Located on the Zambezi, and bordering Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, Impalila Island Lodge is something of a Journeys by Design favourite.
Built around an enormous and ancient baobab tree, Impalila Island Lodge is a largely wood and thatch build whose main area consists of a dining area, bar, seating area, shop, library, swimming pool and viewing deck. Raised on stilts, the lodge overlooks the Mambova rapids and is set in a lush and mixed river habitat, which, together with a decor that manages to combine country house armchairs and lightweight camping furnishings, makes for a most relaxing stay. The food – fish, international, African – is delicious, the service fabulous, and the feedback is unremittingly good.
The 8 en-suite sleeping rooms – chalets – are located along the river bank, and each possesses either twin or king-size double beds, a ceiling fan, room to change in, a small seating area and sliding doors that open onto riverside decking. With walls made from polished mukwa wood, the chalets are decorated with locally sourced artefacts. At the time of writing (2010) the bathrooms – shower, sink, flush loo – are a tad small, and due for an upgrade.
Specialising in fishing safaris, Impalila offers extremely good tiger fishing, and exclusive trips – Tiger Quests – are hosted by Malcolm Mentjes, author-flyfisher extraodinaire. Other activities at Impalila Island Lodge include boat safaris, bird viewing and trips to neighbouring Chobe National Park.