Zambian Lodge


Situated on a riverfront concession in Zambia’s lower Zambezi National Park, this new luxury lodge combines elegance with just a touch of sparkle.

With every new lodge, we have a process,” says Debra Fox, sitting in the lounge of Lolebezi, the latest luxury safari destination to bear the signature of design studio Fox Browne Creative. As coffee is served in bespoke Vorster & Braye crockery on a tray of shimmering copper, the morning sun tinges the Zambezi River with gold.

“Our process is called circles in a forest,” she says. “It’s where we walk and feel the landscape. Because wherever we go, it’s always about a sense of place. It’s all about site.” And the location of Lolebezi is nothing short of remarkable, occupying a riverfront private concession site within Zambia’s remote Lower Zambezi National Park.

At Lolebezi the canoe excursions on the aptly-named “Discovery Channel” offer up-close wildlife encounters.
Canoe excursions on the aptly-named “Discovery Channel” offer up-close wildlife encounters.

“It’s one of those game-changing sites in southern Africa,” notes Jack Alexander, the architect on the project. “The river is obviously the biggest drawcard, but with this particular site, there are also spectacular views backwards into the forest.” That forest is a lush stand of winter thorn acacia, which would become a muse for the lodge’s design ethos, the curved seedpods informing much of Lolebezi’s visual language.

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That’s most obvious in the beautiful hand-printed bed throws, and the botanical panels framing the central lounge area, both by Amanda du Plessis of Evolution Product. But more broadly, the circular seed shape is a motif evident throughout the eight-bedroom lodge, where swirling forms soften the thoroughly contemporary design.

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Created by Tribal Textiles, striking works of woven grass – each nearly four metres across – sweep across the ceiling of the lounge and dining area. But perhaps the highlight is at the very heart of the lodge: a circular two-level platform dubbed the “Circle of Light” that ascends into the boughs of a sturdy winter thorn. “The circle around the tree became a hinge; a pivot point where we see the guest move between two halves of the lodge,” explains Jack. “We also wanted to get guests up into the canopy of the winter thorn. From there, you get this phenomenal aspect down the Zambezi and into the forest.”

At Lolebezi, the “Circle of Light” takes visitors into the boughs of the winter thorn acacia trees.
The “Circle of Light” takes visitors into the boughs of the winter thorn acacia trees.

“Overall, we tried to provide a design that enhances the guest experience of the Lower Zambezi,” adds Debra. “Many of the most beautiful aspects of the lodge are those that enhance the sense of being in that space.”

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Aside from natural inspiration, the design of Lolebezi also taps into the history, traditions and culture of Zambia. Angular legs of Kaonde tribal stools are subtly echoed in the dining tables and faceted bar counter of rain forest marble. A curtain of curled reeds, hand-stitched locally, frames a curving couch of textured rattan designed to maximise the river views. The shimmer of copper – one of Zambia’s key exports – is another thread that runs through Lolebezi, from the breakfast trays to the striking circular mosquito nets in each suite.

“With all the organic textures, you want a bit of sparkle,” says Debra with a smile. “Not too much – just a little, to play off the textural elements. If we didn’t have the rustic railway sleepers and the organic reeds, it might look out of place. But because it’s toned down – and a natural material – it works.

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