By Palm River Hotel on 21 February 2023

The Palm River Hotel: A Guest Review

We were recently visited by a wonderful couple, Shelly and James Cunliffe from the United Kingdom along with a group of their friends, following their stay they have taken the time to share a few comments on their experience at the Palm River Hotel, along with highlights of the hotels natural surrounds and the astounding draw of the mighty Victoria Falls. Read on below to find out what animals they spotted during their visit!

A new and sumptuous addition for the discerning visitor to the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is the Palm River Hotel, opened in 2021. Upstream and alongside the huge and glittering Zambezi River, its modern, sleek, steel-girded, straight-lined design, with curved footpaths, palm and indigenous trees on the water’s edge is simply breath-taking. The mirroring of the design of the arched, steel 1905 Victoria Falls bridge close-by, linking with Zambia, is ingenious. The theme is repeated throughout the hotel’s architecture. Its rooms: airy, high-ceilinged and exquisitely furnished, a modern twist that hints at a former style.

A mile away, a fish eagle unfurls its wings and glides over the roaring chasm. As the water crashes, roars and foams below the main Victoria Falls, its feathers glow white in the sun as it scans the scene. Animals and birds are a permanent feature, roaming the Zambezi River’s banks and, in the charming village close to the Falls, the hadada ibis, house geckos and hornbills, warthogs and impala herds. A contrast to the drama of the relatively close and the largest of Zimbabwe’s national parks, Hwange, but for wildlife-lovers with their wits about them, there is much to add to the close-up view of one of the most magnificent, deep and broad waterfalls in the world.

You won’t find giraffes wandering the streets of Victoria Falls town in the rainy season, but they’re surprisingly close by. More than 100 wild mammal species roam the banks of the Zambezi or float on its surface, where the visitors can enjoy a range of comfortable accommodation, fine cuisine and best South African wines. Zebras, elephants and even lions are among the creatures that still neighbour the town. They were here first, even before the intrepid Dr David Livingstone stumbled upon the sight in 1855.

On the Zimbabwean side of the world heritage site, the mile-wide torrent has created a unique pocket of rainforest-like biodiversity in what is otherwise scrubland. It is this, along with the still-changing basalt rock structures, that give the falls what is termed “unique and universal value” when heritage status was granted. The falls are a fabulous Natural World Wonder, and there are already discreet and comfortable hotels within a short distance. The pleasure is in being able to walk to the falls from either Zambia or Zimbabwe and enjoy the unfolding views.

The food is fresh, locally-sourced and there are plans to grow organic vegetables in the large, hotel garden. Cheerful, informative and immaculately-dressed staff set the tone. The variety, taste and texture of the desserts are extraordinary.

The dining area with its arched walkways, fans and a spaciousness offers another nod to the colonial style of the original Victoria Falls Hotel, with its views across the gorge to the bridge.

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