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Royal Chundu Zambezi River Lodge: Review
We were looking for an luxuriously authentic experience, something that wasn’t a western reprieve, but rather a lodge that supported and encouraged local communities to put their best foot forward. Royal Chundu Zambezi River Lodge does an amazing job at providing just this kind of experience and pairs it with attention to detail and top notch service. They source their food from local farmers, providing them with opportunities to not only provide for their families, but grow sustainable businesses for the community. In addition to this, Royal Chundu rations a part of their revenue for the Royal Chundu foundation: a school that educates the children of workers at the hotel and surrounding grounds. It’s so refreshing and moving to see these kids yearn to learn with smiles, hugs, and enthusiasm. It’s a wonderful lodge experience in and of itself, but combining it with Vic Falls, it’s truly a once in a lifetime experience.
This is part of the Around the World 2015 Mega Trip
- Etihad Business and First Class Lounge Washington DC
- Etihad Business Studio – IAD to AUH
- Review: Etihad Arrivals lounge and Etihad Chauffeur experience
- Grand Hyatt Dubai
- Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
- Etihad Business and First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi, AUH
- Etihad Pearl Business Class – AUH to JNB
- Intercontinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers
- Blue Train Johannesburg to Cape Town
- Queen Victoria Cape Town
- Chitwa Chitwa Sabi Sands Luxury Game Reserve Kruger National Park
- Royal Chundu Zambezi River Lodge – Victoria Falls
- Intercontinental Johannesburg Airport
- Review: S(h)ongololo Lounge JNB
- Cathay Pacific Business Class – JNB to HKG to HND
- Ritz Carlton Tokyo
- Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo, NRT
- American Air Flagship First Class – NRT to LAX
One of the most desirable destinations in southern Africa is the great Victoria Falls. It’s regarded as one of the natural 7 wonders of the world and it draws tourists to from every corner of the globe. It’s a must see on any trip to the south of Africa.
We were looking for an luxuriously authentic experience, something that wasn’t a western reprieve, but rather a lodge that supported and encouraged local communities to put their best foot forward. Royal Chundu does an amazing job at providing just this kind of experience and pairs it with attention to detail and top notch service. They source their food from local farmers, providing them with opportunities to not only provide for their families, but grow sustainable businesses for the community. In addition to this, Royal Chundu rations a part of their revenue for the Royal Chundu foundation: a school that educates the children of workers at the hotel and surrounding grounds. It’s so refreshing and moving to see these kids yearn to learn with smiles, hugs, and enthusiasm. It’s a wonderful lodge experience in and of itself, but combining it with Vic Falls, it’s truly a once in a lifetime experience.
To be fair – be prepared for an hour drive from the airport. Half of which is down a long, unpaved road that feels somewhat like you’re riding on a 12in subwoofer blasting Jay-Z. By the time you arrive you are ready for a welcome drink – something that they are quick to place in your hand =)
We stayed at the Main Lodge: River Lodge. During the stay we had the privilege of touring the Island lodge, which is more exclusive and further up the river. The huts are slightly larger and it’s a smaller collection of huts compared to the River Lodge. Both are luxurious and I’m not sure after seeing the Island Lodge that I would pay the premium, but if you’re addicted to a higher staff to guest ration and fewer people you may run into…then go for the Island lodge. The biggest difference I could see was that the Island huts had tubs on the balconies.
The service is top notch and all inclusive. We arrived early afternoon and they were eager to feed us ( incred ) and get us settled before setting out onto the Zambezi for a sunset cruise. I couldn’t have expected nor asked for any more gracious a welcome, and hospitable staff. Amazing Africa continues to abound and flourish in Zambia as it did in South Africa.
The huts are all over water with a deck facing the Zambezi. It feels totally ingrained into the surroundings, and the monkeys running up and down the paths prove the au naturale feel.
A great deck with sliding glass doors that open the entire hut up to the outside – beware the bugs tho!
The chef is outstanding and the meal presentations are delicious. From the breakfast spread and made to order food to the dinner prix fixe menus – you won’t be disappointed.
While we were there we opted to take a tour of the falls by helicopter and also a walking tour. It’s quite expensive and we opted to have the driver take us to the airfield, but it was WELL worth it. The views are incredible and it’s a bonding experience we were still talking about when we were eating dinner later that night.
The Falls themselves span the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and you can choose to cross the falls into and out of Zimbabwe. We crossed over and I would highly recommend the Zambia side for walking the falls, and taking a short guided tour. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe has experienced a significant amount of political distress and compared to Zambia it is sadly far less impressive and doesn’t feel as safe. It’s certainly an experience to cross over and I would do it again, but I’m not sure I would spend much time across the border, at least near the falls.
Royal Chundu is a grand Zambian experience that not only enriches your soul, but provides much needed economic support to a group of people that exhibit some of the most dignified and powerful human traits: ambition, faith, and gratitude. I was overly impressed with the entire staff and experience and look forward to taking mine and Miles’ kids there some day.
Here’s Hessah saying goodbye to Miles =)
Affiliate link via Card Ratings
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based.
60k Points after $4k spend in 3 months
Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash , Ink Business Unlimited you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners
Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.
- 3x on dining
- including eligible delivery services for takeout
- 3x on select streaming services
- 3x on online grocery purchases
- (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
- 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Travel Portal
- $50 Annual Credit on hotel stays purchased via Ultimate Rewards/Chase Travel
- The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
- 10% Anniversary Bonus
- Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel Portal and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, etc.
- Points are transferrable to 13 Ultimate Rewards partners
- Redeem in the Chase Travel center for 1.25 cents per point
- No foreign transaction fees
- Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
- Primary rental car coverage is my favorite
We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.
Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.
Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.
Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on.