Zambezi Waterfront is simple but it’s great value for money, and well located.
Zambezi Waterfront: Our full report
Situated roughly 4km upstream from the Victoria Falls, The Zambezi Waterfront offers clean, functional and economical accommodation for anyone wanting to spend some time in the Falls area while not breaking the bank. Thus it attracts a range of ages and styles of visitors, including a healthy number of younger travellers and, as its name suggests, it has a great location right next to the river.
Accommodation at The Waterfront ranges from basic camping through to en-suite rooms – simple but clean and comfortable.
For campers there’s the ‘Adventure Village’, purpose built for backpackers and those travelling on a real shoestring budget. Here, 24 9m² dome tents are erected on sturdy elevated platforms, each with a small deck in front. Inside each are two single beds and just one electric light, plus a fan: despite having mesh windows and doors with roll-down canvas flaps, the tents can get very hot during the day. Toilet facilities are provided in two well-maintained ablution blocks.
Well away from the Adventure Village, The Waterfront’s en-suite rooms are situated much closer to the river. There are seven ‘chalets’ incorporating rooms of different standards, three overlooking the river and the rest set back in a shaded garden area. All the rooms come with fans, mosquito nets, electronic safes and their own private balcony or veranda, plus tea- and coffee-making stations and fridges kitted out with a few bottles of water.
- Three ‘executive’ chalets face the river. Each has a king-size bed and a bathroom with both a bath and a shower.
- Six additional ‘river-facing’ chalets have twin or double beds; their bathrooms have a shower but no bath.
- Ten ‘standard’ chalets are similar, but these are set back away from the river.
- The family chalets, too, are away from the river. Each contains four single beds and has a shower but no bath.
The Waterfront’s chalets aren’t modern or flashy but they are clean and well kept. With the relatively recent addition of safes to each and with plans to install air conditioning and televisions in the short to mid-term, it’s clear that there’s a desire to improve on the already good-quality facilities.
The main area at The Waterfront is right next to the Zambezi, where the large deck is a perfect place for sundowners and for the open-air restaurant. Between around December to April, you can even see the spray from the Victoria Falls rising up in the distance. When the rains arrive, or when the outside area is very busy, guests can also dine in the large, sheltered restaurant area adjacent to the bar.
The long bar itself is a real focal point of The Waterfront, frequented by travellers and locals alike and sometimes pretty lively. Although the chalets and rooms are quite well spaced out and some are quite far from the main area, it’s important to be aware of the potential for late-night disturbance from revellers.
Two large swimming pools help to keep guests cool: one adjacent to the restaurant area and an even larger one near the campsite. The Waterfront also has its own two-storey riverboats, the MV Makumbi and MV Mambushi, which are moored alongside the main deck ready to take guests on sundowner cruises on the river. Additional facilities include an internet café upstairs and a curio shop.
Another huge draw is the activities centre. One of the largest adventure activity organisers in Zambia has its base at The Waterfront and the activities on offer here (from bungee jumping and gorge swinging to white-water rafting and microlighting over the Falls – all at additional cost) are some of the most extensive on offer in Livingstone. (NB: It’s essential that you read the Quadbike warning in the ‘Health & Safety’ section below for our comments on insurance issues regarding this activity.)
Our viewThe Waterfront is one of the most basic properties Expert Africa features. The accommodation options are simple, but it’s great value for money, and well located for easy access to both the Falls and the town of Livingstone. There’s no shortage of things to keep you entertained, either, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste: the bar can get very lively and on busy days everything can seem very overcrowded. We’d recommend The Waterfront to those looking for a lively atmosphere and friendly (but not five-star) service. For those looking for a more relaxed and refined experience, then there are better options further upstream from the Falls.
Ideal length of stay: We’d recommend a stay of two nights if you plan to visit just the Falls, and perhaps three or four nights if you’d also like to take part in activities such as half or full-day white-water rafting.
Directions: The Waterfront is a 15–20-minute road transfer from Livingstone Airport or an hour from the Botswana border post at Kasane.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Safari Par Excellence
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: Most of Expert Africa’s travellers stay at The Waterfront on a bed-and-breakfast basis.
On our last visit the breakfast was good if a little unadventurous. As well as a continental buffet of porridge, yoghurts and fruit, there was the option of bacon and eggs with mushrooms and baked beans. Tea and coffee were served in large urns on a side table along with orange juice.
Dinner was standard fare of burgers and steaks as well as some locally caught bream. We had the rump steak with chips – which was cooked to perfection.
Sandwiches and snacks are available throughout the day.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £5-10
Drinks included: None
Further dining info: Not available
Attitude towards children: The Zambezi Waterfront welcomes children of any age.
Property’s age restrictions: None
Special activities & services: None
Generally recommended for children: The Zambezi Waterfront is a very laid-back lodge with quite a young vibe that is probably more suited to older children than most of the lodges we feature. However, its riverside location means that hippos and crocodiles are never far away and the currents this close to the Falls can be extreme. Children must be supervised at all times.
Notes: All children are welcome
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: The lodge has a landline as well as an internet café for guests.
TV & radio: There are televisions in the main bar area.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Livingstone, about ten minutes’ drive away.
Quadbike warning: quad-biking is sometimes available as an activity from the activity centre at The Waterfront. As with any potentially dangerous activity, it’s vital that you take responsibility for ensuring that you have adequate travel insurance prior to getting involved. Be aware that some insurances cover quad-bike activities only for bikes with lower engine ratings: check such clauses particularly carefully before you get on a bike.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: There are security guards patrolling the premises but this is quite an open property with people coming and going constantly. It’s therefore advisable to conceal valuables in your room. On our last visit to The Zambezi Waterfront in March 2011 there were plans to install safes in the rooms but as yet there have been no further developments on this.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers positioned around the site.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge
Accepted payment on location: Visa & MasterCard are accepted without extra charges; neither Amex or Diners card are accepted.