Livingstone

Travel Guide Africa Zambia Livingstone

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Introduction

LittleWing

LittleWing

© allieco

Livingstone is a historical colonial city in the south of Zambia, right at the border with Zimbabwe. During recent years it experienced a boom in tourism, with the problems in neighbouring Zimbabwe where more and more tourists kept away from the town of Victoria Falls. It's located in the Southern Province of Zambia and has about 125,000 inhabitants.

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Sights and Activities

Victoria Falls

Vic Falls

Vic Falls

© Luis M

At a height of over 100 metres and a width of about 1,700 metres, the Victoria Falls are the largest sheet of water falling in the world. Located within the boundaries of Mosi-oa-Tunya NP in Zambia and Victoria Falls NP in Zimbabwe, the falls are one of the most impressive landmarks of Africa and travellers from around the world are highly attracted by the opportunities near the falls. Hiking, wildlife viewing, bungeejumping, cruising, whit water rafting the Zambezi river and a helicopter ride to have a bird's eye view of the falls, all are very popular. As the falls are mainly located in Zambia, the best panoramic view is from Zimbabwe, viewing the falls head on. Even better would be the view from the air. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Victoria Falls Bridge

The Victoria Falls Bridge is located along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, spanning the Zambezi River. It connects the two cities/towns of Livingstone, Zambia, and Victoria Falls. It's almost 200 metres long with a span of over 150 metres and with its height of 128 metres also is a popular place for bungee jumping.

Rainbow bridge

Rainbow bridge

© lucid


Cecil Rhodes initially was the masterpiece behind the bridge, as it would be part of a desired railroad between Cairo and Cape Town. The bridge was designed by George Anthony Hobson and construction eventually started in 1904, after which it took just 14 months for it to be officially opened by George Darwin, son of Charles Darwin, on 12 September 1905. Although trains technically can still cross, there are no official passenger connections and most people either cross by car or on foot.

Other Sights and Activities

Livingstone Museum - dedicated to the life of David Livingstone
Victoria Falls Field Museum featuring geology and archaeology around the Falls.
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park including the Batoka Gorges - there are good game drives and the popular Rhino Walk, where you go walking in search of the few White Rhinos who live here.
Railway Museum of the Mulobezi Railway.
White water rafting - Boasting several Class V rapids, the roiling waters south of the falls provide 18 of the world's best rapids literally starting in the gorge of Victoria Falls in the Boiling Pot, right under Victoria Falls Bridge. Several outfitters (Bundu and Safari Par Exellence) have popped up in the past few years to take the courageous down the river. The rafting can be physical. You finish on a lovely sandy beach and then there is a cable car at the end of the day to get you out of the steep gorge. The cost is well worth it (US$155 for a full day) and includes lunch, dinner and refreshments.
Batoka Sky and United Air Charters offer helicopter pleasure flights over the Falls, for US$140 per person for a 15-min flight. This is a spectacular way to see the falls and strongly recommended. A 30 minute flight for US$280 is also possible, combining the magnificent view of the falls with flight over the gorge and game viewing over Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Just as important, however, it's a neat way to get to see the Zambezi River -- look for alligators attacking prey! -- and to see exactly how the River has moved over time. It's truly awesome to see how nature has carved away at the landscape.

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Events and Festivals

Livingstone Cultural & Arts Festival

This annual September festival celebrates the artists in Zambia, from dance to painters. Theatrical troupes, performance pieces, music groups, jugglers, and clowns fill the streets. Tourists can buy art like paintings, sculptures and pottery.

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Weather

Livingstone has a tropical climate with relatively high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. Temperatures are usually around 30 °C during the day and still above 20 °C at night, though June and July are about 5 °C cooler and the best months for a visit. November to April is rainy season when roads might be blocked and parks may be unreachable.

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Getting There

By Plane

Livingstone Airport (LVI) has a number of flights, with destinations being Lusaka, Nelspruit, Cape Town, Lower Zambezi (for the national park), Mfuwe (for South Luangwa National Park) and Johannesburg.

By Train

There is the once-weekly Zambezi train from Kitwe via Lusaka, operated by Zambia Railways. Journey time from Lusaka is around 12 hours with departures every Wednesday. Sleeper class fare is 145 Kwacha. and the Economy Seat fare is 75 Kwacha. There is also, a third-class only train which connects with Mulobezi once a week. Victoria Falls, just across the border in Zimbabwe, is the terminus for overnight trains from Harare and Bulawayo. The small Livingstone railway station is located just south of city centre.

By Car

If you are aching to rent a car and drive yourself around Zambia, this might be the trip for you. The roads between Livingstone and Lusaka are among the country's best, and the trip involves only one left turn.

For the international driver, roads lead into Livingstone from Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe). You can buy a temp. import permit at your port of entry, for 1 month, 3 months or longer. Also a Zambian third party insurance is mandatory, next to reflective stickers or reflectors at the front of your vehicle (white) and at the back (red). Dimensions must be 5 x 5 cm, however rectangular is permitted as well.

If coming from Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), you can cross the border on foot, but you will need to get a blue taxis into Livingstone town. They charge about 10 USD for the trip. Minibuses charge about 5000 ZMK. Taxis are waiting just the border post.

If you are taking the ferry from Botswana to Kazungula, shared taxis wait some 200 metres from immigration. They leave when full, and cost 35 kwatcha or five dollars per person to Livingstone.

By Bus

Relatively comfortable luxury buses travel between Lusaka and Livingstone, for around Zambian Kwachas 120 tickets may be purchased in advance at the bus terminal in Lusaka. The most reliable bus operator is Mazhandu Family Bus, which costs Zambian Kwacha 120 and takes 6 and a half hours. They have seat number system, so there is no need to fight for your seat when boarding. Reserve tickets in advance from the blue kiosk on Mosi-Oa-Tunya Rd. If taking the overnight bus from Livingstone to Lusaka, note that the Lusaka station can be dangerous at night. Either ask the bus driver to help you find a taxi or wait on the bus with the other passengers until daylight. Other bus companies also operates this route . Uncomfortable things with these buses are that most of them have five seat on row, so space per passenger is not too much. These buses transport you in 6 hours to downtown Livingstone (total distance 470 kilometres). It is also possible to catch a minibus from Lusaka, for about the same price.

Internationally, there are now two bus lines with buses from Livingstone bus station to Windhoek Namibia. Intercape Minaliner travels 3 times per week and Insight Luxury Coaches 2 times per week. Insight fares are from R450 which is less than Intercape fares.

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Getting Around

The city of Livingstone, where the bulk of the accommodation, restaurants, nightclubs, etc. are located, is relatively small. Most likely, you will be comfortable walking around town. However, if you prefer not to, taxis prowl constantly. Official taxis are ones which are blue and have a red number plate. If you flag a taxi down on your way to the town centre, the driver may ask whether you are booking the taxi or not. If you are booking, you should pay full fare and driver is taking you to your doorstep. If you don't book, it means that you pay only for one seat and the driver can pick up other passengers who are going in the same direction.

The city sits about 6 miles/10km from The Falls, making it long enough to not want to walk. The going rate for a taxi is U.S. $10 in each direction between the town and the falls. However, if you are prepared to haggle you may get a lower price. Journeys to 5-star hotels tend to cost substantially more than the average journey but are still relatively inexpensive. If the hotel or guesthouse is arranging the taxi for you to the Falls, the price might be higher than what you can get when negotiating with the driver directly.

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Eat

Considering Livingstone is such a tourist destination, you can be certain that Western-style meals are easy to find: everything from pizza, to burgers, even burritos! Several of the lodges and accommodations have restaurants and pubs on their grounds.

O'Discols Restaurant, near Fawlty Towers Backpackers, is a popular joint that attracts a young crowd. It features al fresco dining that receives mixed reviews.
The Funky Munky is just down the street from Jollyboys Backpackers, this is an excellent take away with some very nice pizzas.
Pub and Grill in town opposite the main banks, an American-style restaurant with good food in plentiful servings
Chanters Lodge - just outside the centre of town, Chanters offers the best pepper steak in town. Chanters can also cater too those wishing to taste an authentic Zambia meal.
Sunrise in Kutaway - this street is better known as "second class" from times when African and Asian people were allowed to trade only on that area, not on the main road! - is run by local people and offers the most "Zambian" dining experience in fairly clean and cozy place between the buildings. entry can be easily missed, but it is in middle of Kutaway on left hand side when coming from town direction. Even many taxi drivers don't know this place.
Armadillo Oriental & Grills is centrally positioned on Mosi O Tunya Road and offers a range of Oriental and Continental dishes.
Crocodile Cafe - Enjoy pastries or an al fresco light meal at this coffee shop, part of the Zambezi Sun.
Kalai Restaurant at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge & Spa offers contemporary cuisine in a traditional setting.
Kaazmein Lodge Restaurant serves a variety of à la carte and buffet dishes cooked up its experienced chefs. Guests can eat on the ground floor or upstairs where they can enjoy panoramic views.
Aunty Nancy Restaurant
Ngolide Indian Restaurant - this restaurant offers a range of authentic Indian and Continental dishes.
Olga's: The Italian Corner. Inexpensive and delicious Italian restaurant behind the Catholic church that serves incredible authentic pizzas and pasta. The place was opened up by Italians and the profits go to a local NGO that works with "at risk" youth. This place probably has the best food in Livingstone and undoubtedly the best Italian. Prices are up to $8 for a pizza or pasta. Free WiFi and a gift shop where you can browse crafts made by the program participants.
Rhapsody's Livingstone – part of the Rhapsody's Flavour of Life group, this restaurant offers gourmet cuisine in stylish surroundings.
The Waterfront has a bar and restaurant with views over the river.
Wasawange Lodge has a bar and restaurant.
Wonder Bake Take Away and Restaurant.
Zig Zag Coffee House. Has an extensive breakfast menu and also serves lunch and dinner.

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Drink

Every hostel, hotel, and resort in Livingstone features its own bar. If you want to get a cold one, you won't have to look far. There are also a number of nightclubs downtown, where tourists and locals alike dance to local and Western music. Manu local music is from Congo, those artists perform in Congo (DRC) local languages, so many times even local Zambians don't know meaning of the words, but rhythm, twisting and shaking is the issue here.

Stepright which is reputedly a hub of organized crime (though tourists should not have trouble), as well as an open-air club across the road and the bar and grill has a disco later on again next door in the center of town all very good. There is also a casino a short taxi-ride away where the drinks were slightly more expensive.
Hippos - the bar attached to Fawlty towers is the most common spot where tourists hang out, but many locals socialize there also.
Chez nTemba - typical Zambian nightclub. Open daily. One of the few places there is a door charge and the drink is slightly more expensive.
Rhapsody in new shopping center, Fallspark (locally known better as "spar" according to the supermarket which is in there)is upper-class bar/restaurant.

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Sleep

For information about sleeping on the Zimbabwe side, check the Victoria Falls article.

There are a number of places to sleep in Livingstone. Budget here means under $20/night, mid-range between $20 and $200/night and splurge over $200/night.

Fawlty Towers. With a terrific pool, in downtown Livingstone, it is possible to camp by the pool if there are no rooms (or you're really short on cash) and it offers pancakes (crepes) every day at 3PM, as well as a bar and comfy lounge area with a TV, the staff are very helpful and will make phone calls for you to help book trips and activities. Every day at 10AM they give a free ride to Vic Falls in their van. Free tea and coffee. Dorm $12, double room $80.
Jollyboys Backpackers. Has a small campsite as well as dorm beds for $10/night and up and private rooms with either shared or en suite bathrooms. It features a pool and a roofed viewing platform which lets you see the steam from the falls on a good day. There are also hammocks and mango trees if you feel like just lazing around. The bar serves breakfast and home cooked meals throughout the day, or a self-catering kitchen is also available. The well traveled staff can help answer questions and book activities. WiFi is available for purchase. There's a free shuttle to the falls every morning at 10AM. $12.
Jollyboys Camp. Geared for a quieter crowd and tends to get a lot of families, school groups and mission groups. It is located about a 10 minute walk from the centre of town. Camp sites are available and dorm beds start at $12/night. Private rooms with shared or en suite bathrooms are also available. There's a playground for kids, a pool, and a campfire area. The bar serves breakfast and basic meals, and there's an open-air self-catering kitchen. The front desk can book activities. WiFi is available for purchase. There's a free shuttle to the falls each morning at 11AM. This is the quieter family-friendly version of Jollyboys Backpackers in town.
Livingstone Backpackers. Livingstone Backpackers is set in a private garden shaded with huge mango trees, with a crystal clear swimming pool and funky bar. The lodge is right in the centre of town with 7 cafes and restaurants and internet cafe. There is also a communal kitchen, pool table, DSTV and campsite. Our in-house booking centre, where all the amazing local activities and Chobe safari's in Botswana can be booked, guarantees to offer the best deals in town and to beat any other lodge or booking centre. Free lift every day to the Victoria Falls. Group and student discounts available. Livingstone Backpackers has special deals every week. Zambia’s first climbing wall. dorms $12.
Zinga Backpackers, 25 Magoye road, ☏ +260 95-5964231. camping and dorm beds. has free WIFI. a bit far from down town. $8/$11.
Tree-tops features treehouses on stilts, overlooking the Zambezi.
Chanters Lodge super quiet lodge just off Obote Avenue.
Waterberry Lodge. About 15 km from the falls and 28 km from Livingstone, on the banks of the Zambezi river. All huts have garden view. Price from US$80/pp.
Zig Zag Guesthouse. Has en suite rooms starting at $50 USD per night. Breakfast is included. Free WiFi and airport pickups are available.
Olga's Accommodation. Coming soon. Run by the same organization as Olga's: The Italian Corner restaurant.
Kozo Lodge Livingstone, Kabila street Notbroad. Check-in: noon, check-out: 10AM. double room with own bathroom and breakfast. $27.
The Royal Livingstone, ☏ +260 21 3321122. Located by the banks of the Zambezi with the water rushing past in front of the lawns. Restaurant and bar open right over the water. Distant views to the mist of the falls. While not as historical as other luxury hotels across the bridge in Zimbabwe, the Royal Livingstone offers breathtaking views and high end luxury.
The Zambezi Sun. Between the Royal Livingstone and the Falls, in the same hotel complex as the Royal Livingstone, offers a number of restaurants and accommodation types. A free shuttle runs between the Zambezi Sun and the Royal Livingstone.
The River Club on the Zambezi River is 18 km upstream of the Falls on the River.
Stanley Safari Lodge. Overlooking the Zambezi, the Falls and the Elephant Drinking Place. Very luxurious.
David Livingstone Safari Lodge. The banks of the mighty Zambezi have welcomed a breathtaking two-story 77-roomed hotel, comprising 72 river facing rooms and 5 luxurious suites. Historical English elements reflect in lofty scale with the rawness of texture, stone, wood and earth, contrasting with the richness of exotic gold, bronze, copper and ivory, once traded through ancient Arab routes. Price from US$150/pp.
Royal Chundu Lodge, ☏ +260 213 327 060, ✉ lodge@royalchundu.com. Opened in 2010 to five star standards. It is 50 km upstream from the Falls, away from the noise and hubbub of the Falls and Livingstone. There is one lodge with ten suites on stilts in the river, and one, which is 3 km upstream on a private island with four villas and its own private staff complement, boats, 15 km of navigable private river at over 1 km wide.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Safety

See also Travel Safety

Generally, Livingstone is a fairly safe town. They want to continue to attract foreign currency, so they are careful to make travellers feel safe. However, be careful about walking downtown at night, especially if you've been drinking. There are very few street lights, and many of the locals are very poor. Try not to annoy the taxi-drivers, particularly late at night when some have been drinking. It is not generally recommended for tourists to walk the 8 km (5 miles( from Livingstone to Victoria Falls due to a number of reports of crime. The times of year in which bull elephants in musk are another reason for not walking; they become very irritable and aggressive, and are not shy about humans.

Increasing numbers of Zimbabweans are leaving their country. Zambia, especially Livingstone on the border, receives its share of Zimbabwean refugees, many of whom are poor and desperate. There have been some attacks, and some Zambians accuse Zimbabweans being behind them.

Rafting can be dangerous anywhere in the world, and Livingstone is no exception. Make sure you raft with an experienced and genuine guide. Ask around your hotel or resort about a potential guide's reputation: some are not genuine guides. They will either take your money and leave, or worse, lead you on a bogus rafting experience that may endanger your life. Although this is a demanding river, there is no reason why anyone can't partake in a rafting trip, provided they go with experienced guides and a reputable company. Make sure your safety equipment and gear is in good repair and that you secure it properly.

You need to be very careful while exchanging currency to kwachas - touts will approach with better exchange rates and fool an unsuspecting tourist by clever tricks of hand - it is best to use the government bureau for exchanging your currency. Even the post office at Livingstone can be change currency.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet connections are available even in the smallest towns - they don't always work, and are sometimes slow, but there are, usually, plenty. Uploading photos and files is always slow. Internet usually costs about 100 kwatcha a minute, and in more touristy places 150/200 a minute. Ask for a discount, if you plan to stay online for long, and make sure the time is recorded correctly.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country code for Zambia is "260." Phone service both within Zambia and into Zambia is very hit-or-miss. In large cities, you are more likely to get regular, dependable phone service, but it is by no means a guarantee. The farther you travel from Lusaka, the less likely you are to maintain a good connection. International calling rates can be as high as $3 per minute.

Cell phones have been booming in recent years, and Zambia has a highly competitive market with three main operators: Airtel, Cell Z and MTN. Generally speaking, Airtel has the largest network, while Cell Z is the cheapest. You can pick up a local SIM card for as little as 5,000K ($1). Prepaid time is sold in "units" corresponding to dollars: figure on 0.4 units for an SMS or up to 1 unit/minute for calls, although as always the precise tariffs are complex.

Avoid using internet on your cellphone (especially if you don't have a local SIM card), except if you have wifi. Switch off data roaming to avoid high costs.

Booths labeled "public telephone" these days consist, more often than not, of a guy renting out his cellphone. Typical rates are 5K/min ($1) for domestic and 15K/min ($3) for international calls

Post

Post in Zambia is slow and not always reliable. A post card to Europe can take between four days and two weeks, and costs about US$0.30. Parcels take longer, and are quite expensive - make sure you only seal your box at the post office, so you can show what's inside. It also works in your advance - if the personnel sees you only have boring soapstone carvings and nothing of value, your parcel is much more likely to arrive. Leave your cards and letters in the biggest post office; it therefore passes through less hands and is more likely to get to its destination. If you want to send a package internationally, use a company like TNT, UPS, DHL or FedEx, as they are fast, reliable and just a little more expensive than the local post.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -17.841747
  • Longitude: 25.816611

Accommodation in Livingstone

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This is version 18. Last edited at 14:23 on Jan 21, 21 by Utrecht. 7 articles link to this page.

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