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Zambia: Feedback on Tongabezi, Livingstone (VIctoria Falls)

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Sep 18th, 2005, 02:18 AM
  #1
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Zambia: Feedback on Tongabezi, Livingstone (VIctoria Falls)

Hello,

I've had another look at the costs for the various Vic Falls options, and it looks like Tongabezi is in the same general price range as River Club for two people sharing ($50 more per night, but in the grand scheme of things that's not much). I've seen a few mentions of Tongabezi in other posts when I did a search, but had a few additional questions for anyone who has stayed there recently:

How was the food? The comments about the food at River Club are beginning to scare me...

Were there any insect problems? Like River Club, the accommodation at Tongabezi is open-fronted.

Are the suites worth the extra money? They are about $585 per person per night (vs $475 for cottages or $427 for River Club) but look brilliant on the Tongabezi website.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 18th, 2005, 10:46 AM
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Dear Julian,
I stayed at Tongabezi in 2000 which is quite a while ago on the recommendation of a friend who visited a couple of years before. We liked it very much.

It's a small intimate camp and the rooms are fabulous. When we were there they were beginning to remodel the rooms. First we were shown a huge room far above the Boma with an incredible panoramic view of the river. The decor was very "jungly" and I think it has probably been redone since then.

As I prefer a more modern look we moved to a newly redone room (I think it was called wild dog) which was right on the Zambezi...it was done in very much the modern South African safari style, that ubiquitous earth toned ethnic chic. It looked fabulous.

Because we were right down by the river we were woken in the middle of the night by a number of hippo muching down on the grass only 20 feet from our bed! Very exciting! The room is open on one side but built up from the river bank.

The food was good,I don't remember anything incredible but it has been sometime since our visit.

What we liked about the place was the relaxed feel. The opportunity to canoe, walk on one of the small islands, have sundowners on their island camp, and to have dinner on the floating platform on the river...very romantic and an opportunity to dine alone.

They sit down with you every evening to plan the activities for the next day. It was fairly quiet when we were there and they planned activities just for the two of us. A canoe trip to a small island, where following a short nature walk they surprised us with a 3 course lunch served with linen and silver which we shared with the guide...was highly memorable.

We liked Tongabezi for the variety of activities and the intimacy. I can't really speak to the rooms in general. I think we were in the best available and they were very lovely. Our room was the furthest along the river bank and I remember passing rooms that looked much smaller were in the rondavel style.

I hope this helps even though the information is rather dated. I hope someone else has stayed more recently. I know that it's a popular honeymoon destination especially for Brits.
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Sep 18th, 2005, 10:48 AM
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Julian,
I've just had a quick look at the website and I see from the home page it was the "dog house" we stayed in. Just seeing the pictures again makes me want to go back!
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Sep 18th, 2005, 10:59 AM
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Hello,

Thanks for your feedback on Tongabezi. Ironically, the Dog House is the room I'm most interested in! Unfortunately, it's also one of the $585 pppn options -- not sure if I'm willing to pay quite that much, though I'm very tempted...

It sounds like the smaller 'rondavel' style ones are the cottges for $475 pppn -- they do look a lot smaller than the houses.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 18th, 2005, 11:06 AM
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Julian - I think the cottages look just as nice, don't you?! (But yes, the suites do look fabulous.)

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Sep 18th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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,

For the same amount of money, the River Club rooms seem a lot bigger...but then there is the food question....

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 18th, 2005, 12:31 PM
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And the insect question......
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Sep 18th, 2005, 12:58 PM
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I'd just like to add that I am not remotely afraid of insects; rather I was speaking to the thread above which discussed the openness of the accommodations and the critters flying around the tent/room/bathroom...Some protection C is nice!

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Sep 18th, 2005, 01:04 PM
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I doubt insects will be much of an issue in the dead of winter -- another advantage of cooler weather.

There are mosquito nets for the beds for sleeping, which is the only time I'd be concerned about them.

I really hate insects in my food (which is why I don't usually like to eat outdoors) but when I was in Botswana there weren't any problems with insects -- a nice change from picnics here and in the US!

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 18th, 2005, 05:37 PM
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Julian,
From what I can see on the website you wouldn't have the insect issue in the cottages which do look nice in the pictures.

The option of dinner on a pontoon in the river is not to be missed. We had a 9 week honeymoon - encompassing a real range of destinations and experiences including overland to Timbuktu, wonderful dinners in the Cape, a Zambian safari as well as another overland adventure by train which included hitchhiking through Malawi and Tanzania to Zanzibar - the dinner brought out to us by canoe at Tongabezi was certainly a highlight.

On the question of whether it's worth it I'm not sure what to say. Frankly as with all of the Vic Falls lodges it seems you pay a fortune without the opportunity to see much game. I must admit I'm surprised by the prices...it's all much more expensive than it used to be. We paid $2,500 pp for 10 night include air charters with 2 nights at Tongabezi, three nights Sausage Tree and 5 nighta and two Robin Pope camps. However it was hot ans at the very end of the season in the first week of November.

They do still have some amazing deals combining Luangwa and Vic Falls on their website (see "more information" and then "packages" for really great rates) but they're only between Nov 16th and May 23rd).

Hope all this helps!
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Sep 18th, 2005, 06:07 PM
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We were in Tongabezi last June. Stayed one night in a Rondavel style cottage and one night in Sindabezi Island. There were a few insect in the cottage but they didn't fly a lot and can be addressed with the in room insect repellent spray. We enjoyed Sindabezi better. The rooms were really open...more so than the cottages but there were no bugs at all. Maybe because it was in the middle of the river and you needed a boat to come and go from the island.

The dinner on the pontoon is very very romantic. It was wonderful to dine under the stars. Food was good...not gourmet like but very okay.
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Sep 19th, 2005, 08:41 AM
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Hello,

Thanks for your feedback on Tongabezi. Was it easy to get to/from Sindabezi for activities, or is this more of a 'stay put and relax' option?

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 19th, 2005, 08:39 PM
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The ride to and from Sindabezi is very easy. It wasn't inconvenient at all. There are activities which you can do around the island (i.e. boating, fishing, etc) and the boat ride to Tongabezi is about 15 to 20 minutes only for other activities. You can also hang out there is you want to just relax and do nothing. Only limitation is that at night you can't go to bars or restaurants as they don't advice riding the boat after a certain time to Tongabezi.
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Sep 20th, 2005, 05:13 AM
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Thanks for the info on Sindabezi, Purplefish -- do you happen to recall when the boat stops running?

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 20th, 2005, 05:49 AM
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eenusa - Now that you mention it I do remember your post. Thanks for the reminder!

Julian - I'll take a look at the lodge - those prices are nice...

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Sep 20th, 2005, 05:48 PM
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jasher - don't know exact time but I think after sunset but you may want to confirm with the lodge.
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Sep 22nd, 2005, 04:21 AM
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It is after sunset -- so if you stay there, no night-time visits to the falls for you. I'm afraid I'm crossinng it off my list for that reason.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 23rd, 2005, 01:40 AM
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jasher - the manager in the island seems very accomodating so you may want to confirm with them if you can make arrangements for visiting the falls at night.
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Sep 23rd, 2005, 09:23 AM
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Hi Purplefish,

I did email Sindabezi about seeing the falls after dark, and unfortunately they said they couldn't allow the boat transfers at night for safety reaons. I'm not keen on moving between rooms on Sindabezi and Tongabezi, so I think I'll pass on Sindabezi.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 23rd, 2005, 09:26 AM
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Anyone have experience with the Royal Livingstone?

Thanks!
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