"So lovely, it must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight" - David Livingstone
Although the first known Europeans to visit Zambia were the Portuguese, it is thought that David Livingstone was the first Brit to explore the Zambezi River (and gaze upon the Victoria Falls), which gives life to Mosi-oa-Tunya. This translates to The Smoke that Thunders. You might know this as Victoria Falls, renamed by David Livingstone in 1855 in honour of Queen Victoria as he stood on what is now know as Livingstone Island. In high season you wouldn't be able to stand here as it is completely submerged in sheets of water. Most Zambians and Zimbabweans still use its original name and Zimbabwe went as far as officially renaming the falls back to "Mosi-oa-Tunya" last year.
Experience Victoria Falls
Getting up close and personal with Victoria Falls is the only way to experience it. To do this you have to get on the Livingstone Island for the ultimate experience of The Smoke that Thunders. As we were staying at Tongabezi who manage the island we booked in for a little afternoon adventure to take a dip into the Devil's Pool. Before the Devil's Pool, which I will be telling you about in the next post, we had a tour of the falls with a touch of history on the local people and how David Livingstone was introduced to the falls by the people lived on the land. Your experience on the island starts off with a boat ride from the Royal Livingstone hotel and onto the island. For a little extra treat, my boyfriend and I had the boat to ourselves for the trip! Well, in addition to the skipper and our guide of course. As we arrived on the island we could see the smoke created by the falling sheets of water on the other side. Victoria Falls is known to be the largest sheet of falling water with a width of 1708 meters, twice the size of Niagara Falls and more than twice that of the Horseshoe Falls. Victoria Falls is only rivaled by that of the Argentinian Iguazu Falls.
If you can see the falls in both high and low season then I would definitely recommend it, but even more so if you can get on the island for a close and personal encounter. Having not been around here since childhood it was great to bring my boyfriend here to witness this beauty. Even great that he was crazy enough to dive into the the Devil's Pool with me. Look out for my next post on that soon. Below are my shots from experiencing the Smoke That Thunders.
Best time to visit the Victoria Falls
If you can manage to visit Victoria Falls in both the dry and wet season then I would definitely recommend it. During the rainy season, which starts from December to April, Victoria Falls can be experienced at its fullest with East and West cataract cascading with water that sprays from Zambia all the way onto the the Zimbabwean side. The spray is visible a good 30 miles away. If you visit in the dry(July to September) season you will have the opportunity to stand on Livingstone Island and take on the Devil's Pool if a little African adventure is what you seek.
Another beautiful sight you can witness on the Zambezi is Victoria Falls during the lunar rainbow, check out Tonagbezi for more details. This happens during the three nights around the full moon. At full moon, these beautiful rainbows appear over Victoria Falls. Below are the dates for the 2015 full moon appearance.
Full moon dates 2015:
Monday, 5 January
Wednesday, 4 February
Thursday, 5 March
Saturday, 4 April
Monday, 4 May
Tuesday, 2 June
Thursday, 2 July
Friday, 31 July
Saturday, 29 August
Monday, 28 September
Tuesday, 27 October
Wednesday, 25 November
Friday, 25 December
Where to Stay In Livingstone
Livingstone has many places to choose from and covering every budget from backpackers budget to luxe accommodation. From camping, glamping, luxury tents, lodges and hotels but in the main town, on the Zambezi and near and with views of Victoria Falls. Three that I have personally experienced are below. You can also read about my stay at Tongabezi here.
Maramba River Lodge
Maramba offers 3 different types of accommodation; luxury tents, chalets and camping sites. The surroundings overlook the river where you can spot elephants, hippos and crocodiles which come to find on the river right by lounging decks.
Nestled in the shadows of Mosi-oa-Tunya national park. Tongabezi has few luxury and intimate lodges with beautiful views of the Zambezi and wildlife. It offers up a an amazing selection of activities such as a romantic dinner on a floating table on the Zambezi. Lunch on Livingstone Island, game drives and more. I had one of the most memorable times here.
Royal Livingstone Hotel
This place offers an indulgent experience that transports one to a bygone Victorian-era Africa. Beautiful surroundings where you can see the Smoke That Thunders; Victoria Falls, from the lounging decks and from the pool but if I had to choose, I would do Tonagbezi as there is a certain exclusivity about the place and that fact that you have privacy in your own little lodge with private views of the river and from your lodge terrace you can see wildlife. The hotel grounds here also have wildlife that roam the grounds such as Zebra and impalas. Whether you are staying at the Royal Livingstone Hotel or not you cannot leave the town without trying out the afternoon tea served in the tea room at The Royal Livingstone, its thought to be a must-do when at the Victoria Falls.