BACKGROUND: Africa Albida Tourism was launched in May 2008, following a re-branding decision to reflect its growth and geographic spread. Its hospitality division includes Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club and the neighbouring Lokuthula Lodge. The new Victoria Falls Safari Suites opened in December 2013. Ngoma Safari Lodge, located in the Chobe Forest Reserve in Northern Botswana, is the group’s first project outside of Zimbabwe. The Victoria Falls compound consists of the Lodge, Club and Suites, a total of 94 rooms and suites, overlooking the unfenced Zambezi National Park.
WHERE IS IT? Just outside the centre of town, the sunset-facing lodge is 24 kilometres from the Victoria Falls International Airport and a mere four kilometres from the rainforest with its spectacular views of the Falls. A complimentary shuttle, running daily between 07h45 and 22h00, is available for guests wishing to visit town.
ROOM FACILITIES: My split-level two-room suite was luxurious, with a lounge and patio overlooking a small private watering hole. The master bedroom on the top floor was spacious, complete with balcony, king-sized bed with a mosquito net canopy, air-conditioning, wardrobe, writing desk and electronic safe. The en-suite bathroom had a large shower with good water pressure. The second bathroom, en-suite to the second bedroom, offered both a bathtub and separate shower. Wi-Fi is offered free around the compound and I had no trouble connecting. On the ground floor, the lounge consisted of two seating areas, each with its own flat-screen TV with satellite channels. The courtesy counter offered a preparation sink, mini-bar fridge, kettle, Nespresso machine and popcorn maker. My room was a short walk from the Suites to the Lodge for meals, but if you’re laden with bags or the heat of the day is too much, a golf cart will gladly transport you around.
RESTAURANTS & BARS: At the Lodge is the MaKuwa-Kuwa Restaurant, a split-level dining room with an a la carte menu. The breakfast buffet serves up the regular suspects of toast, cereal, yoghurt, fruit, muffins, cold meat and cheese, along with gluten-free muffins and rye bread. A flapjack station makes fresh crumpets for interested diners and cooked breakfasts, mainly of the egg variety, are ordered from a waiter. I enjoyed an omelette, which was tasty and filling. Below MaKuwa-Kuwa is the Buffalo Bar where you can order light meals and drinks. The Boma – Place of Eating is also on the premises, a quick, easy walk from the main lodge. The restaurant is an African experience, complete with entertainers, fortune tellers, face painters and game on the menu. Be aware that the entertainers will ask for a donation, although you’re not obliged to tip them. The warthog is amazing – succulent and full of flavour – and the kudu steaks are equally tasty. For the more traditional diners, the buffet offers fish, chicken, lamb and beef, along with a large array of salads and vegetarian dishes. Everything I sampled was worth a second helping.
BUSINESS & MEETING FACILITIES: These include two conference rooms, two breakaway rooms and an open-air amphitheatre. The Indaba Conference Room will accommodate between 40 and 100 people and the Boardroom between 20 and 30 guests. Both the amphitheatre and the Nandi Garden can host 200 people in a cocktail set-up. Inside the Lodge, the library and internet lounge can each accommodate up to 15 people.
LEISURE FACILITIES: Victoria Falls is well-known for its leisure offerings, ranging from game drives to bungee jumping, all of which the Lodge’s activity desk can arrange for you. On-site, however, you can take advantage of a spa treatment or relax on the pool deck. Around midday, all guests are invited to witness the wild vultures being fed. A dusty patch of earth has been designated for this daily activity where untainted meat is offered to a large of flock of birds of prey that start circling the sky about an hour before feeding time.
VERDICT: The staff are friendly, the food is top-notch and the atmosphere relaxing. A great venue for a conference or executive meeting.