Until last weekend my mother had never been to Victoria Falls. She nearly got there in 1970 when my father drove the family from East London (South Africa) to visit family in Umtali (Now Mutare) A tummy bug and strip roads all conspired to keep her away.
Having never stayed at Ilala Lodge I decided to kill two birds with one stone so to speak - for me to experience the lodge as a tourist and for her and my aunt to finally see and enjoy one of my favourite places on earth.
Ilala Lodge was built in 1990 but has a colonial charm normally evident only in older hotels. The pool bar and main areas of the hotel lie on the ground level but the 34 rooms are divided between three levels with the majority of the rooms on the lower ground level. To reach the lower level rooms one descends a staircase that is cut into the manicured lawns alongside the restaurant. So the roof is essentially grass. (A green solution way before it became fashionable!) These rooms all open out onto manicured gardens that border the national park so it is possible to get a variety of wildlife outside your room. We had a troop of naughty baboons who were desperately trying to get access to the biscuits of the tea station in our room!
Ilala Lodge is well known in Vic Falls for its great food and it didn’t disappoint. At this time of year water levels are rising and I found myself mesmerised at each meal by the cloud created by the spray of the falls visible from the expansive restaurant. A selection of creative dishes are on the menu ranging from innovative salads to game meat dishes like warthog. To compliment your meal, wine can be ordered by the glass, and I was relieved to discover my glass of red wasn’t the “Chateaux le box” variety but a delightful South African Merlot.