By Adam Garden
As soon as I stepped out of my short taxi trip to Shongwe Lookout, all I could think of was how I was about to be received considering I was over 3 hours early. It was December, I was half expecting to be sent back out to town and into the heat but the Shongwe team had different ideas. To my great surprise, the staff seemed to want to move mountains to keep me happy. I hadn’t even blurted out my name, before I was offered an ice cold drink and a seat away from the harsh Victoria Falls sun; their staff obviously well aware of the conditions a visitor to Victoria Falls would encounter. Before I knew it, I was walking through the vibrant garden which had an assortment of birds singing out and a relaxed aura in comparison to the bustling Victoria Falls town.
My room was a gem; a comfortable king size bedwas the centrepiece and I could do nothing to stop myself from throwing myself onto it which made me want to cancel my entire afternoon just to lie there. Fully air-conditioned, any negative feeling I had about the morning’s heat was quickly taken away and replaced with all the happy memories I had experienced visiting the Falls. The room was semi-open plan with the toilet tucked away in a separate corner room and the bathroom partially concealed by anartsy divider. Like a bride on her wedding day, the veil only added intrigue to the real beauty that lay behind it. The bathroom was modern and pristine – uniquely shaped sinks added a lovely touch of style to the large elegant bathtub and shower; its tiles made the whole bathroom a piece of art and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. This room was a slice of heaven and bonus points given to large 2L glass bottle that had replaced the single use water bottles – what a lovely touch!
Shongwe Lookout, a lodge recently built in early 2019 boasts 23 new rooms, all exquisitely furnished and conveniently placed around their small garden plot. A well-stocked bar in the centre of the complex allows guests to enjoy a refreshing drink whilst taking in some sun, and a pristine pool sat alongside it. To me, there was nothing better than to sit next to it on their lovely sunbeds and finish off my latest book.
The lodge’s most breathtaking feature is their masterpiece in the centre of the plot. It is a multi-platform structure which opens out to two levels both with 360° views of the surrounds. As I slowly ascended the lookout, I stopped to admire the walls which were covered in wonderful paintings by a local artist, Nicole Sanderson (who Nzira have featured on the adjoining page). Her art was as inspiring as the view that greeted me at the top. The lovely green surrounds of the Victoria Falls suburbs were seen for miles around me. The name Shongwe comes from a language local to the region which attributed the word to the rising mist coming off the falls and you realise the lodge is aptly named when you see the very same mist from the falls climbing over the horizon. Forgetting your drink at the bar is no problem, as I soon found out. I gave a joyous little laugh as my gin and tonic was placed in a bucket and hoisted up via a rope and pulley; an ingenious little novelty that put a smile on my face.But how could anyone be in a bad mood, enjoying the beautiful African sunset on this perfect viewpoint?
My early flight back to Harare the next day was no problem for their well organised staff – I was the first one to breakfast but they were prepared and ready to take my order. Often the difference between a mediocre stay and an enjoyable one are attentive and well trained staff that anticipate guest’s needs and wants before the guests even know themselves. From the time I walked in to their lovely garden to the time I checked out, the staff at Shongwe were absolutely delightful and treated all the guests with warmth and enthusiasm which made my already comfortable stay a little bit more special.The only downside to my stay at Shongwe turned out to be that I didn’t stay for long enough.
Victoria Falls has become a bustling little town with hundreds of things to keep active visitors busy. River cruises, white water rafting, bungee jumping, gorge swinging, or visiting one of the many great spots for a tea and a sundowner, there is always something to do in Victoria Falls. One of the most underrated things an accommodation facility can offer is a comfortable location where their busy guests can look forward to taking some time off and relaxing. Places like Shongwe Lookout obviously completely agree and really make Victoria Falls a delightful place to enjoy a group holiday or somewhere to take a quick break from city life.- © NZiRA Travel Zimbabwe, Issue 15
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