A taste of what awaits you in Zambia is seen and felt at the Zambia and Zimbabwe land border. Having decided to fly into Zimbabwe rather than Zambia itself (both airports are close to Victoria Falls which was our ultimate destination) we negotiated the border control in Zim airport and headed to the Zambia border. Complete chaos. And the perfect example of Africa, all the positives and the negatives. Within the chaos, there was a method to the madness. It felt like an adventure. Which our holiday was all about!
The moment we crossed into Zambia and literally within minutes, we see steam/spray rising into the sky. Victoria Falls is right there. The grandeur of what we are about to experience, permeates the air. You know you are near something very special.
We were staying at the Royal Livingstone by Anantara, which is perched right on the edge of Victoria Falls. In fact, you access one of the 8 wonders of the world, through the hotel grounds. In terms of exclusivity, it doesn’t get better than this. Whenever you feel the urge to feel the power and magic of the Falls, you can simply walk across. In any case, the presence of the Victoria Falls is embedded into the fabric of Royal Livingstone by Anantara. You see the falls while having breakfast or sunset drinks and you feel the history of the falls in the history of the hotel. We visited the falls a couple of times, but the highlight was our midnight visit which coincided with a full moon and what is referred to as the “Lunar rainbow” or the “moonbow” a majestic freak of nature where the alignment of the full moon with the cascading waterfalls emits a full white rainbow that rises over the falls in sync with the rising of the full moon. Just experiencing this is worth the price of admission into Zambia and the Royal Livingstone. The Victoria Falls is so big it straddles 2 countries, 1.2m of it in Zimbabwe and 500m in Zambia. The best months to visit are June, July and August in Zambia and the rest of the year Zimbabwe.
There are many hotels around Victoria Falls but Royal Livingstone is clearly the cream of the crop. What makes it so special other than the access to the actual falls is the presence of wildlife on the actual property. Large number of zebras, giraffes, gazelles and monkeys freely roam the lands of the hotel. They are so ubiquitous that you forget that they’re still wild animals and not pets; the hotel staff had to keep reminding our kids not to think we can go over and start petting the gazelles or zebras. But the animals themselves are so used to people that they wander up close while we are eating or drinking; at one point we were lounging around the pool and this zebra walked right up to us, actually oblivious to us, as it munched the grass and literally brushed up against us. One morning we were woken up to what sounded like crashing noises on our roof, it was a massive group of monkeys traversing the roof of the hotel to get to the trees on the water's edge. One night as we were having sunset drinks and watching the steam off the Victoria Falls, an elephant decided to join us, walking past us and gently navigating the 2 giraffes that sternly looked on – don't worry he was in front of the electric wire on the waters edge.
Named after a legendary African explorer, the Royal Livingstone Hotel by Anantara captures the grace and elegant of the Victorian era. More than 170 luxury rooms and suites decorated in a colonial style boast private verandas that open out onto the river. Elegant suites are situated in two-storey clusters that are inspired by the grand estates of times past. Beautiful paintings and black and white photographs of pioneers of old call to mind the grandeur of the colonial era, which a hint of tribal warmth adds an authentic African touch.
Guests can unwind in the cool shade of the travelers’ bar and sitting room while savoring an impeccably served high tea or enjoy a dip in the heated swimming pool. Sunset drinks are served right infront of the river while traditional African dancers entertain you just as you sip the sun will slowly sink into the calm waters in front of you.
What makes Zambia so adventurous is the amount of adventure activities on tap; many of them revolve around the Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River. My family decided to experience a variety of them. While I went for my own personal favorite- a helicopter ride over the Falls, my kids went for a microlight flight over Vic Falls, while my husband decided to do the world-famous bungee jump off the Victoria Falls bridge.
My helicopter ride seems tame compared to what the rest of the families activities but it was exhilarating seeing the 8th wonder of the world from a Birds Eye view and now I can tick it off my bucketlist. From up above, the grandeur of this natural wonder is easy to see, its an act of nature that is beyond human comprehension, it truly is awe inspiring. But while I was quite thrilled with my helicopter ride, I didn’t realize I had signed up my kids for something even more exciting. Microlight flights are just you and the pilot, in this small plane that rides the winds and gets you closer to life on the ground. My kids flew over the Falls and saw elephants crossing the Zambezi; I am sure in the eyes of kids this stuff was magical and when they all came off their respective flights and said this was one of the coolest things they had ever experienced, we knew Zambia had found a special place in our hearts.
To cap off our adventure in Zambia, we got to witness my husband, walk across the Victoria Falls bridge that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe, head towards the center platform, have people strap him to a couple of elastic ropes and let him jump off the bridge, his sounds of sheer joy getting quieter and quieter as he descended further and further into the Victoria Falls ravine below. While my kids and I had our hearts in our mouths for a few seconds as we saw him disappear, once we saw him being roped back up after a successful jump, we started laughing at the uniqueness of it all: having drinks and snacks on the edge of a mountain, baboons roaming around, watching him jump off a bridge while the Victoria Falls in the background kept raging.
Zambia, you were certainly an adventure. Thank you for the incredible memories.
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