How to escape to the wild in Victoria Falls

Sally Wynn • 1 October 2015

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If you are visiting Victoria Falls but would prefer to be away from the hustle and bustle of the tourism town, and enjoy a quieter, less “touristy” and more wild-orientated experience, Wild Zambezi’s network has some excellent accommodation and options. 

Some of these were featured in our Blog: Victoria Falls area: River Lodges and Camps. Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge, Zambezi Sands River Camp and Pioneers Camp (now closed) are all situated within the Zambezi National Park upstream from Victoria Falls town.  Victoria Falls River Lodge (see this map) and its small island treehouse retreat, Victoria Falls Island Lodge, is also within the same National Park but a little closer to the Victoria Falls town.  Gorges Lodge (see this map) is located downstream of the Falls on the edge of the Batoka Gorges. 

Apart from these lodges and camps set on the banks of the Zambezi River, there are also some options inland of the river and within easy reach of the town and the Falls themselves.

The award-winning Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has become a travel icon of excellence in the 20+ years of its existence.  Built on a hilltop plateau only 4 kms away from the Falls, and right at the edge of the Zambezi National Park, it has magnificent views looking out over the vast expanses of the Park with a wildlife waterhole in the foreground and the Zambezi River in the distance.  The Lodge is set in beautiful, gardens planted with indigenous trees and carefully landscaped to blend into the surrounding natural bush.  There are 72 recently-upgraded en-suite double or twin bedrooms each with its own private deck. The central dining/bar/restaurant area is open-air and spacious with a popular outdoor deck and pool area. 

Two restaurant options are available – the a la carte MaKuwa-Kuwa Restaurant within the Lodge itself and the famous Boma Dinner & Drum Show (pictured) which offers a unique evening’s African entertainment combining mouth-watering local cuisine, spirited dance and drumming performances, traditional storytelling and more.  This is really an extraordinary cultural and culinary experience not to be missed, and it's great fun for families, too!

To complement the Safari Lodge, and located nearby within the same complex, with the same magnificent sunset-facing views, is the very exclusive Victoria Falls Safari Club, offering a VIP Premium experience with 4 superior suites and 16 club rooms which are twice as large as the current rooms at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge with a modern and more open design, giving a sense of abundant space.  The exclusive Club ethos is reflected in a butler service, private check-in and check-out and a multi-functional area that includes a bar, lounge and terrace.

The Victoria Falls Safari Suites are individual 2 or 3 bedroomed up-market units of the highest quality, designed for families and small close-knit groups who seek stylish comfort, flexibility, privacy and space.  

The Lokuthula Lodges (also in the Victoria  Falls Safari Lodge complex), are a RCI Gold Crown Resort offering 2-3 bedroom lodges.  These are available to family groups wanting an affordable, yet high-quality self-catering or bed-and-breakfast option, with access to facilities at the adjacent Safari Lodge, including the restaurant, bar, internet lounge, activities desk and complimentary coach shuttle service to the town centre and the Victoria Falls Rainforest.

At a slightly further distance (10 kms south) from the Victoria Falls town and situated on its own private wildlife concession bordering on the Batoka Gorges and overlooking the spray of the Falls, is the luxurious and award-winning Elephant Camp.  This offers 12 exclusive tented air-conditioned suites of the highest luxury (each with its own viewing deck and plunge pool) built into the surrounding bush with a large central tented complex housing reception/sitting/dining room/bar and an extensive deck.  A new, entirely separate 4-suite camp known as The Elephant Camp West has recently been added, with its own living area, to cater on an exclusive-use basis for groups, weddings and family gatherings.   Completely surrounded by the African bush, with a nearby waterhole which attracts wild animals, The Elephant Camp has become famous for the close interactions with wildlife (especially elephant and cheetah) that it offers guests via the Wild Horizons Wildlife Sanctuary which is located on the private concession.  Guests can also undertake guided walks and game drives within the concession.

All the usual Victoria Falls high wire and other activities, as well as transfer services are on offer from the Camp through partner/operator Wild Horizons.  This company also operates sunset cruises on the Zambezi River above the Falls aboard the Zambezi Royal as well as a bar and restaurant at the magnificently situated Lookout Cafe overlooking the Batoka Gorges below the Falls.

A little further out of the town (15 minutes by vehicle transfer towards the airport) is the 6000-acre Stanley & Livingstone Private Game Reserve  offering a tranquil, serene setting, fantastic “Big Five” wildlife viewing opportunities (including Rhino Encounters) and a safari lodge reminiscent of a bygone era.  The Stanley & Livingstone Safari Lodge represents the grandeur of a bygone era and oozes intimate Victorian charm with 16 opulently-appointed private suites overlooking the extensive grounds of the game reserve.  There is also an alternative, more affordable, accommodation option for families and small groups: Ursula’s Camp has 4 en-suite chalets sleeping a total of 8 guests and is available on a full board, half board, bed & breakfast or self-catering basis.  There are lots of wildlife-orientated things to do within the Game Reserve itself and, on request, all the usual Victoria Falls activities and transfers can be arranged.
The  Stanley & Livingstone Game Reserve is also home to the Nyakavanga Conservation Centre which accommodates 20 conservation volunteers, gap year students or school/university/corporate groups on a full-board basis, in simple yet comfortable single-room accommodation or a rustic bush camp. They are kept busy in the Reserve with a variety of wildlife management, conservation, research and survival and team-building activities in addition to all that is on offer for tourism in Victoria Falls.

Serious wildlife enthusiasts who visit the Victoria Falls and who would like to enjoy a truly authentic guided experience with a professional wildlife expert and conservationist, should get in touch with Charles Brightman who runs Discover Victoria Falls.  In addition to being a first-class guide, offering private, guided game drives, walking safaris and specialist wildlife and birding outings within the Zambezi National Park upstream from the Victoria Falls, Charles runs the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU) in partnership with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, the Police and other law-enforcement authorities, and supported by the local and international tourism industry.  Visitors are able to participate in VHAPU conservation activities by prior arrangement.  Charles is passionate about the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site and its wildlife. Protecting it into the future is a mission he loves to share with local and international communities.


Related blogs:-

Victoria Falls: River lodges & camps along the Zambezi - September 2015


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