Zambezi Sands: Our full report
Situated in a remote area beside the upper section of the Zambezi River, Zambezi Sands is a small tented ...... safari camp about an hour-and-a-half drive from Victoria Falls Town. The property is based in a wilderness area in Zambezi National Park, so in addition to the traditional activities associated with Victoria Falls, it also offers safari and water based activities.
We’ve visited Zambezi Sands several times over the last few years, most recently in June 2018, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time at this friendly camp.
Raised wooden walkways lead to Zambezi Sands' ten luxury tents, well spaced along the riverbank with views of the Sansimba Rapids and the main channel of the Zambezi River as it flows by at a fast pace.
With cool coloured canvas walls and wooden walkways, the tents are elevated on wooden stilts, under the shade of surrounding jackalberry trees.
Seven tents have two double beds while each of the other three have a king-size, each covered by a mosquito net, essential here during the rainy season. Decorated in a classic style, dark wooden furniture is in contrast to the canvas, and light coloured rugs on the polished wooden floors. Despite the traditional feel they are very modern, with solar powered bedside lamps, a well-stocked mini-bar each, as well as overhead fans and hairdryers.
Two tents are set up for families, with an interleading walkway between the tents and a sleeper couch in each one.
The en-suite bathrooms are found in a separate section at the centre of each tent. Here there's a freestanding bath, a washbasin and toilet, and complimentary toiletries are provided. To the side of each tent is an additional outdoor shower and a loo with a view.
All of the tents have beautiful panoramic views of the Zambezi – large sliding doors lead from a small lounge area at the front of each tent (a great place to relax), out to a private deck. At times of particularly high water (usually from around December to May) the front stilts of each tent will be partly submerged by water, with the river making its way underneath the front deck of each tent. The late-afternoons and evenings are usually accompanied by the sound of hippos wallowing in the nearby pools and streams.
Placed on the deck are some comfortable chairs underneath an umbrella and there's also a small, sunken plunge pool too – both key to providing welcome respite from the heat of the day. An elevated day bed also provided a great place to relax too.
At the centre of the camp is the main area where the dining room, lounge and bar areas are all housed. This, like the rest of the camp is raised up on stilts and is right on the banks of the river. The deck at the front of the main area is where meals are often served, weather permitting, and on a previous visit the chef even cooked breakfast here. There are a number of tables and chairs spread around and a sunken firepit forms an excellent focal point for pre- and post-dinner drinks. The main area is also where the jetty is found and where boating activities depart from.
Activities at Zambezi Sands are varied, with game drives and walks both available. The camp has resident ZimPro guides, so you can expect the quality of the guiding here to rival that found in the larger national parks. Canoeing is also on offer, and on a previous visit we spent a relaxing afternoon floating downriver, watching the hippos, elephants and birdlife, before stopping on the banks of the Zambezi River for sundowners and snacks. A small jetty allows the camp’s pontoon boat to moor close, allowing for motorised activities on the river. For a more relaxing afternoon, spa treatments are also available.
The upper section of the river on which Zambezi Sands is positioned is particularly well known for tigerfish, and fishing is available at no extra cost. Equipment is provided, but feel free to bring your own. There is one complimentary transfer into Victoria Falls per stay at Zambezi Sands, so in addition to the activities offered around camp, tours of the Victoria Falls, the town and the local markets are also on offer.
Although Zambezi National Park can't claim to match Zimbabwe's larger national parks in terms of population or density of big game, it certainly feels wild. In a 24-hour stay at Zambezi Sands we saw lots of elephant, buffalo, baboon, impala and good general game too.
Most guests come to Zambezi Sands for a wilderness experience away from the busier surroundings, larger hotels and buzz from the helicopters in Victoria Falls Town. They can expect to do a number of water and land-based activities here and will have every opportunity to visit the Falls and the various attractions closer to town too. The location is more about the natural setting than the wildlife, but there is enough of a chance to see something special to keep guests interested.
Zambezi Sands is a keen supporter of the local community and its parent company is working hard to develop and deliver on social and conservation commitments. The camp contributes to a number of schools and clinics in the area as well as creating and developing local, small-scale infrastructure projects. The camp is rightly proud of these commitments and achievements and they are happy to arrange for guests to visit some of them during a stay.
Zambezi Sands has several sister camps which can be combined with a stay here to take advantage of long-stay specials. In Hwange National Park guests should in particular consider pairing Bomani Tented Lodge, Camelthorn, Nehimba or Jozibanini with a stay at Zambezi Sands.
Zambezi Sands is a stylish camp in a wilderness area close to the Victoria Falls. The game viewing in the Zambezi National Park isn't as prolific as in the larger national parks, but there is still plenty to see. Zambezi Sands will appeal to travellers who are looking for a more relaxing, safari style property with more opportunity for water based activities than the larger hotels in town, and are happy with a visit to the Victoria Falls being a possibility rather than a priority.
Country manager: Zimbabwe
- Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
- Ideal length of stay
- Zambezi Sands is remote, so takes a little longer to get to than many other options in Victoria Falls. We'd recommend a stay of three nights here – this will give guests one full day in which to visit the Falls, and another to take advantage of the activities at camp and to relax and take in the surroundings.
- Guests arrive at camp by road, approximately an 18km drive from Victoria Falls. This is tarmac for the first quarter of the journey, before turning off and then travelling along dirt roads to camp, through the national park. A scenic drive along the river will take around 1.5 hours.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- In our experience the food at Zambezi Sands has been very good indeed. The chef had an eye for detail and the food, as well as being very tasty, was also very well presented.
On our last visit, we only had time to stay for lunch, but we enjoyed a deliciously creamy carbonara, served with a light Greek salad with fresh avocado and warm home-baked cheese rolls.
On previous visits however we’ve been able to sample the full menu. Each day generally begins with an 'early breakfast' of tea and coffee, toast and a variety of jams, yoghurt and cereals all served around the campfire.
After the morning activity guests return to camp and a brunch or lunch is offered, depending on the time of day. A typical menu for brunch might consist of bacon, sausage, fried onions, cheese and mushroom omelette, toast, grilled tomato and a corn and herb muffin.
Afternoon tea consists of both savoury and sweet options, as well as hot and iced tea and coffee.
A variety of snacks, often nuts, olives or biltong, and drinks are served on game drives and activities, and sundowners are often served on a small island in the middle of the Zambezi.
Dinner is a set menu, and on a previous visit we enjoyed chicken strips and tempura vegetables served with asparagus puree and salad garnish. followed by a beef fillet and aubergine tower with mustard sauce. Dessert was a profiterole tower served with vanilla custard sauce.
- Family holidays
- Zambezi Sands offers family accommodation within easy reach of the Victoria Falls. The camp offers varied activities to help keep children entertained, and the camp is located on a section of the Zambezi River with fewer hippos, so it provides opportunities for younger children to boat and fish on the river - something not possible in the larger national parks.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Zambezi Sands is out of town and remote, and feels very secluded. With stylish and relatively self-contained tents, each with their own small plunge pools, this is a great choice for honeymoon couples travelling in Zimbabwe.
- See ideas for Honeymoons
- Attitude towards children
- Zambezi Sands is quite a grown up camp and, along with game that can be hit-or-miss at times, it's not a first choice for travellers with children under about ten years old.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Zambezi Sands accepts children of 7 years and older.
- Special activities & services
- There are no special activities and services for children provided by camp.
- There is no specialist equipment provided for children at Zambezi Sands.
- Generally recommended for children
- There is quite a mature feel to Zambezi Sands. Although Victoria Falls is a family friendly destination, this camp does not have quick and easy access to these, relatively speaking. Although the camp has a family room and can cater to younger children, we think this camp is better suited to families with older children.
- Zambezi Sands is an open camp, right on the banks of the Zambezi River. Hippos and crocodiles in particular frequent these banks and are a potential danger to fully grown adults, let alone children. Children should be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times.
- Power supply notes
- Zambezi Sands' generator runs during peak times: in the mornings, at lunchtime and in the evenings. Once all guests have gone to bed, the generator is switched off, but each tent has lights supported by a battery, along with solar powered and rechargeable lamps, so guests will rarely notice any difference from the camp being on mains electricity, with the notable exception of the ceiling fans going off. It can get quite warm when this happens.
- There is sporadic cellphone reception at Zambezi Sands. The main area has WiFi.
- TV & radio
- There is no TV or radio at Zambezi Sands.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Each tent at Zambezi Sand has an ample supply of water. The showers are plumbed and there are flushing toilets in each.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The guides and camp management at Zambezi Sands are all first-aid trained and there is a doctor in Victoria Falls. Medical Air Rescue Service (MARS) is available in the event of a major emergency.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- A nightwatchman patrols the camp, and staff will walk guests back to their tents before dawn and after dark. There is an electronic safe in each villa to store valuables.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers placed around camp.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Full laundry service is included, except for underwear, for which washing powder is provided in the bathrooms.
- No exchange facilities offered. There are safes in all the tents.
- Accepted payment on location
- Cash payments may be made in South African rand, US dollars, pounds sterling, euros and Botswana pula. There are no card facilities at Zambezi Sands.
Other lodges in Victoria Falls
Alternative places to stay in this same area.