Waterberry Zambezi Lodge is located just 45 minutes drive from the Victoria Falls.
Waterberry Zambezi Lodge: Our full report
The small, congenial and family-friendly Waterberry Zambezi Lodge, which is usually known simply as ‘Waterberry Lodge’, is set on 750m of Zambezi riverfront, a 45-minute drive upstream from the Victoria Falls. It’s close enough to visit the Falls easily, but far enough away that its tranquility isn't disturbed by the noise of the helicopters or microlight flights that operate there during the day.
The lodge itself is named for the waterberry tree (Syzygium cordatum) that occurs in prolific numbers along the banks of the river, while its seven rooms, dotted around pretty, beautifully landscaped gardens, are named after different birds. Constructed of brick and thatch, the rooms are not big, but they are comfortable. All have a mosquito net suspended above the beds, and an en-suite bathroom with fluffy bath sheets, shower, handbasin and flushing toilet. The lodge also provides bathrobes, shampoo, soap, bug spray and mosquito repellent.
'Weaver' and 'Swallow' are individual chalets each with a double bed, and a private veranda overlooking the river's edge. Swallow also has a bathtub in addition to the shower. Then immediately adjacent to the main area is the family chalet, 'Owl', sleeping up to six over two levels.
Set back from the river, with a view of a small lake, are two more chalets, each with two separate rooms. Of these, the twin-bedded 'Sunbird' can interlink with the adjacent double, 'Wagtail', and in the other chalet, 'Heron' and 'Jacana' each have both a double and a single bed. Unfortunately it's not possible to guarantee a specific room when booking, although the team tell us they will do their best to accommodate any requests.
A brand new addition to Waterberry’s accommodation is the River Farmhouse, which opened in June 2013. About a five-minute walk from the main lodge, and with its own chef, the Farmhouse is perfect for families or groups of up to eight travelling together.
The main area at Waterberry Lodge is built over two levels. Upstairs are a big lounge and bar, although we found these were largely unused during our stay. If the bar is closed, there is almost always someone around who can help to get you a drink. Downstairs is the dining area, which opens out on to the gardens at the back and to a terrace overlooking the river. We particularly enjoyed eating our breakfast at a table set up in the lovely garden.
There is a good size pool with sunloungers. Otherwise, the deck overlooking the small lake is a particularly peaceful spot to soak up some sun, or simply relax and catch up on your reading on the nearby tree platform. For the more energetic there is also a short, well signposted nature trail.
'In-house' activities offered at Waterberry include a visit to the Victoria Falls, sunset cruise, daytime cruise, fishing, island picnics, guided birding, guided village walk, and also a guided tour of the town and local markets. It's worth noting that unlike some of its smarter (and more costly) neighbouring lodges, the visit to Victoria Falls is not guided.
On arrival at Waterberry Lodge, we were made to feel right at home and were given a full orientation of the Falls, the area and activities. The information provided by the team and in the folders in the rooms is detailed and very helpful in helping you to make the most of your stay; it even includes an idea of how long to allow for each activity, what clothes to wear and what to take.
Waterberry Zambezi Lodge is usually booked on a fully inclusive basis, which means that in addition to meals and most drinks, two of the lodge's 'in-house' activities are included per day. Alternatively, it's also possible to book with either one or no in-house activities included: a better option for visitors who plan any of the other activities available in the Victoria Falls area – and which the team at Waterberry is very happy to help organise,
Waterberry isn't a five-star lodge, but then they don't aim to be. However, their friendly team does deliver on service – with some of the best information on the area and the activities that we've come across – and they provide a comfortable, very attractive setting from which to visit the Victoria Falls and explore the Zambezi River.
Ideal length of stay: Two or three nights, although three nights is definitely better if you'd like time to relax and take in some of the activities on offer at the lodge and around the Victoria Falls.
Directions: The lodge is around a 30-minute drive from Livingstone Airport, or 45 minutes from the Kazungula border post. This is mostly along a tar road, although the last 5km from the main road to the lodge is a dirt track.
Owner: Independent, not part of a chain.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: In keeping with the style of this informal lodge, the food at Waterberry is not fancy, but on our most recent visit in June 2013 it was very good.
Breakfast is usually served between 7.00 and 9.00am, although if you are heading out earlier for your activities they can usually make a special arrangement. There is a continental buffet of cereal, fruit and yoghurt, while on the menu – and prepared to order – are a 'full English', porridge, omelettes, French toast or American-style pancakes. We opted for the French toast with bacon; simply presented but delicious!
For those out on activities, the lodge can arrange a simple packed lunch, usually with the ingredients to assemble a sandwich, some fruit and a drink. At the lodge itself, between around midday and 2.00pm, lunch is typically a fresh salad accompanied by something like homemade pizza or lasagne.
A three-course set dinner is available between 7.00 and 9.00pm. We had carrot soup and freshly baked bread rolls, followed by a plated dish of roast chicken, potatoes and seasonal vegetables. The tart, baked lemon pudding was particularly delicious.
If you're feeling a little peckish between mealtimes, the tea- and coffee-making station in the main building is usually stocked with what they described as a 'bottomless jar' of homemade biscuits. (We were tempted, but thought better of testing this claim!)
Lunch and dinner are set menus, so if you have any dietary requirements or particular likes/dislikes, then please let us know when booking and we can advise the lodge.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: For guests staying on the fully inclusive option, local drinks and house wines are included. Premium brands will cost extra.
Family holidays: Waterberry Lodge actively welcomes children, with family-friendly accommodation, a swing, a pool, and various board games. The variety of activities available in the Victoria Falls area means that there is likely to be something for even quite young children to enjoy – although we consider that the lodge’s riverside location makes it unsuitable for children under six.See more ideas for Family holidays in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Waterberry actively welcomes children of all ages. In fact, they tell us they really enjoy having children at the lodge.
Property’s age restrictions: None
Equipment: Cots can be provided, but no high chairs. There are board games, colouring books and crayons available, and also a swing. The lodge has several chalets suitable for smaller families of three or four, and one sleeping up to six. There is also the River Farmhouse, which can be booked exclusively for a family of up to eight.
Generally recommended for children: We think Waterberry is a great option for families with children, who would be made to feel very welcome. But because of the unfenced access to the Zambezi River and the lake on the property, we think it's better for slightly older children.
Notes: The pool and the river in front of the lodge are unfenced, and hippos do graze on the lodge grounds at night. There is also a small, unfenced lake on the grounds, often home to hippos and crocodiles. Parents must supervise their children at all times.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Power supply notes: There is a back-up generator
Communications: There is cellphone reception around the lodge. WiFi is available and is free of charge.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Most of the managers have basic first-aid training. The nearest doctor is in Livingstone, although in an emergency, guests can be flown to Johannesburg.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: The lodge has a fence on the land side and there is a guard at the gate. There are also watchmen on duty day and night.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside each chalet and also at the main area.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included.
Money: There is a very small safe in each room. No currency exchange is available.
Accepted payment on location: Cash payments may be made in US dollars, South African rand, pounds sterling, euros and Zambian kwacha. Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted, but Amex and Diners Club are not. Any card payments will be charged in kwacha at the prevailing exchange rate.