Sindabezi Island: Above and Beyond Victoria Falls

To soak up the world’s largest waterfall, the rush of the Zambezi river, and southern Zambia’s wild environs, we knew Sindabezi Island was the place to hang our bucket hat. This private river isle was gently developed by Tongabezi, the oldest and most prestigious eco-lodge above the falls, to further immerse its guests in the beauty of the Zambezi. Named by Fodor’s as one of the top ten eco-lodges on the African continent, Sindabezi is adventure at its most luxurious.

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There are only five villas on the island so each one feels completely secluded in nature. The existing landscape was their inspiration to their construction rather than an impediment. Their use of natural thatch roofs and mangrove walls barely scratch the surface of how they incorporate nature into their designs, but my favorite example is the pathways. A massive fallen tree laid right in the middle of walkway to our room but instead of chopping it up, they built a set of stairs up and over the trunk. Respect.

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As you can see, the entire front of our villa is open to the wilds of the Zambezi. From our bed we could watch the monkeys play in the trees, see the birds flutter from limb to limb, and hear the hippos honking nearby

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Each night at sunset the island’s ten guests gather by the fire for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Chatting over wine in the comfort of our cushy sofas and chairs, before and after dinner, we were all great friends by the end of the night.

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The next day the Sindabezi team had planned a river and wildlife extravaganza for us. First up, a sunrise sail on the river. Watching kingfishers swooping through the air, baboons playing on the sandy banks, and hippos returning from their night of foraging, we sipped our coffee before heading back to the lodge for a hearty breakfast. Then before we knew it, we were back out on the river for a kayak and fishing trip where we caught a fierce tiger fish!

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Finishing our full morning on the river, we docked at one of the river islets for lunch. We would have been happy if our guide prepared a picnic blanket and sandwiches but to our amazement Sindabezi had sent a chef and waiter ahead to surprise us with a proper sit-down meal! A beautifully set table was prepared with multiple courses and wine pairings for an unforgettable dining experience.

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We returned to our villa and were excited for some time in our tub. Set under the shade and seclusion of the trees, the porcelain claw-foot tub was the most relaxing place to soak in the sounds of the river.

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After our bubble bath, we went to the lounge to relax with a cocktail before dinner. This central space is used to share bountiful meals or to curl up on the sofa with a book or a board game. The collection of antiques and thoughtful accents makes every space on the island a treat.

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The next day the main event was upon us: Victoria Falls. At 354-feet high with a single stream of water running 5, 604-feet wide, Victoria Falls is considered to be the largest waterfall in the world. Our Sindabezi guide gave us a very informative tour on the geology and history of the magnificent falls and then he handed us two rubber rain coats. The path opposite the falls turned out to be the world’s greatest natural water park! We giggled and squealed like school kids as we got more and more drenched catching glimpses of the cascades and rainbows.

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An extra perk of staying at Tongabezi and Sindabezi is that they have exclusive access to the legendary Livingstone Island, which literally sits on the edge of the falls with jaw- and stomach-dropping views. There only a handful of boat trips to the island each day but we absolutely recommend taking the last ride and high-tea session to catch the falls at sunset.

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What a stay! On our final morning, eating our breakfast of coconut-stuffed french toast and watching for hippos in the pools below, we thought to ourselves… “It doesn’t get more wild and luxurious than this.”

Anne & Mike Howard

Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in 2012 and have been traveling the world ever since. HoneyTrek.com chronicles their adventures across 7 continents, 44 countries, and counting! Their writing, photography, and the story of the “World’s Longest Honeymoon” can also be found on Condé Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, The Knot, Los Angeles Times, CBS, and dozens of other international publications. Connect with @HoneyTrek on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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