Reviews of Tongabezi
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Tongabezi - outdated and tired
Tongabezi is beautifully positioned and our accommodation (Bird House) had first class views of the Zambezi, as it appeared did all other rooms. The food was very good, a credit to the chef who was incredibly enthusiastic about his food made essentially from local, in season products.
The room was very well sized and the original concept was great, as was the concept for the hotel in general, however the hotel appears to have been in some sort of decline and is now a poorly maintained and outdated facility. The room rates are world class but the hotel standards, facilities and service are significantly below world class. Major maintenance is needed to the deck (and it is due to be rebuilt but it should have been rebuilt years ago), pathway lighting does not work in places, doors don't close, sofa coverings in the bar area haven't been cleaned in years and neither has the dust cover on the coffee and tea facilities in the room or the outdoor furniture coverings. Nobody in management would appear to have paid any attention to points of detail for some time.
The staff are kind and pleasant but would appear to have had virtually no training, it didn't help that the hotel wasn't full and consequently staff weren't fully occupied and they tended to hang around in groups chatting amongst themselves.
At one fifth of the price Tongabezi may have been acceptable but it certainly does not merit its price tag.
Expert Africa comments
We shared these comments with Tongabezi's management team, who appreciated your taking the time to provide feedback, and fully take on board your comments. They were happy to hear that you enjoyed the location of the rooms and thought that the food was very good.
With regards to the maintenance issues that you pointed out, the Manager admits that upkeep is needed in some areas. We have been assured that the issues are now being attended to.
You also mentioned that staff appeared to have very little training. Tongabezi have said that they do have an in-house training programme in place; this is linked to the international Lobster Ink training courses. However, they do admit that further training is needed to close some weak areas of service.
Expert Africa’s most recent visit to Tongabezi was in August 2015, when we found the accommodation and main areas to be in good order and the service spot on. We expect to pay a return visit to the lodge in 2017, and will pay close attention to the standard of the facilities and service.
Our final 2 nights we at Tongabezi.
The highly here is the rooms which were really lovely (including air conditioning), plus the setting, overlooking the Zambezi with the most absolutely wonderful sunsets in the evening.
The pool, restaurant and other facilities were also of a high standard.
As with Sindabezi, there are lots of inclusive activities here, but we really enjoyed just lazing about enjoying the view.
Just one slight negative, in all of the other camps, there was a great communal atmosphere, with all the guests getting together for breakfast, lunch and dinner and really enjoying sharing their experiences.
Although this was said to be possible at Tongabezi, it didn't really happen, so you didn't get the chance to interact with the other guests. Tongabezi felt more like a exclusive boutique hotel, which itself is not a bad thing, but it did slightly lack the social aspect that often makes the Safari Camps really quite memorable.
Heaven on earth!
Well what a way to end our month! You really don't get it much better than this. We thought we had died and gone to heaven!
The room was superb, without doubt the best throughout our visit. The river frontage was stunning and to have a private deck of such size and comfort was wonderful. We were very well-looked after with a valet to ourselves.
We visited the school (as we had a professional connection with it) and this was very meaningful too.
The sundowner cruise on our first night when we were the only ones on it was very special indeed and yet again our wedding anniversary merited special treatment with another bottle of bubbly! The sundowner cruise on the second night, on which there were three different boats and a considerably larger number of people was also great, though we were somewhat concerned by the way in which our guide disturbed the herd of elephants drinking at the water's edge by sailing far too close to them.
The food was wonderful and the setting of the dining area magical, especially in the evening but at any time of day, eating beside the Zambezi was unforgettable.
We went to Victoria Falls on a trip run by the lodge which made it all very easy and the helicopter flight over the Falls was undoubtedly a real highlight.
The transfer to the airport for our flights home was slick and efficient.
We wished we had had time for another night at Tongabezi- there was plenty to do locally which we did not have time for and spending time at the lodge itself was a treat in itself. We were very sorry to leave.
Wonderful start to our 2 week trip.
Beautiful, peaceful room - Honeymoon - with amazing views over the Zambezi River. Open air bathroom an adventure on its own! Happily no bugs in sight just the sound of hippos snoring. Wonderful lunch on Livingstone Island overlooking the Falls.
We were both entertained and cared for in a relaxed, attentive way and highly commend the warm, friendly, professional staff team. Rudy, the Manager, made us feel very much at home in Paradise. Wish we had stayed 3 nights and not just 2. Next time..........
Only niggle was the plunge pool on our terrace was murky. Plenty of apologies given and we were unlikely to have used it in July :)
We spent three nights at the end of our trip. All the members of the staff were very efficient, friendly and nice and they all try hard to please any wish you may have. We stayed in a cottage and it was very good - although some details look good but are not that functional. Food was generally good.
We went to the falls, had a sunset boat trip (and thanks to Lawrence we spent a long time watching a large elephant herd drinking from the river form the Zim side- it was magic) and went canoeing down the river - which was a lot of fun. We also asked to go for a walk in the park and the staff organized it for us. We wanted to see the vegetable local market and were promptly accommodated.
Everything was good and organized..perhaps a little too much for us as we are more used to "more flexible-bush style" places and the fact that all activities have specific times detracted a little for us.
To be honest this was an add-on to our volunteering trip so we could not be flexible with dates and this was the best option at the time of our booking.
After the grueling schedule we kept at Kaingo and Mwamba, Tongabezi was a welcomed, restful retreat. Absolutely beautiful rooms - Dog House is beyond description it is so luxurious.
We loved the excursion to Devil's pool (although it was very expensive). We also added on a bush walk to see the Rhinos which we all loved (but again, expensive considering the cost of the trip overall).
We really enjoyed our stay at Tongabezi and hope to return someday for a relaxing vacation.
What a great place!! We had the Nut House which was sublime.
That said, it is the furtherest from the lodge including a good number of slightly unstable stairs (not illuminated during the power outages) so wouldn't suit everyone. We looked at all the Houses - and without exception they were out of this world. The food was tasty and sometimes innovative.
One of their new managers is Marc Harris who was at Ras Kutani when we were there a few years ago. He is excellent and will be an asset to Tongabezi. The staff is willing and in most instances very good - but there were hit and miss moments.. but then the location of the kitchen hinders speedy service..
We thought their Livingstone High Tea was exhorbitant for what it was.. Three nights is probably enough here..
Simply incredible!Read more about the whole trip
Great location, attentive staff
Beautiful location on the Zambezi River, and the villas really made the environment special.
The food was excellent -- among the best on our trip-- and the staff was especially helpful and accommodating.
The Tree House where we stayed was fantastic. Facilities were excellent and so cleverly designed to provide amazing views - even from the loo!
This room comes with a personal valet which is not something we would usually choose to have (seems far too decadent!) but was wonderful. Nyambe made sure our stay there was a delight and one we will not forget. He helped arrange visits for us, brought drinks to our room, dealt with our laundry and each evening served us dinner on our own private deck overlooking the Zambezi. Who would want to eat anywhere else?!
The activity managers were excellent at arranging the things we wanted to do - from swimming in Devil's Pool to helping us cross into Zimbabwe to see the falls from there. (Don't expect to have good views of the Falls in October from the Zambian side). It was an excellent place to stay at the end of a busy holiday - active but more relaxing and not as frantic as being on safari. It would also be an excellent place to begin a trip to Zambia and would be perfect for honeymooners.