Livingstone, Zambia – A Local Alternative to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

After staying in the upscale and traditional Victoria Falls Hotel, Dan and I crossed the border to Livingstone, Zambia and spent two nights there!  Why did we change?  Well, I really wanted to see both sides of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe and Zambia!), and I really couldn’t resist the chance to see another country…Plus I had to try their local beer…Mosi Lager.  Not great, not great.  Zambezi from Zimbabwe was much better!

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Livingstone was a much different experience than Victoria Falls.  Livingstone is an actual town, where people work, shop and live.  It’s not just a tourist destination.  The town is located about 10 minutes from Victoria Falls, and you will need to take a cab there.  The walk is not safe, due to wild animals and some shady individuals looking to rob tourists.  There are a number of hostels and low-mid range hotels right in Livingstone, and quite a few very upscale hotels closer to Victoria Falls, including some with on-site animals (Royal Livingstone pictured)!

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In contrast to Victoria Falls, we stayed in the Fawlty Towers Hostel in Livingstone!  The hostel cost about $35 US per person a night.  It was a nice hostel, reminiscent of a 1970s road-side motel.  We had our own room with private bath.  I contend this was the most comfortable bed on the trip!  The hostel also had a common area with a bar and a pool.  People used both, but the scene shut down pretty early.  There were a variety of ages staying here from 18 – 70.  Finally, there was a helpful tour desk that offered bookings on all of the popular tours, including helicopter tours of Victoria Falls, day safaris and tours to Livingstone Island and Angels’ Armchair!

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In terms of Livingstone, it truly was a real town.  Just across from the hotel was a strip mall and several restaurants.  We visited the grocery store, which was quite interesting!  One thing that really surprised me was the presence of Protestant religion in the town…there were lots of Jesus signs and the grocery store played christian music!  Here is Dan walking in the town:

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Aside from the grocery store, we did not venture out too much.  We actually ate at the same restaurant both nights – Cafe Zambezi!  This restaurant was just a few doors down from the hostel.  It had a nice mix of locals and tourists and served good food!  Dan tried a lot of interesting things, including caterpillars!

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While in Livingstone, we actually decided not to go see the Falls from the state run park … Instead we took a trip to Livingstone Island and a helicopter tour of Victoria Falls!

Livingstone Island is the small island righttttt at the edge of Victoria Falls!  We took a short boat ride out to the island, then went for a walk on the edge of Victoria Falls, including a swim in Angels’ Armchair, and ended with brunch on the Island.  This was such an enjoyable experience, and only available from the Zambian side of the Falls! (specifically, boats leave from the Royal Livingstone Hotel).  Note – this tour is NOT for the feint of heart!  You are seriously on the edge of Victoria Falls!  The big drop in the pictures…that is the 354 foot drop down Victoria Falls!  In the dry season, this is the tour you take to swim in Devil’s Pool.  Definitely wear a bathing suit!  If interested, or just for the pictures, check out my post on Livingstone Island and the Angel’s Pool!

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To round out our stay in Livingstone, we took a helicopter tour over Victoria Falls!  Helicopter tours are offered on both sides of the Falls (Zambia and Zimbabwe) and cost about $160 US per person for 12-15 minutes. Pricey, but totally worth it for the views!!

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To sum up my experience, I liked Livingstone and enjoyed the experience of a real town rather than a tourist destination!  Livingstone has a lot to offer tourists, including a number of day trips aside from the Falls.  Truly, you could spend a week here (well, at Victoria Falls in general!) with all of the activities available!  Where you decide to stay really depends on what you are looking for in your trip!  While I preferred the proximity of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to the Falls, I did enjoy the town of Livingstone, which offers more than just the tourist spots.  Note in staying in Livingstone, the country is very protestant and they have very traditional beliefs…  If you feel like you may not match with these beliefs, go with Zimbabwe!

Steal Our Trip

Fawlty Towers Hostel – 217 Mosi-O-Tunya Rd., Livingstone, Zambia, Tel: + 260 213 32 34 32, info@adventure-africa.com – Reservations can be made on their website directly.

Cafe Zambezi – 217 Mosi-O-Tunya rd., Livingstone, Zambia, Mon – Sun:
08:00–00:00

Livingstone Island Tour – The tour is run through Tongabezi Tours at the Royal Livingstone Hotel.  We made reservations easily through our hostel.

Helicopter Tour – Our tour was run through Shearwater Tours. We made reservations easily through our hostel.

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