Old Drift Lodge

Old Drift Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
14 tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 1 review
Children
Best for 12+
Open
All year

On the banks of the Zambezi River, 7km upstream of the Victoria Falls, the stylish Old Drift Lodge opened in mid-May 2018. It is one of a handful of camps within Zimbabwe’s Zambezi National Park, with regular visits from elephants to the lodge, especially later into the dry season.

Overlooking the Zambezi River, Old Drift has 14 tented chalets, all spaced out along the riverfront. These chalets are luxurious and stylish, their canvas walls the only real nod to a “tent”. Light-coloured canvas and high ceilings create a well-lit space, with a four-poster mosquito net enveloping a large king or twin beds, plus bedside tables, in the centre of the room. Four of the chalets have a second en-suite bedroom, catering for families, or couples travelling together. A seating area affords space for relaxation, with comfortable armchairs and a coffee table, locally made wooden desk and dresser, plus a minibar and tea and coffee station.

To the other side of the tent a sliding canvas door opens into the en suite bathroom, equally spacious, with twin sinks, a toilet behind another sliding door, and a large glass-screened shower cubicle. Step outside and you’ll find an outside shower, as well as a free-standing bath on the deck, with canvas curtains should you prefer a little more privacy.

A lot of thought has gone into the little touches in each room: the tents are well-stocked with amenities, with toiletries, dressing gowns and slippers in the bathrooms, and mosquito repellent, hairdryer and even hair straighteners! There’s also a charging station by each desk, and international and USB plug sockets next to the beds.

Your days will no doubt be filled with activities, but for guests spending their siesta at the lodge, sliding glass doors lead out from each tented chalet to a wooden deck, with loungers placed to look out to the river. It’s a great spot for birdwatching, with plenty of pied kingfishers, bee-eaters and swifts flying past. Though it was a little on the cool side for swimming when we were last at the lodge, in the hotter months the small plunge pool on each deck will no doubt be a welcome relief from the midday heat.

Linking the chalets to the expansive tented main area are wood-effect walkways, with regular breaks allowing access for the natural animal migration routes of elephant, and sometimes buffalo, down to the river. Large wooden doors open into the main area itself, with cream canvas walls, whitewashed wood floors and folding glass doors opening the full length of one side. Wrought-iron lights hang over comfortable chairs and sofas, piled with cushions and soft blankets for the colder evenings, and surrounding a central fireplace – which creates a focal point in front of a bar and small library. Friendly staff – ever present but unobtrusive throughout our stay in June 2018 – are on hand to bring drinks and nibbles, attend to guests’ queries and offer assistance.

In the dining area to the other side of the main tent, tables are placed under ceiling fans, as well as on the deck looking over the river. Outdoor lounge areas, with a mix of wooden and wicker furniture, are shaded by large cream umbrellas on a series of split-level decks leading down to a firepit and jetty.

Activities included at the Old Drift include game drives into the Zambezi National Park and cruises on the river. Extra activities, which incur an additional cost, include fishing and canoeing, as well as microlight and helicopter flights and a variety of adrenaline activities – all can be arranged through the lodge’s reception. Note, though, that some of the activities can get booked up a while in advance, so do chat to us for options before your trip.

If you’re heading into town for activities you’ll either be driven in, or you could be transferred by the lodge’s motorboat, which cruises between here and the Old Drift’s own jetty, opposite Kalunda Island, just a short drive from Victoria Falls town. For any activities that will keep you in town for the full day, lunch is included at their sister establishment, the Lookout Café, a large open-sided restaurant and bar in a stunning location atop the Batoka Gorge.

Our view

We were really impressed with this new addition to the accommodation options in Victoria Falls. With a beautiful location, stylish tents and a fantastic front-of-house team, Old Drift is a great lodge, either as a base for your visit to the Falls, or as a stand-alone lodge for a few days of relaxed safari activities.

Geographics

Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Ideal length of stay: We’d suggest a stay of three or more nights at Old Drift, which will give you time to relax at the lodge as well as enjoying some of the many activities in Victoria Falls.

Directions: The Old Drift jetty is a 35-minute drive from Victoria Falls airport. You’ll then be transferred to the lodge via speedboat, which usually takes 10–15 minutes, depending on the wildlife you see along the way.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Wild Horizons

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The food at Old Drift during our stay in June 2018 was very good, and the team were able to cater to a variety of different dietary requirements.

Tea, coffee and rusks are on offer first thing in the morning if you’re heading out in a game drive; otherwise a buffet-style breakfast is served from 7.00am. There’s also a station for eggs and pancakes cooked to order, with additional hot breakfast dishes available too.

Lunch is flexible, depending on the timings of your activity and the number of guests at the lodge. Either buffet or à la carte, there’s a mix of salads, quiches, and meat and vegetarian dishes. For guests in Victoria Falls for an activity, lunch is included at the Lookout Café with a great view down to the river below. We enjoyed freshly made chicken salad sandwiches and ice-cream milkshakes.

Dinner is again buffet or à la carte depending on the number of guests. We had an extensive braai, with pork, chicken, beef and fish options, alongside various salads, freshly baked rolls and a selection of pickles, sauces and dressings. Malva pudding and custard was one of the dessert options, though we plumped for the white- and dark-chocolate mousse, which was delicious.

Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Filtered drinking water is provided in the rooms and at the bar. Tea and coffee, as well as soft and alcoholic drinks, are included.

Further dining info: Riverside dinners and private dining options are available.

Children

Attitude towards children: Old Drift welcomes children over the age of seven in camp.

Property’s age restrictions: The lodge allows children from the age of seven and upwards, though children under 16 must share a room with an adult. The age limit for walking in the national park is 16 years old.

Special activities & services: None available, though any children under the age of 16 years may be taken on a drive while the adults go for a walk.

Equipment: Day beds can be included in the family rooms.

Notes: The plunge pools are unfenced, and wild animals often walk through camp. Children should be supervised by their parent or guardian at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: Old Drift Lodge has a back-up generator in case of a mains power failure. Geysers for each chalet are solar-powered, and the lodge plans to broaden the use of solar power until the whole lodge runs on solar power. All rooms have international charging points, along with USB sockets.

Communications: When we visited in June 2018, WiFi was available in the central areas, but we understand that the plan is for WiFi to be available only in the chalets.

TV & radio: There are no TVs at the lodge.

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: Water is pumped from the river, filtered and treated. The bathrooms have plumbed, hot showers and flush toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Staff members are first-aid trained, and there is a main first-aid kit in the reception. Smaller first-aid kits are carried by all guides whilst on activities. The closest medical clinic is in Victoria Falls.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Security is on site round the clock, with armed guards at night. There is an intercom in each chalet to call through to reception, and staff will escort guests to and from their chalets in the morning and after dark.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are located in each tented chalet, and throughout the main lodge.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A daily laundry service is included. Laundry can be hand washed or machine washed, and tumble dried on request.

Money: Each room has a digital safe. The lodge is often able to change small amounts of currency on request.

Accepted payment on location: Payment can be made via Mastercard and Visa, as well as cash in rand, pula, euro, UK pounds and US dollars.

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