Old Drift Lodge: A soothing soul escape

Jessica White (for Wild Horizons) • 30 November 2019

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When you hear the word safari, what is the first thing that comes to mind? It may be the roar of a lion that vibrates through every cell of your body. It may be the gentle weight of the suns rays on your freckled shoulders or the rush of anticipation and excitement that comes with the sharp crackle of static over the radio. There is always a first memory that your thoughts wander to, etched with such clarity it seems to have been waiting patiently to be called upon.

I don’t remember my time in Victoria Falls as a series of isolated events that start with ‘I went there’, ‘I did this’, or ‘I saw that’. My memories are strung together like beads on a necklace, connected by a deep reverence for the unrushed rhythm of nature.

Old Drift Lodge is the pearl in the centre. 

I didn’t feel like I was arriving at Old Drift for the first time. I felt like I was returning after a prolonged trip away. Accepting a chilled scented towel and an icy welcome drink, I let my eyes roam over the main area. Like two magnets, they were immediately drawn to the serpentine river outside, sweeping over the sunken fire and the large tree growing through the deck. In what was borderline an enchanted reverie, I sank into the plush armchair. Grinning, the lodge manager, Lesley, handed over my welcome package which included a beautiful glass water bottle. The lodge’s care and consideration for the natural environment extend beyond what I could have hoped for or even imagined.

As we made our way across the wooden platform connecting the suites, I noticed how they occasionally dipped into nothing before rising out of the earth a short while later. “Hippo highways”, Lesley explained cheerfully, “so that the elephant and other wildlife can move easily between the bush and the river”. 

As though conjured up by his words, I suddenly noticed the casual wave of what looked like a matte grey sheet. A trunk, curled at the end, drifted up to it, and I realised that we were looking at a herd of African elephants. Their muscles rolled under their granite skin as they ambled along to the shade of a watering hole. Without pausing, the baby of the herd slipped into the water, the chocolatey gaze of his mothers wizened eyes a constant companion. Lesley watched them with an expression that mirrored my own – one of humbled awe and respect that hasn’t shifted or changed during his many years in their presence. 

When I stepped into the suite, the first thing I noticed was the easy flow between inside and out. Sunlight spills through the glass doors onto a sophisticated palette of colour that seamlessly links the soft hues of nature to everything inside. From the miniature scissors in the wooden coffee station to the soft clunk made by the ice machine, every consideration for comfort and convenience has been catered to. My private viewing deck came with a claw-footed outdoor tub, shower, and a turquoise plunge pool.

A few burnt orange leaves floated lazily across its surface, and Lesley explained that sometimes the elephant come for a drink from the pool and leave them behind, promising to get them cleared out. I asked him not to, already dizzy with the pleasure of what their tiny crinkled presence symbolised. 

I went on game drives, feeling the silky hot air sweep over my arms as we explored hidden trails through the bush. I watched the Zambezi river turn to lava as the sun rose from behind its watery depths, and I sipped coffee while ripples stroked the hull of our cruise boat. I was hypnotised by the raw power of the Victoria Falls, and for the first time in my life, I practised mindfulness with little persuasion or intention. 

I haven’t been able to find the words to epitomise how unique Old Drift Lodge is in one sentence. I can’t put my finger on it, but I can liken it to the feeling of sitting around a campfire under a star studded sky. The moment you are watching the flames lick the navy night, you are calm to your core, and it feels like home. 

This article first appeared as a Writer on the Road Blog shared on Social Media by Old Drift Lodge, Victoria Falls.

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