Songwe Point Village
(8 thatched huts) Kwando Safaris, PO Box 60666, Livingstone; tel: 097 783053; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.kwando.co.za
For an entirely different experience, Songwe Point Village, a joint venture between the local community and what is now Kwando Safaris, promises the cultural experience of staying in an African village-style setting with an enhanced high level of comfort. It's the closest that the visitor can come to experiencing African culture first hand, but with a higher level of comfort. The 'village' is poised on the edge of one of the gorges downstream of the Falls, 120m above the Zambezi between Rapids 10 and 12. It's a breathtaking location.
As the crow flies, it's only 5km downstream from the Falls, but the road winding through the bush, small villages and out to the gorge is about a 30-minute drive. Accommodation is in comfortable, thatched huts built in the traditional style. Each has its own bathroom (showers, flush toilet and washbasin), and commanding views of the gorge. Accentuating the view, three also have bathtubs overlooking the gorge, and a communal shower and bath facility is available for those that don't.
Zambian hosts welcome visitors into the 'village family' and explain local customs, beliefs and history of the area. Meals, served in the traditional style are of a good standard, and shared in a central thatched enclosure, called a Ntantaala. There is traditional singing and dancing in the evenings and guests are encouraged to participate if the mood strikes them. Everything tries hard to be authentic, right down to an ox-wagon journey to a small field museum displaying Stone-Age artefacts, some more than 700,000 years old.
The area is steeped in archaeological history (see Zambia's earliest inhabitants at the start of Chapter 1) and the emphasis is on sharing African culture with visitors. Guided visits are offered to early Stone-Age sites, the 700-year old Mukuni village, the tree where David Livingstone first met the local chief, and various other local historical and cultural sites. The fine balance between authenticity and comfort is well executed. Kwando Safaris also has three tented safari camps in Botswana's Okavango Delta, linking up with Songwe Point Village to form a popular regional safari circuit.