After a rather hot and tiring drive, arriving at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge felt like driving into an oasis. A gatekeeper in a feathered headdress welcomed us with a smile and a dance. Warthogs grazed from green grass under shady trees. As we walked into the huge thatched entranceway of the lodge, we were greeted with ice-cold drinks and a warm smile. We’d been camping in Mana Pools and ferrying across Lake Kariba, which were both special experiences, but now it was time to be pampered.
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is relatively luxurious but it still retains an air of authenticity and rawness, which I think is important on a Zimbabwean holiday. When I’m in Victoria Falls, I don’t want to be surrounded by marble and steel – I still want to feel like I’m on the wildest continent on the planet. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge does just that.
The architecture of the building, with its tall wooden staircases and balconies, looks more like an enormous treehouse than a hotel. Much of the lodge is open-sided, which makes you feel closer to the outdoors, giving a feeling of being connected to the bush. Zimbabwe is the perfect place for this sort of construction because of the wonderful warm weather. The lodge is built of natural, unimposing materials like wood and thatch, and is decorated with bright accents to give it style and character.
To me, the view at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is reason enough to stay there. I’ve been to a number of hotels in Victoria Falls, and few of them have an unspoilt view of the bush like this. At Victoria Falls Safari Lodge you’re only a five-minute drive out of the town (and 4 km from the waterfalls), yet you feel like there’s no-one within fifty miles. From the vantage point of the hilltop lodge, all you can see before you is a waterhole with animals meandering around it, and beyond that, pure bush.
What’s more, the staff don’t rely on the beautiful lodge location to make it special. Throughout our stay we had friendly, efficient and personable service from every staff member that we met. The General Manager, Jonathan, chatted with us each morning in an unobtrusive, generous manner. When we returned to the lodge each evening, we were asked by members of staff how our day had been. The staff must see hundreds of tourists each week, some of whom may be dismissive or ignorant of these gestures of warmth. But I noticed and appreciated it very much.
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has an impressive track record. It was voted “Best Safari Lodge” in Zimbabwe for 17 consecutive years and is the only Zimbabwean hotel on the Condè Nast Travellers Gold List. It’s been featured in magazines like Vogue, Habitat, Hello, Travel & Leisure USA and Tatler. Although there are many good hotels in Victoria Falls, this is one that has stood out from the rest.
Not only does it strive to be the best lodge in the area, it also aims to be the most environmentally conscious one. When it was built, painstaking effort was made to avoid pulling up special trees on the property, and the builders themselves were under stern instructions to stay within restricted areas so as not to disrupt the natural surroundings. The vegetation around the lodge consists of 95% indigenous species, and new trees are purposefully planted each year. The lawns are watered using “grey” water, and electricity is consciously conserved. The lodge also helped establish the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit, so that wildlife such as lion, elephant and rhino can be protected and appreciated in the area for years to come.
Upmarket accommodation options in Victoria Falls mainly fall into two categories: exclusive camps and hotels. Exclusive camps are out of my budget, and yet some of the hotels are too same-y: they feel like they could be any other hotel in any other part of the region. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge bridges the gap between this divide: the lodge feels unique and special, even though it’s larger than an exclusive camp. With 72 bedrooms, it can get busy, but it’s not so big that it feels impersonal. (Note: For people who do want the exclusivity, this can be found at the Club nearby.)
For me, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge ticks all the boxes: it’s luxurious, authentic, personality, has hospitable staff, a great location, tasteful decor, intelligent management and conservation credentials aplenty. Read the next post for details about our time at the lodge during our 2013 trip, but I think it’s clear why I chose to stay here. It’s a wonderful example of Zimbabwean hospitality.
Part of the Classic Zimbabwe holiday 2013 series. Read the next post in series where we continue in our love for the “Saf-Lodge”.
This post is proudly sponsored by Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, a product of Africa Albida Tourism. Sponsored posts are written with the understanding that the writer can express her opinions honestly and openly.
Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) is widely recognised as one of southern Africa’s foremost hospitality developers and operators. AAT’s group’s name has, for 20 years, been synonymous with superior facilities and service as well as earning and sustaining a pedigree of excellence in trust and environmental ethics. The world-renowned Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and the new and exclusive Safari Club are two of the group’s premium properties in Victoria Falls.