Waterberry Zambezi Lodge: Our full report
Small, congenial and family-friendly, Waterberry Zambezi Lodge (or simply Waterberry Lodge) is set on 750m ...... of Zambezi riverfront. It’s just a 45-minute drive upstream from the Victoria Falls: close enough to visit the Falls easily, but far enough away that its tranquillity 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.
The range of accommodation here presents plenty of choice for guests. Dotted around pretty, beautifully landscaped gardens are seven individual chalets, or “cottages”, each named after different birds. Attractively constructed of painted brick under thatch, their 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, mosquito repellent and hand sanitiser.
Overlooking the river's edge are two of the chalets, Weaver and Swallow, each with a double bed and a private veranda. Then immediately adjacent to the main area is the family chalet, Owl, sleeping up to five 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, while 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 do their best to accommodate any requests.
In addition to Waterberry's chalet accommodation is the River Farmhouse, which opened in 2013. About a five-minute walk from the main lodge, the Farmhouse is perfect for families or groups of between four and ten people travelling together. With three en-suite rooms, and a further two rooms with a shared bathroom in between, guests at the Farmhouse also have the services of a private chef as well as a separate team of staff, and a private boat and vehicles for their activities. Surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens and with a large swimming pool, it’s a great spot for a family safari.
The newest section of the lodge is The Woodlands, where three tents are nestled in the woodland towards the back of the grounds. Initially created for birders as a spot to sit in peace and quiet amongst the trees, the tents are a popular lower-cost accommodation option. Each tent has either two single beds or a king-size bed under a mosquito net, an en-suite bathroom, a small dressing area with shelves and storage space for luggage, and two small seating areas, one inside and one outside in front of the tent. Breakfasts are served on The Woodlands’ private terrace, and other meals can be taken in the main Farmhouse restaurant (a 200m walk down neat pathways) or served privately at the Woodlands, on request.
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 in September 2017. 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.
As well as a good-sized pool with sunloungers, 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.
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 the 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.
“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 a guided tour of the town and local markets. It's worth noting that unlike trips from some of the smarter (and more costly) neighbouring lodges, the visit to Victoria Falls is not guided.
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 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.
Country manager: Zambia
- Livingstone & Victoria Falls, Zambia
- 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.
- 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.
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- 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 September 2017 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 porridge, omelettes, a full English, 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
- Further dining info, including room service
- None, but they do bring tea or coffee with your wake-up call.
- Drinks included
- For guests staying on the fully inclusive option, local drinks and house wines are included. Premium brands will cost extra.
- Family holidays
- With family rooms, a swing, a pool, board games, pretty gardens and the option of a private villa, the small, tranquil Waterberry Lodge is great for family safari holidays in Zambia. Go walking on the adjacent nature trail or enjoy a variety of activities nearby! We recommend it for ages 6+.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- 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
- Cots can be provided, but no highchairs. 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.
- 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 and guardians must supervise their children at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Waterberry Lodge
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Waterberry Zambezi Lodge have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- There is a back-up generator
- There is cellphone reception around the lodge. WiFi is available and is free of charge.
- TV & radio
Tukongote Community Projects
Until the turn of the millennium, education was still just a dream for many children in the villages around Waterberry Zambezi Lodge. Then in 2009 Tukongote Community Projects was initiated, with classes for children aged 3–6 years old started in the old mud-and-pole church building, with help from a donation which covered the salary of a pre-school teacher.
Consistent efforts over the years facilitated the construction of four classrooms, which are now part of Tukongote Preschool, frequented daily by 75 pupils. The school officially opened in 2017, with additional classes added each year to build up to full primary-school provision.
The absence of secondary schools nearby means that few families can afford the high costs of accommodation, school fees and uniform or learning materials and school supplies. As a solution, Waterberry – together with their guests – sponsors a number of students to attend boarding school at Kazungula,
To add to the educational facilities, a community study centre was opened in 2018. Consisting of three rooms, the centre benefits from a library supplied with 30,000 books shipped from the UK, a reading club to encourage improvements in literacy, and a multi-purpose classroom which can be used for tuition in many subjects, including maths.
See more great sustainability projects in Zambia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Most of the managers have basic first-aid training. The nearest doctor is in Livingstone, although in an emergency, guests could 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.
- 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 are accepted, but Amex and Diners Club are not. Any card payments will be charged in kwacha at the prevailing exchange rate.
Room types at Waterberry Zambezi Lodge
The River Farmhouse
Opened in 2013, the River Farmhouse is quite separate from the main Waterberry Zambezi Lodge, yet just an easy five-minute walk away. Sleeping up to ten, the Farmhouse is only ever booked for just one family or group of friends travelling together.
There are five bedrooms: two doubles at the front, and three rooms which can be made as either doubles or twins at the back. The double rooms, North and East, have the best views, looking out towards the river, and with doors that open onto Waterberry Lodge's gardens. Their bathrooms are en-suite, too, each with a large bathtub as well as a shower, flushing toilet and washbasin.
South overlooks the gardens, and has an en-suite shower room, while the two West Suite rooms share a bathroom with a shower.
The large, airy, open-plan living area at the River Farmhouse is split between a sitting area with big squashy leather sofas in front of an open fireplace, and a dining area. The décor is a blend of African art on otherwise stark white walls, with a peppering of bright-coloured cushions and Moroccan-style rugs. While it might sound rather eclectic, we thought the effect was very attractive. Just behind the dining area is the kitchen, where meals are freshly prepared by the Farmhouse's private chef.
Large french windows open out from the lounge to a covered veranda, with a table and chairs for outside dining, as well as outdoor sofas. The large infinity pool is stunning, even more so with fabulous views of the Zambezi River.
The gardens at the Farmhouse took some time to mature after our first visits, but on our most recent visit were beautiful, with neatly tended lawns, and a variety of tropical flowers attracting plentiful birdlife.
Other lodges in Livingstone & Victoria Falls
Alternative places to stay in this same area.