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“Perfect Honeymoon”
Review of Tongabezi

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Tongabezi
Ranked #1 of 18 Hotels in Livingstone
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 2, 2009

It was our honeymoon and many wouldn't want to change rooms twice for a five night sojourn...however, we were fortunate enough to stay in the Garden Cottage, a River Cottage and the delectable and stunning Honeymoon house.

As stated on the website, you are provided with a valet throughout your stay. Our valet was Isaac and we couldn't have been looked after better. Though we were a little uncomfortable with someone tasked with being at our becking call, Isaac acted very discretely that made our stay all the more beautiful. For instance, every night we returned to a bath, perfectly prepared by Isaac with accompanying wine/champagne and lit candles.

The rooms were all individual and tastefully decorated. The rooms were a mix of old colonial touches (roll top baths, 1930's wind up phones) with modern twists. Highlights are the quality of the beds and sheets, the outside rainshowers (a bit risque but you just feel you're amongst nature) and the fireplace in the Garden Cottage. We loved all the rooms!

And what can we say about the food? Bloomin' brilliant! Do no go if you are sticking to a diet because the variety and quality of every meal is spot on. A highlight for me was taking brekkie on the floating pontoon while tucking into the most fabulous bacon and spinach sarnie. My wife (and I) tossed out any pre-wedding diet regime and indulged. The staff are so relaxed, they allowed us to visit the kitchen and chat away with the chef about his cooking philosophy and get a peek at what would be on the menu over the next few days.

Look, I really could go on and on about this place but I am in danger of becoming sycophantic (if I haven't already). So this place is fab and ultra relaxing. There are a range of excursions/activities should you feel adventureous but life there is so tranquil, you may decide (like us) to set yourself in at Tongabezi Lodge, gaze at the hippos and the Zambezi and exorcise any stresses that you may have carried with you to Zambia.

Thank you Rudi and the team. We would love to come back (maybe stay at Sindabezi Island - it looks great!)

Jason and Joanne

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Jason1975England
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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332 - 338 of 401 reviews

Reviewed November 2, 2009

Although Tongabezi, on the banks of the Zambezi, is naturally African and romantic, we stayed on Sinabezi Island down the Zambezi about fifteen minutes by boat. We had an open view to the river, wildlife and birds. Our every need was anticipated by Charles, our valet. We had a boat, qualified guide and land vehicle always at our disposal. Our room was beautiful. Meals were served outside under the African sky. Additionally, Tongabezi and Sinabezi are environmentally friendly. They even provide the trash cleanup at Victoria Falls at their expense. They treat their employees well providing some housing with water and electricity and most impressive they are the founder of Tongabezi Trust School providing quality education (and breakfast and lunch) for 167 poor children.

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Summit_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 9, 2009

Tongabezi Lodge felt like something out of a Hollywood movie. Each "room" ( in our case, there was three walls, and the fourth side opened totally onto the Zambezi River, a dreamy perspective ( bugs in the room were no problem at all when we were there, nor did anything else unwanted enter our room). Each room has a designated butler, who draws a bubble bath ( in an outdoor but private setting, overlooking the river), or delivers wine, and of course takes care of daily laundry at your request -- totally at your beck and call. The rooms are quite well-appointed ( bedding, bathroom fixtures, sitting areas) and very large. The food was quite good, too, and there are several places for seating for meals that are highly memorable if you tell the staff what you want ( including a pontoon 50 yards into the (extremely calm) river, where you can have a meal for two ( but make a reservation as far in advance as you can). We did not use any of the activities ( more related to the river, not around wildlife) immediately proximate to the lodge, but did get to Livingstone Island, right at the edge of Victoria Falls -- this was a must do. (The crafts market near the entrance to the falls is a good place to buy souvenirs, and tests your bargaining skills.) If you get to Livingstone Island early enough you can have breakfast not all that far from the edge of the falls, and the setting ( including perpetual rainbows at certain times of day) makes the experience fabulous -- and results in photos that will be among the highlights of our trip. We booked one excursion on our own, for Jet Boats, that I recommend avoiding at all costs, unless you like driving for ninety minutes each way on dusty roads for the thrill of taking a speed boat through a single rapid, twice ( and otherwise spins in the boat that excited some, and sickened many). The management of the lodge was not at its strongest in booking excursions, but the facilities more than made up for this lax attitude. Tongabezi is included in the book "1001 Places To See Before You Die" for a reason. Moreover, the Royal Livingstone, which we ate a lunch at, does not compare in any way, shape, or form. It is closer to the falls, but Tongabezi is a totally exotic experience, whereas the Royal Livingstone is like staying at a nice hotel. As memorable as African safaris are, Tongabezi will be among the highlights no matter where else you stay.

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled with family
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2  Thank Captraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 17, 2009

we stayed at Tongabezi at the end of our gorgeous honeymoon. It was so lovely to be welcomed by the smiley staff and the monkeys! We stayed in the gorgeous bird house with just the mozzie net to shield us from the elements but there were hardly any bugs, in fact I didn't see one mozzie! The included trips are great, sunset cruise with the hippo's, we saw crocs, lizards, drank gin & tonics on the bank, it was fab. And they feed you so much food you can hardly walk!

Vic Falls are truly breath-taking, a must see/do. As is the white water rafting and the bungy jump!

Huge thanks goes to Isaac our valet who catered for our every need, ran bubble baths and turned on the leccy blanket every night, total star! Special thanks to him for looking after me on the last day when I was cooped up in bed with a Zambian stomach bug! All in all an amazing lodge with lovely people where nothing is too much hassle. Book your trip!!

Will upload pics soon. PS, hi to Jason and Jo!

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank leonieparis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 3, 2009

I stayed for 3 nights in the "Nut House" which was a fabulous villa with incredible views. The staff at the Lodge were fantastic, they all found a way to know your name and use it. The school which is on premise for the children of employees was fantastic and well worth a visit and interacting with the kids. Food was great, plentiful and excursions were good. Butler service made everything even better and I would definitely recommend this beautiful lodge as well as Vic Falls. Its a must.

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled solo
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Thank MONYLINE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 26, 2009

There are many lodges designed for tourists in Livingstone, but Tongabezi really is extraordinary!

We were in the Dog House, a large space open to the water. I had read a previous review with concerns about wasps--and while there were wasps in the Dog House, we actually saw them everywhere. They tend to leave one alone and disappear at night!

We were greeted by monkeys just outside the house--I was a bit worried that they'd come in, but they never did and just stayed a nice distance away.

We sadly were only there one night, but were able to select activities included in the price--we choose the sunset cruise and a game drive in the morning. Both were terrific and our guides very knowledgeable.

Finally, the food there is also amazing—I don’t know where the chef trained, but everything we tasted (but for the papaya sorbet, which somehow missed the mark!) was fantastic. Chicken tikka masala for lunch with salad from their garden, beef tenderloin for dinner. It was all delicious.

Tongabezi is highly recommended as a unique, relaxing, and quite lovely!

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled on business
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Thank penrise
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 8, 2009

My wife and I arrived at Tongabezi Lodge on the fifth stop of our 16 day Botswanan/Zambian holiday. We had originally (a year ago) booked the riverside
"Dog House", however upon arrival the management told us that there was a wasp
problem there, and that since they were aware of my allergies to insect stings would we mind upgrading to the newly completed "Nut House".
Well, we were hoping to stay in the "Dog House" since my wife likes to be near the water,
and they told us it was our choice; both houses were available to us. We looked at "Dog House" and it was well-located, elevated at the river's edge, but there were wasps present. We walked to the other end of the property, up a hill to the "Nut House" which we immediately fell in love with!
The "Nut House" is approximately 1200sq.ft., with high cathedral ceilings, a private infinity pool overlooking the Zambezi River, beautifully apppointed (see my photos), and very private. It has color glass blocks in one wall which illuminate the room when the sun hits them. We were very happy with our choice and there was no extra change thanks to a very guest-oriented management. Our valet, Nyambe, was very pleasant and responsible and catered to us hand and foot during our all-too-short 2-night stay.
We had several wonderful meals on the outdoor deck at the riverside dining area, as
well as two in-room meals brought to us by Nyambe after a very busy day's activities.
Chris, our guide was great! He took us on a late afternoon cruise where we saw hippos, crocodiles, and many water birds. Earlier that day he had taken us to Victoria Falls, about a 40 minute drive away; Victoria Falls is indeed spectacular--just remember to wear a poncho, or rent one before getting completely soaked!
The next day we went on an early morning game drive, and after lunch we went to the Thorntree Lodge for the "Walking with Lions" encounter activity (extra charge). That was a unique and informative experience we really enjoyed.
All in all our stay at this beautiful lodge with its wonderful staff was too short and we plan to return someday.

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank LBK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tongabezi

Address: Private Bag 31, Livingstone, Zambia
Location: Zambia > Southern Province > Livingstone
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Livingstone
#1 Luxury Hotel in Livingstone
#1 Family Hotel in Livingstone
Price Range: $1,243 - $1,870 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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