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Revision as of 19:43, 30 December 2004
Livingstone, the capital of Zambia before it was moved to Lusaka, is in the Southern Province of Zambia.
Livingstone has its own small airport, and flights arrive daily.
- British Air and Nationwide (and possibly others) fly between Livingstone and Johannesburg.
- South African Airways and Air Zimbabwe fly between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Livingstone's "sister city," located on the Zimbabwe side of the border.
- Zambia Airlines offers flights between Livingstone and other destinations within Zambia.
Relatively comfortable luxury buses (called the "Euro-Bus) travel between Lusaka and Livingstone, for around $5; tickets may be purchased in advance at the bus depot in Lusaka. These buses deposit you in downtown Livingstone, near a taxi rank. It is also possible to catch a minibus from Lusaka, for about the same price.
If you are aching to rent a car and drive yourself around Zambia, this might be the trip for you. The roads between Livingstone and Lusaka are among the country's best, and the trip involves only one right turn.
For the international driver, roads lead into Livingstone from Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe). Applicable import taxes apply.
The city of Livingstone -- where the bulk of the accommodation, restaurants, niteclubs, etc. are located -- is relatively small. Most likely, you will be comfortable walking around town. However, if you prefer not to, taxis prowl constantly.
The city sits about 5 miles from The Falls, making it just long enough to not want to walk. However, taxis and minibuses are happy to take you there (or back) for about $1 per person.
Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most amazing sights in the world. Twice as tall as Niagra Falls, and several times longer, Victoria Falls affords visitors a once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing experience.
Thanks to a well-designed park, visitors can touch the waters of the Zambezi just meters before it plunges over the falls; cross the falls on narrow bridge that provides spectacular views; and shoot rolls and rolls of film, without feeling their photos are redundant.
Victoria Falls is becoming an adventurer's paradise. In recent years, many "extreme sports" have appeared, including:
- White Water Rafting -- boasting several Class V rapids, the roiling waters south of the Falls provide 18 of the world's best rapids. Several outfitters (Bundu is a popular choice; it's offices are located in Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)) have popped up in the past few years to take the courageous down the river. The rafting, itself, can be physically exhausting, but the climb out of the canyon at the end of the trip is the real beast -- it's long, steep, and difficult. The cost is well worth it (about $100 for the day) and includes lunch, dinner, and beer.
- If rafting doesn't sound like fun, you can body board the first few rapids.
- Bungi Jumping from the bridge spanning Zambia and Zimbabwe is very popular. The location affords a spectacular view of the Falls -- behind you, on the Zam side -- and the Victoria Hotel -- in front of you, on the Zim side. The cost is about $100 per jump.
- The Zambezi Swing is a relatively new outfit, featured on the first season of The Amazing Race. For about $100, this South African group lets you abseil, rap jump, do a zip line, and -- the highlight -- a gorge swing. While Bungi Jumping is over in a few minutes, these guys let you play all day.
- Del-Air offers helicopter pleasure flights over the Falls, for about $100 per person. This is a spectacular way to see the Falls. Just as important, however, it's a neat way to get to see the Zambezi River -- look for alligators attacking prey! -- and to see exactly how the River has moved over time. It's truly awesome to see how nature has carved away at the landscape.
- Another company offers microglider rides over the Falls. This provides a much closer view of the Falls than the helicopter ride, but it does not give you as broad of a view. The microgliders do not fly on windy days.
- Several companies provide a sunset booze cruise on the Zambezi, above the Falls. For $25, you get a two-hour cruise, all the drinks you can throw back, a little game-viewing, and a braai (BBQ) afterwards. The trip can be really crazy or really mellow, depending on who's scheduled on your trip.
- The Livingstone Museum costs about 15 cents is worth breezing through. Most notable (read: curious) among the information is the fact that Zambians did not have access to a wheel until Europeans brought one in the 19th Century.
- Finally, there are several game parks nearby, many of which are well-worth the visit. Livingstone boasts the only white rhino in Zambia, and there are only 6 of them. Ask your guide why they sport no horns.
Livingstone provides an inexhaustible supply of curio vendors, women selling fabrics, boys selling cool drinks, girls selling jewelry, and so on. You could easily spend all your money here. Be aware, though, that since this is a popular stop for tourists unfamiliar with bargaining, prices might be somewhat higher here than in other places. A savvy bargainer, however, can still strike gold.
If you Bungee Jump, Raft the Zambezi, or do any of the other "extreme activities," you've got to buy the t-shirt. It is a badge of honor in Africa, and a great way to tell others how tough you are.
Considering Livingstone is such a tourist destination, you can be certain that Western-style meals are easy to find -- everything from pizza, to burgers, even burritos! However, many of these restaurants seem to open and close rapidly. One "old horse" that has been around for a while is located about one-quarter of the way between Livingstone and the Falls, on the right-hand side; they double as a plant nursery. They are not open for dinner. Others include:
- Hippo's Restaurant, adjacent to Fawlty Towers Backpackers, is very good and features al fresco dining in a very romantic setting.
- Grubby's Grotto offers a bad name but great food.
- The Funky Munky is an excellent, quality restaurant.
If you're interested in a more authentic African meal, there are local restaurants willing to serve you; look around.
Every hostel, hotel, and resort in Livingstone features its own bar. If you want to get a cold one, you won't have to look far. There are also a number of niteclubs downtown, where tourists and locals alike dance to local and Western music.
There are a number of places to sleep in Livingstone.
High End -- over $200/night.
- The Zambezi Sun, located between Livingstone and the Falls, offers a number of restaurants and accommodation types. You may recognize it as the location of a recent World's Strongman Competition.
- The River Club on the Zambezi River is 18 km upstream of the Falls on the River.
Mid-Range -- between $20 and $200/night.
- The Livingstone Safari Lodge and Campsite is very nice and provides a bungalow in the middle of the Zambezi River -- above the Falls -- that is wonderful.
- Tree-tops features treehouses on stilts, overlooking the Zambezi.
Budget -- under $20/night.
- Fawlty Towers is a "classy" hostel, with a terrific pool, in downtown Livingstone. *Jolly Boys provides dorm beds for $10/night and features a large pool. Look for the man who bills himself as "The Grumpiest Overlander in the World."
- Gecko's is also a good, no-frills place to sleep ($6/night).
You can catch a bus in Livingstone that will take you through Southwestern Province to the Zambia-Namibia border, depositing you just on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River, near the Caprivi Strip. This is desolate land. If the bus breaks down, be prepared to wait a while; bringing water and a snack is a good idea. On the other hand, for the independent traveler, this is the fastest, cheapest, most memorable way to get to Namibia.
Generally, Livingstone is a fairly safe town. They want to continue to attract foreign currency, so they are careful to make travelers feel safe. However, be careful about walking downtown at night, especially if you've been drinking. There are very few streetlights, and many of the locals are very poor.
The people at http://www.afrizim.com/Home.asp provide a lot of information and photos about Livingstone.
http://www.zambiatourism.com/travel/places/victoria.htm is another good site.