Best Luxury Hotels in
If you just so happen to be visiting Zambia, there is no question as to whether you’ll visit Victoria Falls: how can one resist the allure of this most spectacular natural wonder?
There’s something mesmerizing about the beauty of a massive waterfall…hearing and seeing the rush of the thundering rapids as they tumble over the edge, feeling the moisture from an ever-rising spray of mist, seeing rainbows appear before your eyes, and watching sheets of water cascading from great heights.
Naturally, if you’re touring the region, chances are, you will need a place to stay that is equally inspiring. Here are some of our best picks for top luxury hotels in the Livingstone and Victoria Falls vicinity, on the Zambian side of the river.
Livingstone—where it all began
The first European to visit this part of the world, David Livingstone, lends his name to the gateway town to Victoria Falls. The capital of the southern province of Zambia, this historic British colonial city was first inhabited by the Baleya people, originally from Zimbabwe. In successive years, the Batoka, Lozi, and the Subiya/Kololo people fought several disputes of leadership and dominance in the region until 1864, when the Lozi reigned supreme over the others.
It was in 1855 that Scottish missionary Livingstone arrived. In the 1890s, Cecil Rhodes and the British South Africa Company began to establish rule above the Zambezi in an attempt to use its natural resources for economic means (timber, ivory, animal skins, mineral prospecting) in what was then known as North-Western Rhodesia.
The Zambezi River and Victoria Falls
Nicknamed ‘Besi’, the Zambezi is impressive on all counts: it’s the longest east-flowing river on the African continent, and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa, though, at 2,574 kilometres (1,599 miles) long, it is only the fourth-longest river on the continent. One side of it is in Zambia, and the other side is in Zimbabwe.
The Zambezi’s main draw is, of course, Victoria Falls: a.k.a. Mosi-Oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders”. One of the seven natural wonders of the world. It’s not the highest or the widest waterfall in the world, but in height and width, it is rivalled only by Iguazu Falls. When visiting this region, it’s important to be aware of the rainy season (November through early April) and the dry season (the rest of the year). During full flood season (February to May with a peak in April), the spray from the falls can rise to over 400 metres (1,300 feet) in the air.
Of course, a rainbow can be seen at most distances, but one of the most beautiful (and rare) things to see is the ethereal and ghostly-spectral ‘moonbow’ on evenings when a full moon is high in the sky. It’ll give you shivers.
Thorntree River Lodge—Contemporary African
Conveniently situated right in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, this stunning riverside lodge hits all the right notes: with a contemporary (and environmentally-conscious) design, you’ll feel right at home on the river. (Or surveying the scene by the infinity pool, perhaps?)
One of our favourite features is the communal deck, where you can watch the colours and clouds mirrored in the glassy surface of the river, making that cocktail ritual of ‘sundowners’ even more special at magic hour. The intimate lodge sleeps just twenty-four guests in total, lending itself to a private, tucked-away feel with attentive service. Tented roof structures lend an authentic African touch to each suite or lodge equipped with indoor and outdoor showers, plus your own private plunge pool: paradise at your disposal.
Africa’s Premier Safari Experience
On our Zambia Safari, you’ll see it all, from meandering rivers to the floodplains of the Zambezi River. Strike out into the wilderness by 4×4 and on foot in search of animal life, tranquil moments at dawn, and some of the most luxurious lodges on the continent.DETAILED ITINERARY
Tongabezi—eclectic and fun
This quirky and fun property is also set right on the river, with a selection of houses and cottages for accommodation. Sleep riverside, or choose a lofty lodging in a treehouse suite amongst the branches of an ebony tree. With a netted canopy bed and claw-footed tub, you’ll stay in your ‘room’ yet be able to experience the outdoors from your private perch. Another series of suites we love, perfect for families, is elevated, where separate ‘rooms’ are connected via walkway.
During high water season, the Zambezi flows underneath! If you’re brave, one of the excursions includes a visit to Livingstone Island, from where the missionary (and where Queen Victoria herself) first glimpsed the falls; as well as swimming in Devil’s Pool, right on the very edge of the Falls itself!
Royal Chundu—secluded and exclusive
The five-star Royal Chundu is Zambia’s only Relais & Chateaux property in a wonderfully secluded area (yet just 30 km or 18 miles from Victoria Falls). In my opinion, the best way to arrive is directly from the airport—by private helicopter. This way, you will get a proper bird’s-eye view of the Falls on your way in, and be awed from the get-go.
Once you’ve landed in this remote region, simply focus on enjoying the varied lodge activities for the rest of your stay, such as fishing, a birding safari, visiting a local community, or partaking in a sunset cruise watching crocodiles and hippos in the water, cocktail in hand. There are two types of lodges: one on an island, and another secluded series of private lodges along the riverbanks.