Nestled atop the fabled Zambezi River banks on five hectares of remote wilderness, in the eastern region of Lower Zambezi National Park, sits Lolebezi. This is a new luxury safari camp from African Bush Camps (ABC) conceived and designed in partnership with Fox Brown Creative. With 3,300 feet of river frontage, the lodge and its modernist design follow the river’s undulating twists and turns.
ABC developed the lodge in co-operation with a local family with a strong passion for Africa’s wildlife, culture, and future. Lolebezi will begin welcoming guests for immersive safari experiences on June 1, 2022. The lodge offers a striking location vibrant with wildlife and drawing from authentic traditions. This provides Zambian hospitality that is at once luxurious, unpretentious, and unique among safari destinations in the region.
“Lolebezi is a dream setting for travellers to experience the abundance of Africa. The beauty and power of the Zambezi River,” said Beks Ndlovu, a veteran professional guide who established African Bush Camps in 2006. “As ABC expands its expertise in Zambia with a second lodge, our newest destination continues to redefine the safari experience with opportunities for adventure, learning, abundant wildlife amidst pristine wilderness, and pure comfort designed to sustainably blend with its environment.”
Memorable safaris and wellness activities
The model is in keeping with each of ABC’s 17 bush camps and lodges operating across Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. The design of Lolebezi connects guests with the heart and soul of Africa. This is while contributing to the conservation of the continent. Indeed, ABC sees itself as a custodian of the new camp’s setting along the Zambezi River. This includes the well-being of the wildlife and the surrounding communities. They also provide fresh and exciting safari experiences that travellers will remember for the rest of their lives.
The new camp offers authentic experiences provided by a local team that is proud of its roots. They are eager to share their heritage with guests. Expert guides lead safaris designed to be fun and informative. This heightens the awareness of the fragile balance between nature and communities in Africa.
Guests at Lolebezi can look forward to twice-daily activities. Game drives, guided walking safaris, riverboating, and canoeing offer close perspectives of wildlife. This includes enormous herds of elephants, leopard encounters, buffalo, waterbuck, prides of lions, and more.
Lolebezi offers world-class guided fishing trips (catch & release) and bird-watching excursions. It is time to kick back, relax, and watch the sun come up over the Zambezi. Also, guests can take advantage of Lolebezi’s spa and wellness facilities. This restores their spirit. They will also benefit from grounding sunrise and sunset salutations on the dapple-shaded yoga deck. An open-air cinema set amid a forest of enormous Winterthorn Acacias offers movie nights. Strategically placed ‘river pods’ are available for private picnics, guest retreats, and quiet moments surrounded by the sounds of nature.
“The brief was to create a world-class Zambian experience that celebrates the location and wildlife while surpassing anything previously done or seen in the region. This a camp with lasting value, deeply luxurious, unique in design yet unpretentious,” explains Debra Fox of South African–based Fox Browne Creative, a multi-disciplinary design studio, who worked in partnership with architect Jack Alexander. Inspired by the Zambezi, Africa’s renowned “River of Life,” the architecture and design respond to the property’s wild and remote location. They have a luxurious confluence of experiences combining adventure, authenticity, and sustainability.
Lolebezi can accommodate up to 16 travellers in 4 Signature Suites and 2 Signature Family Suites. They are sensitively designed and outfitted with amenities, including a private plunge pool and thatched-roof sala.
Opening onto the river, each suite is essentially a minimalist viewing platform with sections ‘twisted’ away from each other. A bedroom and sitting room facing east, and a bathroom, dressing room, and ‘loo-with-a-view’ toward the west.
The suites ‘float’ above the landscape. This allows water to pass underneath during heavy rains and occasional flooding. They are constructed of a prefabricated light-gauge steel frame, glass skin, natural canvas, and re-constituted hardwood railway sleepers.
Designers used handmade natural elements in the interior design. This includes woven reed ceilings and hand-carved wood doors as well as hand-stitched canvas strap detailing on the walls. The natural elements balance the contemporary nature of the building. Zambezi tribal elements, regional basket-ware, woven reed products from the country’s Central Province; and tactile and earthy tones with a hint of copper and forest green, all pay homage to its Zambian roots. A dramatic feature of each suite is a circular 13-foot diameter curtain around each bed. This combines both wooden beads and an embroidered mosquito net, creating a halo-like ‘cocoon’ in the room.
The public spaces of Lolebezi
The dining pavilion fashioned from reclaimed railway sleepers boasts an all-day café and pizza bar offering family-style dining, tandoori evenings and traditional barbeques created from fresh ingredients purchased locally whenever possible. The upper level has a private dining room as well as a game room with many options for amusement.
Comfortable loungers surround an infinity-edge pool. The pool overlooks an inlet dubbed the ‘Discovery Channel’ for its panoramic views up and down the Zambezi. Wildlife viewing is also marvellously accommodated via the ‘Circle of Light’. This suspended circular walkway is raised 23 feet into the tree canopy. It affords impressive views of the sunrise shimmering over the Zambezi to the southeast as well as the Winterthorn forest and the National Park to the northwest.
Conserving Lower Zambezi National Park
As with every ABC camp, sustainability and conservation are the foundation of the Lolebezi experience. The camp’s design includes layers of sustainable, environmentally conscious techniques. This obviously ensures that every element treads lightly upon the wilderness of which it is a part.
Not surprisingly, the camp is completely ‘off-grid,’ powered by a dedicated solar farm. The photovoltaic panels sit in an existing clearing of the Winterthorn forest. The water supply and wastewater are managed via a staged treatment system that also ensures no pollution of the Zambezi. Floors, walls and roofs of individual structures are comprised of a complex layering of insulation materials. This mitigates heat gain in guest suites during summer and heat loss during winter. Thermodynamic panels, similar to air-source heat pumps, absorb heat from the atmosphere and convert a refrigerant into a gas to heat water for showers, baths, basins, and also all kitchen services.
Sustainable design considerations
In addition, sustainable design considerations include intelligent, concealed climate control systems, boosting energy efficiency and consciousness of the solar farm’s capacity. The choice of light-gauge steel instead of timber for framing structures throughout the camp also offers benefits. This includes an increased speed of construction offsite and erection on site, minimization of transportation to the remote setting, and thus reduction of human impact. The light-gauge steel is also 100% recyclable – a significant consideration making it possible to reprocess and relocate the guest suites should the need ever arise, without requiring the harvesting of a single tree.
To celebrate the opening of Lolebezi, ABC is introducing its 17th and newest member of the African Bush Camps family at $ 990 per person per night. The rate is valid for bookings through November 2022.
Please visit www.africanbushcamps.com for more information or to make reservations for Lolebezi.