June 24, 2022
The River Club is an enchanting oasis in Livingstone, Zambia
The River Club is a charming oasis on Zambia’s mighty Zambezi River, situated 18 kilometres/ 11 miles upstream from the town of Livingstone and the renowned Victoria Falls – a World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Eleven luxury suites (including three with private decks and plunge pools and a 2-bedroom villa), with floor to ceiling sliding glass doors, are renowned for their romantic ambience and spectacular views over pods of hippo into the Zambezi National Park. Each room looks west into the African sunset, best viewed from the privacy of the ball-and-claw bath.
Soaked in ambiance and history, the restored 1940s Edwardian homestead has a comfortable lounge, dining room, library and veranda where breakfasts and teas are enjoyed. Midday meals are often served in the lush gardens spread out beneath the trees. The gazebo and the Summer House (with snooker room) provide alternatives for private dining. The pool seems part of the river itself, a secluded deck provides respite and beauty treatments are available in the Wellness Centre. For the energetic, the running track on the secure property, gymnasium and all-weather tennis court are ideal.
A host of activities await young and old, on property as well as around the Victoria Falls. Activities (on a fully inclusive rate) include a Victoria Falls tour on the Zambian side, daily sundowner cruises, tiger fishing, and visiting a nearby village. Others (extra cost) include white water rafting, bungee jumping, abseiling, canoeing, and flights over the Falls. The area is steeped in local history and rich in wildlife; hippo and elephant are seen regularly and birdlife is prolific.
The River Club recently added its very own ‘Swim & Tonic’ menu, a range of locally inspired liquid refreshments prepared by Executive Chef Tawanda Gatawa. The Swim & Tonic menu – so named due to the lodge’s position right on the banks of the mighty Zambezi – has been a work in progress as Chef Tawanda tried and tested, much to the delight of the team who willingly volunteered as guinea pigs, various combinations of local botanicals and edibles with various gins. Infused with local ingredients – think Muchingachinga, the fruit of the Northern Dwaba Berry; the pulp and seeds of the Mahuluhulu tree; Mundambi syrup, a native species of Hibiscus – the syrup made from the flowers gives the cocktail its rich reddish colour; and Musika, also known as the Tamarind Tree, once thought to be native to India is actually indigenous to sub-tropical Africa – there is something to tempt every tastebud.
The River Club is also an ideal destination for families with children. Everyone at The River Club enjoys hosting youngsters as we are family orientated people to the core. Sprawling gardens provide the perfect setting for kids to run around and explore. Especially for children, The River Club offers a KIDS @ THE CLUB complimentary guided walk around the property. Each child who does the walk is given a courtesy ‘adventure bag’ containing interesting goodies to keep. Several in-house activities are suitable for families with children and there is an array of additional on-site facilities too. Certain external activities are also suitable for children. We thoroughly enjoy welcoming and hosting multi-generational family groups.
For the past 20 years, The River Club has been actively involved in supporting and improving the lives of the 4,000 inhabitants of nearby Simonga Village. Not only do many of our staff hail from Simonga, but various health and educational projects have been funded by income generated from the lodge’s hospitality operations.
The village projects have included sponsorship of students and teachers to further their education, construction of a school library, provision of school supplies and books, construction of the police post, clinic, pre-school classroom, canteen (now home economics room), goat shed at the school, community hall and more recently the science lab.
Guests have the opportunity to visit Simonga Village, learn all about the culture and heritage of the village and of course get involved. Donations along with construction of various buildings are a great way to get involved and support the local community.
Resident co-owner of The River Club, Peter Jones, also made his private plot of land nearby on the banks of the Zambezi available to the staff members and their families, to farm their own produce. At Peter’s own expense the land has been prepared for farming and electric fencing has been installed to protect crops. The seeds have sprouted and are growing so well with the farm looking fantastic!
Another exciting development at the lodge has been the welcoming of two female and one male giraffe to the lodge. Originating from a game farm in Choma, southern Zambia, the two females Geraldine and Juju (short for Justyne), both under two years old, and Joshua, the three year old male, arrived in the early hours of a December morning to a holding boma on the property. Set on 26 ha/ 65 acres of privately owned land, the lodge is located on a magnificent vantage point that provides extensive views over a sweeping bend of the Zambezi River.
The three youngsters have been released from the boma and are now enjoying the 50 acres of private land at leisure. Guests enjoying the nature trail have the opportunity to spot these magnificent animals.
Although Livingstone (and in fact the whole of Zambia) has a very varied and fascinating history, the Jewish history is significant in the town of Livingstone. Today The River Club commemorates this in a number of ways, including offering two Kosher kitchens, Jewish tours hosted my Co-owner Peter Jones personally.
Each kosher kitchen has its own set of equipment, crockery, cutlery, glasses, utensils, pots and pans, etc. as well as its own washing up facilities too – one for parev and one for milchik. Kosher Kitchen 1 is run by lodge kitchen staff trained in kosher catering (they are not Jewish themselves but take the art of kosher catering seriously). Kosher Kitchen 2 is only unlocked and used when there is a Mashgiach present. The River Club is fully geared for kosher guests and all suites have a lock and key beause they are still quite old-fashioned by choice (this is not going to change and it suits our kosher guests too)!
Guests have the option of visiting the Railway Museum to see some beautiful 19th century locomotives to clamber onboard as well as the Jewish Museum which offers great insight into Livingstone’s Jewish community who settled there in the 1890s. Another place of interest is the Jewish Cemetery and Zambia’s first synagogue which is now a church.
T: +27 72 517 4880
E: The Office
T:+260 211 391 051
T: +27 82 904 5507
W: The River Club