Exploring the Zambezi
Once called ‘River of Good Omens’ by Vasco da Gama in 1498, the Zambezi features beautiful attractions on its shores. Below is a round-up of unique places to stay along the river.
The Islands of Siankaba
How about staying on your own private island on the Zambezi?
The Islands of Siankaba is a unique lodge situated on two untouched forested islands in the middle of the mighty Zambezi River, just upstream from the Victoria Falls. The lodge consists of six luxury tented chalets and one honeymoon suite. The unique feature of the lodge is the series of walkways and bridges that link the two islands.
Hidden from the mainland, this lodge is surrounded by indigenous forest and offers an unparalleled Zambezi River experience. For honeymooners, a romantic dinner can be provided either on a floating jetty in the nearby bush or a private forest picnic can be arranged.
Guests on the islands will be able to take part in a great number of activities, including guided tours of Victoria Falls, sunset cruises, mokoro trips, guided nature trail walks well as a cultural tour of Siankaba Village by foot or mountain bike.
The River Club
The River Club is a luxury lodge situated about 18km upstream from the Victoria Falls. It is situated in a beautiful oasis on the banks of the Zambezi, with all 11 suites overlooking the river. It is a fantastic destination for families with children aged six and older. It provides spacious family accommodation and extensive gardens to explore.
The River Club is steeped in history and started as a settler trading post before becoming a destination for royal travellers and Hollywood stars. The main building, The Zambezi House, is an impressive Edwardian-style entertainment area with high plantation ceilings.
What makes this property truly unique is that it is privately owned and the only property in the area to be hands-on managed by its owner, Peter Jones, who is a well-known personality and historian in the area.
Guests can take part in tours of Victoria Falls, which is just a half-hour drive away. They can watch hippo, crocs and birdlife from a sunset cruise or take a game drive in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya Zoological Park, where they’ll have a chance to see White rhino. The River Club also features a running track and a tennis court to burn energy.
Chiawa Camp, one of Africa’s most iconic venues, was the first camp to open in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Owner, Grant Cumings, explains: “Everything you see in Lower Zambezi National Park, the conservation, the roads, the guiding standards, the tourism bush/river product were all pioneered by Chiawa Camp!”
Chiawa Camp formally opened its ‘tent flaps’ in 1991. Although the camp was at that time very basic, with just a few small tents and no en-suite facilities, guests had the privilege of enjoying this wilderness all to themselves. In 1994, the Cumings family co-founded Conservation Lower Zambezi of which Grant became Chairman and subsequently Vice Chairman. He took the organisation from a small tent under a tree to one of Africa’s leading private conservation charities.
The camp now has nine tents and caters for 16 guests. All tents have indoor and outdoor showers, baths, WiFi, 24/7 power and hot water and his and hers washbasins with views of the river. Cumings says it is the camp’s policy to never charge a single supplement. “This way we can have two singles in camp and still have our max occupancy of 16 guests.”
Chiawa is the only camp in the Lower Zambezi to feature two photo hides, and the only camp to hire women workers. Cumings says, historically, hiring women workers used to be a cultural issue but Chiawa Camp broke the trend with great success.
Thanks to its unique location in the middle of the Lower Zambezi National Park, guests at Chiawa Camp do not have to travel far to see wildlife. Visitors can take part in day and night drives, bush walks, canoe trips and river safaris. Catch and release angling is also a great option.
Baines’ River Camp
Baines’ River Camp, named after naturalist and explorer, Thomas Baines, is set on the northern bank of the Zambezi amid tamarind and jackalberry trees.
The camp offers a choice of eight ‘Explorer Suites’ with either king or twin beds. Each of these colonial-style safari suites is named after different African explorers and commands views of the river. Small and intimate, the camp prides itself on its personalised service. Guests can, for example, choose when they want to have breakfast, lunch or dinner as there are no set meal times.
Located in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park, the camp offers the ideal setting for clients to experience a luxurious and intimate safari with a choice of game drives, river cruises or canoe safaris. Baines’ River Camp’s location on the banks of the Zambezi River also makes it ideal for fly fishing clinics. These clinics cover all aspects of angling, including tips on how to catch African Tiger Fish.
Lake Kariba houseboats
Lake Kariba, which lies on the Zambezi River, is one of the world’s largest man-made lakes. The lake is a thriving ecosystem supporting thousands of species of birds, fish, and animals and with its stunning sunsets and great boating opportunities, has also become Zambia’s undiscovered Riviera! A houseboat holiday is a great way to spend a few days on Lake Kariba. The best time to plan a houseboat holiday on the lake is over a full moon, when the twilight atmosphere between sunset and full moon becomes quite magical. There are a few options of houseboats on Lake Kariba. The Bateleur is a 20-metre pontoon houseboat that sleeps up to 12 passengers plus four crew members. It features a Jacuzzi with sun deck, a spacious lounge and a Captain’s bar. Takamaka Houseboat has four twin-berth cabins and sleeps eight passengers. A chef can be hired to cook for travellers to ensure they have a relaxing trip. – Southern Africa Tourism Update