Reviews of Tongabezi
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
great location and beautifully designed
The bedroom/bathroom was comfortable. Food was good, wine was limited to a house wine which was of a very mediocre standard.
Service was poor, apart from that at dinner which was very good. ( different staff?). Breakfast was always late.
Our 'personal valet' simply did not have a clue. The bedroom alert system - a field telephone - was not functioning. We drew this to his attention, asking him to have it seen to. Next day, When we needed it we found it still to be unusable. My husband walked to reception to report it. Nothing happened! Another visit to reception and a complaint to the Manager had it repaired without delay. Our valet said he 'forgot'. This, we feel is a serious omission given that one is asked not to leave the bedroom without a guide at night. In the event of an emergency there were no means of contacting anbody.
Expert Africa comments
Tongabezi's management has since commented that the member of staff in question has received further training to ensure that standards are upheld and to ensure that similar situations do not arise in the future. They are also considering of providing each room with an emergency whistle so that should any similar breakdowns occur in the future, these can be used in the unlikely event of an emergency.
The management comments that the lodge is also working on upgrading its house wine list and is looking at introducing a premium wine list (for which a supplement will be payable locally over and above the inclusive price).
We were probably spoilt by previous camps. Our transfer across the border was poor. We got off the boat and the agents were asleep in the van which resulted in us getting aggressively hassled by guys begging and selling things.
Tongabezi felt a little shabby round the edges. the activities manager seemed rather disinterested and we only had one time choice to visit Livingston Island. Chris and i were in the new room the nut house and the big positive was that the private pool was fantastic.
Some of the staff were extremely friendly, others not so. They did make a big effort with a private dinner and cake and song to celebrate Teresa's birthday. Trip to Livingston Island fantastic and guides wonderful which made the trip there worthwhile.
This was a return to Tongabezi for me and I have to say a slightly disappointing one. Whilst in a great position on the Zambezi and close enough to town, the camp has 'faded' since my last visit. I was in one of the open older style cottages, and I appreciate it must be hard to keep things fresh in an open room, but the room felt tired and unloved (fallen tiles lay around, stained/coloured sheets and fabrics, dusty floors/shelves), perhaps our feelings were exaggerated by the quality of camps we'd arrived here from.
In the communal areas we found the same 'rough edges', uncleared tables left for hours, communal couches and seats shabby and service was a bit hit and miss. Things improved over the stay but we had a desire to be 'out of camp' when we had planned to chill out here in camp for a couple of days before heading home.
Local staff were very friendly and had the most incredible smiles and singing voices, but didn't seem genuinely happy. It was odd. Like something was missing in tying it all together. This lodge is more expensive than others on offer, I would definitely try another lodge in the Livingstone area next time.
Not sure if the Transfers are linked to Tongabezi or Wilderness?? but we wouldn't do the full road transfer next time and instead fly from Kasane to Livingstone. The collection from Kasane, through customs and onto the boat were great, but the pickup from the boat transfer was mixed. We were harassed by the local vendors and they did nothing to support us during this. We got through customs fine, visas etc., but they weren't particularly friendly and small things like having no water in the van for us, when they said we were only people they'd picked up today.
The vehicle was comfortable and their driving was safe, but it felt like we had definitely left the 'care of Wilderness'.
R & R at Tongabezi
More excellent hospitality and service. Forbes, our personal valet, was almost clairvoyant in his anticipations of our needs! Fantastic location. Had a hippo munching the grass right outside our room on our last night. The chef surpassed expectations in meeting my special dietary needs - just couldn't eat it all, there was so much!!
Caught Tiger Fish on fishing trip, canoed down the Zambezi amongst the hippos, visited Victoria Falls and swam in the 'Devil's Pool'. The staff made us feel like we were the only ones there, they were so attentive. A really relaxing and romantic end to our African adventure.
Luxury on the Zambezi
Tongabezi`s reputation goes before it. We have known quite a few people who have stayed her over the years and it lived up to expectations.
We were warmly greeted and introduced to our personal valet who showed us to our cottage. Lovely rooms overlooking the mighty Zambezi with everything one could want. We were shown the central area offered drinks and lunch. The activities manager went through the list of possibilities with us and drew up a programme for our stay.
As it was very low water and we had seen the Falls many times before we decided to give that a miss. We had a game drive, had a sundowner cruise and a a picnic lunch on an island in the middle of the river. Once again we tried our luck with the elusive Tigers but not one bite did we have.
Tongabezi was a perfect end to our trip. Once again the staff were very attentive, the food was good and the company congenial. We were given the option to eat alone or on a guest table. After dinner one night the staff sang to us which was beautiful.
Ultimate luxury near Victoria Falls
A great end to our trip, after the exertions of the bush. Tongabezi offers a different kind of experience from the safari camps and lodges we visited previously. The accommodation is larger and even more luxurious, the food excellent, service just as good if a bit less personal (because there are many more staff, to look after many more visitors - and perhaps the fact that one doesn't get to mingle with the management in the same way.
We took a game drive and were able to see the remaining white rhino on foot, but the Vic Falls Park lacks the wilderness atmosphere of S Luangwa and Kafue. Our first visit to the Vic Falls was another overwhelming experience. A shame that they make a charge for the game drive.
Tongabezi was somewhat different to the two previous camps as although it was in a Park and did have a few Hippos running around it felt less like being in the bush.
The meals here were superb and the quantity and quality of food excellent - full breakfasts with so much choice. We did feel it was more formal at this "camp" and we missed the atmosphere of being sat with other guests at lunch and dinner especially as we were all sat together for pre and post dinner drinks. A more formal choice of destination.
Great end to the holiday at Tongabezi
We thought Tongabezi was fantastic. We were in one of the river cottages which was really lovely and the views of the Zambezi were incredible.
We thought the food here was extremely good. Service & friendliness of the staff excellent. We particularly enjoyed the boat trips - the sunrise & sunset cruises and would highly recommend the bird watching trip.
Our only annoyance was that we were overcharged for our helicopter ride. We requested a 22 minute flight but at the time of booking were told that the 15 minute or 30 minute durations were more popular and we might not find enough people wanting the 22 mins. We said that we would alternatively go for the 15 mins if necessary. Tongabezi weren't specific about the length of ride when they confirmed our booking but on my watch the actual trip was 24 mins.
When we check out we were charged for a 30 minute trip even though at no point had we said we would do the 30 mins. We did complain but we could not get the charge reduced.
Relax at Tongabezi
Not a lot to say, everything except for lunch was excellent, lunch was exceptional.
Our whole stay from beginning to end was exactly what we were after and that was total relaxation.
Did not want to leave.
Fabulous setting right on the banks of the Zambezi. The cottages are lovely with good views, set next to the river and far enough apart to give absolute privacy. The sounds of hippo calling to each other accross the river was wonderful. The highlight of our stay was finding a hippo on the lawn in front of our cottage leisurely chomping the grass until, having caught sight of us, it slunk quietly away and slipped back inot the river with a grunt of "goodbye".
Tongabezi facilities were good with private dinning on a wooden deck with unforgettable views of the river. Staff were friendly and attentive.
Activities were very good and staff were amenable to requests. We went to Victoria Falls twice - it was just mesmerising. We also got to visit the Royal Livingstone Hotel en route and had the opportunity to savout the ameneties there and see the mist rising from the falls accross the river!
We enjoyed Tongabezi.
We would like to just make mention here of the second stage of our trip which was overland from Tongabezi to the border with Botswana. This was another terrific experience. The Zambezi is the border and having had our passports stamped at the border post, we had to carry our luggage to the water's edge and wait for a little steel boat to take us accross the mighty Zambezi. Halfway accross, the boatman stopped the boat and gave us a lecture on the confluence of the Zambezi and Chobe rivers and the countries bordering - meanwhile the little boat bobbed up and down in this vast expanse of water and the huge lorry ferry ploughed passed us. Slightly surreal!