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mistybleu Livingstone - A travel report by Amanda
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Livingstone,  Zambia - flag Zambia -  Southern
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mistybleu's travel reports

The end of the rainbow

  16 votes
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My first experience with Zambia was at the border crossing, I took the ferry across the Zambezi River and saw the real 'Africa' was unfolding before my eyes – green, lush with more people than I had seen over previous two weeks.


Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls
On entering Zambia the desert truly seems so far away; the country is so completely different from Namibia or Botswana.

Owing to mismanagement, colonial legacy, debt and disease, Zambia is the poorest country in southern Africa (I found many people still living in mud huts). With poverty increasing, AIDS (16% of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS) and malaria out of control has resulted in the life expectancy dropping from 54 to 37 years in 2001 {wow}.

However much of this is not seen when visiting Livingstone, a town that was created when the rail bridge linking Zim to Zam was completed back in 1905. The town of itself is not much to talk about, (and is named after David Livingstone) apart from a few colonial buildings dotted around; it is well developed and by comparison has lots of traffic.

The main reason for coming here is to head for Victoria Falls (7 miles from town) and has become so much more popular since Zimbabwe started experiencing political troubles. For this reason the main employer in the area is tourism and it’s by-products, however Livingstone still has a thriving textile industry and manufacturing plus vehicle assembly, food processing, furniture making and saw milling. There are also many farms in the region producing maize, tobacco and off course beef.

The town has excellent road and rail links to the rest of Zambia including Lukasa(the capital) which about 100 km north; and it is also easy to get to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. It has international airport that serves mainly southern African flights.

Know before you go:

Currency - Kwacha
Exchange rate - £1 = ZMK8000
Population - 97,000
Official language - English, however there are over 70 tribal dialects
Time - GMT + 2
Electricity - 220 Volts AC, 50 Hz. UK plugs are used
Visa - Required for all travellers except UK and Ireland nationals
Nightlife - A variety including casino, nightclub and restaurants

Favourite spots:
Rafting the Zambezi
Rafting the Zambezi
I classify this as the day I nearly died.

White water rafting can be fun, but a grade five in the dry season when the river is low, seemed suicidal to me. I went with a company called Safari Par and they organised a wonderful day.

It started bright and early with breakfast at our camp site. The breakfast was substantial - egg, sausages, bacon and beans. Then we were briefed on how to raft in one easy lesson. I felt a little unsure, but kind of thought 'what is the worst that could happen?' What they didn't tell us was the about 3 people a year die doing this and mostly from drowning. But maybe it was just as well, because I so wanted to bail out.

They have two options available: 1/2 day, when you go down the first 10 rapids. You only hit one grade 5 falls. But it is certainly exhilarating. Or you can do the whole day where you do about 25 rapids. It was at the Three Ugly Sisters (Rapid 13) where I nearly drowned after the raft capsized. But my nightmare wasn't over...

What's really great:
The river bed
The river bed
On the Zambian side access to Victoria Falls is from the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park aka ‘The Smoke Which Thunders’. Flanked by the mighty Zambezi River, the park is an UNESCO World Heritage site and is separated into two parts, the falls area and the wildlife sanctuary that has only remaining white rhinos in Zambia and roaming elephant.

I took the opportunity (even though the sign said not to) amble across the riverbed, and walk all the way around. I think that was the highlight of being at the falls. There were a few local guys who showed me the safest way to cross for a small fee; but it was definitely worth every penny.

In the flood season March-April the falls are at its strongest. At its lowest during November to December, it only has a few cataracts and most of the river is dry. However this is the best time to white water raft all the way through the Batoka Gorge.

Sights:
Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls
The craft market in town is great; many bargains can be had if happy to barter or there is also the Mukuni Victoria Falls Craft Village.

Mukuni Village is an authentic tribal village where thousands of people live and work. A visit cost around $35 and includes lunch. The experience shouldn’t be missed as you get the opportunity to meet the locals, see their schools and where crafts are made. It is also possible to arrange to spend a night in the village.

Livingstone named after the Scottish missionary David Livingstone and there is now a museum there that displays some memorabilia of him as well as African prehistorical and historical artefacts.

Victoria Falls is really the only reason why people come to Livingstone, but it is an adrenalin junkie location as there are so many activities available; like white water rafting, kayaking, canyon swing, bungy jumping, microlites, light aircraft rides, elephant safaris, etc. All you need is plenty of money and every day can be fun.

Accommodations:
Permanent tents - The Zambezi Waterfront
Permanent tents - The Zambezi Waterfront
Since leaving London almost a month ago, the Zambezi Waterfront was the best location where we stayed.

It is a lovely resort with chalets, plus multiple campsites. The facilities are good, with clean showers (hot and cold water) and plenty toilets. My only beef was that in the mornings there was never any toilet paper in the toilets. But by the time everyone was up, usually the cleaners had already restacked them.

They also have a very clean pool, (actually two pools but one was being repaired while I was there), which was so refreshing. I could have easily spent a week here just lazing around watching the baboons playing around and doing all the activities.

Restaurants:
The restaurant and bar is right next to the pool
The restaurant and bar is right next to the pool
The hotel restaurant had two types of menus - the ordinary menu for most guests and then the Backpackers menu, which was a lot cheaper. The food was good but on the back packers menu it was limited, as you would expect.

The restaurant area was pretty, with the tables located on the veranda over looking the Zambezi River, sheltered by some huge trees and adjacent to the swimming pool. It was definitely a perfect setting.

Above the restaurant and bar was the tour booking office as well as an internet cafe, with only two computers, so at times there was a bit of a queue, especially when a tour bus rolled in. But there was a television that allowed us to catch up on the news. It's funny I never realised I missed watching the news until it was there watching it again.

Other recommendations:
The Booze Cruise
The Booze Cruise
The Booze Cruise.

I've never really experienced one of the cruises before, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. Cruising the lower regions of the Zambezi River, at sunset was so picturesque. We passed so many hippos just wallowing, as well as seeing baboons, it was just great. Although not a huge amount of other animals are seen.

The cruise starts at around 5pm, departing at the Waterfront Jetty. They start with a safety briefing and then the bar opened. Unlimited beers, wine and soft drinks were included in the price which was $25, followed by a barbeque dinner while watching the sun go down.

It only lasts about three hours, but it is just as well, as some passengers, will always try to drink the bar dry.

Published on Friday February 9th, 2007


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Thu, Apr 05 2007 - 10:32 AM rating by miombo

hie I'm glad you enjoyed your time in Africa. Africa is blessed with beauty and
Zimbabwe is a blessed country because it has all the beauty it is the Jewel of Africa and it is Africa's paradise.Hope we will sort out this mess we are in and start showing people the real Zimbabwe.

Cheers

Wed, Feb 14 2007 - 06:07 AM rating by downundergal

Marvellous report - I was holding my breath for you and I think you are very brave!! A really enjoyable read.
Cheers,
Kerrie

Tue, Feb 13 2007 - 07:44 PM rating by travler

Maam this report was brilliant and the picutures outstanding. I enjoy living in tents it reminds me when I could breath clean air at home.

Sun, Feb 11 2007 - 09:56 AM rating by szidonia

Amazing, wonderfull! It seems to me a whole, as you wrote about it, the lived sensations are flowing through your sentences. Congrats!

Sat, Feb 10 2007 - 11:02 PM rating by eirekay

Your are my HERO! I have never done anything past Class IV and that was scary enough! Get know before you tips!

Sat, Feb 10 2007 - 02:07 PM rating by marianne

Brilliant! I thought that the Victoria waterfall was bigger, but maybe the photo is misleading. Is the town of Livingstone named after THE Livingstone?

Sat, Feb 10 2007 - 09:36 AM rating by rangutan

A perfectly written and well presented report of a very unusual place (the "OTHER SIDE" of the falls) with well described thrilling experiences [4.9]

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