For most people, Livingstone is all about the Victoria Falls. Understandable!
The Victoria Falls is no ordinary falls. Known as the greatest curtain of water on earth, with 550 million litres of water crashing over the 100 metre edge of the falls every minute at peak season, this world heritage site is a breathtaking vision. Nothing can prepare one for the stunning sight of the waterfall, with the spray rising from the crashing water visible more than 30 kilometres away. Thrown into the basalt rock chasm of the 1.7 kilometres long and 1708 metre wide Batoka George, the water travels into the Boiling Pot and meanders down a zigzag pathway, occasionally bursting over the rock to form rapids.
Scottish explorer David Livingstone is believed to be the first European to set eyes on the Victoria Falls or as the local people call it the Mosi-oa-Tunya, which is located on flat basalt plateau, with the Zambezi basin above the falls, when he did so on November 16, 1855.
Dr Livingstone is said to have peered into the chasm of the Batoka Gorge beneath the thundering spray of the falls from Livingstone Island, perched on the lip of the falls. He wrote in his diary that local people took him to an island situated in the middle of the river, on the edge of the lip over which the water rolls. Creeping with awe to the verge, he peered down into a large chasm, and saw “the most wonderful sight I had witnessed in Africa.”
That is why for many people, Livingstone is all about the Victoria Falls, especially that there is more to it than just viewing the falls.
At the Victoria Falls bridge, apart from the adrenalin pumping activities such as bungee jumping, there is also a tour which includes a rare opportunity to walk on the bridge and the catwalks beneath, providing a theatrical and entertaining presentation on the construction of the historical bridge and the men who built it.
The single-arched cantilevered steel bridge, was designed by Sir Douglas Fox, located so that spray from the falls would land on the carriages and cool passengers inside. Then, there is the Livingstone Island, where David Livingstone took his first glance of the falls in 1855 – an amazing place to have a Tongabezi-operated picnic or breakfast, lunch or high tea. A short thrilling boat trip away from the Royal Livingstone Hotel jetty, only 16 guests are allowed to visit the island at a time so that the world heritage site is protected while guests enjoy a full tour of the island that includes a talk about its ancient history.
But with Livingstone co-hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly with Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe, The Magic of Zambia, who recently launched the Lusaka City Guide to coincide with the city’s centenary, have published the Livingstone Guide to help visitors.
The Livingstone Guide is the official guide for the 20th UNWTO General Assembly.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo provides the foreword to the publication.
“Initially, this publication will be launched for the General Assembly in Livingstone (24-29 August) as part of the ‘Legacy Projects’ and as a contribution to projects aimed at recognizing Livingstone’s new status as the Tourism Capital of Zambia.
“However, our vision is that the publication will continue long after the General Assembly as its contents will remain relevant to our marketing strategy. To our local and international visitors, I say get your copy of the Livingstone Guide and Explore Livingstone – Zambia’s tourist capital,” she writes.
If the Livingstone Guide is anything to go by, then there is a lot to Livingstone than the Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
How about the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park!
Only 66 kilometres in size, making it the smallest in the country, the park created to protect wildlife and the heritage area around the Victoria Falls, is home to populations of migratory elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and a variety of antelope as well as the rare white rhino – each with its own guard.
Mopani woodland savannah is found across this area, with crops of miombo and Rhodesian teak woodland covering the lush landscape. Dense rainforest is nurtured by the spray from the falls and can be best admired on the descent to the Boiling Pot. Rare and ancient plants and trees include ivory palm, wild date palm and ebony.
The banks along the Zambezi River are lined with riverine forest and palm trees. Across the river in Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls national park is 23 square kilometers. These two national parks along the upper Zambezi are dwarfed by the Zambezi National Park which extends 40 kilometres west along the Upper Zambezi River.
But that is not all; other areas of interest are Mukuni Village, Maramba Cultural Village, Musokotwane village, Boat Club, Capitol Theatre, Church of Christ, Falls Museum, the ne-classical Finance Bank, Jewish History, John Hunt Way named after a European curio trade, Livingstone Royal Golf and Country Club, Stanley House, Railway Museum, Livingstone Museum, Old Drift Cemetery, St Andrews Church and Victoria Falls Hotel among others.
The Livingstone Museum is a Spanish American inspired museum that was opened in 1951 and is the oldest in the country. One which cannot be missed, it is quite a commanding building in the heart of the town. Outside is a statue of Emil Holub, a Czechoslovakian explorer who drew the first map of the Victoria Falls in 1875 and also documented lives of local tribes including the Lozi, Tonga and Ila people. Inside are items of David Livingstone’s belongings including some of his journals and letters which can be read in glass cabinets.
On the other hand, the Railway Museum which is the former Zambezi Sawmills Locomotive Sheds National Monument, helps one to step back to 1874.
There are a number of old locomotives on display, notably the first class wooden passenger coach number 1000. The coach was designed by Sir Douglas Fox as part of a train commissioned by Cecil Rhodes to “provide the comfort of a hotel”. The entire train was assembled in Cape Town and the Victoria Falls. Train enthusiasts may want an evening meal on the Bushtrack Africa operated historic Royal Livingstone Express.
Also of interest is the Livingstone Royal Golf and Country Club which was opened in 1908. The historic building is made all the more interesting by the journals and cuttings framed on the walls. They paint an interesting picture of smoke filled rooms as the 1920s jazz played to a genteel audience, taking a spin on the club dance floor. One, an extract from Vet in Africa, records: “Most of the bachelors members messed at the club which also had a billiard room, long bar, bridge and silence rooms as well as a library. With so many of the members present for every meal, the finances were on sound footing, and an energetic committee produced a programme of events which ensured the attendance of virtually all members.
Apparently, the biggest night of the year in Livingstone was the New Year’s Eve. “An elaborate fancy-dress evening was laid on, and every member joined private dinner parties before heading for the club… dancing could continue into the small hours” with members supporting the bar enthusiastically from beginning to end…”.
For those interested in shopping and markets, there is the Kubu Crafts, the Falls Park Mall, the Maramba Market, the Mosi-oa-Tunya Market, Mukuni Park Curio Market, Queen’s Park, Royal Complex, the Shop that Thunders and Zambezi jewels while sports facilities and leisure spars include Fawlty Towers Hair and Beauty, David Livingstone Safari Lodge and Spa, Sanctuary Retreats Sussi and Chuma and Prana Tented Camp.
In terms of itineraries and days out, there is Chobe National Park and Jungle Junction – Bovu Island which is renowned among travelers as it hosts the Jungle Junction Camp with hippos, hammocks and harmony summing up the beautiful island pretty well. Chalets are made from river reeds and bamboo raised on stilts above the water and evergreen forests lines the beach.
For those that want adventure further afield, places to visit include the South Luangwa National Park, Lower Zambezi National Park, lake Bangweulu, Siavonga, Lochnivar National Park, Kafue National Park, Kasanka National Park and Liuwa National Park among others.
Otherwise Livingstone offers animal encounters, bicycle hiring, carriage rides, bungee jumping, bird watching, canoeing, cruises, golf swing and abseiling, horse riding, walking safaris, quad biking, steam trains, a reptile park, swimming, tennis, white water rafting and river boarding.
Simply put, there is more to Livingstone than the Victoria Falls. In other words, explore!
By: 5 VictoriaFalls24
Date: 29 August 2013