Things to do at Livingstone
January 1, 1970
by Vaishnavi Mangalvedhekar
Livingstone is a quintessential city, at the very edge of Zambia. It is no bigger than an average town, and has a sum total of one main road. There’s a handful of restaurants, bars, schools, stores, hotels. What makes this city special, however, is that it’s situated right at the Victoria Falls.
For those of you who dream of visiting the Natural Wonders of the World, you know the Victoria Falls has earned its spot there. Almost 2 kilometres in width, you can hear this one from kilometres away. And hence, its earned the name Mosi-oa-Tunya, or ‘The Smoke That Thunders’ in Nyanja.
No photos can do justice to the sheer magnificence of the Victoria Falls. It’s one of those places that one must visit to truly appreciate its worth. The Victoria falls is shared by primarily two countries – Zambia and Zimbabwe. While Zimbabwe remains to be the tourist hotspot, it’s Zambia that really has the prize. At places, you’re only a foot away while millions of litres of water pours down. However, there’s a number of things to do in Livingstone aside from seeing the Victoria Falls. If you’ve made it this far, might as well enjoy your visit, right?
The Devil’s Pool
Why merely look at the Victoria Falls from a bridge when you can stare down into the valley as the water turns into mist? The Devil’s Pool is a naturally forming pool at the edge of the Victoria Falls. Trained professionals take you up to the spot, and give you safety instructions regarding the do’s and don’ts. And then, you cannonball into the pool and swim right to the edge of the biggest waterfall on the Earth. There is no other rush like witnessing a miracle so up close.
The water runs too high during the wet season and the months following them – being November to July. However, the dry season of August to October are perfect to walk (or swim) on the edge of the world – literally!
The Angel’s Armchair
When the water is just too high for the Devil’s Pool to be a safe activity, the same professionals will take you up to the Angel’s Armchair. Think of it as a milder version of the Devil’s Pool. It is still at the edge of the Victoria Falls, and you’re expected to stay behind the ropes to avoid certain death. Of course, there are people trained to help you get the most of the experience. For those who are unable to visit the Victoria Falls during the dry season, this is a great substitute.
While you’re at Victoria Falls, you can visit the Victoria Falls Bridge Company. They specialise in adventure sports, all the way from easy to extreme. For children or those a little inhibitive, the Zip Line is the answer. You Zip Line over the roaring Zambezi river, and spot a full rainbow more often than not. What’s more, you start at Zambia and end at Zimbabwe. Inter-country travel could not be any cooler.
If you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, you could opt a package that include Zip Lining, Bungee Jumping and Gorge/Canyon Swing. Jump off the base on a bridge, and straight towards the river at the speed of gravity – and then do it all over again. You’ll be upside down in the air, the mist from the falls cooling you off. Also, when you’re finally waiting to be pulled back up, the view is like no other.
If you’re willing to get soaked in level four to five rapids, head down to the Zambezi river. You can go white water rafting with your family and friends and hold on for your dear life as the rapids engulf you, even if it’s for a moment. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you could go kayaking and face the mighty river all by yourself.
Although there’s a lot of companies that offer these services, it’s best to stick with Bundu Adventures, owing to their experience and training. Of course, the availability of these sports is dependent on the season. The wet season proves to be problematic, and so does the extreme summer. The best time to go would be when the waters dwindle down a little – like in July – until when there’s still enough water for rapids – until mid September.
A Walk with the Big Five
If you’re a lover of wildlife and would like to get up close and personal with some of the animals in Africa, you’re in the right place. Just twenty minutes from the Victoria Falls is the Mukuni Big Five. This organisation adopts orphaned animals and trains them so they can be, one day, released into the wild. They also, however, give tourists a chance to walk with their favourite animal(s). You can choose to walk with Lions, Cheetahs or Ride an Elephant.
If you’re going to be at Livingstone for a while, you could volunteer with the organisation to help them train the animals and/or conduct tours with other tourists. Or, if animals aren’t really your thing, you could choose a cruise along the river to spot a few Hippos or crocodiles, from the safety of your deck.
Microlight and Helicopter Rides
Now that you’ve experienced everything that Livingstone has to offer on ground, you could opt for another way to experience the Victoria Falls. The Batoka Sky offers Microlight flights and Helicopter rides around the Victoria Falls, for varied amounts of time. The Helicopter rides are more expensive, but allow you to carry your own camera and go to a higher elevation to view the landscape of three countries – Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana – at one time.
The Microlight, one other hand, is a little more quirky. A pilot takes one person up in the air, and is able to to pretty close to the falls. You cannot take your camera with you, but the company does allow you to buy a video from a preinstalled camera. In a 15 minute tour, you can see the Victoria Falls, the guaranteed rainbows and, if you’re lucky, some elephants in the reserved area around.
Watch the Sunset
After a fulfilling day around Livingstone, you might want to relax a little and enjoy the last rays for the day. For something private, ask the locals where the ‘Sunset Tree’ is. Climb up to the treehouse and enjoy the pastel mist of the falls along with the stunning landscape.
If you’d like to indulge a bit more, head to Royal Livingstone. You could be seated at their deck, which overlooks the Victoria Falls. Order a drink, and lay back while you watch the Sun set slowly over the Falls, and experience the wonder one last time. Or, by spending a little bit more, you could dive into their swimming pool. Fun Fact – the garden around the pool is full of Zebras that are quite quaint, but do give an illusion of being on a Safari. It’s worth it if you want some pool time you’ll never forget.
Most nights of the year, the Victoria Falls are closed for visitors. However, during the months of May and June, you can experience a spectacle. On and around Full Moon in these months, the light from the moon forms a rainbow in the mist. Although not as bright, it’s a sight to behold in itself. It’s you, some stars, and a rainbow in the darkness while the Falls roar. It would be a good idea to have a barbecue, or carry something hot. And then, just to sit there and truly behold the glory of the might Victoria Falls.