Victoria Falls & Livingstone – All You Need To Know

Victoria Falls & Livingstone - All You Need To Know - Africa Discovery

One of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Victoria Falls is the stuff of legends, romance and myth. An iconic draw card that features prominently on the “must see list” of travellers to south and southern Africa the sheer size, sight and sound of this magnificent spectacle never fails to inspire.

Lying on either side of the mighty Zambezi River are the towns of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) and Livingstone (Zambia). The tourism capitals of their respective countries Victoria Falls and Livingstone share many similarities and yet in other ways are so very different.

  • The centre of Victoria Falls is essentially still a village surrounded by African bush. On the rare occasion an elephant may be spotted ambling along the main street and during the dry season it’s not unusual for them to wander through the suburbs.
  • Victoria Falls depends on tourism and as a result there is a great spirit and a genuinely warm and welcoming atmosphere. The local population appreciate and understand the importance of tourism and the benefit it brings to the local community.
  • The capital of the Southern Province of Zambia until 2012, Livingstone is a bustling town that nowadays depends on tourism and to a lesser extent agriculture and some manufacturing.
  • The centre of Victoria Falls village is one km from the entrance to the Rainforest and the Falls whereas Livingstone town is eight kilometres away from the entrance of the Falls on the Zambian side.
  • On the Zimbabwe side visitors can view 70% of the Falls and the landmark Victoria Falls Bridge from 16 spectacular viewing points along a network of trails that wind through the lush rain forest. Even during the low water months of October and November when the Falls become dry for much of their length the view from the Zimbabwe side won’t disappoint as the section known as the Main Falls and Devil’s Cataract still has water plummeting over the lip.
  • The Zambian side of the Falls is known as the Eastern Cataract. From mid-October until early December the view is of a massive exposed basalt rock face.
  • There is something for everyone when it comes to accommodation. Victoria Falls is home to a number of well-known and much loved hotels and a couple of lodges whereas the Livingstone side offers a wide choice of riverside lodges and a couple of hotels.
  • Offering a host of diverse activities its hardly surprising Victoria Falls appeals to all age groups. Adventure seekers will relish the opportunity of white water rafting the wildest white-water in the world. Other adventure activities include canoeing, river-boarding, walking, bungi jumping, an ultimate Huey helicopter adventure flight, elephant back safaris, a canopy tour and high wire activities. More leisurely activities include a traditional helicopter flight of angels, sundowner cruises, game drives, museum, market and village visits.
  • There are two 18-hole golf courses. The demanding course at Elephant Hills Hotel (Victoria Falls) was designed by Gary Player. Within earshot of the Falls the lush fairways and cropped greens are the domain of a variety of game. The Livingstone Royal Golf and Country Club with its Edwardian Club house was first established in 1908. Re-designed by Peter Matkovich this attractive course has a classic parkland environment.
  • Essentially not a big game destination the Falls and the surrounding area on both sides of the Zambezi River are National Parks and are protected as a World Heritage Site. Zimbabwe boasts the Zambezi National Park as well as the Stanley & Livingstone Private Game Reserve and Zambia the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.
  • Chobe National Park is a mere 2hrs drive from Victoria Falls and about 2hrs50 from Livingstone.
  • Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest national park is a 2hrs50 – 3 hrs road transfer from Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls & Livingstone - All You Need To Know - Africa Discovery


  • Rovos Rail offers a leisurely three day set departure itinerary between Pretoria and Victoria Falls. Guests are given a red carpet welcome upon disembarking the train at Victoria Falls Station from where they can stroll across to Victoria Falls Hotel.
  • The Boma – Place of Eating is situated within the grounds of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. Evening entertainment is in the form of a barbeque buffet with a selection of traditional Zimbabwean morsels, Ndebele dancing and music, drumming and traditional story telling.
  • Excursions unique to Victoria Falls are a tree top canopy tour, a walking Wildlife Conservation and Awareness Safari in the company of professional guide Charles Brightman and game drives or walking on the Stanley & Livingstone Private Game Reserve.
  • Local currency in Zimbabwe is the US dollar.


  • The Livingstone Museum depicts the history of the town and explorer, missionary David Livingstone who first set eyes on Victoria Falls in November, 1855.
  • In 1905 the Victoria Falls Railway Bridge opened and Livingstone boomed. This is when the first Jewish immigrants arrived and subsequently played a significant part in the growth of Livingstone. The Livingstone Museum, Railway Museum and Golf Club are some historic buildings that bear testament to Livingstone’s rich colonial past.
  • Livingstone Island perches on the edge of Victoria Falls at a point where the water thunders down a drop of 103 meters. Access to this unique Island is only possible during low water which is usually from mid-August to mid-January. During extreme low water between October and December we highly recommend visitors to the Zambia side include a visit to Livingstone Island in their itinerary.
  • Excursions unique to Livingstone are microlight flights and the Huey helicopter.
  • A visit to Ebernezer Children’s Home outside Livingstone is educational and rewarding.
  • Local currency in Zambia is the kwacha. All purchases made locally must be paid for in kwacha.

NB. Visitors to Zambia are required to be in possession of a valid Yellow Fever Inoculation Certificate in order to enter South Africa.


Victoria Falls & Livingstone - All You Need To Know - Africa Discovery

Stretching over a width of 1700 metres and over 100 metres in height visitors cannot fail to be inspired and amazed by the sheer size, power and beauty of this magnificent curtain of thundering water. The Zambezi River and Falls pulse with an annual flood cycle of high and low water that create completely different viewing experiences depending on the time of year. The optimal time to visit is July/August as the water flow is at medium strength thus allowing some great photographic opportunities. Rainbows arch over the Falls pretty much throughout the day, year round but it is when the spray is at its height the rainbows are at their most beautiful. At this time of year the best photographic opportunities are from the air.

January/February: is the height of the rainy season and the Zambezi River starts to rise.

March: the rains are coming to an end. River levels are high and the plume of spray is a magnificent sight that may be visible from up to 20 kilometres away.

April/May: this is when the Falls are at their maximum flow as the water from the catchment area in Zambia and Angola arrives. At high water the Falls are enveloped in a veil of mist and spray that obliterates much of the view from the ground but is a magnificent sight when viewed from the air.

June: a lovely time of year. The water level in the Zambezi gradually starts to drop.

July/August: are the best months for viewing the Falls as water spans the entire 1.7km width of the Zambezi River. As the water flow is at medium strength visitors will enjoy some great photographic opportunities.

September: towards the end of August early September the Falls are in transition from a flooded state to a low flow state. Zambia’s Eastern Cataract gradually becomes exposed.

October – November: there is little to no water flowing over the Eastern Cataract making it possible to walk across to Livingstone Island and even take a swim in Devil’s Pool. Although the Falls are at their lowest and least impressive the jagged bleakness of the exposed basalt bedrock of the Eastern Cataract and gorges has a certain stark beauty. On the Zimbabwe side there will always be some water flowing although there may be sections that are dry.

December: it’s the rainy season and despite water levels being quite low levels start to rise with rains from the local catchment areas.

For more information, contact Africa Discovery at:
1 800 886-7321, (415) 444-5100
or Email us

Understanding The Chobe Riverfront

Chobe Riverfront - Africa Discovery

Chobe National Park boasts four distinctly different eco systems: the spectacular Chobe floodplain and river to the northeast, the Savute Marsh in the west, the Linyanti Swamps in the northwest and Nogatsaa and Tchinga, a hot dry hinterland in-between.

With an elephant population well in excess of 40,000, that is reputedly the largest in the world, the Chobe River and floodplain is one Africa’s iconic safari destinations. This and the fact the northern part of the park is situated close to the point where the four countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia meet means Chobe is hugely popular and, depending on the time of the year, can be very busy. Understandably this is often considered to be a negative and works against incorporating the Chobe riverfront in an itinerary which is a shame as, depending on the time of year, this area offers some of the best game viewing in Botswana.

Chobe riverfront is where elephants reign supreme. The sight of huge herds making their way down to the river bank to quench their thirst, bathe and have fun is incomparable. In addition to its massive herds of elephant Chobe is home to the more unusual and shy antelope species like roan, sable, tsessebe, eland, red lechwe and the rare Chobe bushbuck and puku antelope as well as high densities of lion, leopard, spotted hyena and cheetah. During the dry season months of May to October the floodplains of the Chobe River supports large herds of Cape buffalo. Birding is absolutely fabulous with over 450 bird species recorded, it is at its best between September and March as this is when the migrants breed.

Chobe Riverfront - Africa Discovery

The road network in northern Chobe is extremely limited and the popular Chobe riverfront is no exception. In times of high flood the network is further reduced. In an attempt to reduce vehicle congestion certain roads have been designated as one way routes by National Parks.

A safari cruise on the Chobe River is totally different to the water based activities in the Delta in that a great variety of wildlife can be seen while cruising. This is due to the floodplains that are exposed thus attracting animals in their hundreds to drink. It’s not unusual to see in excess of 100 elephants and large herds of buffalo on one floodplain along with other wildlife (giraffe, antelope, hippo and massive Nile crocodiles) as well as sightings of predators such as lion and leopard around White Sands near Chobe Game Lodge and Serondela (only accessible by from Chobe Savanna Lodge or the houseboats) are not uncommon.

From a photographic perspective, the boats can glide gently towards the animals. By vehicle it is much more difficult to photograph wildlife as guests jostle for the right side whilst travelling along bumpy roads. On a boat it’s possible to walk around and photograph whilst cruising along. It is both relaxing and very productive.

For a uniquely different perspective of a Chobe River safari experience, you may consider the following properties:

Chobe Game Lodge 

Chobe Riverfront - Africa Discovery

Being the only permanent lodge situated inside Chobe National Park has its advantages as guests can simply walk to the jetty for a boat cruise or step onto a game drive vehicle and immediately start game viewing. First into the park – last out. Quite simply no other lodge can offer this combination. Guests also travel west (away from incoming lodges of Kasane) thereby minimising the congestion as much as possible.

With 47 rooms Chobe Game Lodge’s draw card is its beautiful Chobe River setting and happy, friendly staff. The addition of an extensive riverside boardwalk with a number of secluded chill out spots provides guests with an opportunity to spend hours watching the antics of an endless variety of animals as they quench their thirst, bathe and in the case of elephant calves just have fun at the water’s edge. The far deck overlooks one of the most productive wildlife floodplains of the Chobe riverfront – Watercart.

Chobe Savanna Lodge 

Chobe Riverfront - Africa Discovery

Chobe Savanna Lodge is situated in the eastern Caprivi Strip of Namibia, a few kilometres up river from Chobe Game Lodge and only accessible by boat (approximately 1 hour from Kasane, Botswana). With just 13 chalets this recently re-decorated family friendly lodge offers a peaceful intimate bush style atmosphere making it the ideal hideaway to end a safari.

Activities are largely water based. Boat excursions take guests up river to remote places where few, if any, other operators visit. Also available are nature walks, a cultural excursion to a local Caprivian fishing village, fishing and birding. From the comfort of the elevated bar and public areas guests can witness some great sightings and the most incredible sunsets over the Puku Flats.

Zambezi Queen 

Chobe Riverfront - Africa Discovery

From the top deck the unobstructed 360° view of the floodplains of Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, Chobe National Park and the islands that become exposed during low water (Jul – Nov) is unparalleled! Whilst gently cruising along the waterways of the Chobe a sense of peace and feeling absolutely at one with nature prevails. The sight of hundreds of elephant and buffalo on the Chobe flood plains is something special, especially when the elephants cross the river to reach the Sedudu Island, supporting their babies as they swim across. The unfolding dramas that centre on the wildlife and profusion of birds keep guests entertained for hours on end.

Like the rest of Botswana game viewing along the Chobe River and its floodplains is governed by the changing seasons and rising and falling water levels. The following is a general guideline:

Jan/Feb: the water gradually rises. Birding is great.

Mar: the Caprivi floodplain is beginning to flood.

Apr/May: high water. The floodplain resembles an inland sea (Chobe Savanna is closed)

Jun: water levels begin to drop.

Jul – Dec: the river slowly recedes and is at its lowest around September. The river becomes dotted by exposed islands and during this period game viewing is superb.

For more information, contact Africa Discovery at:
1 800 886-7321, (415) 444-5100
or Email us

Botswana: Abu Announces Birth of New Elephant Calf – Naledi

Abu Camp - Botswana - Africa Discovery Abu Camp - Botswana - Africa Discovery
Naledi taking her first steps under Kiti’s watchful eye 

December 2013 – Wilderness Collection’s Abu Camp, located in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, is delighted to announce that Kitimetse, a famed member of the Abu herd, gave birth to her second calf on the 27th of November 2013. Her new calf, a female, was born at 1:39am on the most incredible starry night, hence her name, Naledi, meaning ‘star’ in Setswana.

Kitimetse, better known as Kiti, was found abandoned by her natal herd after being attacked by a crocodile. She was taken to Abu Camp where her wounds were treated and after making a full recovery, Kiti was slowly introduced to the rest of the herd. Her name means “I am lost” in Setswana and her estimated year of birth is 1996. Her first calf was Lorato, born in February 2008.

“We were thrilled with the news that Kiti was pregnant and have been waiting with anticipation for the birth of Naledi. Both mom and calf are extremely healthy and Naledi is settling in well. We look forward to the hours of enjoyment and fascination that she will give our guests who, by visiting Abu Camp, are given the rare opportunity to interact with a family group of elephants in one of Africa’s best wilderness areas”, said Wellington Jana, Abu Camp’s Elephant Manager.

The whole premise on which Abu Camp is based is that of elephant conservation and its strategy is therefore based on the research of key issues impacting the conservation of southern Africa’s elephants. Abu’s elephant programme is supervised by Dr Mike Chase, Director of Elephants Without Borders and San Diego Zoo Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, together with the support of Wild Horizons – a company with a long history in highly ethical elephant husbandry and welfare systems. It is one of the most progressive elephant reintroduction projects in the world and is devoted to the highest standards in elephant welfare, scientific research and meaningful guest experiences.

The Abu herd offers an incomparable opportunity to intimately engage and physically interact with elephants through varied activities. Shortly after arriving at camp, guests will be personally introduced to the herd, with the activities that follow over the remainder of their stay offering an all-encompassing and satisfying experience in the world of the elephant. Activities include walking with the herd, elephant-back safaris and participating in or just observing activities such as the elephants mud bathing, swimming or just moving and feeding through their natural habitat.

Abu Camp:


Wild Chimps & Remote Safari, Tanzania 2013 Trip Report

Tanzania - Wild Chimps & Remote Safari, Oct 8-15 2013 Trip Report

Tanzania – Wild Chimps & Remote Safari – October 8-15 2013 Trip Report
Nomad Tanzania Travel Agent Educational Trip

Report from the bush.
Cindi LaRaia, Africa Discovery Travel

Eight of us Africa travel agents from all over North America were invited on this amazing one of a kind, unique adventure covering a large part of Tanzania; hosted by Nomad Tanzania.

Read the report at:

Tanzania - Wild Chimps & Remote Safari - October 8-15 2013 Trip Report