Taita Falcon Lodge
(6 chalets, camping) Book through Livingstone Adventure Centre, Mosi-oa-Tunya Rd, PO Box 60012, Livingstone; tel/fax: 03 321850; cell: +263 11 208387 or 230667; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.taitafalcon.com or www.zambiatourism.com/taita
Perched atop the Batoka Gorge, this lodge overlooks Rapid 17, downstream of the Falls. It is a 45-minute drive from Livingstone, along the road normally used to bring rafters back from the river. To get there, take the main road from town towards the Falls, and then take the well-signposted left turning opposite the entrance to Zambezi Sun. From here it's about 11km of long, winding track through the Mukuni Village area. Near the end, you'll pass a turn on the right to Songwe Point. You'll want a 4WD for this trip during the rains.
The lodge is named after a rare falcon that frequents cliffs and gorges, especially in the Zambezi Valley. (Look for these especially in the evenings, perhaps trying to catch swallows or bats on the wing. Taita falcons are small (less than 30cm long) with cream to brown underparts – no bars or markings – and a strong, fast style of flight. This area is one of the best in Africa for spotting them. Verreaux's (black) eagles, peregrine falcons, and many other raptors and small birds are also resident.
Run by Faan and Anna-Marie Fourie, the lodge is a pleasant, friendly place surrounded by indigenous gardens. Its six comfortable chalets, named after birds, use stone, reeds and local furnishings throughout, and the three-quarter walls, providing light and flow-through ventilation, can be raised to full height, if preferred. All have en-suite facilities, but are rustic and quite simple – thatched ceiling with beams, mossie nets draped over beds and small patio in front. Two can be made up as family rooms, sleeping up to five; the rest are doubles or triples.
The camp's particularly notable for a lovely deck beside the bar, overlooking the gorges and river below. It's a great place to watch rafters from a very safe distance. Despite the fact that the chalets have been set back from the precipice, I'd be wary of bringing children here because of the cliffs nearby. The lodge's electricity is from a generator, and there's a nice small pool for a dip, encompassed by a tiled patio with adjacent small lawn.
Activities include guided bush and bird walks, village tours, hiking trails in and around the gorge (equipped hikers can do 2–3-day hikes), fishing and mountain biking. Taita Falcon's a good place if you want a remote spot away from it all, but if you want to pop in and out of the Falls for activities, it can feel cut off from the epicentre of things.