Zambia is an untouched opportunity of humble hospitality; deeply layered cultures of 73 tribes all coming together as one nation; breathtaking landscapes; and a variety of experiences that are unparalleled. The nation is a spectacular showcase of flora and fauna, feathered fabulousness, sweeping views; from the upper Zambezi to the lower Zambezi, from Kafue to Kasanka, from the northern lakes to South Luangwa, the opportunities to experience truly unique adventures lie waiting to be tapped.
There is so much to discover in Zambia, with big and little moments that take your breath away. Sitting on a boat on the Luangwa River with blue skies punctuated by hot pink exclamation points of Carmine bee-eaters swooping into their riverbank nests, you can also witness hippo out of the water, eating the fallen sausages from the kigelia; walking through the long grass at sunrise in Laikipia, with a fiscal shrike raiding the wet spider’s nests, laden with the evening’s caught haul. Thornicroft’s giraffe peer over the top of the albizia in South Luangwa. The incredible topography of the Lower Zambezi invites you for a time, to sit and watch the heronries on the Zambezi where spoonbills are clacking their cutlery for their evening feed. There too will you witness the volume (the sound and size) of Mosi-oa-Tunya (known abroad as Victoria Falls), one of the natural wonders of the world.
The award-winning Royal Chundu
On the gentle upper reaches of the Zambezi River sits Royal Chundu, voted as the 4th Best Resort in Africa and 9th Best Resort in the World in the Condé Nast Traveler's 2018 Readers' Choice Awards. Royal Chundu is the first and only Relais & Chateaux property in Zambia and the whole Mosi-oa-Tunya area and has been voted Zambia’s Leading Safari Lodge in the World Travel Awards for nine years running. What makes the lodge so special is its relationship with the local communities, who provide for, run, and benefit from the lodge.
In 2020, Royal Chundu Lodge Manager, Aggie Maseko Banda was awarded the We Are Africa Shape Award, which spotlights African travel’s true trailblazers and rewards and recognises the people whose tireless passion and dedication to the industry have transformed the continent for the better.
Royal Chundu lets travellers feel Africa in Africa.
It is a place to both rest, nest, and digest and to be rejuvenated through an immersion in the land, community, as well as the romance and adventure of the fourth longest river in Africa.
Set on the banks of the Zambezi River in Zambia, Royal Chundu has two lodges. River Lodge holds private access to a secluded 15 km stretch of Zambezi waterway, with 10 exclusive suites set among the trees, like quiet nests of seclusion and peace ogling the river from sunrise to set. Island Lodge is 4 km upstream, happily at home on the remote and private Katombora Island, flanked by two protective rapids. The lodge has four exclusive villas, with outdoor bathtubs and views of the gently flowing river and its plant and animal life.
Royal Chundu’s wide open spaces, remote location and local hospitality bursting at the seams, can be explored on canoeing trips and boat cruises at sunrise and sunset to find the hippo, elephant, fish eagles, crocodiles and other animals that call the river home. Also on offer are birdwatching cruises, private island walks with baobabs and jackal berries, a visit to the neighbouring agricultural village and their gardens and craft market, a stopover at a Chitenge market and the chance to have a custom-made Chitenge outfit designed by a seamstress at the lodge. Guests can choose to immerse themselves in the private in-room spa treatments, or head out for a little adventure on day trips to Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls) or Chobe National Park. There are also some interactive activities for the family with The Royal Chundu Homeschool and its locally inspired lessons and adventures.
Fruit of the land to your dining table
Dining here is tasting the land, with food that is locally grown, caught, picked, produced, created, and served. The lodge purchases fresh fish, such as bream or parrot fish from Zambezi fishermen – who often arrive via the traditional dug-out canoe called the mokoro on the river – providing fresh fish caught through sustainable fishing methods. Fresh produce is grown in the lodge garden or in the villages next to Royal Chundu, which the lodge supports through seed donations and by purchasing the crops grown at market price.
Of Zambian culture and aesthetic presentation
The lodge’s interiors, River Lodge suites and Island Lodge villas are a celebration of Zambia with locally made Chitenge table settings and soft furnishings, hand-carved doorbells, and bright and colourful murals painted by a local female artist. At every opportunity, the lodge provides a way to help give local people the chance to empower themselves through tourism, to receive an income for their art, while sharing the beauty and uniqueness of Zambia with guests.
On a great African adventure, or an exciting Zambian journey with all that the country has to offer, Royal Chundu is ideal as the last stop. It is a place to relax and be moved by the beauty of the setting, people, and the power of travel to create positive change in destinations. The added advantage is that Royal Chundu offers guests the opportunity to have PCR COVID-19 tests at the lodge with results and the certificate returned in 24hrs before you need to head home.
Right now, is the best time to travel.
Africa, in particular Zambia, Kenya, and Rwanda, for instance, is open, remote, and ready for exploring, with far fewer tourists in all areas. With all the precautions that have become part of our everyday lives now, and those taken by borders and authorities worldwide, airports are able to relax and resume their excitement at being able to welcome travellers once again. Airports are more accommodating, friendlier and safer than ever, with everyone flying required to have a negative PCR C-19 certificate, but also because, as IATA recently published, there is a 1 in 27 million chance of getting COVID-19 due to flying.
The protocols throughout Africa are a little different: sanitiser stations, temperature checks and wearing a mask are standard practices. It allows you to feel safe and secure, but the beauty of Africa is in the natural remoteness of its top destinations.
After seasons of being home-bound for some, the wider wilder world offers its allure in every small and big way. While over the last few months many of us have felt helpless to change the global situation, there is great power in your travels now – in helping to support people, through lodges that work to conserve the land and empower communities, and in seizing new freedoms and taking the adventure you’ve been waiting for. Africa is open, the time to travel is now. Zambia – and Royal Chundu - is calling you!