What started as a worldtrip, resulted in a long stay in Zambia. We have been here for a while now, because we love it so much and have to opportunity to work on lots of different projects. Our friends and family frequently ask; Why Zambia? Well, this is something we just can’t explain, you have to experience the magic yourself. So did our parents and best friend. They came to Zambia for two weeks and we really wanted them to have the best possible experience. We wanted them to experience the fancy shopping malls, the rural areas, the wildlife, the friendly people, the delicious food and most importantly we wanted to explore some undiscovered places. Together with our mother we set up an itinerary. While checking the map, we noticed a place called ‘Sinazongwe’. We googled it: things to do in Sinazongwe? Conclusion: not so much. For us this was perfect, because mostly when you don’t expect so much, that’s when the magic happens. We approached a lodge named ‘Lyawa Lodge’ and informed them about our travel plans and asked if they were willing to host us (5 people in total). We immediately received a welcoming YES. We were excited about this collaboration, because we simply didn’t know what to expect. For everyone that’s up for a true Zambian adventure without booking any tours or activities, keep on reading.
Arriving at Lyawa Lodge
Early in the morning we started driving from Choma to Sinazongwe. For the biggest part the roads were good. But to actually go to the lodge itself you might need a 4×4 to make it yourself a little bit more comfortable. The off-roads were pretty bumpy and had lots of potholes, however with a good 4×4 this is all part of the so called “African massage”. The saying: “difficult roads, lead to beautiful destinations” was definitely true for this lodge. The moment you arrive you can already see the famous Lake Kariba (as you can see on the picture below). The best thing is that the lodges are literally located next to the lake. Tip: make sure to take enough water with you, some food and a full tank, since there are not so many petrol stations and shops along the way.
The story behind Lyawa Lodge
Once arrived we were welcomed by a very friendly lady named Sula. This lady is the manager of the lodge and is partly German and partly Zambian, but most importantly she is a true story teller and history connoisseur. She made sure the chef prepared a delicious fresh fish meal and joined us for dinner. We asked her if she could tell us a bit more about the story behind the lodge, and proudly she replied: “Yes, I would love to because I am a true story teller.” She told us that Lyawa is the name of the man that first started this lodge. The meaning of Lyawa is sunset. In Zambia they believe that you should live up to the meaning of your name. In his case, he had to make sure that all the important tasks were finished before the sunset. He totally dedicated his life to fulfilling this purpose, and always made sure to arrange everything on time for his employees and guests. This work ethic is definitely something that the lodge still holds in high regards. Besides this story, the name Lyawa is also very on point because of the beautiful sunset you can experience.
After our meal we made ourselves ready for the night. Sula prepared some nice sitting spots close to the lake and had some nice stories for us. One of the most famous Zambian stories is the story about the water god ‘Nyaminyami’. We will not spoil all the fun by explaining the story as you will definitely have the best experience listening to it in real life, in Zambia, next to the lake of the famous water god. Also it is incredible how many stars you can see in the sky. And Sula makes it even more fun, since she can tell you exactly where you can find your zodiac sign and what the story behind your sign is. This makes seeing so many stars even more special.
What to do in Sinazongwe
Remember what we explained in our intro: when you don’t expect so much, that’s when the magic usually happens. Well, this was definitely true for Lyawa Lodge/Sinazongwe. We stayed there for two nights and had one full day to do some exploring. Since there is no swimming pool or whatsoever, you will not be tempted to swimm or relax the whole day. Especially when you stay there for a short period of time (which we recommend), it would be a waste of your time to not explore around. Luckily you don’t have to do this all by yourself, since Sula prepared a wonderful program for us. After breakfast we freshened up and around 2 in the afternoon we took off to the harbour for a small picknick. After the picknick, Sula took us to some areas where you can see the most beautiful baobab trees. The best way to experience these trees is not only to look at it, but also to taste it. Sula brought some baobab seeds that we could taste and also add to our water. It gave a very delicious flavor to the water, it tasted a bit like lemon. Of course you can’t leave without hugging the tree since it will bring you some luck 😉 Also we were welcomed by a very friendly man to walk through his garden. Meanwhile he explained some important functions of each tree or plant; from trees for removing bad spirits, to curing malaria. After this, Sula guided us through the small village. We were shooting some drone shots and before we knew the chief came to welcome us. He asked for our fathers phone number and said: “from now on we are friends, you are my friends from the Netherlands and I am your friend from Zambia. May we meet in the future again and may god bless you.” We were already familiair with how super friendly the Zambians are, but for our parents and friend it was a true delight to experience this as well. It made us all realize how important it is to always be polite and friendly to people. The happiness you feel because of these friendly people, is indescribable. We ended the day with watching the sunset from a very nice spot and went back to the lodge again. This is exactly the experience that you can never expect beforehand, but it makes your stay so much more special. There is no paid activity that can give you a better local and unique experience than a passionate local, guiding you around. But if you have more time to spend in Sinazongwe or you prefer different kinds of activities, then you can also think about doing some cruises (you can arrange this via Sula/Lyawa Lodge as well):
- Pantoon cruise (Between 8AM and 4PM)
- Pantoon Island cruise (9AM-2.30PM)
- Speed boat cruise (Between 8AM-4PM)
- Speed Boat Island cruise (9AM-2.30PM)
Facilities Lyawa Lodge
If you would like to know more about the facilities, we can tell you that Lyawa Lodge has all the basics you need. Meaning, they prepare good food, the rooms all have airconditioning, the beds are big, it is clean and the rooms are pretty big. We definitely had a great stay, the location is great and Sula made sure we learnt and experienced a lot within a short period of time. If you are looking for places to relax, we would recommend staying in a hotel. Since there is no swimming pool or anything fancy that you might experience in a luxurious hotel. We are the kind of travelers that definitely can enjoy such things for some days, but prefer to have a more cultural experience. And that is something that no luxurious hotel can give you better than Lyawa Lodge. Sula proudly explained to us: “Lyawa Lodge is a place to enjoy simplicity, culture, locals and stories.” We could not have described it any better. Thank you Sula and your team for this wonderful experience.