Along the banks of the Zambezi River in Livingstone, about 30 km away from the Victoria Falls, lies an exquisite private sanctuary…
The only Relais & Chateaux property in Zambia, the award-winning Royal Chundu holds the title of Zambia’s Leading Safari Lodge as well as 9th Best Resort in the World . It consists of the River Lodge with its 10 villas built on stilts and the Island Lodge on Katombora Island. Both are river-facing and surrounded by lush riverine vegetation. I recently had the opportunity to stay there with my family and we loved it.
Here are 10 unique experiences that visitors to Royal Chundu will treasure forever.
1. Canoeing on the Zambezi River
Canoeing in the meandering waters of the mighty Zambezi River, surrounded by spectacular scenery, is a blissful experience shared only with the wildlife and the birds. Even though there are hippos and crocodiles in the river, the knowledgeable guides know how to steer clear of them as they navigate the rapids and the channels of the Zambezi’s islands.
2. Picnic on a private island
One of the highlights of the canoe trip is a surprise picnic on a private island. And it is no ordinary picnic. Hammocks are strung up between the trees, rugs are laid out on the river banks, and a feast awaits you.
3. River safaris
Royal Chundu is built on a 15km private stretch of the Zambezi. You will be taken on river safaris, on a spacious pontoon boat, at sunrise or sunset. The only other boats you may see belong to the local mokoro fishermen. As you cruise along the river, you will spot the abundant wildlife that frequent the Zimbabwean river banks opposite the lodge.
4. Morning coffee overlooking the river
Morning coffee and cookies at Royal Chundu are delivered to your suite via a serving hatch which the staff member unlocks from the outside. Once the hatch is closed again, the staff member rings the bell and leaves, without intruding on your privacy. You can then get your coffee without having to cover up first, and sip it on your own private deck while enjoying the river views.
5. Visit a local village
A visit to a nearby village is a must. We were impressed by how the local people use plants and herbs to make necessities, such as medicines, soap and even glue. The lodge works with the neighbouring communities, providing them with seeds to plant crops, educating the children and employing the adults.
6. See ancient baobabs in an unspoilt forest
Trek through the unspoilt forests of Katombora Island, with its 2 000-year-old jackalberry trees, giant baobabs and python creepers. The guides will educate you about the traditional and medicinal uses of the plants on the island.
7. Sunset over the river
Sunset on the lookout deck, high above the rapids, is an unforgettable event. We relaxed on comfortable couches and Persian rugs, with snacks and drinks before us, and a friendly waiter at our service. For a more unique adventure, you can spend the night on the deck. A comfortable bed will be brought up for you and your partner!
8. Zambian tasting menu
Every meal at Royal Chundu is a gourmet event, usually served al fresco. Food is prepared from organic ingredients sourced within a 4km radius wherever possible, ensuring that meals are fresh and flavourful, while supporting the local communities. During your stay, you will have the opportunity to sample a customised Zambian tasting menu. A waiter will explain the significance of the dishes and ingredients used in Zambian culture.
9. Traditional massage
The Sisters of Africa Spa will heal your body and soul with traditional and modern healing techniques adapted from the local villages, using natural products. Treatments include a traditional stick massage and a river sand scrub.
10. Visiting the Victoria Falls
No visit to Livingstone is complete without visiting this natural wonder of the world. The largest waterfall in the world by area, it is situated on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. For a different perspective, you can fly over the falls in a helicopter.
A stay at this royal waterfront hideaway is sure to create unforgettable memories. For more information, visit Royal Chundu.