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Reviewed 2 July 2018

This was our third time to Tongabezi, and there is a reason we continue to go back. It is simply heaven on earth. It's hard to improve upon perfection, but they have. They have added a beautiful new entry space, a gorgeous lap pool and gym, and enclosed the dining space. I have reviewed Tongabezi before, and its hard to say more about it than I have in the past, than other reviewers have, and than Conde Nast has by ranking it as one of the 20 best hotels in the world, but I will add why I think so.

First, the decor is stunning. It is simply beautiful, but the best part of that is that the fabrics, lighting, and many of the decorative items are made by hand from recycled materials by local women in Malawi at an outdoor workshop called Katundu. Some of the items are for sale in the gift shop. There is so much more to do at Tongabezi than just visit Victoria Falls. Make sure you have time to truly enjoy just being at Tongabezi. Stay at least four nights or more if you want to enjoy all of the activities and still have time to relax.

All of the rooms are gorgeous. I have stayed in three different rooms (the Honeymoon House, the Tree House, and a River Cottage), and they are all wonderful. My personal favorite is still the Honeymoon House, but the Tree House is magical and the River Cottage has the advantage of an enclosed bathroom if you are there when it is chilly at night.

Our intention on this visit was just to soak up the atmosphere, which we did, but we still managed to squeeze in a trip to the Zimbabwe side of the falls, which we prefer because there is more park on that side of the falls, a sunset cruise, a visit to the school which must not be missed, an interaction with elephants, and even a jump off the Victoria Falls bridge.

The elephant interaction was wonderful. The elephant interaction was particularly nice because you get to interact up close with these amazing animals and learn about the individual history of each animal. It is wonderful to feel that you are contributing to a sanctuary where these animals can be safe.

We visited the elephants without having a meal which was great because you won't want to miss a single meal at Tongabezi. The menu is incredible, and the chef even went out of his way to make us a special meal of bobotie (a South African curried meat pie) that we had loved on an earlier visit.

I had no plans to bungee jump and, as a 57 year old not particularly athletic female, am not a typical thrill seeker if there even is such a thing, but I decided to give the gorge swing a try after seeing it from the Falls. (It's like a bungee jump, but you don't end up upside down). I won't say it wasn't really scary, but after you realize you're not going to die, it's actually fun. The concession on the falls and the persons fitting you with the harness are all very professional and reassuring. A big thank you to our guide Chris from Tongabezi for helping me come to the decision to do this. I will always be glad that I did. He didn't push me, but he didn't discourage me either (plus he had already done it). He just matter of factly explained the difference between the bungee jump and the gorge swing and how best to do it. i also think he was actually impressed that I did it.

Chris was quiet but very competent. He made sure that we did everything that we wanted to. We really enjoyed talking to him around the campfire and finding out about him during that time. I also really appreciated that he had a quiet word with a street vendor that I wanted to buy something from. I told him that I was interested in some items but did not want to be subjected to a hard sell. He did not interfere at all in my purchases or interaction with the merchant, but I know that his word to the merchant kept him from being overzealous in his sales efforts. I also had not planned to visit the tourist market at the entrance to the Zambia side of the Falls but had a specific item in mind, so we stopped there. The merchants there were all very respectful and allowed you to browse uninterrupted. That doesn't mean that they weren't eager to sell you things, but it was much, much better than it usually is in tourist markets in Africa and the middle east.

The setting of Tongabezi is gorgeous. Each room looks out over the beautiful Zambezi river, and you can just sit on your deck for hours and watch the water go by until the sun finally sets. You can also do that from many other spots around the gorgeous grounds. We loved sitting in the Hang Out and watching the monkeys play in the early evening.

The staff is wonderful, and we really enjoyed visiting with both of the activities directors Jacqui and JC. But more than anything I can say about how beautiful Tongabezi is, the best thing about Tongabezi is that it is giving back to the community. Their commitment to the environment and the school is reason enough to visit Tongabezi. It's real, and It will make you feel good about the world. Thank you to everyone there for another fabulous visit.

Room Tip: Absolutely every room is fantastic! You can't go wrong with a single one.
  • Stayed: June 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Service
Thank Indium49
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tongabezi, Guest Relations Manager at Tongabezi, responded to this reviewResponded 11 July 2018

We could not be more delighted to hear about your stay with us - third time luckier, we guess! Thank you so much for taking the time to write us such an extensive, detailed, and gorgeous review.

Our décor certainly is unique and each house has its own special ambiance, combined with stunning views. We pride ourselves in involving local communities in every possible way – whether it’s through décor, education or employment. We fully realize the importance of supporting local communities and projects, especially local children, and in turn creating an atmosphere of sustainable tourism and an environment where people can earn a good and honest living. We are committed to leaving a lighter footprint on this planet and also aid in recycling our waste in various ways. Educating our employees and the Tujatane children regarding this also does get the word across.

We appreciate the time you took to spend with your sponsor child and to allow her to experience some lovely activities with you – something she will cherish for life.

It will be our greatest wish for you to return – we have some plans up our sleeves to create new and fond memories with us – yet again.

Much love,

Team Tongabezi

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Reviewed 1 July 2018 via mobile

My husband and I spent three nights at the river cottage as the last leg of our honeymoon. The cottage, while showing signs of age, was simply put together, clean, comfortable and had great views of the Zambezi river.

We had a good time at Tongabezi, in large part attributable to the excellent staff. Our lovely valet, Matron, was friendly, helpful and attended to all our needs. Our guide, Fabeus, was knowledgeable, easy to talk to and always smiling. We did a range of activities with Tongabezi including the Victoria falls tour, village tour, food market tour, sunset cruise and picnic on a secluded spot of an island. We enjoyed every activity and particularly loved the village tour, which was an eye opener and touched our hearts in many ways. On that note, it is truly commendable and heartwarming to see how Tongabezi seeks to support its community.

The food at Tongabezi is also excellent, and what tops it all is the stunning sunset along the Zambezi river. The most beautiful we have ever seen!

There are however a few things which stopped short of our stay being a true 5 star one (comparing it to the other places we stayed in Africa):
- while we did have a personal valet and guide, the lodge somehow still lacked the personal touch and warmth that we’ve gotten so used to from our other accommodations in Africa. For example, not all the staff were as friendly to us. Also, despite the lodge knowing that we were on honeymoon, there was nothing special done on that front. Perhaps we’ve been spoilt rotten by our other accommodations, but we just couldn’t help notice that this was our only (yet one of the most expensive) accommodation which did nothing special. Even a small note to congratulate us would have been nice perhaps.
- Bed linen shows signs of age and are not as luxurious as one would expect.
- There were often flies around the afternoon tea snacks and on several occasions, we spotted monkeys grabbing food from the table of snacks. Seeing all that unfortunately deterred us from trying any of those delicious looking cakes.

Despite the shortcomings, my husband and I had an incredible stay at Tongabezi, and are glad we made the decision to spend our honeymoon there. Thank you Tongabezi for this magical experience!

Stayed: June 2018, travelled as a couple
Thank Clairenwl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tongabezi, Guest Relations Manager at Tongabezi, responded to this reviewResponded 11 July 2018

Greetings!

Thank you for your kind review about your time spent here. It is wonderful to hear that you enjoyed the beautiful views, right from your cottage on the water. We are also glad to hear that Matron and Fabias made your stay memorable and that you visited the village, where most of our staff are recruited from. It certainly opens your eyes up to the simplicity of everyday life.

With our organic gardens on the premises, we try to keep our meals very fresh and light. It is so lovely to hear that you enjoyed the food.

We have taken note of your comments regarding your honeymoon, although we are a little surprised as we do offer all our honeymoon couples complimentary massages as well as a Livingstone island excursion (which was still shut due to high water levels during your visit). Running a bubble bath with some sparkling wine, if it does not conflict with your schedule, is also a treat that we surprise our honeymooners with – complete with rose petals and candlelight. We are very sorry that you didn’t feel acknowledged with this momentous occasion and we appreciate the feedback so that we can re-assess this.

We always strive to provide our best to our visitor’s and such constructive criticism helps.

Here’s to wishing you many years of marital bliss, and hopefully a return trip so that we can ensure you have not only the sunsets of your dreams but also the stay of your dreams!

Team Tongabezi

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Reviewed 29 June 2018

We booked Tongabezi at the recommendation of a friend about a year ago and had been looking fwd to visiting since then. Safe to say we were not disappointed. Being our 15th anniversary we wanted to spend it someplace special and Tongabezi proved just the place. We stayed 2 nights in the Tree house and 2 nights in the honeymoon house to get a feel for both and loved both of them! The tree house is truly one of a kind glamping and the views are amazing. The honeymoon house offers more closed quarters if being outdoors for a few days is not your thing and is beautifully done with a large deck and pool. What made Tongabezi all the more special apart from the amazing rooms was the service. Literally every person we met whether it was our valet or the manager they were super pleasant and always wanting to do whatever they could to make your stay enjoyable. JC the manager was nice enough to let my husband take over the TV in her office to watch one of the world cup games as there are no TV's in the guest rooms (for good reason) and he really appreciated that! The food is amazing as well and they were very accommodating of our dietary restrictions with the chefs checking in almost everyday. Our guides were also super knowledgeable and we had great trips to Victoria falls and Livingstone Island. The sunset cruise is a great experience as well and its amazing to see the sunset from the water made even more pleasurable by our boat captain. We had the most amazing time and have already planned to fit in Tongabezi on our next trip to Africa! Cannot recommend enough!

  • Stayed: June 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank Neha A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tongabezi, Guest Relations Manager at Tongabezi, responded to this reviewResponded 29 June 2018

Thank you for writing us such a lovely review and we were very happy to be a part of your 15th wedding anniversary! Spending 4 nights is ideal as it really allows you to enjoy various activities but also soak in the surroundings. Our rooms are all very unique, but the Tree House certainly offers an experience and I am sure many guests feel like a luxury version of Tarzan and Jane.

Your compliments regarding our service are very much appreciated – we pride ourselves in the people we employ from the nearby villages.

Our chefs are very dedicated to ensuring that all your dietary needs are well taken care of and make use of lovely fresh ingredients from our garden right on the premises.

We hope to see you again very soon,

Team Tongabezi

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Reviewed 28 June 2018

Tongabezi just might be paradise. I have never experienced a lodge with the combination of such breathtaking views, wonderful service and complete privacy as this lodge has. I can understand why this is a popular honeymoon spot. This is truly a paradise on the exotic Zambezi River that is not to be missed.

There are only 11 rooms, and each guest room is assigned a butler who handles all your needs, from laundry service to breakfast, lunch or dinner reservations at the lodge (food is very good!) to handling any problems that might arise. And the privacy at this hotel is unmatched by anything I've ever experienced: For example, rather than serving meals in a large dining hall, guests may select a private table overlooking the River, or any of several other covered areas on the premises that are also on the River. You can also order any meals to be served on the private deck off your room. This concept is really genius.

A couple of items to be aware of: First, this not a manicured hotel with grounds, but a more rural style lodge. While service is superb, the rooms and overall style are not for anyone who expects The Royal Livingstone, for example. These are two different animals.

Second -- you've got to be in relatively good shape to stay at Tongabezi -- all the rooms are elevated above the River, and have many many steps to arrive at the front door --approximately 25-40 large steps, depending on where the room is located. I am 68 and in relatively good condition - walk a few miles a day -- and I was winded after climbing the stairs to our first room.

Third: the water. Tongabezi, as most hotels in the area, purifies it's own water, and for the most part, it is probably very safe to drink. Unfortunately, we had a problem with one of the purified water bottles delivered to our mini-fridge --we found a bug floating in the bottle before we opened it. From that point forward we ordered water that had been pre-bottled only -- and had no problem. I am sure that future bottles of the hotel purified water will be monitored very carefully.

Fourth, ask for a room that is newly updated -- we had some MAJOR problems with our first room (The Nut House), which we felt was not in any condition to house any hotel guest - let alone at premium prices. However, that said, the management at the hotel was excellent - extremely apologetic and accommodating, and together with our tour operator, Bushtracks (also superior in every way) we were given another room, The Bird House, which was newly remodeled, clean and beautiful -- it made all the difference for us.

Bottom line is that I would highly recommend Tongabezi. Despite the problems we had, both the hotel Management and Bushtracks were able to make this a bucket-list experience.

Room Tip: Do not stay in the Nut House until it is remodeled.
  • Stayed: June 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
1  Thank NEWLYRETIRED100
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tongabezi, Guest Relations Manager at Tongabezi, responded to this reviewResponded 29 June 2018

We are so appreciative that you have taken the time to write such a comprehensive and honest review of your stay here with us. Tongabezi offers guests a unique experience, with beautiful vistas and views of the tranquil Zambezi, and we are glad that you enjoyed these aspects of your stay. Having a valet also aids in a very personalized service. We offer various secluded dining spots which allow you to feel like the only guests at Tongabezi.

Thank you for your comments regarding the Nut House. We take all feedback very seriously, and we are always looking for ways to improve. We are also delighted to hear that you were satisfied with how management worked on resolving the issues and that you were happy with the final outcome. As always, we have our guests best interest at heart and most certainly always want to create the fondest memories of your time spent with us.

Team Tongabezi

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Reviewed 26 June 2018

I cannot say enough good things about our experience at Tongabezi Lodge. This was the first stop on our honeymoon and we were blown away with the lodge, the staff, the food, the service, and the location. Sitting right on the shores of the Zambezi River, Tongabezi gives you a secluded wilderness setting without giving up any of the comforts of home. When you arrive (25 minute drive from Livingstone airport) you are met by your valet for your stay who helps to organize your accommodation, meals, and basically makes sure your entire stay is taken care of. We had Daisy and she was AMAZING. J.C. and Jacqui were also always around, taking time to check in on us and make sure things were up to par, which they were definitely far far above. We did the sunset cruise (a must), the falls tour (do in the morning), and lunch on Livingstone Island (a MUST... you get to walk up to the edge of the falls and peer over.... unsettling but AWESOME). We did not have enough time here overall, but I must say that anybody considering a trip to Zambia and Victoria Falls would be missing out if they did not include a stay at Tongabezi Lodge.

Room Tip: All great, stay in the Riverside Cottages has a deck onto the Zambezi, and the Nut House has an extraordinary view of the river.
  • Stayed: June 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Ryan A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tongabezi, Guest Relations Manager at Tongabezi, responded to this reviewResponded 27 June 2018

Thank you so much for writing us such a speedy review after only leaving us 2 days ago! We are very happy to hear that the start to your Honeymoon will forever be in your hearts.

Being on the river creates such a tranquil setting, perhaps just what you need after all the work put in to organize a wedding. Thank you very much for being so complimentary about your experience here and we are delighted to see that you made mention of several employees who contributed to your stay.

Although you felt your time spent here was not enough (and we agree that 2 nights is far too short) it is lovely to see you enjoyed a variety of activities. You also have a fantastic excuse to come back again!

Wishing you many years of joy and marital bliss,

Team Tongabezi

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