality of bedding, bathroom products, towels & general upkeep of the rooms.
The food was quite good.
Staff whilst eager to please & tried to be helpful but were not particularly apt at explaining how the lodge ran/what drink selections there were, how dinner seating arrangements worked etc.
It's a lovely spot on the river but I'm sure for the price you could find better value for money.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ko Samui, Thailand
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2013

We stayed here some years ago. Being Zambian residents at the time meant we paid very little for staying at this beautiful lodge at Christmas time. We stayed in the tree house looking over the river. waking up to the grunts of hippos and cries of monkeys. The Lodge organized a fantastic Christmas dinner that included traditional dancing from the local village.
The trips organized by the Lodge were incredible.
The only down side of the trip was my wife having a face to face with a cobra on the way to our room.
You'll love it here.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 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
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Northridge,CA
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2013

My wife and I stayed here for two nights Nov. 16th-18th 2013 at the end of our honeymoon. After traveling around Botswana for 12 days this was exactly what we wanted. The lodge is located right on the Zambezi river. We stayed in the newly remodeled Dog House which is actually 3 buildings. The first is the main suite with lounge area, tub/bathroom, and bed with enclosed doors and a/c in case you need it. The second is your private dining room/living room and bar. On the deck is your own private plunge pool which was great to just sit and relax in while listening to sounds of hippos. The third is another bedroom and bathroom although we never used it.

While the location and the rustic luxury of the rooms are beautiful what makes this place special is the staff. Everybody always had a large smile and was super friendly. The activities manager will organize all activities for you. There are two that I recommend making reservations in advance, the sampan in the river where you can have dinner and the trip to devil's pool. They book up quickly. There are several activities you can do but we just wanted time to ourselves. We did take advantage of the sunrise and sunset cruises and the private lunch on an island on the zambezi.

Our valet Forbes was great. Both nights he arranged a bubble bath in the tub for my wife after dinner, allowed us to eat on the sampan for breakfast since there was lightning the night before, etc..

We already miss hearing the hippos and other creatures of the zambezi as well as the entire staff. We hope to be back again soon. Thanks again to everybody who made those two nights so special!!

Room Tip: Dog house and nut house have private plunge pools.
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 19, 2013

Keep reading if you want to know why (I hope it is not too long!):
We stayed at the Tongabezi on November 11th 2013. We had been travelling from Johannesburg and around Botswana for a week with a rented car. When we got to Chobe, the closest botswanan town to the border with Zambia, we decided we had to visit Victoria Falls, stay one night in Zambia and go back to Botswana the following day. Up until that moment, we had been staying at medium ranged accommodation, but for that night in Zambia, we agreed to stay somewhere really special, so my fiancée and I went for the Tongabezi and it was exactly what we were looking for and more! It was so romantic that we will remember it forever.

We found this beautiful lodge to be very close to the border with Botswana, but also very close to Livingstone and, of course, to Victoria Falls, which is convenient. It is on a quiet bank of the Zambezi river, where there are almost no other buildings. The pool, the dining area and all the rooms but one face the riverbank, which is relaxing. The rooms are well decorated and apart from the mosquito net, there is insect-spray in the room in case you might need it. You just hear the sounds of nature and in your room, you feel as if you were the only person on the riverbank. It is relaxing to just lounge on the Bird’s House overlooking the river bend, because the hotel only accommodates between 20-40 guests, so it is very quiet. The lodge is also eco-friendly, as it is well integrated with the environment, unlike other big resorts that look like they could be anywhere.

The activities organized by Tongabezi are as exceptional as the lodge itself.
Most importantly, this is the only lodge that organizes trips to Livingstone Island, right on top of the Falls. So if you would like to live the exhilarating experience of bathing at the Devil’s Pool (and then tell all your friends about it!), you have to get in contact with them. In our case, we went for the bath in the Devil’s Pool and right afterwards, the lunch on Livingstone Island that Tongabezi also organizes. It is 100% safe and I would recommend this to everyone, even if you decide to stay somewhere else. The visit to Devil’s Pool can only be done during dry season. Otherwise there is too much water flowing.

Another of the activities that we enjoyed the most was the romantic dinner right on the river (the Sanpan floating candlelit dinner). At Tongabezi they have these floating platforms where you can have dinner on the river and the staff brings you every course on boat. This was our very special moment. The food was excellent and the moonlight and the surrounding water made it a once in a lifetime experience.

I have to mention the members of the staff, who are all very attentive and make you feel special at every moment. They are friendly and helpful. For example, once you are settled, an activity planner meets with you to organize the activities that you would like to do during your stay. Whatsmore, every room has a personal valet that looks after every detail of your stay to make you feel comfortable.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Highlands, New Jersey
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 7, 2013

We had a large chalet on the water which was beautiful, but our shower didn't drain well. We only stayed for one night, after being on Sindabezi for one night. Both were amazing experiences. We would not recommend the private massage, in short it sucked. The woman must have had a cold, because she kept stopping to blow her nose, and then would go right back to massaging. I couldn't get into the shower fast enough after it was over. The large chalet was super spacious and romantic, with hippos in the water in front and monkeys climbing around. We had individual dinner tables which was nice, and the wifi in the common areas was excellent. It got cold at night, but the electric blankets and charcoal heaters around the table at night for dinner kept us warm and toasty. Just a note, if you want to do the elephant excursion, book in advance. We wanted to do it, but they couldn't get us a space because of the last minute booking. We would recommend the trip to Livingstone Island. It is pricey, but totally worth it!!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2013

Just spend a night at Singabezi Island; the private island close to Vic Falls, which serves as an extension to Tongabezi. After a stunning safari in Zambia's most rewarding NP: Kafue NP where we stayed at 3 great camps (Mukambi, Busanga Plains Camp and Musekesi) flew to Livingstone to see thee falls. Upon arrival at Tongabezi (short transfer from Livingstone) we were served a good lunch, we're informed about all activities Tongabezi can organize (rafting the Zambezi, dip into Devils pool from Livingstone Island etc) and then transferred to Singabezi by boat (approx 20 minutes). Came across many eli's already, hippos, crocs and then arrived at their private island. Stunning open lodges (nothing between you and the bush but musketo-nets), great food, very kind staff. All in all a great treat!

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tongabezi Lodge

Address: Private Bag 31, Livingstone, Zambia
Phone Number:
Location: Zambia > Southern Province > Livingstone
Amenities:
Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
#2 Family Hotel in Livingstone
#2 Romantic Hotel in Livingstone
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 10
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 
Also Known As:
Tongabezi Hotel Livingstone

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