River Farmhouse, Zambia: Stay the night - Africa - Travel - The Independent

River Farmhouse, Zambia: Stay the night

This eclectic house stands beside one of Africa's mightiest waterways, with hippos at the end of the garden

'I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy." Had Ernest Hemingway stayed at River Farmhouse, he might have written his famous words that adorn its living room walls especially for this place. A 45-minute drive from Zambia's side of the tumultuous Victoria Falls, this beautiful new addition to Waterberry Lodge, a five-minute walk away, is a calm haven right on the banks of the Zambezi. Available only for exclusive use, there wasn't even the murmur of other guests to disturb us as we slipped into our infinity pool that seemingly flowed directly into one of Africa's mightiest rivers.

The Rooms

On the site of Waterberry Estate's erstwhile farmhouse, this white single-story property has four en-suite double or twin rooms, leading off the huge living area. Named after the compass points, we chose the East room – an African sunrise guarantees you'll wake up happy.

The entire house has been designed with eclectic flair by British owner Tessa Prior. Exquisite paintings of African wildlife look down on warthogs and geckos made locally from scrap metal, intricately styled china vases, pots and plates and pretty wrought-iron floor lamps. Everything blends in seamlessly with squashy leather sofas, colourful rugs, bold cushions and dark wooden furniture.

The kitchen has all the mod cons, but with our private chef creating delicious meals, we barely set foot inside. With dining tables indoors and out, we chose to eat on the veranda after drinks by the fire-pit, perfect for stargazing, and felt so relaxed we could have melted into the night.

River Farmhouse is ideal for a special family holiday, with a playground halfway between the house and lodge. Its immaculate gardens border the Zambezi, harbouring hippos and crocs, so mini-David Attenboroughs need careful supervision. On our last evening, it seemed happy hippos were having a party, laughing deep into the night as they chomped away on the lawns.

One of the rooms One of the rooms (Will Whitford) Out and About

River Farmhouse offers two in-house activities daily, including guided birding walks and sunrise and sunset cruises in a private boat. For a genuine glimpse of local life, take a relaxed – and far from voyeuristic – walk with lodge carpenter Webster Maninga to his nearby village, which is also home to most of Waterberry's staff.

Victoria Falls is deservedly the star attraction. The Zambezi tumbles frenetically 100 meters below at a startling rate of 550 million litres per minute. Footpaths lead to the best viewpoints, but be prepared: crossing Knife Edge Bridge across the gorge is like wading through the world's wettest, noisiest carwash. Lunar rainbows can be seen during full moons (park fees US$20/£12.50; 00 260 21332 1404; zambiatourism.com).

Adrenalin junkies can experience the Falls by helicopter or micro-light (from US$150-US$320/£94-£200; 00 260 21332 3589; seasonsinafrica.com), by white-water rafting (from US$150/£94; 00 260 213326629; safpar.com) or for the ultimate thrill, the stomach-churning Big Air Package includes a bungee jump, gorge swing and cable slide (US$170/£106; 00 263 213320606; shearwatervictoriafalls.com). Waterberry can arrange these activities, their prices including return transfer to the Falls. Whatever you choose, keep some time free to enjoy the Farmhouse.

The Food and Drink

You can self-cater at River Farmhouse but to date, no guests have done so. If you must, there are shops in Livingstone for provisions. Far better to indulge in the luxury of the private chef: our meals included delicious avocado and feta salad and tilapia in a lemon butter sauce, followed by a boozy trifle. Should you feel like socialising, stroll to the lodge and join other guests for dinner overlooking the Zambezi.

For unique fine dining, the restored steam-locomotive Royal Livingstone Express runs 10km from town to Victoria Falls Bridge, with sundowners and four-course dinner provided by the exclusive Royal Livingstone Hotel (Wednesdays and Saturdays; US$186/£116 including transfers to/from Waterberry; royal-livingstone-express.com).

The Essentials

River Farmhouse at Waterberry Zambezi Lodge, Livingstone, Zambia (00 260 213327455; riverfarmhouse.com). Expert Africa (020 8232 9777; expertafrica.com) offers four nights at River Farmhouse from £2,263 per person, including South African Airways flights from Heathrow to Livingstone via Johannesburg, transfers, full-board accommodation, private chef and housekeeping staff, private use of river boat and two in-house activities.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Sport
David Moyes and Rio Ferdinand
FootballRio Ferdinand on why the former manager failed at United
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
News
i100
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week