I was very excited to tick Zambia off my travel bucket list last month, especially because Victoria Falls was on my list for years! You can access Victoria Falls from Zambia or Zimbabwe, but because I had the opportunity to stay and review the AVANI Victoria Falls Hotel, I ended up visiting from the Zambia side. As I usually do when I travel, I wanted to share my travel tips and a list of cool things to do. You can read more about the AVANI resort over here and now let’s chat about fun things to when visiting Zambia!
A quick note on the logistics- I booked our flights with my Discover Vitality discount, and they came out to be R3300 return(with British Airways)- not bad at all! The flight is just an hour and a half, quicker than to Cape Town! It is a drink, a snack and a little snooze away, and then you arrive at the gorgeous Vic Falls. From the airport, it is about a 20-minute ride to the falls if you land in Livingstone. Lusaka is the capital of the country, but it is quite far from the Falls- about a 6-hour drive.
Visit Victoria Falls
Of course, the most obvious thing to do while visiting Zambia is to see the amazing Victoria Falls. While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1,708 metres and height of 108 metres resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water.
The Falls are not always full so keep that in mind! They are usually at their highest from May-September, and then they are quite dry from November until February. When they are full, it is a beautiful sight! In the local language, the falls are called Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means the smoke that thunders, and it thunders indeed! We got SOAKED while visiting the falls, but it was so much fun!
When the falls are dry they do not look as petty, but then you can do more activities around them and even in them (see below). Either way, there is no doubt that you must try to see this Natural Wonder of the World, at least once in your lifetime!
Take a ride on the Royal Livingstone Train
One of the highlights of our trip for me was the evening that we spend on the Royal Livingstone Express. Its a fabulous dining as well as cultural experience! The journey begins when the Livingstone Steam Train, which has been restored to its former glory, departs from the Bushtracks station where you will board the immaculate vintage first class Lounge carriage. I felt very “Murder On the Orient Express” vibes- minus the murder of course, just a fav vibe of the 1920s. You are greeted with a red carpet and champagne, and you are served some yummy snacks on arrival.
The Steam Train travels through a World Heritage site to arrive at the Victoria Falls Bridge in time to watch the sunset. It is beautiful! It stops right on the border of Zimbabwe, and you can actually walk into Zimbabwe when you step off the train! This is actual footage of me stepping into Zim, ha-ha!
You get to enjoy the sunset from the bridge, and then you can do some fun things, like blow the train’s hooter! Multiple photo opportunities present themselves as well, of course!
After stopping on the bridge for a brief period of time you then head towards the Palm Grove siding and enjoy the sights of the African bush from the stately dining carriages. You are then served a delicious 5-course meal that is top class. My favourite were the butternut crème bruelle and the strawberry and champagne jelly- simply delicious!
Wines, soft drinks and select ciders are included in the price, so you get to feast all night! This is a journey into a timeless world of charm, elegance and romance, where the natural splendour will stir your imagination. I absolutely loved it and I highly recommend this to anyone visiting Livingstone. It is 189$ per person and you get your money’s worth in food, drinks, beautiful sights and the grand elegance of this journey.
Visit one of the many national parks
Something that we didn’t get to do this time around, but will definitely do when we come back, is visit one of the many national parks that are located in Zambia. I love watching animals in their natural habitat, and Zambia offers many opportunities to do just that. Zambia is a safari enthusiast’s dream with over 30% of the country’s land allocated to National Parks. Not only is there an array of some of the world’s biggest and best game parks to choose from, such as the vast Kafue National Park or the famous South Luangwa, there are many safari activities available too.
There is the Mosi-oa-Tunya National park where you can spot the famous falls, the South Luangwa National Park, which is known for abundant wildlife and hundreds of bird’s species. The Kafue National Park covers a massive area in western Zambia. It’s known for its abundant wildlife and the Kafue River, running north to south through the park. In the north, the fertile Busanga Plains are home to lions, zebras, abundant birdlife and the sycamore fig trees of Busanga Swamp. You are spoilt for choice for wildlife in Zambia, so put thus on your to-do list while visiting.
Check out the Devils Pool
Do you like to live life on the wild side? Then a visit to the Devils Pool is for you! Devil’s Pool is adjacent to the famous Livingstone Island situated on the edge of the Victoria Falls. You can sign yourself up for an exhilarating swim to the edge of the falls during their Livingstone Island visit. It looks super scary, but adventure seekers will love it! We could not do it because of course, the water levels are too high, and the Devils pool only operates from Mid-August to January. It looks very cool to do if you’re not afraid of heights 😉
Go white river rafting
Another activity not for the faint-hearted but for the adventure seekers! The Zambezi River below the Victoria Falls is widely considered to be the very best White Water Rafting River in the world. Considered one of the best stretches of commercially run river in the world, Batoka Gorge provides one of the most intense sensory thrills imaginable. Its twenty-three white-water rapids and striking scenery deep within the sheer black cliffs afford the adrenaline junkie a wild roller-coaster ride along a route carved over millennia by the Great Zambezi.
The rapids are run in large rubber rafts launched from just below the fall. You can do a half-day trip, full day or two day. When the river is high, from March to July, only the last 13 rapids can be attempted. As the water subsides, from June to February, all 23 are navigable. If you are keen for the ultimate thrill then a multi-day trip along the Zambezi is it!
Have a spa day at the Royal Livingstone overlooking the Zambezi River
This was an amazing experience and something that you absolutely must-do when visiting Livingstone! The iconic Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara has just recently launched a spa experience with Zambezi-side gazebos, giving you the rare opportunity to enjoy their treatments while basking in magnificent vistas across the Zambezi River, with rushing water, birdsong, and the calls of nearby wildlife offering the soundtrack to the experience. Doesn’t that sound just heavenly?
The Anantara Spa journey at The Royal Livingstone Hotel by Anantara includes four luxury treatment rooms for individuals and couples, as well as a beauty salon, embracing guests in opulent colonial style with views of the lush gardens and Zambezi River beyond. We enjoyed a full body massage while overlooking the river- it was magical!
I have not felt that relaxed in years, and afterwards we stopped for a drink at the Royal Livingstone sun deck- another gem! The sundeck is open to everyone, not just guests for sundowners, but you do have to book in advance.
Have sundowners on the Zambezi River
The Zambezi Sunset cruise is a superb way to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Zambezi River. There are great photo opportunities against often-spectacular African sunsets, flocks of birds skim the waterline as the sun sets behind the African skyline. You get to see a variety of game,including hippo, crocodile, and elephant as well as enjoy the many different bird species. There are multiple liners that offer a sunset cruise and most of them will include finger snacks, beer, wine, local spirits and soft drinks.
My friend Cassidy also visits Zambia often, so if you want to know what there is to do in Lusaka(because I mainly went to Livingstone), then check out her blog over here! I hope this list helps those that want to visit the beautiful Zambia.