I’ve never seen a building quite like Chongwe River House. With its alien forms and white walls plastered smooth like putty, it has a bit of a Gaudí feel. But here, on a calm tributary of the mighty Zambezi, you certainly feel worlds apart from Europe. Elephants walk right up to Chongwe, and often cross the river right in front of the lodge’s swimming pool. They did exactly that one morning, as I was having breakfast outside. The lodge has four bedrooms, and is private-rental only. (Couples can opt for nearby Chongwe River Camp.) The food is wonderful. But the upscale, organic quirkiness of the house itself—with tree-trunk benches, hide throw rugs, cascade-style showers, mosaics of multi-colored river pebbles—truly sets it apart.