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“fabulous place” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tongabezi Lodge

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Tongabezi Lodge
Private Bag 31, Livingstone, Zambia   |  
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Hotel amenities
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Stay 4 Pay 3
Ranked #1 of 13 Hotels in Livingstone
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Brooklyn, New York
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
47 hotel reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
114 helpful votes 114 helpful votes
“fabulous place”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2007

Having read the last few reviews I was quite apprehensive about our 3 night stay. But this is a magical place to stay so please don't let others put you off if you are planning a stay. we stayed in the bird house which is amazing with great views an open air bathroom and a sunken bath on the patio. Our butler Alvin looked after our every need even to the point of decorating the bedroom for my 40th birthday and arranging a cake and choir to come to the room and sing. All the activities are great and included in the price. The game viewing was very personal with only the 2 of us on the vehicle and also very informative. The river cruises again excellent both sunrise and sunset. Food was of a high standard.I can't speak highly enough of the staff here they are very well trained and attentive and really make the stay that extra special. As far as bugs are concerned there was no more or less than any other parts of africa we have stayed. you are based on the side of the zambezi so what do you expect? The lodge has done great work for the local village and school and needs to be commended for this. My only regret is that we didnt stay longer. I hope that we will be fortunate enough to stay here again and again as this is the only place that on leaving I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. If you are going to livingstone this is the place to stay, go on treat yourselves.

  • Liked — open air and views
  • Disliked — n/a
  • Stayed February 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 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.
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261 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 (75)
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English first
London
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2007

I stayed here on my Honeymoon in Sept 2003 in the Bird House. We thought it absolutely amazing and loved every second of it. We must have raved about it so much that my aunt & uncle tried to stay there a year later but all the houses were fully booked & we didn't think a cottage would be quite the same. So they had to give it a miss and stayed at Sussi & Chuma instead (we also stayed there on our Honeymoon as well which was a different experience but equally lovely & memorable with wild elephants in the "camp" one night!).

It seems they had a lucky escape - last January I organised my parents the holiday of a lifetime and they finished in Zambia at Tongabezi lodge, I was so excited that they'd be staying here that you wouldn't believe it! However it would seem that the lodge has changed ownership since we stayed there.

They stayed in Honeymoon house and loved the view but that was about it. My mum said she was relieved it was their last hotel and not their first or she would have dreaded the rest of their trip. They are pretty chilled out, insect friendly people but even they thought the number of insects in their "room" was beyond belief. I don't know if its a seasonal problem or that previously the place was treated for insects and isn't anymore but they said the floors & walls were literally crawling with them. To top it off their bedding was damp to sleep in & covered in insect stains from previous guests stays.

On a positive note though (!) they did say that they had a great laugh at dinner every night with all the other guests. They'd all sit around the table exchanging their horror stories from the previous night, all putting off going to bed until they felt they'd drunk enough that they might get a decent night's sleep!

Anyway Mum asked me to put their report on here to explain their experience. I was gutted for them as we'd had such an amazing time in 2003 and would love others to experience what we did. Apparently though the River Club which is right next door was of an equivalent type/standard to Tongabezi back in 2003 - no idea what it's like now though...

  • Liked — View from the Honeymoon house
  • Disliked — Very bad housekeeping & far too many insects
  • Stayed February 2007, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BJP44, Owner at Tongabezi Lodge, responded to this review, February 19, 2007
I would like to respond to a previous negative comment:
1. January can be very buggy (this year it happens to be much drier and far less bugs) and the nature of the Lodge means that we are "exposed to the elements". All river lodges in the area have the same problem, unless you choose an air-conditioned hotel like the Royal Livingstone.
2. I fully agree that we did have a serious management glitch around Dec 05/Jan 06, which has led to several negative comments. In early 2006 I put in a new and far more professional team, and our recent TripAdvisor comments have significantly improved. (our only 2 negatives recently have both dated back to early 2006).
3. Tongabezi has never in its history changed hands, I have been there since 1988.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2007

Have you ever taken a bath in muddy water? Try the Tongabezi: they seemed to pull our bath water directly from the river. Of course, it was hard to see the brown water at night because there was no light. The owner apparently was so cheap that, unlike neighboring resorts, there was no generator when the lights went out. It was hard to get a flashlight and the one they gave us finally didn't work. The price of the place includes activities. The only problem is that activities we wanted to do "weren't available." The food was mediocre. The attitude of the staff was, "Who cares?" In 30 years of travel all over the world, I'd have to rate the Tongabezi as the #1 worst experience I have had. Maybe you'll get lucky--some of the "rapturous" comments of others suggest that the lights don't go out every night, activities may be available when the hotel is less booked, some rooms may not have mud water in the bathtub, etc. But I wouldn't count on it. Happily, there are a couple of superb alternatives right across the river from each other at Victoria Falls--as wonderful as the Tongabezi is terrible.

  • Liked — Nothing
  • Disliked — Surly attitude of staff who did not help when the supposed activities were unavailable
  • Stayed April 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
london
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 5, 2006

My fiance and I stayed at tongabezi over a year ago, and it still hold amazing memories. There are things that you can do here that are completely unique to any travelling experience. The highlight was having dinner under the stars on a tiny mooring in the middle of the zambezi. Each meal is delicately canoed out by your room butler. We stayed in one of the cottages on the bank of the zambezi and regularly we saw hippos come to the edge of our room while feeding on the grasses. What makes tongabezi special is their attention to detail. Examples of this were how the room was prepared after returning from activities, and how our clothes were cleaned and returned fresh without even requesting. I believe that an africa adventure should enable you to experience the natural surroundings, which sometimes might mean intrusion by natural creatures and the odd drop of dirty water from the tap. But that's all part of the fun !!

Just one piece of advise though. Be careful of the whitewater rafting on the zambezi. I took my girlfriend and the raft got flipped over twice. Herself not being an especially strong swimmer, lead to have a panic attack, which was quite worrying. Appart from that an experience of a lifetime.

  • Stayed November 2005, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 28, 2006

We have just returned from our honeymoon, where Tongabezi was the first part of our trip. What a way to start our holiday....it is truly a magical place. We stayed in the Dog House, which was fantastic. I was concerned about the insects before we left after reading some of the reviews but if you want to experience something out of this world then it is well worth it.

The staff at the resort are exceptional, nothing is too much and made us feel so welcome.

I would recommend this place if you want a truly memorable experience.

  • Liked — The environment
  • Disliked — Insects
  • Stayed November 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
89 helpful votes 89 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 25, 2006

What a fabulous three-night stay. Victoria Falls Hotel and Royal Livingstone have gotten far more press as best place to stay in the area, but this place has been overlooked!

I had a massive three-room garden cottage with outdoor tub and shower, separate dining room, reading area, a personal valet, great meals.

Baboons and guinea fowl scampered across the resort. Service was impeccable.

I was the only person riding with my guides through the nearby game park, where I saw as much variety of wildlife as in the Okovango Delta.

Any further away from Victoria Falls means a lot of travelling to get to that main event.

  • Liked — appearance, service
  • Disliked — some confusion with advance reservations on special excursions
  • Tips/Secrets — book early
  • Stayed October 2006, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2006

We just got back from a 3 night stay at Tongabezi Lodge. We stayed in the Bird House and had a great time. Our room had no walls except for a back wall so yes we did have some bugs but we had mosquito netting around the bed and being serenaded by birds and hippos was wonderful. The lodge is about 20 minutes from the falls but they transport you for free and actually give you a guided tour. They will take you anywhere you want to go with a guide. We went to the Royal Livingstone just to see it and the people there were incredibly rude and the meals were overpriced. Tongabezi has everything included. We even had our own valet. The meals were wonderful and the staff was exemplary. I highly recommend it.

  • Liked — unbelievable view
  • Stayed September 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 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.
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Additional Information about Tongabezi Lodge

Address: Private Bag 31, Livingstone, Zambia
Phone Number:
Location: Zambia > Southern Province > Livingstone
Hotel Style:
#1 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 
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Also Known As:
Tongabezi Hotel Livingstone

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