The best of Africa: Royal Livingstone Hotel, Victoria Falls, Zambia
By James Ellis
Whether you are enjoying a massage in a tent that opens onto the banks of the mighty Zambezi River; sipping a sundowner on the riverside deck, watching the hippo and the spray rising from the Victoria Falls, known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya ( the smoke that thunders); or simply enjoying a candlelit dinner on the veranda, whilst zebra, giraffe and impala wander past, life does not get much better than a stay at the Royal Livingstone, probably the best located hotel in Africa, let alone Zambia.
This is the perfect place for a honeymoon, anniversary or special celebration. All 173 rooms have a personal butler and face the Zambezi, but the best views are from the first two blocks south, and the fourth and fifth blocks north, of reception. There are three suites and a Presidential Suite, which is stunning.
A magnificent breakfast is included in the room rate, dinners are reasonably priced, and private candlelit riverside dinners can be arranged. The hotel prides itself on the quality of its water.
Choosing the time of year is important. The best months to visit are May and September. In May the river is full and the Falls at their most dramatic. In September there is still a reasonable flow but the exposed riverbanks give a better opportunity to see the wildlife, and the weather is perfect. June and July are too cold. October is too hot.
Getting there is relatively easy, with a ten hour flight from London to Jo’burg and then an 80 minute flight to Livingstone. As there is only a one hour time difference, there is no jetlag. When getting your visa, get one for multiple rather than single entry if you think you may wish to visit Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana, which is a two hour drive from the hotel.
The Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, are only a ten minute walk from the hotel, and there are easily accessed viewing areas from which you can see rainbows in the spray that is thrown hundreds of feet into the air.
Numerous excursions include a river safari, from which you can view the wildlife in the Livingstone National Park; a sunset cruise aboard the African Queen or Princess; and dinner aboard the Royal Livingstone Express, as it chugs through the bush.
For the more adventurous, there is white water rafting, canoeing, abseiling, microlighting, high wiring, gorge swinging, as well as bunjy jumping from the Victoria FallsBridge, with a four second freefall and 111 metres drop. A boat will also take you from the hotel to LivingstoneIsland from which Dr. Livingstone first viewed the Falls in 1855, and named them after his Queen. From there you can swim in the devil’s pool on the cusp of the Falls.
Alternatively you can simply laze by the excellent pool or chill out in colonial sophistication of the lounges and verandas.
Find out more about the hotel here: http://www.suninternational.com/fallsresort/royal-livingstone/Pages/default.aspx You can contact the manager, Guillaume (firstname.lastname@example.org), formerly of L’Oreal, personally to discuss your stay.