After returning from a thrilling swim in the Devil’s Pool we arrived back to Tongabezi, but that was not where we would actually be spending the night. Tongabezi is the main lodge on the banks of the Zambezi, but they also have a sister lodge located on a tiny little island about 15 minutes downstream.
Named Sindabezi after the river Sinda which meets Zambezi next to this island, Sindabezi is the only bush camp in the area, and offers guests an incredible opportunity for privacy and romance on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
So, after packing our bags, we piled into a little speedboat and quickly zoomed towards the honeymoon chalet in which we would be spending the night – but not before meeting some hungry hippos along the way!
The island has just five chalets – four thatched and one honeymoon. We were lucky enough to score the honeymoon chalet for the night and it was simply glorious.
It held many similarities to Tongabezi (the natural hues and heavy presence of woodworked pieces) but it was also very different. The chalet had a much more open plan, and overall it felt more like an early safari camp than a river lodge. The outdoor shower and bathtubs were perfectly appointed, and one could often see the telltale flapping of ears rising from the river while they bathed.
There was also a hammock strung up from the thatched ceiling, and it seemed to be in just the right spot to catch all of the breeze – a welcome respite from the Zambian heat!
The honeymoon chalet also boasts much more private outdoor space, so if all you want to do is read a book whilst soaking up a little bit of sun, you have all the opportunity in the world to do so.
These chalets are much more exposed to nature than the cottages of Tongabezi, which is an experience in and of itself. On two occasions I was in the bathroom and a monkey literally darted above my head – amazing!
That evening we went out on a sunset boat cruise on the river and holy moly, the light makes the river so much more dreamy!
These cruises are served with your choice of drinks and some yummy snacks, which makes the experience even better! If you haven’t ever heard of or tried a Savannah cider, believe me, you are missing out!
Savannahs and sunsets are like peas and carrots (or Forrest and Jenny).
When we returned to our chalet we found that we had been set up with a stunning bubble bath. I absolutely love bathtubs. I haven’t lived in a house that has one in a long time, so they are quite the luxury for me.
The next day it was time to say goodbye to Sindabezi and move closer to Livingstone town. We couldn’t check in at our new backpackers until later in the afternoon and the team at Tongabezi were more than gracious when they allowed us to hang around for another three hours.
It was the perfect amount of time to head to the gym and get in a second session with Anusa.
I haven’t got any pictures of the gym, but it was by far one of my favourite parts of Tongabezi. This may sound crazy coming from a self confessed couch potato (Netflix binge anyone?) but thanks to the single staff member who operates the gym it was actually pretty wonderful.
Anusa will guide you through his own special workout (a blend of yoga, Zumba and pilates) in the most quiet, non-judgemental and reassuring way. I usually cannot stand personal trainers because all they do is raise their voices at me, which I just don’t find encouraging! Anusa however, is able to motivate you whilst barely raising his voice above a whisper – it’s pure magic!
Our workout was hard but rewarding, our lunch was delightful and our last few hours were so special that it made it even harder to leave!
But leave we must, so after saying goodbye to all the wonderful staff (shoutouts to JC, Aggie, Anusa and Matron) and my beloved hippos, we bid farewell to Tongabezi.
We spent the next few days at a backpackers in Livingstone, during which time I was quite under the weather and it meant that I really didn’t feel up to doing much. However, on our last day in Livingstone Dan got a little fed up with my moping around and reminded me that we had paid a decent chunk of change for the KAZA Visa – which is a dual entry visa allowing tourists multiple entries into Zambia and Zimbabwe – and that if we never ventured to the Zimbabwean side that it would be a total waste.
So, I picked myself up and we proceeded to do the most ridiculous border crossing ever…
We literally crossed just to get some lunch!
Four extra passport stamps all to get a meal – is that not the most silly reason for a border crossing in history?!
However, the food was really good and the views were glorious. Plus, now we had actually been in Zimbabwe!
Despite not being the picture of health, our time at Tongabezi, Sindabezi and in the general region of Victoria Falls was one that I’ll never forget. If you plan on venturing to East Africa, this is a stop that you definitely can’t miss!
Getting to Livingstone: This airport isn’t the most well connected in the world, you will need to get yourself to either Windhoek, Joburg, Cape Town, Nairobi, Lusaka or Addis Ababa
Sindabezi: One night in a chalet starts at $520 USD – which includes all meals, drinks, laundry and numerous activities. Click here for more information about Tongabezi and Sindabezi Lodges
Lookout Cafe: This cafe is about 600m past the Zimbabwe border and really does provide amazing views
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: The KAZA Univisa is the best value if you plan on visiting both Zim and Zam