If you haven’t been to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Victoria Falls yet, it’s something to look forward to. There are great dollops of adventure to be had and numerous Victoria Falls lodges to choose from. An elegant addition to that number is Old Drift Lodge Zimbabwe.
We were out and about most of the day visiting conservation and community projects, but it was lovely to come back to the comfort and understated luxury of Old Drift. Set along the river in the Zambezi National Park, it has wonderful views northwards over the river towards Zambia and south over a waterhole where wildlife comes to drink.
The lodge’s name refers to the fact that it stands today near a drift or ford where the river is less than a kilometre wide and ox-drawn wagons used to cross in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
You’ll probably arrive, as we did, by boat, getting a good view of the tents dotted along the riverfront and the main lodge above the jetty. Walk up the stairs to the main level and you’ll discover an airy space that includes a sunken lounge around a fire pit, cane tables and chairs on the deck for lounging or having meals, and an enormous indoor bar/dining/lounge area with upholstered couches and a large freestanding fireplace for cooler nights.
The canvas tents and boardwalks give a feeling of permanence yet they could easily be removed from the wilderness and leave little trace. Because the lodge is inside a national park that’s home to elephant, buffalo, zebra, giraffe and antelope it isn’t fenced, so you may see some animals as you walk to your tent along the raised boardwalk. In deference to elephants and hippos that have right of way, the boardwalks flatten out to ground level every now and again to allow them to pass. Keep your eyes peeled during the day for a potential sighting, and make sure you get an escort with a torch after dark.
Taking the pressure off your decisions at Old Drift is the fact that everything is included in the price – from whatever is in the minibar to your meals and drinks, even twice-daily activities. You get to choose from morning and afternoon game drives into the surrounding Zambezi National Park, morning and afternoon river cruises along the Zambezi and guided walking safaris to get closer to nature. The highlight, of course, is a guided tour of the Victoria Falls UNESCO World Heritage Site in town (you just have to pay your entrance into the rainforest).
At the end of a busy day of activities, sit around the fire pit at Old Drift and chat to other visitors or simply kick back and enjoy the peace of the deck with a glass of something cool in your hand before dinner.
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