I arrived in Zambia at a good time with many long weekends to take advantage of! For the 3 day labor day weekend in Zambia I went down to Livingstone with 2 people I knew and 6 complete strangers for 3 days of adventure! (Note my camera didn’t make it out much this trip because I was worried about theft/ water damage – excuse the iphone pictures!)
I’m starting with activities because this is the fun part!! We had an action packed 2 days going to a concert and visiting the falls.
Mosi Day of Thunder
Saturday was “Mosi Day of Thunder” a big concert headlined by Diamond Platinumz (apparently he’s a big deal, but I’m generally out of the loop in all things hip-hop/rap/pop culture). It started at noon but didn’t end until the next morning. I’d like to say I’m a huge party animal and this was my scene, but instead I got into a heated argument with a man who kept touching my shoulder. Some things never change!
It was definitely cool to see such a large scale production, and lots of great local artists opening, but alas I didn’t make it to see the headliner in the end!
Sunday was our day to check out one of the wonders of the world! Victoria Falls! The weekend we were there was one at which the water volume from the falls is the highest. People had warned me I would get wet but I had no clue how much. Shortly after we entered the park we followed a trail to “knife edge bridge”. I think for a lot of the year this is a place you can snap a picture of some rainbows, or maybe get a little wet. When we were there there was so much water I couldn’t even open my eyes and just had to feel my way across. We emerged the other end soaking wet and laughing hysterically. I had decided to forego the poncho because I figured it would be cool to be drenched by a wonder of the world, but our poncho clad friends had the last laugh.
In the week leading up to our trip I talked myself into going Bungee Jumping off of Victoria Falls Bridge. Victoria Falls bridge connects Zambia and Zimbabwe and is almost exclusively frequented by truckers and extreme sports enthusiasts. We didn’t realize what an ordeal bungee jumping would turn out to be – but boy was it worth it. A few tips
Tip 1: Booking ahead doesn’t mean much if you show up late
Tip 2: Show up early for the morning session – if they run out of slots they can bump you to the afternoon
Tip 3: Afternoon signups begin at 2pm
Tip 4: IT IS NON-REFUNDABLE
Overall the actual process is very disorganized so I don’t recommend going on a tight schedule. We showed up at the booking lodge at around 1:15 pm and were informed that they were on lunch break. . Apparently the morning session ran over so they continually pushed back the registration time from 3. By the time I was able to write my name down it was 3:45pm and there were 7 other bungee jumpers ahead of me in line. We walked over to the bridge only to find they wouldn’t start bungee jumps until the other activities had ended (the bridge slide and the bungee swing).
When I had paid for the jump I expressed that I needed to jump by 4pm since we had anther activity scheduled at 5. When I saw the situation I realized this would be impossible and marched back to the booking guys – they informed me I could not get a refund even though they had promised me I would jump by 4pm. I argued with the men to no avail – so they marched me back to the bridge to skip the line.
Then before I know it I’m free-falling off a bridge into a circular rainbow!
The first moments are the scariest when you try to gain control and realize you can’t! Then as soon I accepted I was just hurtling toward the water and there was nothing I could do about it I was able to enjoy the scenery while my stomach did flip flops.
After the jump was over I clipped into one of the staff’s lines and was pulled up to the bridge. A cool part of the experience people don’t talk about is actually what comes after! They pull you back to the underside of the bridge, clip you in with carabiners and set you on your way to climb a few ladders and walk along the bridge taking in the scenery you just hurtled into.
Livingstone isn’t exactly a foodie destination so most of our culinary experiences were unremarkable. However, 2 stood out.
Cafe Zambezi: When we first arrived in Livingstone we dropped our bags and then headed to Cafe Zambezi for lunch. They had a sunny outdoor patio where we sat and acquainted ourselves better as a group. The food took an incredibly long time to come out but received raving reviews from our whole table. I had the eggplant halloumi burger which I’m still dreaming about…
The Royal Livingstone: We had received numerous recommendations to get sundowners at the Royal Livingstone so this was top of our list of activities. In fact, this reservation is what made bungee jumping timing so stressful! I’m glad we prioritized this as it was definitely one of the trip highlights.
We arrived shortly after 5pm still in our damp sporty clothes from walking around Victoria Falls. I was worried we would get turned away from such a fancy establishment but no-one seems to mind. As we got there on the earlier side we secured prime seating with an 8 person table right on the water looking out at the sun and the mist from Victoria Falls. We immediately got into action with a round of cocktails which went down well approximately 30 minutes after my death defying experience. We soon moved onto wine and ended up spending quite a few hours enjoying the beautiful location and good company. Another perk of the royal livingstone is the zebras they have on their grounds! Zebras are such beautiful animals and seeing them so close and just wandering around the deck chairs by the pool was a very surreal experience.
Tip: Arrive early for sun-downers, it gets packed right before sunset and you might not get a table – definitely not waterfront
Tip: Order bottles of wine instead of cocktails/glasses. The cocktails weren’t too remarkable and were very expensive (in Zambia terms) at approximately $10 each. A nice bottle of wine was $22 – they had a limited selection and all priced the same.
We drove to Livingstone from Lusaka which is approximately 6 hours each way. The roads were generally good but several areas were quite dense with potholes. Luckily we had some experienced drivers used to the Zambian roads able to navigate and get us to Livingstone safely!
The trip home flew by as we listened to almost every episode of S-town in rapid succession – highly recommend engaging podcasts for road-trips!
We picked an incredibly busy weekend to visit Livingstone and stayed at a new lodge started by a friend of a friend. It was not exactly luxury but it was a place to sleep at night so it served our purposes fine. However we ended up hanging out at a great hostel – Jollyboys with a fun pool, great lounge areas and a good (but slow) bar and restaurant.
Overall a great trip was had by all – but I can’t wait to spend longer at the falls and try my hand at white water rafting!