Sussi & Chuma: Our full report
Extensively remodelled in 2018, with rustic tree house style chalets dotted along the banks of the Zambezi, ...... Sussi & Chuma is just 12km away from the world-famous Victoria Falls. Named after David Livingstone’s loyal friends, who carried his body from Zambia back to Dar es Salaam, the lodge is tucked into a section of riverine forest in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, just 15-minutes drive from Livingstone.
Sussi & Chuma is part of the Sanctuary group of properties, which includes several luxury lodges in Botswana and Tanzania.
We last visited Sussi & Chuma in September 2017 and, whilst we thought the lodge was in a good location, we felt that the chalets were looking a little dated, and the lodge itself in need of a little overhaul. Since our visit, the lodge has undergone significant remodelling and refurbishment, and we understand it’s looking much fresher.
The main lodge consists of 12 'Sussi' tree houses raised on stilts and perched in giant ebony trees, connected by wooden walkways and overlooking the Zambezi River, as well as two private 'Chuma' houses, each with two bedrooms, perfectly for small groups or families.
Each tree house is airy and spacious, with a large king or twin beds within large mosquito nets dominating the centre of the room. Wooden floors, scattered with rugs, give a rustic look alongside high ceilings with exposed beams under the thatched roof. The rooms were looking a little tired and colourless on our last visit, and the thatch was in need of an overhaul, with squirrel visitors finding their way in to nibble on the biscuit tin while we were out on an activity. However, since the remodelling, the lodge has upgraded the thatch and fully redesigned the interiors. We understand that all of the tree houses are now furnished with more of a Zambian character, with relaxed easy chairs in a map print, or handcrafted rugs inspired by traditional Zambian textiles. Newly painted cream walls are now complemented with by dark wood and furnishing highlights of grey, blue, burnt orange and subtle gold.
Where previously the bath and shower cubicle were a little over-prominent in the room, with little to no privacy for non-couples sharing, the new rooms have been designed more discreetly, with the bathroom area (complete with rainfall shower and a large, freestanding bath tub) now hidden from the main bedroom area by a partition wall, with a screen to pull across if necessary. The luxurious touches are still here, with soft bath mats, cosy dressing gowns, Africology spa products and a well-stocked mini-bar – along with the addition of gym bags and yoga mats in every room, for those who like to add a work-out into their daily routine.
Each tree house has overhead fans as well as air conditioning, though folding doors open up across the front of each tree house out to your own private viewing deck should you prefer some fresh air. We visited in the dry season, when the trees were looking a little bare and so we weren’t afforded much privacy on the deck from those neighbouring, but we understand that screens are now in place to give more privacy on these decks.
The two private Chuma Houses, located a little further along the river, are ideal for couples travelling together or families with young children. Each house has two en-suite bedrooms, a dining area and a spacious lounge, with a wooden deck area and plunge pool. Each house also comes with a chef and house staff, as well as a vehicle and private guide for the duration of your stay.
The opposite side of the lodge grounds, and closer to the tree houses, Sussi & Chuma’s main areas span from a large, bright, open-sided reception and curio shop at the very front of the lodge, connecting to walkways through the large lounge areas, the dining area and the newly refurbished Livingstone Bar.
From what we know of the upgrade, the furnishings in all areas have been updated, with extra seating areas and some new cosier spots for drinking and dining added, both inside and out. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating options, with subtle lighting inside, but large hurricane lanterns outside on the tables, which unfortunately brought every literal moth to the flame. The colour scheme here has also been refreshed, and looks to be a calmer and more stylish section of the lodge. Upstairs, you’ll find the new Explorer Lounge, designed in muted cream and grey. Not only an area to sit and relax, maps and information for travellers to the area are available, on the optional activities on offer, and on local wildlife and history too. Details on Sanctuary’s philanthropic work and Sussi & Chuma’s collaboration with the local Nakatindi school are also on show.
As you follow the pathways winding down to the river, you’ll find a small hut tucked away, with the lodge’s Africology Spa. A variety of treatments are on offer, at an additional cost. There's also a large infinity pool, with loungers under a shade and a large chest full of clean towels.
We have been told that the best views from the lodge, especially for those unforgettable Zambian sunsets, are from the brand new, riverside bar which also overlooks the river. This connects to an extended outdoor dining area and sunset deck, fire pits and a new boma, which we’re sure this is a great spot for a sundowner!
The lodge offers several inclusive activities, including game drives and guided walks in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, tours of the Victoria Falls, sundowners cruises and fishing trips. On our last visit we enjoyed a morning canoeing on the Zambezi – the guides were brilliant and the trip was great fun. Make sure you wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet, as there a few small rapids, but the experienced guides are there to help all of the way!
The team at Sussi & Chuma are on hand to help arrange activities (and, of course, to assist with any aspect of your stay) –and though we couldn't fault the service, especially of the front office manager, who went out of her way to help with all aspects of the trip, the whole lodge had a bit of a disorganised feel. At times there were rather a lot of staff milling around the restaurant, hovering and asking every 5 minutes if they could help, at other times there was no-one in sight to help with a query, or walk guests back to their rooms. Whilst beautiful, we felt Sussi & Chuma lacked some character - though we're hoping that the remodelling will give the lodge a new lease of life, so that the decor and aesthetic appeal match the standards of the friendliness of the staff and the quality of the guides.
Spending some time in Livingstone is a great addition to some time on safari, either in another of Zambia’s national parks, or one of the adjoining countries. Staying at a combination of the Sanctuary camps (including Botswana’s Chobe Chilwero, Stanley’s Camp and Baines, in the Delta, plus Chief’s in Moremi Game Reserve) often entitles you to a long-stay discounted rate – chat to us for more information.
If you're adding some time in Livingstone to the end of a Botswana safari with Sussi & Chuma's sister camps, this is a worthy addition. We do feel there are other, perhaps more characterful, lodges in the Livingstone area that stand out more in terms of atmosphere and location - but if you want a good value lodge, with a nice balance of rustic luxury and a wide range of activities (the canoeing, especially, stands out), Sussi & Chuma is a great option.
Country manager: Zambia
- Livingstone & Victoria Falls, Zambia
- Ideal length of stay
- We'd suggest a stay of at least three nights at Sussi & Chuma, to be able to fully appreciate the range of activities on offer. The lodge also combines well with its sister camps in Botswana as part of a longer safari itinerary.
- Sussi and Chuma is located 12km upstream from the Victoria Falls – you’ll need to fly into Livingstone Airport, then the lodge is approximately a 25-minute drive from the airport, mostly on a tar road, though the last km or so is along a dirt track.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Sussi & Chuma is able to cater for different dietary requests, and had a varied menu during our stay.
Breakfast is served buffet style, and includes homemade pastries, muesli and pancakes, along with fruit, yoghurts and cold meat and cheese platters. Cooked options are available on request.
Lunch is served buffet-style, though a packed lunch option is available for those out on a full day activity. Our mint and cucumber soup was a little insipid, but the main courses (crumbed fish, chicken kebabs, a selection of roasted vegetables and Greek, chickpea and beetroot and butternut salads) were all fresh and tasty.
Dinner is chosen from a set three-course menu. We enjoyed the home made vegetable soup and freshly baked bread, followed by a chicken chilli stir fry. The fruit salad could have been more inventive and colourful, but the chocolate torte was delicious.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Private dining options are available.
- Drinks included
- Bottled, filtered drinking water is included, and also provided in the rooms. All local wines and spirits are included, though top shelf spirits and French champagne are an additional cost.
- Family holidays
- With no age limit for children, the private Chuma Houses are a great option for family holidays in Livingstone, whether as a stand-alone trip, or as an addition to your safari. With a team on standby to help with all aspects of your stay (including chef, waiter, housekeeper and private guide), and a private pool and deck area, Sussi & Chuma is ideal for families who’d prefer a bit of privacy.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Attitude towards children
- Sussi & Chuma welcomes families with children of all ages in their two private, Chuma Houses. The main lodge is more geared towards adults.
- Property’s age restrictions
- There is no age limit at the Chuma Houses. Children of six and older are welcome with parents at the Sussi tree houses.
- Special activities & services
- Activities are tailored towards any children staying, with private game drives (at extra cost if not staying in the Chuma Houses), nature walks within the grounds of the lodge, story-telling around the fire and trips to the local village and Nakatindi school on offer.
- Cots and highchairs are available on request.
- Generally recommended for children
- Whilst we feel the atmosphere of the main lodge is more of an adult environment and thus more suited to older children, the Chuma Houses are ideal for family breaks.
- Children between the ages of five and 11 years are permitted to participate on the game drives, at the discretion of the lodge manager. Children under 5 require the permission of the lodge manager, and the family is required to book a private vehicle. The age limit for walking safaris is 12 years.
The lodge sits within a national park, and wild animals often roam through the lodge grounds. The pool and most walkways are unfenced. Children should be supervised at all times.
- Power supply notes
- The lodge has a back-up generator on site.
- Sussi & Chuma offers complimentary Wi-Fi, available in the reception and the tree houses. Cell phone signal is found throughout, though the signal strength can vary.
- TV & radio
- The private Chuma Houses have DSTV.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All bathrooms in main lodge and the Chuma Houses have plumbed bathrooms, with hot and cold showers and baths, and flushing toilets. The private houses also have outdoor showers.
Health & safety
- Medical care
- Staff are first aid trained, and there are first aid kits on site. For more serious medical issues, you are approximately a 25-minute drive from the medical centre and hospital in central Livingstone.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- There are security guards on watch around the clock, at the main gate and also throughout the camp. You’ll be escorted around the lodge after dark. Safety horns can be found in each room, to attract attention in case of an emergency.
- Fire safety
- Fire extinguishers are located in each room, and dotted around the lodge grounds. Staff are trained in their use.
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A complimentary, daily laundry service is available. Your laundry will be washed and line-dried, and ironed on request.
- Each room has a digital safe. Currency exchange facilities are available in Livingstone, and shuttle transfers to the town are available.
- Accepted payment on location
- Cash in most major currencies is accepted as payment, as are Mastercard, Visa and Amex.
Other lodges in Livingstone & Victoria Falls
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Avani Victoria Falls
Just a few minutes' walk from the Victoria Falls, with access for guests included, the Avani features good facilities in peaceful grounds at a modest price.
Royal Livingstone Hotel
Conveniently located just a short walk from the Zambia. side of the Victoria Falls, the colonial-style Royal Livingstone has beautiful grounds and small but quite luxurious rooms.
Secluded on the banks of the Zambezi, less than 20km from the Victoria Falls, Tongabezi is one of the most exclusive lodges in Zambia.
Islands of Siankaba
In a lovely location on the Zambezi upriver of the Victoria Falls, Islands of Siankaba provides a tranquil setting to relax at the start or end of a safari to Botswana or Zambia.
Offering great value for money and within easy reach of the Victoria Falls, Waterberry is a small, family-friendly lodge on the banks of the Zambezi River.
Toka Leya Camp
The new Toka Leya Camp stands beside the Zambezi inside Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park – so wildlife often passes through. It's a comfortable tented camp which has great service and includes a range of activities.
Stanley Safari Lodge
Stanley Safari Lodge has views of Victoria Falls spray from all the rooms, and is a convenient base for exploring the Zambezi River area.
The River Club
The River Club, near Zambia's town of Livingstone and the Victoria Falls, overlooks the Zambezi River.
Sindabezi, near Zambia's town of Livingstone and the Victoria Falls, is an island in the middle of the Zambezi River
David Livingstone Lodge
The four-star David Livingstone Safari Lodge is in a lovely spot on the edge of the Zambezi River in Zambia, close to the Victoria Falls.
Thorntree River Lodge
Rebuilt in 2017, Thorntree River Lodge is one of the best riverside lodges in Livingstone, with a strong sense of the environment and straightforward access to the Falls.
Tangala House, the family home near Zambia's town of Livingstone and the Victoria Falls