5 unique stays in Victoria Falls

The Victoria Falls are one of the great natural wonders of the world and justifiably so. At peak flow a gigantic curtain of water plunges 100m into a boiling chasm below, stretching a mile in length and making the single largest sheet of water in the world.

It is little wonder then that the falls attract visitors from every corner of the globe. There is an array of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, but we have hand-picked a select few that offer something truly special.

Ilala Lodge

This has to be without doubt one of the best value properties in the whole area, that rare combination of understated luxury, impeccable service, affordability and location, location, location!

Situated just a short stroll from the entrance to the falls and yet just a few steps in the other direction from the bustling heart of this endearing town. Only the entrance gives away its location in the centre of the action. Once through the front doors your view is drawn out to the lush gardens with towering trees, immaculate lawns peppered with scurrying warthogs and even the occasional elephant!

All the rooms and suites at the hotel look out onto the gardens each with its own private terrace accessing the garden or patio balcony with views over the gardens. The new luxury Strathearn Suite even offers a deck with hot tub from where you can sit and watch the billowing spray rise above the falls!

Enjoy some of the town’s finest cuisine at the Palm Restaurant or simply sip cocktails on the Palm Terrace. The hotel even has its own intimate vessel the Ra-Ikane on which to enjoy sundowner drinks as you glide along the Zambezi River.

The Victoria Falls Hotel

If it is sense of history and colonial grandeur you are after, then you need look no further than the fabulous Victoria Falls Hotel, the Grande Dame of Zimbabwe and one of Africa’s most iconic hotels. Nowhere else in Victoria Falls offers quite the sense of place that the Victoria Falls Hotel does.

Like Ilala Lodge, set close to the heart of the action yet with a feeling of total seclusion, as the focus is outwards toward the dramatic gorges below. Offering classic views of the Victoria Falls bridge with towering plumes of spray rising beyond.

The interior oozes old world style, with high ceilings, grand rooms and a suites, formal gardens and tranquil courtyards all blended into one charming destination. The feel continues to the rooms, think four-poster bed, flowing mosquito nets and elegant period teak and fine wood furnishings atop plush carpets.

It is impossible to imagine a visit to the hotel without at least one high tea on the Stanley’s Terrace gazing out to the views beyond (or a cheeky cocktail if you are a little late for High Tea). For something a little more formal the Edwardian-style Livingstone Room is without doubt the grandest dining experience in town. There is even something for those seeking a little more of a vibrant African touch with the hotel’s popular Jungle Junction, complete with nightly ethnic dance shows.

The Elephant Camp

Nestled in a teak woodland inside the Victoria Falls National Park lies the wonderful Elephant Camp. The camp offers the ultimate “glamping” experience, if you could even dare to use the term for these luxurious tented suites.

Each tent comes with its own luxury king beds, lounge, huge en-suite bathrooms with great baths and even outdoor showers. Large decks spill out in front of each tent, each with its own private plunge pool, ideal for drinking in the views over the bush and onto the amazing series of gorges that lead up to the Victoria Falls.

Being inside the national park animals are abundant and do not be surprised if you look up from your lounger to discover a herd of buffalo walking past or even an elephant coming to drink out of your pool!

Talking of the elephant in the room…or rather camp. The Elephant Camp is so called as it was set up to provide a safe home for orphaned and injured elephants and is run on the principles of “rescue – rehabilitate – release”. The aim is to eventually be able to ensure all elephants brought into their care are able to be fully released back into the wild.

The Victoria Falls Wildlife Trusts is based at the camp and guests staying at the camp get the chance to witness first-hand the work they do and of course meet the wonderful elephants that have found sanctuary there.

It is not only about elephants though, the camp offers tours to the Victoria Falls themselves, nature walks and safari drives, mountain bike excursions in the park and even visits to local villages, all in the rate (not forgetting all meals and selection of drinks!)

Victoria Falls River Lodge Island Treehouses

If your idea of bliss is being cocooned away on a private island in luxury accommodation with private butler services, then we have just the place for you. Discretely peeking out of the lush forests that cover Kandahar Island in the middle of the Zambezi River are a string of luxury “treehouses”.

These stunningly beautiful suites blend sleek Scandi-chic style into an unmistakably African scene. Clean timber lines house king size beds decked with pure cottons and bathrooms with views to die for. Sun lounges on private decks perch above the mighty river, and private plunge pools provides a somewhat safer place to take a dip!

If that isn’t enough, there are even two double storied “Starbed Treehouses”. As the name suggests these 2 treehouses have their own roof terrace, which is home to an imposing four-poster bed, wrapped in a thin veil of mosquito netting, for the ultimate sleep-out. Fall asleep in your star bed, with nothing but the African night sky above and the  intermittent grunts of hippos and trumpets of elephants.

If you can ever bear to leave these little riverside havens tours of the falls are included ensure you don’t miss out on the spectacle. Also included are morning or afternoon game drives into the 150,000 acre Zambezi National Park in search of Africa’s big game. For those who can’t get enough of the river though morning or sunset cruises along the river are also offered. A word of advice, never miss the opportunity to experience a sunset on the Zambezi!

Matetsi River House

If you want to bring the whole family along for a bit of a spoil then have we got a treat for you. Matetsi is one of the most luxurious properties in the Victoria Falls area and the Matetsi River house is the perfect private

This gorgeous 4 bedroom villa sits right on the banks of the Zambezi River. Each room offers en-suite luxury bathrooms (each with indoor and outdoor showers). The villa also comes with its own beautiful kitchen. But of course you are on holiday so the kitchen comes with a private chef to whip up gourmet meals tailored around you.

A large deck runs the length of the villa overlooking the river with its own firepit, loungers, chairs and swimming pool, all exclusively for your group.

The exclusivity doesn’t end there, as you also get a private safari vehicle with guide and tracker for your stay at Matetsi, which offers some of the finest safari experiences in the area. The lodge also boasts some 15km of private river frontage and guests can enjoy morning and sunset cruises and even canoeing on the river. Guests staying a minimum of 2 nights (and you would be crazy not to!) also benefit from a private tour of the Victoria Falls and High Tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel.

Warwick Blow is Owner of Safari In Style. Safari In Style uses more than 50 years of personal experience to create tailor-made unique journeys through Africa’s finest safari destinations.

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