There can be no doubt that Matetsi is a striking lodge, a real gem in the Victoria Falls crown. The setting on the banks of the Zambezi River is breathtaking and each of the rooms enjoy premier river views. Add to that the warm hospitality of the attentive staff, the decadent cuisine and the vast array of wildlife and you’ll see why it’s fast becoming one of our favourites!

I have such vivid memories of my last safari, probably because life has been so extraordinary and devoid of travel since then!

The spectacular Victoria Falls is one of the Wonders of The World and I often include it in itineraires that I design for my clients who are travelling to Southern Africa for the first time.  If you are coming all the way to the south of the African continent, you’re really missing out if you don’t try and visit The Smoke That Thunders…!

On the LHS is a selfie at the Falls in the dry season where there is still an impressive flow of water from the Zimbabwean side. On the RHS is an aerial shot a few weeks later.

On my last trip agent trip to the region I was able to visit a few lodges and hotels.  Matetsi River Lodge really stood out.

The lodge comprises of two separate wings, East and West, each featuring 9 rooms with its own kitchen and dining areas. River House is ideal for families or groups of friends and offers a private and exclusive hideaway. The house comprises of 4 en-suite bedrooms and you have your own private chef who’ll prepare delightful meals from the freshest local ingredients. The house includes a private safari vehicle and ranger, so you have complete flexibility in your daily safari schedule. The lodge is spread out along the river’s edge and the main areas all optimize the glorious riverscape. There’s a lovely little gift shop that sells locally made arts and crafts – I was thrilled to find a prized bottle of local chilli sauce! – and the lodge also features a gym and 20m lap pool for those that like to be active. For the wine afficionados there’s a wine cellar where you may select your own bottle for that special occasion.

The rooms are sumptuous and feature all the comforts you may need such as mosquito nets over the bed, a safe and a minibar stocked with refreshing drinks. There is also air-conditioning in the rooms and complimentary wi-fi throughout the lodge. Built from natural materials with a number of chic finishes, the indoor space flows beautifully to the outside where your private deck awaits. The private plunge pools add a touch of exclusivity. It was 40C on the day we arrived and as I was making my way outside for a much-needed dip, I caught sight of a troop of cheeky monkeys drinking from the sparkling pool. It seems even the local wildlife need to cool down on a hot summer’s day. The spacious bathroom offers both a bath and shower, and there’s also an outdoor shower which is cleverly positioned to optimize the panoramic vistas. Personally I love outdoor showers – it’s the perfect place to feel at one with nature as you watch the animals meandering down to the water.

The Matetsi Private Game Reserve is very exclusive. It’s 80% of the size of the Sabi Sand in South Africa but Matetsi is the only lodge on the reserve, so you don’t see many other vehicles around.

On our first game drive we were delighted to find a pride of 17 lions not far from the lodge. The reserve also boasts an abundance of elephant and buffalo, and leopard is present although they are not frequently spotted. There are no rhino on the reserve. With 15km of prime river frontage the area is rich in game, and with both a ranger and tracker on the vehicle, this formidable pair is sure to bring you up-close to the action.

One afternoon we were treated to a wonderful safari surprise: a thoughtfully positioned ice cream trolley greeted us at the side of the road and we were excited to indulge in the home-made goodies on offer.

If you feel like leaving the dusty roads behind, why not experience the wildlife from the comfort of the lodge’s motorboat. Cruise up the river and enjoy snacks and drinks as you listen to the hippos grunting and identify the various bird species that call this home. The cruises generally depart in the late afternoon which is arguably the most alluring part of the day – marvel at the sight of the sun glistening on the calm waters before setting below the horizon in a fiery blaze. For the more adventurous, canoeing is also offered and it’s a real treat to photograph the animals as they casually stroll along the river’s edge or enjoy an impromptu bath.

The meals at Matetsi were incredible and each dish was fresh and prepared with the greatest of care. From a delightful breakfast in the bush with freshly squeezed juices and a selection of homemade breads, to a magical bush dinner complete with sparkling fairy lights in the trees and a sumptuous a la carte offering. I sampled the freshly-caught bream with seasonal baby vegetables which was beautifully prepared. It’s simply amazing to think of the quality of dishes they can conjure up in the middle of the bush! What a delight to dine al-fresco under a canopy of stars – it’s a must-do on any visit to Africa.

The table is set for dining al-fresco under this African sausage tree

Of course no visit to Matetsi would be complete without visiting the majestic Victoria Falls. 2020 has seen a tremendous amount of rainfall and the Falls is roaring over the chasm once again, offering possibly the best views of the last decade.

If you stay at Matetsi for 2 nights, they include a complimentary visit to Victoria Falls, with the added bonus of enjoying afternoon tea at the gracious and colonial-styled Victoria Falls Hotel. Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World so it’s well worth a visit. Accompanied by your knowledgeable local guide, stroll along the designated paths and stop at the various viewpoints to witness the magnificent curtain of water cascading down the 108m-high rock face. On a 4 night stay you’ll receive a complimentary Flight of Angels: a scenic helicopter flight from Matetsi to view the Falls (the helipad is located mere meters from the lodge). Affectionately known as Mosi oa Tunya or “The Smoke that Thunders”, viewing the waterfall from the air is simply spectacular and you’ll have the opportunity to spot some of the local wildlife on your journey.

In short, Matetsi offers a comfortable repose for lovers of nature and all things beautiful. I’m definitely a little bit richer for having experienced this idyllic retreat – it’s the perfect place to unwind, recharge and simply breathe in the fresh air. And who doesn’t need to come up for air every once in a while.

Get in touch to chat about your next trip!

Email Ilze at Southern Destinations