The Chongwe River House is located in Zambia, Africa in the Lower Zambezi National Park, overlooking the Chongwe and Zambezi rivers. A vacation home that features four large bedrooms complete with ensuites and king sized beds, th ehome is built around a frame of wild wood with ferro walls that follow the natural lines of the branches. The home is an organic creation that features a large Winterthorn tree growing from the side of the poolside deck as well as a second Winterthorn tree that had fallen and is now carved into all the furniture within the sitting room.
The pool itself is an organic formation with its random curves creating two circular zones connected by a swimming channel. The natural shape of the pool makes it appear to be an extension of the river beyond.
The river attracts the neighbourhood wildlife and it’s not uncommon to enjoy frolicking elephants from the comforts of the home.
In the evening, the river fades into the dusk allowing the pool to take centre stage via the lanterns that spill light over the surface of the water.
Lanterns are also placed on the deck and even in the Winterthorn tree while the home itself floods the surrounding area with light from its inner zones.
Under the open sky surrounded by the glow of the lamps an outdoor dining area is the perfect place for el fresco meals.
During the day the Winterthorn tree provides much needed shade.
The fanning branches of the extended roofline also provide shade. The branches mimic a natural tree canopy that is enhanced by the trunk sections used as support posts of the homes structural facade.
Just inside the overhang is the living zone of the home and this is where all the furniture was created out of one fallen Winterthorn tree. Adding to the organic aesthetic is the use of river pebbles as a ceiling detail, between the rows of small branches crossing from one ceiling beam to the next. While this room is indoors, the ambience is definitely outdoors.
Just behind the sitting room is the indoor dining area large enough for 8 and just beyond this area is another area fitted with Winterthorn sections.
Nature has definitely been brought into the home with these sections of trunk displayed as art forms, propped up by rocks and pebbles sourced locally. While this zone seems to have no real purpose other then to feature the fallen Winterthorn tree, look closely – a section of trunk is being used as a desk and other sections have seats carved out of them.
Using wood and pebbles as functional art forms is a repeating concept within the Chongwe River House where even the stairwell features a curvy section of branches as the balustrade and pebbles create the dining table display when not in use.
From supersized sections of tree to the smallest branches the Winterthorn takes centre stage in every room and where needed rocks of all shapes and sizes are used to support the tree sections, add detailing to the architecture, and create small vignettes of touchable intrigue.
While the Chongwe River House uses natural formations to create both the architecture and the accessories, pillows and rugs are layered in for the comfort factor.
Even on the deck, pebbles are used to create vignettes of dryscaping with a few tufts of natural grasses adding height and colour.
A third location for dining is on the river itself.
Dining on the river raft, surrounded by water and looking back at the Chongwe River House must be so surreal, truly a special experience.
Another pretty awesome experience would be sleeping in this completely exposed bedroom. With a fire pit just outside on a more private terrace area, what better way to end a spectacular day then dining on the river raft, taking a dip in the pool, warming up by the fire pit before snuggling under the covers of the king sized bed?
Its hard to decide if this is an indoor room or an outdoor room. The foot of the bed literally lines up with the outside edge of the room and since there are no glazings closing off the space, it is more like a gazebo then a room.
Rocks line the inside walls of the room while two sections of trunk flank the headboard. Behind the bed is a dressing area and behind that in its own room is the ensuite.
The dressing area features a trunk section for hanging clothes on while another trunk with branches uses slabs to create shelving for incidentals.
The ensuite features a walk in shower and an organically shaped vanity with vessel sinks carved out of – you guessed it – trunk sections.
The Chongwe River House has four bedrooms, each features a kingsized bed, an ensuite, a dressing area and a canopy of netting. Each bedroom also has a stunning view of the surrounding landscape. This is the second of the four bedrooms and features the same layout as the previous bedroom but in reverse.
While the layout of this bedroom suite is the same as the first, the ceiling structure is more intensely braced with tree branches and this criss crossing of bracing is picked up on with the “busier” use of branches in the dressing area.
Here too, the bedroom is a continuation of the landscape and this merging of the indoors and the outdoors is only intensified when an elephant meanders by.
The ensuite is as organic as the first and as with the other bathrooms, features a waterfall shower and wood and white marble sinks by the Zambian artist Eddie Mumba..
A stay here can include guides, canoes a boat and armed scout and private vehicles for exploring its wild surroundings.
Chongwe River House
Photography by Chongwe River House