If you are planning a trip around southern Africa you’ll find yourself searching for accommodation at, or near, major features. If it’s your first time this can be a daunting task. Here we look at three places to stay near iconic locations: Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River and Cape Town.
Victoria Falls Hotel, Zimbabwe
For more than a century it’s been as much a feature of the region as the falls themselves and its setting is superb. The grand old hotel had an unlikely start in 1904 as accommodation for workers on Cecil Rhodes’ Cape Town to Cairo railway. It’s a sprawling white Edwardian edifice with formal gardens overlooking the gorge directly below the falls – and there’s a direct trail to he brink of the chasm. From the hotel’s rooms and garden you can watch the sun rise over the mist of “the smoke that thunders” as the local name for Victoria Falls evocatively states. Mongooses roam the grounds and a resident family of warthogs are the hotel’s lawn mowers.
Relax in the stunning lounge room at the Victoria Falls Hotel
Zimbabwe has been economically challenged in recent years so you may wonder how the Vic Falls Hotel has fared. It has thrived: extensively redecorated in 2013 it remains a member of the exclusive Leading Hotels of the World group. The hotel is grandly comfortable but there’s now excellent high speed internet throughout and the food is stylishly modern. The service, from the highly-decorated doorman to the activities desk manager is a wonderful blend of friendliness and professionalism.
No trip to Zimbabwe is complete without a visit to the breathtaking Victoria Falls
There are 161 rooms and suites and the standard room rate begins at $US401. For a few days at the Falls it’s well worth the splurge.
Royal Zambezi Lodge, Zambia
Nowhere in the world does “tented camps” like Africa. Think elaborate hotel suite then make it out of thatch and canvas is the approach. At least that’s true for Royal Zambezi Lodge on the Lower Zambezi River – a short scenic flight from Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.
The beautiful rooms of the Royal Zambezi Lodge
The lodge’s 13 suites are scattered along the riverbank around a large open-air central lodge. From every room your view is over the wide expanse of flowing water and the soundtrack is of snorting hippos while elephants drink nearby. The dock is only metres from your breakfast table: fishing and cruising near wildlife are popular activities and kayaking the backwaters puts you close to creatures undisturbed by your presence.
While the National Park is close by for 4WD excursions the lodge itself occupies 3.5 km of river front facing Zimbabwe’s World Heritage Mana Pools on the other bank. The staff are justifiably proud of remarkable natural attractions and the whole place operates with simple sophistication. Zambia can be overlooked when planning an African holiday – Royal Zambezi Lodge shows why it shouldn’t be.
Tintswalo Atlantic, South Africa
Cape Town is a bustling modern city that has a lot of urban features to explore. But it’s also close to the Cape of Good Hope and the most upmarket suburbs are on the coast around to Hout Bay. For a more rounded experience you should consider staying outside town and taking the short drive into the city as required.
Enjoy the stunning views from the Tintswalo Atlantic
There’s no place less like a city hotel than the exclusive Tintswalo Atlantic lodge on the shore of Hout Bay directly below Chapman’s Peak and the only accommodation within Table Mountain National Park. In fact it is one of the most scenically dramatic lodges in the world. Waves crash on the pebble beach below your deck and the sun sets over dramatic Sentinel Mountain on the other side of the bay.
Fancy spending your honeymoon here in Cape Town?
Tintswalo exudes luxury from the opulent lounge area to the leisurely breakfast experience. Each of the suites is individually decorated along island themes. Not surprisingly, the lodge is very popular with local honeymooners but it’s a great option for visitors seeking a town and country experience. Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope are both only minutes away but, cocooned at Tintswalo you’re in another world.
Have you travelled to Africa? What was your favourite destination?