Cutty Sark – a modern and practical redesign of an old Kariba favourite

Wild Zambezi • 28 May 2023

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If you’re looking to get away for a few days of warmth in Kariba town, or somewhere affordable, comfortable and easy to stay for a night before embarking on a houseboat cruise on the lake, we can highly recommend the new Cutty Sark Lodge with its self-catering accommodation units and flexible catering arrangements.

Set right on the lakeshore, with magnificent views out over the water to the far hills of the Matusadona National Park, the old Cutty Sark Hotel was, in former years, a firm favourite for visitors to Kariba.  But tourism trends change, and over the past couple of years, the old hotel has undergone a rebuild and a complete transformation to service a different market.

The Lodge now offers a wide range of spacious, modernised, fully air-conditioned, apartments designed for self-catering visitors.  But it also has a Bistro Terrace Restaurant, a Bar and the fully-stocked Crispy Fresh Supermarket – all on the same premises.

This design combination is the perfect solution for many visitors to Kariba who are looking for simple, affordable accommodation which offers practical and flexible catering choices.  When staying at Cutty Sark, you can either self-cater, eat at the restaurant, or order your food and drink requirements from the supermarket in advance and have them sent to your room on arrival.   If you are setting off on a houseboat the next day, you can even pre-book all the catering for your houseboat trip through Crispy Fresh, and everything will be ready for you when you step onboard. 

Wild Zambezi was fortunate, recently, to be able to sample one of the new Cutty Sark’s renovated, modernised, apartments.  These come in several different sizes to accommodate couples, families or large groups, and are divided up into blocks, each one named after a different Captain of the historic Cutty Sark sailing ship from which the original Hotel took its name (Moodie, Moore, Wallace and Willis).  We stayed a night in one of the one-bedroom units that are part of the Wallace Block.   

We wished we’d stayed for longer.  

The apartments have been created by removing the walls between the old hotel rooms and converting these into one or more bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and a separate fully-equipped kitchen-dining-sitting area.  All the rooms have fans and air-conditioning.  The kitchen was extremely well kitted out, with brand new equipment, including a gas stove, fridge-freezer, microwave and all required crockery, cutlery etc.  

We had an excellent night’s sleep in the very comfortable bedroom which, with the added benefit of spacious walk-in netting and a cooling fan, is well protected against mosquitoes.

The bathroom facilities are simple but modern and functional, with a gas-powered hot shower.  

Each apartment in the Wallace block has its own private verandah with a table and chairs looking out into natural woodland and set back a little from the lakeshore which is visible through the trees.  This location provides welcome shade in Kariba’s high temperatures and is a pleasant place to sit quietly and enjoy the variety of birdlife in the early mornings and evenings (some of the other blocks at the Cutty Sark have more spectacular views overlooking the lake itself, but lack the woodland shade of the Wallace units.)

There is a communal swimming pool with a poolside bar, which is popular with families during the hot months of the year, and the Lodge is set on a large property with extensive lush green lawns and huge shady trees. Kariba's wild animals (a tame herd of zebras and sometimes even  elephants) pass through unhindered, so it's wise to keep a close eye out if you have young children. 

The new Cutty Sark apartments are absolutely ideal for self-drivers, but for visitors arriving by air into Kariba airport, minibus transfers can be arranged through the Lodge.  Similarly, if you are staying for a few days, game drives, fishing, and site-seeing activities can also be organised through a tour operator based in the Lodge premises.  

We think that the redesign of the Cutty Sark as a modern, flexible and affordable tourism solution is a real winner!   Go try it for yourself!  You won’t be disappointed. 

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