Livingstone is the old capital of Zambia and the centre of activity in the area nowadays. With a cluster of larger hotels around the Falls themselves and some stunning river lodges further upstream, Livingstone also has a colonial town centre lined with fascinating, if somewhat decaying, Victorian buildings. Livingstone is our destination of choice for travellers visiting Victoria Falls, rather than the Zimbabwe side.
Located on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, the Victoria Falls (or Mosi-oa-Tunya, 'the smoke that thunders') is the world's largest curtain of falling water. When the Zambezi is at its highest, from March to May, an awesome 5 million cubic metres of water thunder over these falls - creating so much spray that it looks like thick smoke and leaves you, 100 metres up, completely soaked! At 1.7km in width and between 90 and 107 metres in height, Victoria Falls truly deserves its place as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
The area has become an archetypal tourist trap; pretty much every adrenalin-inducing activity possible is to be found here, and hawkers push bunjee jumps, gorge swings, lion walks and white water rafting at every available opportunity. However, if you are able to look beyond the crowds you will find a beautiful area, and one of the world's most spectacular sights.
The key is to stay well out of Victoria Falls town, up river on either side of the falls themselves, in one of the beautiful and peaceful river lodges. Here you will remain completely undisturbed by the crowds that flock to Victoria Falls, yet will have easy access to whatever activities you would like to partake in.
Livingstone & Victoria Falls: where to stay
The most famous lodges on the Zambian side of the Falls are the River Club and Tongabezi. Both are super expensive but you get what you pay for! The River Club has the best views of any of the lodges round here and an eccentric Edwardian charm – croquet, Pimms and walks with the owners' labradors are encouraged. Tongabezi is right next door, but is at river level so does not have such great views. What ‘Tonga’ lacks in views it makes up for with five absolutely fabulous open-fronted suites. You will not be disappointed with a stay in either lodge.
Tongabezi’s sister lodge Sindabezi is a beautiful little lodge on an island in the middle of the river. It is remarkably well-priced for what it offers and one of the most charismatic lodges in the country.
Closer to the Falls than all of these is Wilderness Safaris' Toka Leya, which has the advantage of location, but in our view lacks the character of Sindabezi, Tongabezi and the River Club.
Alternatively if you prefer large hotels, there are two to consider on the Zambia side - The Avani Victoria Falls Resort (formerly the Zambezi Sun) and the Royal Livingstone (better and more expensive). Both are very well situated for the falls but are big hotels. Finally, the Victoria Falls Hotel on the Zimbabwe side is the embodiment of old colonial style, but again a big hotel.
For a summary of the Best places to stay in Livingstone and Victoria Falls
, please follow this link.