Islands of Siankaba is built…
Islands of Siankaba: Our full report
Upstream from the Victoria Falls, about 45km from Livingstone, the very peaceful Islands of Siankaba is built on two densely forested islands, linked by short suspension bridges. Well away from the hustle and bustle of the Falls, it offers upmarket facilities in a secluded environment.
To get to Islands of Siankaba from the main road you travel 7km down a dirt track through open bush to the lodge's reception and small curio shop. From here, it’s a five-minute boat ride to the main island, where you ascend a decked pathway to the beautifully decorated main lodge. This comprises the main bar and dining area where superb meals are served. The adjacent lounge is furnished with comfortable sofas and armchairs in a palette of greens, oranges and deep reds that reminded us of the rich tones of forests in autumn. There is also a small library of books, and a selection of board games.
On a large terrace in front of the main lodge, seating areas with wooden tables and chairs, benches or sunloungers are dotted about under the trees or positioned to take advantage of the sunshine. A cushion-clad bench surrounds the firepit with lovely views over the Zambezi – the perfect place for a drink in the evening. A short stroll away you'll find a secluded swimming pool and a few sunloungers, and a small spa, where the range of beauty treatments (at additional cost) includes massages, manicures and facials. Some of these treatments can also be done in your chalet, usually on the deck overlooking the Zambezi.
On the second island, seven stylish chalets are positioned around the island's edge in peaceful seclusion; the only sound comes from the birds, the insects and the Zambezi rapids in the distance. Siankaba’s chalets are raised two to three metres from the ground and have their own private balconies with comfortable chairs, overlooking the river.
In contrast to their half-canvas walls and roof, the chalet interiors ooze luxury and comfort. Polished teak furniture sits on polished teak floors, offset by thick rugs. There are comfortable beds, either twin or double, with an electric blanket, an integral ceiling fan, and mosquito nets hung like four-poster curtains. Good reading lights complement the otherwise subdued lighting. Each room has its own mini-fridge and safe tucked discreetly away in a cupboard. Although there is a tea and coffee station, nothing seems to be too much trouble for the team at Siankaba, and they thoughtfully offer tea or coffee with your morning wake-up call.
Your bathroom is set on a platform to the rear of the chalet, complete with regal claw-footed bathtub and twin pedestal china basins, as well as a modern shower and separate toilet. Soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and thoughtful touches like floating candles, hand and body lotion, and bathrobes are also provided, adding to the sense of luxury. You are also supplied with insect repellent and a bug spray.
Islands of Siankaba is 50 minutes’ drive from the Falls, and a visit is included in the rates. However, this distance means that it may not suits travellers that well who only have one or two nights in this area. Better to stay for three nights here, or to focus on the lodge’s activities which spend time on the islands and the river. These include sunset cruises, and guided birding and tree walks, and there is a 1.5km nature trail which runs round one of the islands. Led by a member of staff, the walks through local villages – or cycling for the more active (note the bicycles with bamboo frames here!) – are particularly good.
Our visit to the community nursery school, an option during term-time, was a real highlight on our most recent stay in June 2013, as was returning to the lodge on the river by mokoro (a traditional dug-out canoe).
Catch-and-release fishing in season is also an option.
Our viewIslands of Siankaba is a peaceful and relaxing place to spend a few nights: the surroundings are beautiful, the rooms luxurious and the food and staff excellent. It's a great spot to unwind at the start or end of a safari to Botswana or Zambia, and works well for a three-night stay within reach of the Falls.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend a stay of at least two nights at Islands of Siankaba, but three would give visitors a day to explore the Falls, and a day to make the most of the tranquility of the lodge.
Directions: 35 minutes by vehicle from Kazungula, or 50 minutes by minibus to Livingstone Airport, plus 5 minutes by boat.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Islands of Siankaba has quite rightly acquired a great reputation for its cuisine. On our last few visits, we have found the food to be consistently excellent.
Most recently, in June 2013, we arrived in time for lunch, which was a small taste of what was to come. Served as a platter, we had the choice of grilled pork skewers, vegetable tartlets, a butternut and feta salad, and a green salad. We couldn't resist the homemade vanilla ice cream that followed.
Afternoon tea was substantial and on offer were chocolate brownies and vanilla cake, as well as scones with jam and cream.
Dinner was particularly good with a convivial atmosphere around the communal table. We were served a starter of tasty butternut and ginger soup followed by Zambezi bream, beautifully presented and simply fried, with new potatoes and fresh greens. To really top things off pudding was a warm lemon soufflé, light and tart.
Breakfast is prepared to order. We had a wide range of choices from homemade muesli and yoghurt, to a fresh fruit platter, muffins and pastries baked that morning. A full cooked option is also available. Tea, coffee and fruit juices are served.
Breakfast and lunch are usually served at individual tables, and if you prefer a private table in the evening then it's also possible to arrange.
With advance notice, the lodge can also cater for special dietary requirements.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All soft and alcoholic drinks are included, save for premium brands and champagne.
Further dining info: No, although tea and coffee can be brought to your chalet in the morning.
Honeymoons: Islands of Siankaba is a romantic and peaceful spot affording understated luxury, ideal for a bit or rest and recuperation either before or after a safari in Botswana or Zambia. Private dinners can be arranged, and you can pamper yourself with the spa treatments on offer.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Children aged 10 years and over are welcome.
Property’s age restrictions: No
Special activities & services: No
Generally recommended for children: Although some of the activities at Siankaba, such as island walks, fishing and village walks, could be great fun for children, the lodge is very open to the water and the drop from the decks is substantial. However welcome the staff might make families feel, the presence of enthusiastic children is likely to impact on the lodge’s tranquil atmosphere, so we consider it best for older children only.
Notes: The lodge is in close proximity to fast-flowing water, with a 2–3-metre drop from the raised walkways. There is no fence around the pool. Children must be supervised by their parents at all times.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There is usually cellphone reception on the island, and WiFi is available in the lounge area next to the bar.
TV & radio: No
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Livingstone, approximately 45 minutes’ drive, or seven minutes by helicopter in the event of medical evacuation. Staff are all first-aid trained.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: Several nightwatchmen patrol the islands, and there is a whistle attached to the room key to attract attention in case of emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the chalets.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Included
Money: There are safes in the chalets. There are no currency exchange facilities.
Accepted payment on location: Visa, MasterCard and cash in the form of Zambian kwacha are accepted in the curio shop and for any extras. However, tipping in US dollars is fine.