The Thorntree Lodge makes fantastic use of its riverfront property for these elephant-back safaris. The route goes through the riverside scrub, into the river itself, across a small island, and back through scrub. The river part is a lot of fun – part wading, part swimming, and you’re likely to end up at least a little wet, especially if you’re on one of the more playful or the smaller elephants.
Elephants aren’t like horses, always travelling in a line nose to tail. The best the steerer can do is suggest a direction, so while they stay more or less together, it doesn’t feel so much like a trail ride as like travelling with a herd. It’s not fast, and you don’t cover all that much ground, but it’s an excellent experience, and is very relaxing. Along the way, the steerer can inform you about the elephants and your surroundings, and point out other animals.
They go twice per day: very early in the morning and late in the afternoon, when most of the animals are out and about. And since you’re on an elephant, the land animals aren’t as frightened, meaning you see lots of creatures, and the crocodiles won’t eat you, which is nice.
After the ride, you get to hang out for 20 minutes or so, giving your elephant treats made of molasses. After that, there’s a hard sell for the video of your ride (which is expensive), or you can buy a print of your elephant’s foot.
All proceeds go to maintain the small herd here, which is comprised of orphans of poaching. They appear to be treated very well.
I went with Bwaato Adventures for two walks, and thoroughly enjoyed it both times. Our guide was great, knowledgeable about the park, the animals, the tracks, the dung, alternative uses for various trees, all that kind of stuff. It’s all small groups – one was with five people, one with three – with a maximum of 12. They also do bird watching trips, and I talked to them about doing an individual photography trip.
The rhino walk is specifically to see the Mosi-oa-Tunya park’s eight rhinos (five adults, three young), which tend to stay in a quieter part of the park. You are guaranteed a sighting, because the guides are in touch with the rhino’s 24/7 armed protection (against poachers). The rhinos are accustomed to people, so although they aren’t tame, and aren’t fenced in, they do allow people to come very close.
The game walks go through the park closer to the river, an area also used for the local game drives, and seeing all the kinds of animals there can be hit or miss. There are a huge number of animals there, though, including several kinds of antelopes, elephants, monkeys, warthogs, Cape buffalo, hippos, and on and on, although the only big predators are the crocodiles. You won’t see lions – this park is too small to support a pride, and it’s too close to town to be safe.
What a way to see the falls! Microlights are a hang glider attached to a light tricycle frame with a propeller in back – very light, very agile, and very bouncy in even the lightest wind. Most flights are early in the morning, lasting until the wind gets too strong (they won’t go up when it’s too strong), although I saw them later in the afternoon on a calmer day, too.
I was booked for half an hour, which would have included circling over the falls, and going a little upstream and down, but we were cut short by the wind picking up rather suddenly. The short version is 15 minutes, just enough to circle the falls a couple of times, go over the main island, and back down.
You can’t take a camera – or anything loose – since if you were to drop it, it would get sucked back into the propeller, which could explode and damage the wing, and then you’d die. The wind is too strong anyway. The photo here is from the camera mounted to the wing, part of a set of several hundred you can buy of your flight.
This is one of the more expensive activities you can do here, but it is worth it.
A completely different perspective of Victoria Falls. You walk down a side gorge, scramble over boulders along the cliff beside a Class 5 rapids, raft a short ways upstream, scramble over more boulders, and, finally, jump into a natural pool under the falls on the Zambian side (Eastern Cataract). It takes some effort to get there, but it’s fun, and the swim is wonderful after the boulder scrambles. You can only do this during the dry season, between August and December. The rest of the year, there’s so much water that all river activities below the falls stop.
A word of caution: the description does warn that it requires a basic level of fitness and sense of balance, but that’s a bit of an understatement. Most of the walk down is easy enough, but there are parts that are more challenging, where the rocks are slippery or too far apart for short people to jump (if they aren’t used to jumping around on rocks), and the water under the falls is rough.
Very fun, though, highly recommended!
I had a good look around town and the best rates were offered by the Post Office once you factored in the commission fee the other exchange places charge. The Post Office does not charge a fee. They do give you a slightly less favourable rate for $1, $5, $10 and $20 U.S. notes. There is a little office in the middle of the post Office, just go and sit down. They are fairly quick. You need your passport with you.
Please note: sometimes their website does not work.
The Main Post Office is slightly chaotic, but it does the business. They offer Post Restante services, fax, postage, stamps and most importantly – Bureau de Change and Western Union. You have to sit down in a small room in the middle for foreign currency, but they are fairly quick and offer a good service.
This place seems to be under renovation. The building is in the car par of the Livingstone Museum. They had a sign up (pictured) saying that they were inside the Livingstone Museum. When I asked inside the Museum the lady at the ticket desk said she would try and help. She was unable to help me with any questions or a map. She did offer to sell me some very overpriced postcards. I hope this place re-opens by the time you go for a visit.
Pack a good guidebook!
This company uses some distinctive looking black helicopters (last picture). They offer 3 helicopter trips:
1) Short Flight – hovering over the falls for some great views & pictures
2) Long Flight – same as the first, but longer and they go and chase some wild animals for you to take pictures of
3) Picnic in the Gorge – you land and have some food & champagne on the beach
They also offer these services:
• Raft and jet boat combinations
• Charters & Medical Evacuation service
• Transfers from Livingstone Airport
• All flights include transfers to and from the helipad
The immigration border of Zambia is 400 meters away from the Victoria Falls Bridge. (The immigration border of Zimbabwe is 400 meters away the bridge in the other direction). So the bridge is administered by both Zambia and Zimbabwe. Make sure to stop here and don't just pass through. Victoria Falls is probably one of the "Seven Natural Wonders".
Livingstone museum is the oldest museum in Zambia. It contains collection from the prehistory which describes the human evolution and cultural development in Zambia from the stone age. An art gallery shows different cultures of the country. A historic gallery shows the history in Zambia from the native people, British colonial rule, to the independence. And a large collection of David Livingstone personal items, like his journals and books.
The Victoria Falls on the Zambezi river are one of the world's greatest waterfalls. It is a massive wall of water a mile wide and 350 feet high - twice as high as Niagara Falls and 35% wider. The Falls straddle the Zambia/Zimbabwe border and are a short 10-minute taxi ride from Livingstone. The areas around the falls on both sides of the river are preserved as national parks by both Zambia and Zimbabawe. Both side have extensive viewing area for tourists.
We visited the falls on the Zambia side. You pay a fee to enter the viewing area and then a paved and well-maintained path takes you to a series of viewpoints along the top of the cliffs across the narrow canyon from the falls. If possible, bring a poncho or windbreaker, because you will get wet from the mist from the falls.
The volume of water going over Victoria Falls is highly seasonal. April is generally the month with the most water, while November generally has the least. In October and November, there are usually gaps in the falls due to the lower water volumes.
The Livingstone Museum is the national museum of Livingstone, Zambia. It has a variety of interesting exhibits and is worth a visit. Our favorite section of the museum was the exhibits about the life of David Livingstone and his various African expeditions. A fascinating part of the exhibit was a collection of letters that he wrote, which you can now read.
Other interesting sections of the museum were its exhibits about the ancient people of Zambia (and the archeological findings from the stone age and bronze age), animals of Zambia, traditional village crafts, and the history of modern Zambia. We liked the fact that there were exhibits that would be interesting to a wide variety of visitors, including both adults and children. You can see the entire museum in about 2 hours, including 30 minutes in the David Livingstone section.
"African Shoes" is a must see for anyone who has come to Livingstone in search of the culture. It is a vibrant and colourful musical based on the story of a young Toka Leya high school student who faces the realities of becoming guardian of his family while struggling to complete his education. This all-too-familiar modern-day Zambian story is set against a backdrop of rich and exciting songs, dances, stories and ceremonies of the Toka Leya people – the people of the Falls.
The songs are incredibly catchy and the acting is at a very high level considering it has only been running for 6 or 7 months. I would say that the standard of this show could compete with many shows in the West End at the moment.
The organisation that has put on this production is an NGO so all of the proceeds go to help employment, education, health and the arts - yet another reason to see it.
It is currently showing at the Zambezi Sun resort on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8.00pm but will also be heading to the Capitol theatre in the centre of town very soon.
Check out their website to find out about the charity and what other activities they have lined up for the future. www.lipaf.org
Livingstone is a very nice town just to walk around. Bu doing this, you really get a feel for the place and the people.
While walking around we met several friendly locals, playing games, at street markets, braiding hair etc.
It a vibrant, but also very relaxed town with friendly people.
This is most probably the main reason for people to visit Livingstone. Entry to the National Park is about 10km from Livingstone, close to the border post.
We visited the Zimbabwe side first, and completed the visit to Victoria Falls on the Zambia side, where you will see the western side of the Falls. We got wet on the Zambian side and the Falls are just as impressive. On this side, you can get much closer you the Zambezi River and the area where the river plunges down.
We visited the Park on a Saturday, and there was quite a queue (about 40minutes).
You can rent raincoats and umbrellas inside the Park.
Entrance to the Park is 15 US $.
You can visit my Victoria Falls page if you would like to know more about the Falls on the Zimbabwe side.