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A Bed in Livingstone – Sindabezi Island Review

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Tongabezi is the ultimate luxury lodge along the banks of the Zambezi. Just upriver from the magnificent Victoria Falls, on a bend of the river, it has prime position for relaxation and adventure rolled into one. However, if you want to take your Victoria Falls accommodation experience and make it entirely magical, you will want to book at least one night on Sindabezi Island. This is Tongabezi’s very own desert island with a whole lot of luxury.

To read all about our stay in the main Tongabezi lodge, check out our full review –  A Night in Livingstone – Tongabezi Review

Location

If you are staying at Tongabezi, you just need to jump aboard a boat and traverse the Zambezi for five minutes. Sindabezi Island is just upstream from the main Tongabezi resort and actually in the river itself. To either sife, water flows past. Don’t worry, they provide someone to steer the boat for you. Not only is this much more relaxing, but there are rocks and hippos in the river that they know how to avoid.

Our hippopotamus friends.

Tongabezi itself is located just North of Livingstone, the main town on the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls. It is the perfect spot to explore the mighty falls.

A Look Around Our Room

Less of a room, more of a luxury rustic hideaway. We actually had a whole open front lodge, facing the water. There are five such rooms on the island, all separated by plenty of space. We were actually lucky enough to have the entire island all to ourselves, but even with other rooms being occupied, we would never have heard our neighbours.

The back of the room, and the roof, were a wooden frame, but the sides and front walls were thick tent flaps. As you can see, we chose to have them rolled up to enjoy the view during the day, but brought them down at night. This was done by our friendly and attentive valet. He was on hand to bring us to dinner or activities and for any other help we needed.

Wouldn’t you!?
The Interior

Given the first view of sandy Sindabezi Island, we were slightly worried that we were getting camp beds. but we couldn’t have been more wrong. Walking around the deck and seeing the room for the first time, we were thrilled to see that the furnishing were still lavish but with rustic touches. Think Robinson Crusoe does five star resort,

That meant a large double bed on a wooden frame, and surrounded by a mosquito net hanging from bamboo. In fact, there was wood throughout and it gave the whole room a lovely, earthy vibe. I was particularly enamoured with the chandelier. I think, I hope, it was all sourced locally because it was all lovely.

The View

Yes, this gets its very own section.

The front of the room was a small deck that was overlooking a lovely stretch of river, just for us. We could sit in our director style chairs, or lounge in the hammock that was strung alongside them. It was an incredible way to begin the day.

The Bathroom

The bathrooms on Sindabezi Island are a mostly al fresco affair. Don’t worry though, only the hippos will see you shower! (The toilet also has tent walls and a privacy curtain). The basin is undercover, so your toothbrush won’t get mucky, and your flannel will only get wet when you want. We thought it was invigorating to have the view and the breeze as we got ready for the day.

The one thing I didn’t love about it was the lack of protection from mosquitoes. I would advise you to shower in the day when they aren’t out on the hunt.

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The bath was a gorgeou roll-top. One of my favourite moments on the island was the surprise bath that was run for me. On arriving back from our sunset cruise (more on that later) our valet had run a bubble bath, with accompanying sparkling wine. Bubbles and more bubbles, delightful!

A Look Around the Sindabezi Island

The Pavilion

In the main area, you will find a variety of seating option. The Pavilion (our word for it) is the bit that is under cover. If you have a little rain, it is a nice place to sit and socialise. In here, you will find the self-service bar and lots of squishy seating. Again, the aesthetics in here are basic but stylish.

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Outside

Are you more of a treehouse person or is a quirky egg chair more your thing? Picnic table or fireside bench? There are so many options here.

There are four main areas to relax in.

  1. A picnic table right on the river. Here you can sit and watch the water flow by, or grab the telescope and try and do some wildlife spotting.
  2. A firepit which they spark up at night. This is lovely place to relax when the sun has gone down, the flattering light of the fire flickering across the faces of your new island-mates.
  3. The funky selection of seating that includes the egg chair. What is it about egg chairs that means we cant walk past them without jumping in?
  4. The raised decking area/treehouse. You can eat among the tree branches here and survey the island from above. Below it is a huge dining table and that is where we enjoyed our breakfast…

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Dining

Breakfast

Being the only guests on the island, this was a private affair. I’d imagine that if there were more guests, you could choose to have breakfast with the group, or off by yourselves.

We ordered from the menu, expecting small bits and bobs. We had forgotten that at Tongabezi, you will never be hungry!

Not only did I get three plump, stacked savoury pancakes with fresh vegetables (which filled me up) but a huge bowl of fruit, bread rolls and an entire cafetiere of coffee. I would say you don’t need lunch, but when you see the lunch menu, you end up eating vast amounts all over again!

Now, I said that our breakfast was a private affair, but we were joined by one cheeky little monkey…literally. This monkey, the only brave guy among the few who live on the island came to visit. He was partly interested in us, but mostly kept a beady eye out for anything he could make off with. Sadly for him, we are piggies and ate the lot. The plates were whisked away very promptly too. In the end he gave up and bounded away, through the branches.

The other two eating and drinking experiences we had on Sindabezi Island were activities in themselves.

Sampan Dinner

Private dinners on the beach are nice, a la carte restaurants in all-inclusive resorts are nice, but this was a step beyond. See that little floating platform in the picture below? They call it a sampan and as a special treat, you can share a meal with your chosen someone.

Sitting aboard tour platform, bobbing in the stream, romance was in the air. Every so often, a canoe would approach the deck and bring our next course. The only sounds were the gentle clank of lanterns on poles, the lapping of the water and the occasional snort of hippos (that we had fun spotting).

Mr Fluskey opted for soup, where as I can never resist a ravioli

The food was, as all the food was at Tongabezi, well-cooked and packed with flavour. In fact we didn’t have a single disappointing dish thorugh out our whole stay. The chefs really know their way around a kitchen, even on a desert island!

My pork was really tender and the mash was perfectly smooth. Accompanied by several glasses of sparkling wine, it was pitch perfect. I had to make sure I didn’t have too much wine, it wouldn’t be great to tipsily topple off the sampan, or need a bathroom break!

Karl’s fish dish was yet more classic cooking done well

I suppose the one thing I would change would be the timing of the meal. I would go a bit earlier in the day. We took to the river after dark so as well as the romance in the air, there was LOTS of buzzing insects. Our lanterns were the only lights around and so we attracted quite the menagerie. You’ll need your full mosquito protection for this one once the sun has gone down (long sleeves, 50% deet etc).

However, the timing of the meal was entirely our own decision, It meant we could indulge in a sunset cruise.

Sunset Cruise

My favourite activity was our sunset cruise. Through out our stay in Africa, I had been searching for “that sunset”. You know, the one that everyone raves about, where the sky turns red and stops you in your tracks? Well, we found it on the Zambezi river. What made it even better, was sitting on a private boat, washing it down with a cold glass of something delicious.

Before we set out on the water, they had asked our drink preference, and after doing some wildlife spotting along the banks, we motored out to our spot for the main event. Our captain cracked open a cooler box at the back of the boat and as the sun began to sink, we relaxed with our favourite beverages.

The sunset was spectacular with a flock of birds coming into roost, performing mesmerising murmurations. As they swooped and danced with dazzling synchronicity across the fiery sky, we had to keep reminding ourselves that it was real. It was a truly beautiful moment.

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There may be those of you out there who come to Tongabezi and Sindabezi for pure relaxation, but believe me, this activity is totally worth it,. It will be a memory to last a lifetime.

Information

If you are thinking of visiting Sindabezi Island or Tongabezi, here are some things you might like to know:

  • Booking – The best place to see the latest deals, and book is the Tongabezi website.
  • Victoria Falls – Tongabezi runs tours to nearby Victoria Falls and can arrange all kinds of activities when you get there. They exclusively operate visits to the Devil’s Pool at the edge of the falls (seasonally). We  tried this out and a full review is coming soon!
  • Getting there – The closest airport is Livingstone (LVI). There are daily flights from Johannesburg in South Africa and it cheaper than flying to the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls.
  • Entry requirements – UK and US passport holders can obtain visa on arrival at Livingstone airport. Your passport will need six months validity, two blank pages and the visa must be paid in US Dollars.
  • Currency – Zambia uses the Zambian Kwacha. It can be tricky to get currency from ATMs in Livingstone so change money before you come. Alternatively, Tongabezi takes US Dollars and card payments.
  • Plugs – Zambia uses three flat pin plugs, identical to UK plugs.

Final Thoughts

If I had to be castaway on a desert island, I would definitely pick Sindabezi. I adored the mix of rustic retreat and five star service. All of needs were met and some, like the bath, I didn’t even know I wanted until it happened!

It is not often Mr Fluskey and I have truly romantic moments but on Sindabezi they were real and wonderful. Sindabezi would be the most fantastic place for a honeymoon in Zambia; the perfect place to make magical memories.

This post was created in collaboration with Tongabezi but all opinions are entirely my own.

Rosie xx

Sindabezi Island is the island retreat of luxury lodge Tongabezi. Sitting in the Zambezi, upsteam from Victoria Falls, this is rustic luxury perfected. #zambia #zambiatravel #africanhoneymoon #luxuryisland
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Sindabezi Island is the island retreat of luxury lodge Tongabezi. Sitting in the Zambezi, upsteam from Victoria Falls, this is rustic luxury perfected. #zambia #zambiatravel #africanhoneymoon #luxuryisland
Love it? Pin it!
Sindabezi Island is the island retreat of luxury lodge Tongabezi. Sitting in the Zambezi, upsteam from Victoria Falls, this is rustic luxury perfected. #zambia #zambiatravel #africanhoneymoon #luxuryisland
Love it? Pin it!


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