As I walked alongside the gravel-covered path to my suite on the new safari lodge Lolebezi, which opened in June 2022 in Zambia’s Decrease Zambezi Nationwide Park, my skilled information scanned the encircling bushes and winter thorn timber for any indicators of wildlife.
We nearly made it to my room incident-free — till we noticed a big male elephant casually munching on the vegetation close to my entrance door. So as an alternative of going the straightforward method (as in, coming into by way of the entrance door), my information helped me sneak across the nook and enter my suite by way of the again patio, leaving the pachyderm to take pleasure in his meal. My information left, however my two-ton good friend selected to stick with me for some time.
With floor-to-ceiling home windows alongside your complete again wall of my suite, I made a decision to skip my afternoon nap and admire the mighty creature meandering alongside the shores of Zambia’s Zambezi River.
“We just like the land to dictate the tempo of life,” stated Beks Ndlovu, founder and CEO of African Bush Camps (ABC), the safari clothing store that operates Lolebezi. “Finally, we imagine that for those who do not, you may miss one thing that nature has to present us as a present.”
Following Nature’s Lead
Listening to the rhythm of the land meant early morning sport drives to identify lions contemporary off a kill; taking a detour when a mom elephant and her infants determined to dam the street; and altering plans after we noticed wild canine take down an impala.
Lolebezi’s location in Decrease Zambezi Nationwide Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Website, affords the distinctive alternative to discover a distant area that is teeming with wildlife however few different safari-goers. It is actually wild, in each sense of the phrase, with no enclosures or fences stopping the animals from roaming freely and permitting us to witness our guides’ monitoring expertise arduous at work.
All through our day by day sport drives, we noticed waterbucks, hyenas, warthogs, zebras, baboons, impalas by the dozen, and a lot extra. This area of Zambia can also be identified for its excessive inhabitants of the ever-elusive leopard, giving friends an elevated chance of recognizing one. In the meantime, birders can even catch a glimpse of a number of fascinating species like the colourful lilac-breasted curler or the bateleur eagle.
Normal sport drive autos maintain as much as 9 passengers, however at Lolebezi — and the opposite 16 ABC properties — solely six persons are seated in every automobile (until requested in any other case), so everybody will get near the motion with a window seat. Courageous guests may even embark on strolling safaris, a practice that originated in Zambia.
And the motion does not cease on land. An important a part of letting nature cleared the path comes from Lolebezi’s most original asset: direct entry to Africa’s fourth longest river. Whereas most safari-goers throughout Africa do not have the chance to take pleasure in water-based actions, they’re an integral a part of the Lolebezi expertise.
Friends can begin their day upstream on the Zambezi River, canoe towards the lodge, and cease for brunch on a sandbar, the place employees will arrange umbrella-shaded tables for a full meal, loved from chairs propped up in ankle-deep water. Fishing fanatics can take a look at their expertise on a catch-and-release tour and try and reel within the jewel of the Zambezi, the tiger fish, a species that earned its identify because of its mouthful of surprisingly massive and sharp enamel. For a extra tranquil water journey, Lolebezi guides typically take friends cruising on the river to take pleasure in their night sundowner — a safari custom the place everybody gathers round sundown for pre-dinner snacks and drinks. Irrespective of how friends get on the water, hippos and crocodiles can be there to accompany them from a protected distance.
Honoring Zambia Via Design
The philosophy of “letting the land dictate” the expertise locations such significance on nature — and that is mirrored all through the design of Lolebezi, with an added emphasis on Zambian tradition. Just like the forest surrounding it, this luxurious lodge appears to sprout from the bottom with its numerous pure supplies and a impartial coloration palette. Notable options embrace woven reed ceilings, hand-carved picket doorways, a singular calabash curtain within the eating space, plus fish scales, crocodiles, and fowl motifs subtly mixing into the décor.
The eye to element is very spectacular within the eight suites at Lolebezi, together with two designed particularly for households. Suites are divided into two sections, with the bedrooms and sitting areas going through east for beautiful dawn views, whereas the toilet and dressing room face west. With floor-to-ceiling home windows on the river-facing facet of the suite, I may take in the unobstructed views from the bed room to the frameless indoor bathe to even the john. These towering home windows additionally function sliding doorways opening to the outside deck, full with lounge chairs, seating areas, and a non-public plunge pool. With the doorways totally open, the dwelling house turns into an indoor-outdoor lounge, immersing you within the idyllic atmosphere.
The considerate design continues all through the property with an outside yoga house, a spa, a sport room, and a fitness center, all with floor-to-ceiling glass doorways that preserve friends linked to the pure fantastic thing about Decrease Zambezi always. Lolebezi additionally affords an outside eating pavilion and lounge areas, together with a hearth pit the place friends collect for sundowners and an infinity-edge pool overlooking the Zambezi River. It is the place I sat as a small herd of elephants crossed the river, and one wandered over to eat the vegetation only a few ft away.
“The design component comes into the way you expertise a spot, and finally, it facilitates the expertise of being amongst wildlife and nature,” Ndlovu stated. He added that ABC requires a minimal three-night stays at its properties, which reduces the environmental impression of quick journey whereas permitting friends to completely benefit from the fastidiously curated facilities at every location.
Serving Friends, Mom Nature, and the Group
“We needed to create a spot that reveals the essence of Zambia and affords world-class service,” Shahida Yousuf, proprietor of Lolebezi, stated.
With a most capability of 16 friends, guests are assured to take pleasure in a very customized expertise. The excessive stage of service manifested in a number of methods all through my keep, from your complete employees figuring out me by identify, to each sport drive the place the information guides would educate me one thing new.
However friends aren’t the one ones benefiting from ABC’s tourism strategy.
Extra guides and guests in Decrease Zambezi Nationwide Park deters poachers, and the Lolebezi employees are working diligently to protect the pure wildlife within the space.
At Lolebezi, eco-friendliness is embedded into the design, however the sustainability-driven financial system additionally prioritizes giving again to the local people. Acutely aware vacationers will respect that, for each night time a visitor spends at any ABC property, $10 is donated to the African Bush Camps Basis, which spearheads a number of applications that enrich communities within the surrounding areas with a concentrate on training, conservation, and group empowerment.
It is all part of the Lolebezi strategy to honor the land, which dictates your complete expertise right here.