Perched atop a hill that borders the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zimbabwe, the Stanley and Livingstone Lodge offers splendid views of the mighty Zambezi River and the spray in the distance of Victoria Falls, which is situated only three kilometres away from the Lodge. Set deep within the beauty of unspoilt bush, the Lodge offers a diverse and unique African safari experience, surrounded by the natural wonders found in the 6 000-acre Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve.
Journey into Paradise
Upon arrival at the Victoria Falls Airport, I’m still somewhat uncertain as to what I’ve got myself into. I have travelled for many hours to Zimbabwe, a landlocked country of which I know nothing beyond what my Internet research has told me. Why, many have asked, have I decided to come to such a foreign land? For the experience of exploring a land that rings with legend and is home to some of the most awe-inspiring natural visions that a man can ever hope to encounter in his lifetime. So many before me have made the journey here and returned home, never the same, carrying with them an inexplicable love for an African land and the wonders that were found there.
Driving through the touristy town of Victoria Falls, on the southern bank of the Zambezi River, it appears to be bustling with activity. Tourists, street vendors, tour busses and local traffic, all make their way to their desired destinations without much concern for me or my purpose for being here. It enthralls me and before long I whip my camera out from my bag and take a number of photographs of the unsuspecting locals and their surrounding town. It’s a wonderful start to my adventure and before long; the scenery has morphed into the serene and tranquil setting of the colonial oasis that is the Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve.
The Luxury Lodge
Reminiscent of a bygone era, the Stanley and Livingstone Safari Lodge emanates classical Victorian charm, set against the thunderous voice of Victoria Falls and the backdrop of the African savannah. From my private suite, I can see the Reserve and its dense grassy plains and meandering rivers – and as long as I look, I still seem to notice something new every minute, multiplying the sense of wonder that’s held me since I first landed and giving the entire experience a dream-like quality. I am here. I’m really here.
Despite the comfort and luxury of my room, the siren song of adventure soon sees me off to book my next adventure. There’s so much to choose from that for a moment, I’m overwhelmed. From a Big Five game drive to a canoe trip on the untamed rapids of the Zambezi; from horseback safaris that get you up close and personal with Mother Nature to the experience of viewing Victoria Falls from one of the many amazing vistas located around it. I’m spoiled for choice and like a kid on Christmas, I greedily say yes to everything and embark upon the experience, open-heartedly prepared for whatever may come.
The Magic of the African Darkness
After a day of inexplicable magic, and a delectable dinner at the Lodge’s restaurant that regularly earns accolades for their level of excellence, I relax happily on the Lodge’s patio, surveying the now-dark African bush around me. Nearby waterholes and the cover of nighttime mean that the air is alive with the sounds of animals and insects, creating the perfect musical accompaniment for my first night in Africa. I retire to my suite and draw a hot bath in the quaint Victorian bathtub. As the steam of the bath swirls around me, I close my eyes and replay the experiences I’ve had in my mind, excited at the prospect of what’s still to come. After my bath, I climb into bed and, before sleep surrounds me, recall a line that I read about the Stanley and Livingstone Lodge, of which I’m now certain is true: “your only regret will be… that you didn’t stay longer.”