“The most impactful place I’ve been to where I was just completely awestruck, happy, and moved is Victoria Falls between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is probably the most beautiful and romantic place in the world”. – Hill Harper
Zambia is the country that gave birth to me—it has my heart! For me, this isn’t just a country but a treasure box that holds so many of my nearest and dearest memories of my childhood.
The saying that home is where you heart is truly resonates for me, because even though I’m based in London now, my heart and home will forever be in Zambia!
Zambia is a landlocked country in Africa. It was named after the fourth largest river in Africa—the Zambezi River—which bursts with majestic views, wildlife, and comforting river sounds. The Zambezi River means “river that belongs to God” and many believe that Zambia is not only a beautiful country but a very blessed one because of this.
Zambia is also home to one of the seven wonders of the world, Victoria Falls, which is double the height of Niagra Falls and a short distance away from the town of Livingstone.
“Smoke that Thunders”—or “mosi-oa-tunya”— is what the natives call the plunging waters of Victoria Falls, which sits on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
And, it’s those words that paint a picture of all that awaits in Zambia. The sounds, the sights…they pierce the eyes and strike the heart until a piece of the country lingers within, leaving you changed long after the visit is over.
It’s for this very reason and for the rugged terrain, vibrant culture, natural wonders, wild rivers, diverse wildlife, and political stability that Zambia is a wonderful African country to visit.
Zambia is easy to access not only for African countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Rwanda but there are many connections from major international airports around the world including Dubai, Amsterdam, London, the US, and more.
Zambia has 72 languages, however, the English language is widely spoken making it easy for global visitors to communicate. Of the 72 languages, the four main ones are Bemba, Lozi, Nyanja, and Tonga.
The capital city of Zambia is Lusaka which is where most international flights arrive. The tourist capital of Zambia, however, is Livingstone—a short domestic flight from Lusaka—due to its close proximity to Victoria Falls.
Zambia is Africa’s second-largest copper producer and it is home to Lake Kariba, the world’s largest man-made lake.
If you’re wondering what currency is used in Zambia, it’s the Zambian Kwacha, however, Euros, Pounds, US Dollars, and South African Rands are all accepted.
Zambia’s summer season is the opposite of the US and Europe. The dry season, which runs from May through October, is the best time to visit Zambia as the temperatures are mild throughout the day and it makes for the best time to view the wild game. September and October do get quite hot, however, and December through April is considered the rainy season, which is when the bush is really thick and green, making it difficult to spot game.
Zambia has so many beautiful cities and there are many I want to share with you, but we have to start somewhere so as I show you one city at a time, I want to begin with my absolute favorite—my home away from home, if you will. That city is Livingstone and each time I visit, my heart is full. My heart beats a song of peace, inspiration, and adventure from the moment I arrive until the moment I leave.
Livingstone, Zambia is a remarkable place to visit because it’s a short distance from Victoria Falls and there is an abundance of adventure and excursion activities to partake in. It’s located in the Southern Province of Zambia and the majority of people who live there are of the Tonga tribe. Like many tribes, the Tongas came under British rule along with Zambia at the end of the nineteenth century but gained independence in 1979.
When visiting Livingstone, you’ll notice many locations carry the name “Livingstone.” Dr. David Livingstone traveled to Southern Africa in the mid-1800s as a Scottish scientist and medical missionary. He is legendary for his expeditions and was one of the first Westerners to discover Victoria Falls. He named it after his beloved Queen Victoria.
Livingstone was previously a staging point for supplies and provisions across the Zambezi River. It was founded in 1905 and became a European Settlement. Many colonial buildings are still intact today, making it a great place to visit for history lovers.
Livingstone is a clean, quiet, charming, and peaceful town. It’s an incredibly welcoming place for tourists due to its close proximity to Victoria Falls, so everyone really ensures that travelers feel safe. The country itself is very politically stable. Like all places, if you’re walking around at night, you want to be vigilant, but one shouldn’t be concerned about safety. It’s filled with people who are warm and friendly.
I’ve gone on many excursions in Livingstone and while I’ll list a number of activities down below, one of my absolute favorites is the sunset safari riverboat cruise. It’s so peaceful and beautiful. You can sip a glass of wine as you cruise along the Zambezi River and you’ll spot hippo, game, and beautiful birds as you watch the sunset.
My two favorite activities in Livingstone are the river boat cruise on the Zambezi River and the walk down the Victoria Falls. If you’re visiting there, these are definitely two adventures you should try! The boat cruise is one of the most peaceful, relaxing, and inspirational experiences. You feel your breathing slow, your mind stop spinning, and creativity and happiness abound as you take in the river sights and sounds.
And the walk down the falls is absolutely magnificent. You’re awestruck and filled with wonder at such a profound natural element .You get why Victoria Falls is one of the seven wonders of the world.
Now that you know a couple of my favorite things to do, here’s a list of everything I recommend.
Embark on a scenic ride on The Royal Livingstone Express Train into the Victoria Falls Heritage site where you’ll cross the Victoria Falls bridge
Support local artisans and subsistence entrepreneurship at the Livingstone Stone Market
Embark on the Ultimate Cruise Experience on the Zambezi River via the impressive African Queen and the African Princess
Get an adrenaline rush and a spectacular view as you bungee jump off of the Victoria Falls railway bridge in no-mans-land right between the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
I’ve heard SO many exhilarating stories about jumping off of the railway bridge, but I have yet to try this. I’m just not that brave, but people rave about the experience so if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, I don’t think you can get better than this.
Spot lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, and hippo (all of the big 5 and more!) on a walking safari, canoeing safari, river cruise safari, or luxury game drive through the Mosi-O-Tunya National Park
Hot Tip: If you book the 6a.m. luxury game drive, make sure to bring a blanket with you. It can get VERY chilly in the morning.
With over 75 species in the Zambezi River waters, you can’t go wrong with a fishing excursion.
Experience canoeing on the mighty Zambezi River: explore islands and drift down endless stretches of one of Africa’s most majestic rivers.
During a canoeing trip down the river, my friend Tom from the band the Travelling Hands was chased by hippos, so this is definitely a thrilling experience.
“THE FLIGHT OF ANGELS…Experience the Flight of Angels, a helicopter flight with breathtaking views of Victoria Falls, Batoka Gorge, the Zambezi River, and the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.
I haven’t done this excursion activity yet, but during one trip to Livingstone my friend Eva from Eva Tarnok Photography did the Flight of Angels and said it was absolutely to die for.
Push the limits as you explore rugged terrain on a quad bike or go on a quad bike safari.
When it comes to the quad bike safari, let me just say that this truly brings out the big kid in you. I laughed and was as giddy as a kid on this thing and it was super fun.
Travel back in time with a Victorian Style Horse and Carriage tour around the Minor Hotels Resort
Find these Adventures via My Absolute Favorite Adventure Company, Livingstone’s Adventure
Victoria Falls Poolside Bar and Deck (Known as the Shungu Pool Terrace)
The poolside bar and deck is one of my favorite spots. They play beautiful soul music and it’s so great to spend a relaxing afternoon by the pool with a group of friends and a cold Savanna in hand. Grab drinks by the pool and watch the sunset as it lights up a baobab tree and the animals let out their evening sounds. Once you’ve enjoyed a cocktail, grab a laid back dinner at the bar. From wood-fired pizzas to savory bites, an evening at the poolside bar is the perfect place to destress and settle into your holiday.
This is my “DO NOT LEAVE WITHOUT EXPERIENCING” place. If you want to experience wildlife, an incredible setting, and excellent food, you have to make a reservation at the Elephant Cafe. Rated the number one restaurant experience in Zambia, the Elephant Cafe is a unique outdoor dining experience on a wooden deck overlooking the Zambezi river. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, high tea, or dinner while Elephants graze in the distance. The chefs source local produce from local farms to create a range of delicious dishes, including wild kir royale, seared beef filet with caramelized garlic, and bondwe, basil & wild mungongo nut ravioli to name a few.
Golden Leaf—Indian Cuisine
Golden Leaf is food for the soul. I’m a foodie at heart and I love a warm savory Indian dish. This is truly one of Livingstone’s best restaurants. Acclaimed as the best Indian cuisine in the heart of Livingstone, the Golden Leaf Restaurant is rated #2 on Trip Advisor as the best places to eat in Livingstone. From tandoor to curries to bread, you can enjoy something from their continental menu or a local Zambian favorite.
Royal Livingstone Restaurant
My absolute favorite dish at The Royal Livingstone Restaurant is their Nshima and Oxtail. A few of my friends from London tried this and noted that the Nshima is just like mashed potatoes. With a remarkable view of the Zambezi River, you can enjoy lunch, dinner, or sunset cocktails as you take in the river sounds and immerse yourself in a tranquil ambiance. The menu has a wide selection of local and European dishes, but highlights include roast shrimp in a red curry sauce, braised Zambian lamb, and the “kubu” platter which features artisan cheese, biltong, and chili bites with preserve and bread.
I hope you have enjoyed reading our Livingstone Zambia Travel Guide! For more information contact Love From Mwai Experiences
June 23, 2020