Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Our two walls stand as bookends on the year past. The newest one, by local Zambian artist, Mwamba Chikwemba, connects us to the new year, while the older wall, by artist, Paul Engelbrecht, reminds us of where we’ve come from and all that has happened in between.

The walls have been expressions of our place in Africa, through their designs, colours, boldness and brightness. You can discover more about them in our blog, The Shape of You. And One Colourful Wall of Life, where we introduced Paul.

They are an expression of the people of our home, the culture and traditions, the essential heart of who we are at the lodge, as explored in the new art pieces by Mwamba.

Our walls of art have shown us more about the art of life, taken us deeper, and united the entire family at the lodge, inspired guests’ curiosity and celebrated Zambia. Africa. The reasons people travel to our home on the Zambezi River.

Mwamba will soon take to more walls in the lodge, to spin life and stories through her paintbrushes – the new year is looking mighty bright – but there is another something special soon to add new energy to the year ahead. And that’s our culinary collaboration with Annabel Hughes Aston, a writer who cooks, gardens and forages, and lives on a farm in the Zambezi Valley, in Livingstone, Zambia.

As our neighbour and someone who quite literally eats and breathes the region, Annabel will be assisting in creating even more Zambian-inspired dishes, embracing locally-grown seasonal garden produce. We’ll be sharing the exciting new menus, stories and images soon, but you can read more about her philosophies in our Q&A with her here.

Looking back on the journey from that first wall, there are things we’ll never quite forget. Namely, the biggest flood to hit our riverbank in ten years.

“It left us underwater for two months of the year and tested our mettle, and our woodwork and our pools, decks and boats. The list goes on…,” says Tina, who was on the grounds, canoeing between the kitchen and storerooms with the rest of the team.

“As stressful, exhausting and devastating as this was, we came out stronger as a family for it, understanding just how much fortitude we have as a team. Huge thanks go to our supportive partners who carried us through this time with loyalty and understanding.”

To come out of the flood and be recognised for the 8th consecutive year as Zambia’s Leading Safari Lodge in the World Travel Awards 2018 gave us new energy and strength when we needed it most. Having Aggie step away from the lodge in Zambia to travel to a new city to collect our trophy at the Awards ceremony in Durban… well, our pride, joy and gratitude reached new levels. And then… more news came. We were named the 4th Best Resort in Africa and 9th Best Resort in the World in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards.

Every single member of our team responded with whoops and wows – disbelief mixed with a deep sense that everything has not gone unnoticed. The endless hard work, the love and care, the passion, the learning, the community spirit, the relationships in the team, with local suppliers, with partners and with our treasured guests. The world saw it. The world saw us. We mattered. What we are doing matters, was what the awards told us.

For our team to receive that message, made our hearts feel simply, truly, complete.

We have continued to feed our growth and success into the community – the projects that give us purpose and drive, day after day. And we couldn’t be more excited to get started on our plans for the new year, including the building of our new school. The learners of the Royal Chundu Foundation School on our grounds at River Lodge, many of them the children of members in our team, have all advanced in ways unexpected – not merely in knowledge, learning the Zambian curriculum on tablets in class, but also in confidence. As people do given the right attention, love and opportunities.

We will share more details with you shortly, but know that all the support of the lodge from you, our friends, family, guests and partners, goes right back into community missions like our school. Like the Mushekwa community gardens and crafts projects and support for the local fishermen, artists, designers, gardeners and more.

These are the things that are essential to us.
They are the essence of Royal Chundu.
Things genuine and necessary.
Thank you for all of your support in 2018. Let’s go even deeper this year.

With love,

Your Royal Chundu Family