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“A unique experience”
Review of Tongabezi

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Tongabezi
Ranked #1 of 17 Hotels in Livingstone
Certificate of Excellence
A TripAdvisor Member
“A unique experience”
Reviewed April 6, 2006

My wife and I spent four nights at Tongabezi, staying at the main hotel as well as the secluded island of Sindabezi out in the Zambezi River. The service was at all points excellent and the location is amazing. As all the rooms/cottages are right on the edge of the river you get the most incredible views as you wake up in the morning. The activities offered included were great – game drives, cruises on the river, visits to the falls - all accompanied by knowledgable and friendly guides.
For a true taste of Africa Tongabezi is a must and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.

  • Stayed March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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389 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (120)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed March 14, 2006

Having read the reveiws for Tongabezi the good and bad I thought it sounded just the place for me and my wife.I was not disappointed,the moment we arrived the happy atmosphere swept us along,charming personal valet to smiling schoolchildren,the welcome was phenominal.Yes it rained a lot,all the better for fishing!Eating out under the stars with the other guests.I had a real sense of Africa.The best bit was our trip to livingston island.I wanted a holiday unspoilt by air conditioning! We weren't disapointed. Thank you Tongabezi

Helpful?
7 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Herts, UK
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
Reviewed February 1, 2006

having read the very mixed reviews I thought I would add the comments of my wife and I. Overall we had a fantastic time at Tongabezi and loved the place. The service was excellent and the food was also very good although the cooked breakfast was occassionaly a bit cool. We had a 'house' and our valet was great as was our guide. We had no problems getting the trips we wanted and they worked everything about us. To give an example the guide picked us up from our helicopter ride and my wife mentioned we'd seen a Rhino from the air. He immediately took us on an impromptu game drive for a couple of hours rather than take us back to the hotel as planned.

On the negative side yes the bath water wasn't well filtered but ours wasn't dirty just a bit cloudy, our cottage was slightly worn (others were refurbished) and you did get a slight tingle from the bath taps !

However this is Africa and it felt like it. If you're the type who wants marble staircases then try the Royal Livingston. We went there and it's like every other 5 star hotel in the world. You could be anywhere (apart from the noise of the falls of course !). If you want something different and want to experience something more African then Tongabezi is the place. I will never forget our fantastic accommodation which opened on to the Zambezi.

  • Stayed April 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
10 Thank RichBeth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level 5 Contributor
49 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 245 helpful votes
Reviewed January 14, 2006

When I think of my recent stay at Tongabezi, the most prominent memories are of bugs flying and crawling in my room, no hot water due to a broken hot water heater that took two days to fix, muddy water coming out of the hot-water tap, damp/wet bath towels due to a broken dryer with no repair date in sight (according to the valet, who never cracked a smile), and a most unfriendly property manager As you can tell, I was not thrilled with this property and agree with one of the previous reviews about the lack of responsiveness to guest complaints. For example, even though we had no hot water for two days and had to walk over to another cottage to take a shower, I was the one who had to ask the guest relations manager about being compensated, which she eventually did by not charging us for an excursion to Livingstone Island that would have cost about $190.00. When I handed in my clothes in for laundering, which is included in the room rate, they were returned to me damp and wet prior to our departure due to the malfunctioning dryer. Only minimal apologies were given and no offer of compensation was mentioned for this additional inconvenience. I also have to say that I was not alone in my negative assessment of the property as some other guests spontaneously mentioned the same things to me. Despite all of the problems I encountered, I have to say that the staff were generally quite nice and the dinners were fairly good. It was particularly pleasant to eat out under the stars seated at a long table with other guests from other countries. However, be warned that Tongabezi is definitely not a five star lodge experience as some have touted it to be. To me, it’s more like camping in the wilderness where you just so happen to have a king size bed, electricity, mosquito netting, a shower (which may or may not have hot water) and a toilet. If you’re looking for a five-star experience, I would choose the Royal Livingstone.

  • Stayed January 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
18 Thank luxurytraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed December 21, 2005

I write this review without malice and in the hope that it will help travellers to Africa select and enjoy the best of what Africa has to offer.

My wife, son and I recently stayed at Tongabezi Lodge expecting a high standard facility given the price, website and dazzling travel article in our state newspaper.

Both my wife and I were born and grew up in Central Africa so we are accustomed to the style of the Tongabezi (which is by no means unique) and were looking forward to a nostalgic return to our roots.

The facts:

We arrived midday to a lunch which was poor to say the least and included roast lamb which was so tough it was inedible.

We then retired to our bungalows down a path that although once paved, was now a somewhat muddy obstacle course complete with ankle-threatening rocks and wheelbarrow – wheel ruts.

Our bungalow was very pleasant, clean and comfortable but let down by grubby bed and cushion covers. This was not isolated as my son’s bungalow was much the same. We dispatched our bed spread for cleaning which, with an apology, was returned in pristine condition the following day.

My wife decided to have a soak in the bath which has a view of the Zambezi river. After much spluttering and coughing the plumbing belched up muddy water which continued until our date of departure three days later (I note from a previous review that this is not an uncommon occurrence). To add insult to injury, there was no hot water, apparently due to the fact that the hot water system hadn’t been turned on.

Before attending dinner, I decided to take a shower which appeared a bit cleaner than the bath. I was somewhat surprised to find that there was an electrical earth leakage problem which made handling the plumbing, and anything connected to it (soap in the soap tray) a very uncomfortable experience.

Dinner with other guests was a very pleasant affair but the food was particularly below average. This was particularly disappointing as I had really looked forward to the Zambezi bream I enjoyed so much in my younger years.

The next morning we attended an English breakfast. Needless to say, all the cereals were completely stale and inedible. Fortunately, the following bacon, egg and sausage dish was freshly prepared and we enjoyed it while relaxing on banks of the Zambezi.

With the exception of our final dinner, which was absolutely delicious (another chef?), the food continued to be a disappointment.

The staff at the Tongabezi were all very pleasant and attentive. The activities offered were also most enjoyable with the highlight being a visit to Livingstone Island and a swim in the adjacent rock pool.

It is a shame that an establishment with so much potential is let down by an obvious lack of regular inspection (both of food and facilities) by the owners or management.

Stayed December 2005
Helpful?
22 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed October 11, 2005

In making my reservations at the highly recommended Tongabezi Lodge I ran into a problem. I was confirmed and sent an invoice requesting a 25% deposit (The remaining 75% to be paid 30 days before our stay). After faxing my credit card authorization I was informed by e-mail that I will not be confirmed unless I send another 25% deposit. My requests for an explanation were ignored.
I requested a cancellation.

Helpful?
19 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Girlwonder in London
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed October 4, 2005

My husband and I stayed here 3 months before we got married and refer to it as our "pre-honeymoon honeymoon."

The staff was absolutely brilliant -- especially Chande who took us to see Victoria Falls. Everyone was professional, helpful and eager to tell us about life in Zambia. Plus the setting absolutely stunned us: gorgeous views out over the Zambezi River.

We took full advantage of activities included in the rates: a sunset boat ride, fishing, a private lunch on one of the outer islands, visiting the nearby school, and touring a local village. (We also did an incredible microlight flight over the Falls -- an extra that we'll never regret.)

We highly recommend staying in the romantic Tree House. Not sure why the negative reviewer from the Midwest didn't opt for one of the generic, impersonal, tourist hotels: for us Tongabezi was a highly unique, wonderful experience.

  • Stayed June 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
14 Thank Girlwonder in London
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 Family Hotel in Livingstone
#1 Luxury Hotel in Livingstone
#1 Romantic 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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