Livingstone, Zambia is home to the Victoria Falls and a starting point for many in Africa. I had the privilege of going there in July of 2006 to kick off my Africa Trip of 2006
I flew in to Livingstone on a flight from Johannesburg, South Africa. The flight was reasonable (around $140CA with South African Airways booked on Expedia).
It is a stopping point for many tours though. If you were interested in doing on of the “overland” tours from South Africa up or from Kenya down, you will end up here most likely. The “overland” group I was with was going from Johannesburg, South Africa to Nairobi, Kenya. Some people were doing a split tour and getting off at Livingstone, so that is where I joined.
If you are expecting it to be cheap, think again. This is a poor country without many resources and completely landlocked. Getting goods in and out is pricy. Gasoline was over $2US a litre and there were not many activities that were under $50US for the day.
Outside of town a little ways there are few different lodges. I personally stayed at the Zambezi Waterfront. I call them a “secure campground”. Basically, it is a fenced off area along the river with guards. The main office is quite nice with a restaurant, bar, patio, tv room upstairs, and activity booking center all in one building. There are a variety of options for staying there.
You can bring your own tent and just throw it up in an open area. The cost is around $10 a night I believe. The overland tour I was with provided tents and paid our fees (included in the tour price).
These are tents that sit on concrete pads. There are beds set up inside on bed frames, a plugin for power, a lamp, and is quite nice actually. They can be locked from the outside too. I had some doubts when I heard about them, but I stayed in one for a night and was pleasantly surprised. Cost was around $25US a night.
I wasn’t in them, but I heard they were nothing special (not even a television) and the cost was over $100US a night.
Here is a tip. If you have your own tent, you can check for bugs, and you know it’s secure. Buy yourself a small travel lock (so the bar fits through the zipper holes). There is nothing more annoying than having mosquitoes or other bugs when sleeping.
The activites are not cheap. At least not through the activity booking center at the Zambezi, but I have a feeling all the places are the same. Make sure to do a few when you are there. It is a great place to see a lot.
Otherwise known as the “booze cruise”. This is an all you can eat (and drink) cruise along the Zambezi river. Quite nice. You see a lot of animals actually (or I did) and a beautiful sunset. Perfect way to meet a few people when you arrive and settle in to “tour mode”. Here are a few pictures of what we saw.
Sunset at the End of the Night
The most famous part of the area. These were named after David Livinstone, who was the first European to report them back to Europe. There are quite amazing. Twice as long and twice as high as Niagara Falls to put it into perspective. They can be seen from both Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The entrance fee isn’t much and you go to walking trails to see the falls close up. It will feel like it is raining because of the moisture in the air. Wear decent footwear because the stone path will be slippery and wet. Take some plastic bags for cameras as well and if you have a rain jacket you will need it.
Here is a tip. If you are there close to a full moon, you can go back at night and seen a lunar rainbow in the mist of the falls. Truly amazing, like out of fantasy story book. Check out the photo I took when I was there.
What is this? There is a wildlife reserve right outside of Livinstone. You can take a guided tour of this park reserve and walk around. Was quite interesting. It is called a Rhino Walk because that is what they guarntee you will see. There are two rhinos living there and trackers find them early in the day and inform your guides where they will be. You can get photos with them. Check out the photo on the left. Can you say “uncomfortably close”?
I was able to see impala, baboons, wart hogs, african buffalo, rhinos, elephants, zebras, and some other animals I cannot remember.
Your day includes a meal, a guide, and a guard with a rifle in case some animals get a bit testy. Cost was $75US per person.
Yeah, the names are quite funny. There is facility along the river for elephants that were otherwise going to be culled in Zimbabwe. Basically an informative, zoo like place, but was interesting nonetheless. Afterwards we rafted down the Zambezi back to the Zambezi Waterfront.
Microlight (Ultralight) Flight
I always wanted to do this. If you don’t know what an ultralight is, it is basically a handglider with a motor and propeller. Fits two people and they fly over Victoria Falls and/or the wildlife park. The view is amazing.
Don’t worry, the pilots seem quite capable. It was a South African and an Australian running it when I was there.
Cost was $80US for a 15 minute flight over one of the areas or $150 for a full half hour over both areas. Here is a tip, if you go early in the morning, it can be quite cold so dress appropriately. They will give you a jumpsuit and helmet. You won’t be allowed to take a camera either.
This is similar to the microlight except you get to sit in comfort and take your camera. If you want the amazing view and not stress about safety, this is a good choice. I didn’t do it personally, but I heard it was great. The cost is similar to the microlight.
White Water Rafting
I didn’t do this, but there is white water rafting available. Just a little bit downstream from Victoria Falls the river switchbacks several times before stretching out on the plains going out to the Indian Ocean.
Just what your loved ones will want to hear. Bungee jumping from a bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia over the river. You can still see the falls a short distance away too.
Can’t remember the cost, but I know you need to have a visa for both countries to do it because it is inbetween.
I didn’t do this either, but it is supposed to be super cool. You go over to the Zimbabwe side for this. Basically there is a pride of lions that live at a “lion centre”. The price believes their dominant male for the pride is one of the employees.
You get to learn all about the lions, see them up close, go for a walk with them, and learn a ton about their habits and behaviours. Supposed to be an amazing experience. You walk along and hold their tails as you walk (some behavioural thing). They may even take off and hunt something if they feel inclined.