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“Unusual and extremely friendly”
Review of Tongabezi

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Tongabezi
Ranked #1 of 17 Hotels in Livingstone
Certificate of Excellence
Paignton, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
41 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Unusual and extremely friendly”
Reviewed May 5, 2011

We can not recommend this lodge enough. The rooms were quirky and all very different. The food was excellent and the service was outstanding. It by far beats staying in a modern hotel.
All the excursions put on by the Tongabezi were excellent. We stayed in the NUT HOUSE which caused us some amusement. It was so unusual and huge with our own plunge pool.
Our Butler Isaac was great organising our washing and preparing a bath for us when we returned from our days out. Our Guide Chris was excellent nothing was too much trouble for anyone. All the Staff are efficient and friendly and enjoy a laugh

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank RubiesTorbayDevon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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387 reviews from our community

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English first
Lusaka, Zambia
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 21, 2011

Absolutely wonderful lodge. Staff well trained and attentive. The rooms bult as a part of te surroundings, are perfevtly integrated... Worth every penny...

  • Stayed April 2011
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Helpful?
1 Thank Karel M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver
Level 6 Contributor
144 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 86 helpful votes
Reviewed April 13, 2011

My husband and I can't think of any other place we have ever stayed at that compared to this lodge. It's in an amazing location and the accommodations are totally unique. We visited the beautiful Livingston Hotel for drinks and it would be in the same 5 star category but Tongabezi is just so different that it would be a shame to miss it. We stayed in the Nut House and our friends were in the Honeymoon House. Both were fabulous. The houses are all different and very spacious. The front wall is open to a private patio that overlooks the Zambezi River (and the Nut House had it's own infinity splash pool); the private shower is outdoors, outside of a huge bathroom; our bedroom was 2 levels with a big sitting area built into lava rock and king bed facing the view. It's a long walk slightly uphill to the Nut House so you have to be prepared to walk a lot but the entrance to the Nut House has lots of character. All the houses are spaced out so you don't even realize anyone else is around. One morning I woke up to a lot of noise and clatter. When I stepped outside I saw the trees full of monkeys all playing tag and chasing each other around. They were running across our tin roof and that was making all the noise. It really added to the character of the place.
The service at Tongabezi was first class. There isn't enough room to write about all the great things they do for you here but the staff cater to your every need. The general manager, Rudy is very friendly and stays on top of everything. We were there for 2 nights and got to know our guides, servers, and valets. The food was excellent. We did the evening boat ride both nights and drank champagne out on the river watching the beautiful sunset. Then back to the lodge to sit around the firepit with the other guests and we met some very interesting people. For dinners we could sit at our own private table or join the rest of the guests at a big communal table. We did both and it was very enjoyable. Lunches were also excellent and it was very pleasant sitting at the edge of the river. At the time we were there, there was a daily thunderstorm for about an hour at 2pm each afternoon.
The two "not to be missed" activities that the hotel set up for us were the helicopter ride over Victoria Falls and the Gorge and the breakfast on Livingstone Island. The breakfast was one of the highlights of our entire trip. They took us in a little boat to the island in the middle of the river and it hangs out over the top of the falls. The view is amazing and they served us a gourmet breakfast of eggs benedict under a tent looking down over the falls. It's incredibly wet from the spray and you have to wear a raincoat to walk around but then we dried out under the tent. It was the last day of this activity because the river is too high now but if they are offering the breakfast, we highly recommend it.
We have nothing negative to say about this lodge and we will be recommending it to any friends who go to Africa. If we ever get to Africa again, we will definitely return to Tongabezi.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank h0lym0ly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kolkata (Calcutta), India
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed April 5, 2011

Undoubtedly one of the nices and most beautiful places to stay in Africa. The location is exquisite on the banks of the river Zambezi. The food is really amazing and the service is awesome. I was very impressed by the staff too.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Kunal79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
USA living in Angola
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed March 13, 2011

We just returned from a 10 day trip through Botswana and Zambia ending at the Tongabezi Lodge for the last 4 nights of our trip. It is truly a special place! We stayed in one of the cottages on the river which was outstanding, but we visited some of the "houses" and couldn't believe how the houses were built right in to the hillside and completely open. Our cottage had screens on the windows (no glass), but we had doors we could close at night. Having the doors gave me a warm fuzzy feeling that reptiles and animals wouldn't come in at night.

The service was also outstanding. We had stayed in two other lodges on this trip where we sometimes felt hovered over, but at Tongabezi we felt we were left alone until we needed something, and then magically someone appeared to take care of us. We had a valet who was assigned to us for our complete stay. He brought us coffee in the morning and walked us back to our cottage each evening after dinner. He was the only person who entered our cottage. He made sure laundry was done each day and fulfilled any request we had. Apparently, he sprayed our room for bugs each evening because we had no problem with bugs even though we were right on the water.

The activities included in the price of the cottage were amazing. After being shown our cottage, an activities coordinator arrived to tell us about all the activities we could take part in or not. We had arrived at about lunch time and were offered any number of places to enjoy lunch: in the Lookout, on the dock, in the dinning lodge, etc., but we chose the BOAT! A table was set for us on a smallish fishing boat with an umbrella overhead. We enjoyed our appetizers while the boat was still tied to the dock, but after being served our main course, a guide appeared to take us out on the Zambezi River. It was spectacular! After lunch, we were driven to town by our personal guide and we did the helicopter tour of the falls. This was an amazing way to get a feel for the the layout of the falls (The helicopter ride is an additional charge, but worth it!).

We did ALL the activities offered in the price of our cottage: Island picnic lunch (WOW!), sunset boat cruise, visit to a village, game drive (where we saw the illusive white rhino), and so much more.

Our first night at Tongabezi, my husband and I were the only guests, but the next day several other guests arrived. We enjoyed having a drink around the campfire with them before dinner, and the staff was very good at figuring out who wanted to be left alone and who would enjoy a group dinner. We met many new friends this way and will be exchanging pictures.

We will be recommending Tongabezi Lodge to everyone and anyone.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Auburngirl76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
69 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
Reviewed January 24, 2011

Don't try anywhere else. Tongabezi is impossible to beat. It is Paradise.

Without reiterating all the compliments from other reviewers. Yes, this place is truly magical.

We stayed a few nights at the Tree House and absolutely loved it. Waking up to the first glimpse and natural sounds of the Zambezi from the comfort of the luxury bed was simply priceless - so beautiful and so tranquil... so wondrous I was almost moved to tears. We visited and liked Sindabezi, very secluded and romantic. However, we much prefer the openness and spaciousness of the houses at the main lodge. The open houses there, along with the sensational river view, provide the ultimate Zambesi experience, which is not to be missed.

The food we had was all superb. Chef Ken is quite a talent. Fantastic creative choices for breakfast mains and all cooked fresh to order. The chef's special Zambian beans were really delicious. We particularly enjoyed the imaginative lunch offerings. One day we had a mouth-watering platter of Thai Beef Salad, Penne, Sweet Potato Leaves, Spiced Hake & Marinated Feta.

They organised a private helicopter ride over the Falls for us. It was one of the most incredible half hour of my life. A really unique experience - highly recommend it if you have the time. We also visited Simonga village. What a fun morning with the happy children. We brought along some chocolates and it was nice to see their lovely faces lit with a smile. I had a Shiatsu massage (an in-room treatment) and even that knocked the spots off the treatments I had at other resorts.

There is one noticeable difference that makes this lodge stand out from the rest: their highly motivated team. The entire team at Tongabezi do not just work there, they are part of the Tongabezi family. They genuinely want to be there as they are very well looked after by the company. The Tongabezi Trust provides them with modern accommodation in the staff village along with a very good school for the children. The staff all have a huge sense of loyalty to the resort and sense of pride working there "playing the host". Hence, what an unbelievable service they deliver! We are particularly impressed with Rudy, the General Manager, who is the most hospitable resort manager I have ever come across; Godfrey Matale, our private guide, very knowledgeable and a real gem; Fabias who took us out on evening boat rides several times and Brenda at the restaurant, who was always so cheerful and charming.

When we left, Rudy himself came to say his personal goodbye and they even gave us a lovely farewell dance. We were terribly sad to leave...
It must be said that Tongabezi is my top favourite resort on the planet so far.

We had so much fun and the fondest of memories in this place. We will return to paradise <3

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank iPicky
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 12, 2011

The resort is perfect for a romantic getaway.

The rooms are very luxurious and African Chick. As there are only 5 rooms on the resort (and 5 on the Sindabezi Island), you get the impression at any given time that you are the only guests. The rooms are very comfortable and the room amenities were up to standard. I would recommend to stay at Tongabezi the first night, do all your excursions the first two days and stay at the island for the last two nights, should you consider staying for three nights which seems to be the average.

Great care is given to assure your comfort. Each house (chalet-Sindabezi) has its own personal valet, which is more like a butler! The valet, ensures that your every request is met, escorts you to and from your house, as hippos roam the premises in the evenings, runs your bath and do the turndowns in the evenings.

The meals were scrumptious. Not even the breakfasts were ordinary. The food is very healthy, but not tasteless at all with a great variety. All inclusive packages also included unlimited open bar, including the majority of liquors which is normally not the case with all inclusive packages. There are fully stacked (complimentary)fridges in the rooms.

The resort offered a variety of excursions, included in the packages, such as: Sundowner and sun riser boat cruise on the Zambesi rivier. We only did the sundowner. We stopped at a private island to have drinks, and view the sunset before we headed back on the boat. Be informed that you pass hippos on the river at a very-very close proximity of sometimes up to 5 meters! Some groups of hippos, from what we could count had up to 20 hippos. Other excursions included game drives (Note that there are no cats ie. Lions, cheetah etc in the parks they take you), Island picnics, visit to the Victoria falls with your own personal guide (Entrance of USD20 still payable for entrance at falls).

The lodge charges USD25 for transfers to non-complimentary and non-Tongabezi excursions, but as we went directly from our Victoria falls visit to a helicopter ride excursion, no transfer was charged.

All, in all, Very romantic, great service, great food, great variety, great location, Tongabezi offered the ultimate zambian experience

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank ExplorerSwart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tongabezi

Property: Tongabezi
Address: Private Bag 31, Livingstone, Zambia
Location: Zambia > Southern Province > Livingstone
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Livingstone
#1 Family Hotel in Livingstone
#1 Luxury Hotel in Livingstone
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Tongabezi 4*
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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