LOLEBEZI CONCESSION, ZAMBIA—Nestled atop the fabled Zambezi River banks on five hectares of remote wilderness in the eastern region of Lower Zambezi National Park sits Lolebezi, 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.
Developed cooperatively with a local family with a strong passion for Africa’s wildlife, culture, and future, Lolebezi has begun welcoming guests for immersive safari experiences. The camp sits in a striking location vibrant with wildlife and drawing from authentic traditions to provide Zambian hospitality that is at once luxurious, unpretentious, and unique among safari destinations in the region.
“Lolebezi is a dream setting for travelers to experience the abundance of Africa and 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 & Wellness Activities
In keeping with each of ABC’s 17 bush camps and lodges operating across Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, Lolebezi is designed to connect guests with the heart and soul of Africa while contributing to the conservation of the continent. ABC sees itself as a custodian of the new camp’s setting along the Zambezi River and the wellbeing of the wildlife and the surrounding communities while also providing fresh and exciting safari experiences that travelers will remember for the rest of their lives.
The new camp offers authentic experiences provided by a local team that is proud of their roots and is eager to share their heritage with guests. Safaris, led by expert guides, are designed to be fun and informative for travelers, heightening 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, including enormous herds of elephants, leopard encounters, buffalo, waterbuck, prides of lions, and more.
World-class guided fishing trips (catch and release) and bird-watching excursions are also part of the offering, as it’s time to kick back, relax, and watch the sun come up over the Zambezi. Guests can also take advantage of Lolebezi’s spa and wellness facilities to restore their spirit as well as 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, while strategically placed “river pods” are available for private picnics, guest retreats, and quiet moments surrounded by the sounds of nature.
Inviting Suites & Public Spaces
“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; 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 with a luxurious confluence of experiences combining adventure, authenticity, and sustainability.
Lolebezi can accommodate up to 16 travelers in four Signature Suites and two Signature Family Suites that 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. Designed to “float” above the landscape and allow water to pass underneath during heavy rains and occasional flooding, the suites are constructed of prefabricated light-gauge steel frame, glass skin, natural canvas, and re-constituted hardwood railway sleepers. Handmade natural elements in the interior design, including woven reed ceilings, hand-carved wood doors and hand-stitched canvas strap detailing on the walls, balance the contemporary nature of the building. Zambezi tribal elements, regional basket-ware, and woven reed products from the country’s Central Province; and tactile and earthy tones with a hint of copper and forest green all play homage to its Zambian roots. A dramatic feature of each suite is a circular 13-foot diameter curtain around each bed which combines wooden beads and an embroidered mosquito net, creating a halo-like “cocoon” in the room.
Additional features and public spaces of Lolebezi include a dining pavilion fashioned from reclaimed railway sleepers, with an all-day café and pizza bar offering family-style dining, including 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.
An infinity-edge pool surrounded by comfortable loungers is set at the edge of an inlet dubbed the “Discovery Channel” for its panoramic views up and down the Zambezi. Wildlife viewing is also accommodated via the “Circle of Light,” a suspended circular walkway raised 23 feet into the tree canopy that affords impressive perspectives on the sunrise shimmering over the Zambezi to the southeast and 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 to ensure that every element treads lightly upon the wilderness of which it is a part.
The camp is completely “off-grid,” powered by a dedicated solar farm comprised of photovoltaic panels constructed in an existing clearing of the Winterthorn forest. The water supply and wastewater are managed via a staged treatment system that ensures no pollution of the Zambezi. Floors, walls, and roofs of individual structures are comprised of a complex layering of insulation materials that mitigate heat gain in guest suites during summer and heat loss during winter. And thermodynamic panels, like air-source heat pumps, absorb heat from the atmosphere and convert a refrigerant into a gas to heat water for showers, baths, basins, and all kitchen services.
Sustainable design considerations also 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, including increased speed of construction offsite and erection onsite, minimization of transportation to the remote setting, and reduction of human impact. The light-gauge steel is also 100 percent 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.