(10 luxury chalets) PO Box 60469, Livingstone; tel/fax: 03 324457, +263 11 406563; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.wilderness-safaris.com. Or book through Wilderness Safaris in Johannesburg (email: email@example.com)
Designed to reflect the colonial era, the River Club was opened in 1998, perched on a rise beside the Zambezi, next to Tongabezi. Guests are driven from town to a launch site upstream for the lodge, and then brought downriver by boat, a scenic ten-minute ride. The turn-off from Nakatindi Rd is signposted at the same junction as for Tongabezi.
The lodge has ten thatched, en-suite chalets which are cleverly designed and constructed on stilts, amidst indigenous riverside trees. All are high up with stunning views, their entirely open fronts facing over the Zambezi below. Two honeymoon suites have double beds; the other eight chalets have two singles. All are large with good decoration, quality fabrics, canopied mosquito nets and many nice touches (like the claw-foot bathtubs). Each is named after an explorer or colonial figure, like Stanley and Livingstone.
The main lodge building is also constructed in the colonial style with tin roof and wide verandas (which looks better than it sounds), boasting magnificent views of the river. Here you can sit and enjoy traditional high tea served each afternoon or watch the sun slip beneath the horizon with a cocktail in your hand. Inside are the reception, a small gift shop, a formal dining room (with a magnificent teak table), a comfortable lounge, a massive double-sided fireplace and a well-stocked library. Antiques, colonial pictures and many decorator touches add to the lodge's Edwardian ambience. Meals are elegant affairs of a high standard. The entire atmosphere, décor and service are reminiscent of a bygone era.
Overlooking the river is a large swimming pool set in sweeping lawns, while palms, brightly coloured bougainvillea and gardens complete the picture. Croquet, boules and bush golf are on hand, and included in the price is a choice of fishing, sundowner boat trips, game-park drives, crocodile farm, museum and Falls visits, trips to local villages and schools, Stone-Age sites and Livingstone town. A tented gazebo provides the perfect venue for riverside massages, which can be arranged at extra cost, and all other activities can be booked direct from the lodge. This exclusive and intimate lodge is set in a securely fenced compound which also has a heli-pad.