Old Drift Lodge is simply stunning!

Wild Zambezi • 5 August 2018

Wild Zambezi is delighted to have been hosted by Wild Horizons at Old Drift Lodge, their brand new lodge on the banks of the river in the Zambezi National Park just upstream from the Victoria Falls.

It's hard to find the right words to describe how carefully thought-out and beautiful the design of this stunning new lodge is.  

Wild Horizons have been in the safari business in Victoria Falls for a long time, with their iconic Elephant Camp and more intimate Imbabala Safari Camp on the Zambezi River up near Kazungula. 

Over the years, they've gleaned a wealth of experience and know just what it takes to combine practical design with simple materials to create maximum comfort and a wilderness-sensitive experience.   We think they've nailed it with the Old Drift Lodge

The lodge takes its name from an old settlement on the banks of the Zambezi River some 7 kilometres above the Victoria Falls, at the point where shallow water allowed the easiest crossing point from one side of the river to the other.  Originally known as as Sekute's Drift, people had been crossing with their livestock at this point for years. European pioneers brought their ox-drawn wagons laden with supplies and established a settlement known as Clarkes's Drift at this point, using it to cross between what was then Southern and Northern Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe and Zambia). 

The main building and 14 tented suites of Old Drift Lodge have been carefully designed to sit below the riverine tree line and are neutral-coloured to minimise visual impact, especially from the Zambezi River.  The camp is entirely unfenced, and so wildlife can wander through to get to the river.

The lodge's decor reflects the olde worlde style of the pioneering era. The furniture and fittings are hand-crafted out of simple, chunky, rough-hewn wood and base metals with old-fashioned touches in leather and cow-hide, and the walls are adorned with historical black and white archive photographs of Victoria Falls in the old days.

The central lodge entrance door is a magnificent centrepiece leading guests through into a hugely spacious open-plan covered lounge-bar-dining area with an expansive deck verandah overlooking the river beyond.   A sunken firepit provides a centrepiece for evening gatherings.

Seven large tented suites are spaced out along the riverbank to either side of the central area.  Four of these are family units, with two en-suite rooms. 

The suites are access via raised walkways through the woodland, with carefully-mapped "gaps" in the decking to provide access corridors where the elephant paths cross en route to the river!  Guests are warned, on arrival, that, since the camp is unfenced, they need to be extremely cautious along the walkways in case of encountering wildlife.  At night, a security guard accompanies guests on the pathway at all times. 

Our tented suite was a fair distance away at the end of the walkway - nestled into the bush and overlooking the river, with complete privacy and seclusion. 

Wild Horizons have taken their successful Elephant Camp design (double or twin bedroom, living area, en-suite indoor and outdoor bathroom, front deck verandah and plunge pool) and have find-tuned it with subtle improvements that have made all the difference.  The Old Drift Lodge tented suites are not only extremely comfortable, their design is inspired!   

There is a wonderful feeling of lightness and space created by the pale canvas tenting, the pale wood interiors and the huge sliding glass doors which open up the whole of the front of the room onto the verandah/pool deck and the river.

Every little detail has been carefully thought out in these rooms. There's a spacious dressing area behind the bed (with cupboards, gowns, hair-drier etc), separated by a wooden partition; a delightful wood & leather olde-worldy wooden trunk holds the fully equipped mini-bar and well-stocked tea/coffee station, there's wi-fi access from the suite, and an intercom service links guests to the main lodge so that they can easily call for service or security guard escort at night etc.  

Sliding canvas doors screen off the bathroom from the bedroom, and the loo from the bathroom.  Water is solar heated and plentiful and the window in the loo looks out into the bush!  The bathroom space is huge, with double copper basins and a large indoor shower (the pioneer-style corrugated iron wall is...well...unusual...!)

A door leads outside onto a screened private deck which houses an outdoor shower and another Old Drift Lodge centrepiece - the outdoor bath.

This is a spectacularly clever addition, which allows guests the option to relax and indulge in the old-fashioned tub with a stunning view out over the river - or to draw the curtains for cosiness and privacy.  How awesome is that?   

And then, of course, there's the sparkling blue private plunge pool, deck loungers and table and chairs for relaxation and quiet moments of contemplation as the river flows by.  Bliss. One wonders why anyone would want to leave their exclusive paradise tent at all? 

Well.... a short stroll along the walkway gets you to the central hub of the lodge from where all the activities - tours, game-drives, boat cruises and guided walks are conducted.   

We opted for an evening game-drive with sundowners in the Zambezi National Park and enjoyed the excellent company of Khule, our guide, who shared his extensive wildlife knowledge with us as we enjoyed close up encounters with giraffe, buffalo, impala and several rather stroppy elephant bulls!

In the evenings at Old Drift Lodge, the central area has a wonderfully-stocked bar, a cosy warm firepit to sit around in at night, and the most delicious meals on offer from the kitchen. 

Needless to say, we enjoyed cuisine of the highest standards, with a delicous 3-course dinner in the dining room and a mouthwatering breakfast array the next day, the hot meal freshly cooked on the terrace in the morning sun

The service at Old Drift Lodge was faultless at every stage.  

Huge congratulations to the entire team at Wild Horizons on this incredible triumph.  Old Drift Lodge is, quite simply, stunning!   Five stars indeed!

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