“So lovely, it must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight” – David Livingstone
With many beautiful national parks in Zambia, another one to add to your list is Victoria Falls National Park. This is where you will also find Victoria Falls and Livingstone Island on the Zambezi River which is pictured below. We took to the Livingstone Island tour run by Tongabei Safaris. We got to visit via Livingstone Island Tour which comes with lunch and Livingstone Island high tea on Victoria Fall. I have shared a couple of posts on my trip to Africa, covering Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia. In this post, I will be sharing my explorations of Livingstone Island on Victoria Falls, our dip into the Devil’s Pool on Victoria Falls and also cover Victoria Falls hotel accommodation options such as the amazing Royal Livingstone hotel.
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 honor of Queen Victoria as he stood on what is now known 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. Also, contrary to what a lot of people are taught, David Livingstone DEFINITELY DID NOT discover Victoria Falls. Zambian’s already knew about Victoria Falls so they didn’t have to wait for a European person to come and discover what was already in their backyard. The fact that it already had a Zambian name tells you something. As a Zambian, I find this insulting…but that’s a post for another time.
Boat Arrival For The Livingstone Island Tour
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. We were met with drinks when we arrived on Livingstone Island.
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. Not many Victoria Falls hotel options offer tours or access to Livingstone Island. As we were staying at Tongabezi who manage the island we booked in for a little afternoon adventure to take a dip in the Devil’s Pool. If you are a lover of adventure, a dip into the Devils swimming 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.
Exploring Livingstone Island can only be done during Victoria Falls dry season. You dont necessarily need to visit only in the dry season but for this tour and Victoria Falls Pool(Devil’s Pool), you can only do these activities when the water levels on Victoria Falls are low and safe enough for the activity. 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. I will share a list of Victoria Fall hotels options below with close proximity to Victoria Falls. Having not been around here since childhood it was great to bring my boyfriend here to witness this beautiful natural wonder. Even better, that he was crazy enough to dive into the devil’s pool with me. Below are my shots of experiencing the Smoke That Thunders. This is another experience offered by only a handful of Victoria Falls hotel accommodations near the waterfall.
Best time to visit the Victoria Falls and Livingstone Island | Victoria Falls Dry Season
Main to visit during Victoria Falls dry season as this means the water is low enough to explore Livingstone Island and Victoria Falls Pool. I would still very much recommend visiting in both the dry and wet season. 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
After much exploring of Livingstone Island and dipping into Victoria Falls pool, you are provided with an opportunity to sit, chill and mingle with the other people on the Livingstone Island tour while a Livingstone Island lunch is served.
Victoria Falls Hotel Options | 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.
Victoria Falls Hotel | Maramba River Lodge
Maramba River Lodge 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.
Victoria Falls Hotel | Tongabezi Lodge
Tongabezi is 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. Of all the Victoria Falls hotel options, it offers up 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.
Victoria Falls Hotel | Royal Livingstone Hotel
Among the most luxurious Victoria Falls hotel options. 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 roams 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.
Additional Victoria Falls Hotel Options
Below are a few more options of hotels available in the region. These cover both Zambia and Zimbabwe and include both budget and luxury hotels in Victoria Falls.
Ilala Lodge Hotel: a beautiful luxury Victoria Falls hotel located within an 8-minute walk of the Victoria Falls. Comes with expansive gardens and borders the Victoria Falls National Park.
Victoria Falls River Lodge: Victoria Falls River Lodge is situated within the North East area of the Zambezi National Park, 8.1 miles from the majestic Victoria Falls. This beautiful Victoria Falls hotel is surrounded by lush flora, the lodge offers scenic views of the Zambezi River.
Shearwater’s Explorer Village: Situated in Victoria Falls, Shearwater’s Explorers Village is 550 yards from Victoria Falls Information Centre and offers beautiful chalets at budget prices.
Victoria Falls Safari Suites: Situated in Victoria Falls, a 2-minute walk from Swimming hole, Victoria Falls Hotel Safari Suites are a 6-minute walk from Victoria Falls Safari Spa. It offers free shuttles services and organises tours for guests.
Royal Chundu: A balcony with beautiful river views is offered in all units. The Victoria Falls hotel and lodge offers a year-round outdoor pool. Offers many activities including fishing.
For more Victoria Falls hotel option check out this list of hotels in Livingstone with close proximity to Victoria Falls. Some with a view of Victoria Falls mist all views of the Zambezi. If you want to see Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side then check out this list of Victoria Falls hotel options from the Zimbabwean side.
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Your pictures are spectacular! This is on our list. Thank you for feeding the wanderlust.
Thanks Kelly. I am glad you like them. I am sure you will love it when you do manage to visit.
Dying to get there!!!
I love Victoria Falls…How did you not get soaked?
Yes we did, when we dived into the Devils pool! Otherwise we were there during the dry season so the waters is at its lowest so there isnt that must spray not that I would be standing where I too these pictures during the rain season.
I would definitely stay in one of the lodges and I love your pictures you look like a queen! We will get to Africa someday because both of us (my husband and I) have an historical/emotional connection to the continent. It's not your "typical" destination but then again we're not the "typical" travelers 🙂 Can't wait for the post about Devil's Pool!
Im always fascinated by your pictures! and I cannot believe you got into the Devils pool! thats high on my bucket list, looking forward to that post!
Oh Victoria falls its on my bucketlist ….. pics looks cool
What a view! This is definitely a lunch to remember.
love it 🙂
Looks awesome! Great pictures!
It's amazing on how close from the falls you can get! (:
Oh wow, BEAUTIFUL pictures! And you look happy in all of them…I believe it, the place is stunning 😉
How does it compare to Niagara Falls?
Not even close. Vic Falls is only rivalled by Igauazu falls.
Lovely photos Bianca! Especially that first one!
Thank you 😀
Wow those photos ate absolutely incredible. And also a little scary suw to the sheer height of the calls. Just incredible
Oh my . . . a)look at those falls and b) look at you! Both so beautiful! This experience would be amazing, I can't wait to visit here also!
Thanks! Yes it is just a magical places. Hope you get to experience it soon.
I am from Zimbabwe and I always love it when people visit my country. I now live in London but I do miss the space and all over stress-free life over there.
Hahaha hi neighbour! I am orginally from Zambia but live in London.
oh wow, great tips! I'm going to victoria falls next summer and absolutely can't wait! crossing my fingers i'll match the timing to see the lunar rainbow 🙂
Awesome! My Devils Pool post will publish on the blog tomorrow. Drop by and check it out 😀
Bee, I don't know what was more fabulous, you or the view! It looks like you 2 really got to experience the falls in style.
Aww thank you! I am glad you enjoyed them 😀
I hope that if I ever go, that it happens to be on a full moon night! It sounds beautiful
Maria from Nerd Nomads
Would love to visit Victoria Falls!! Looks amazing!!! It is high up on our bucket list! Must be the most awesome place to have lunch! Love your outfit too, you look stunning!
Thank you 😀 Yes definitely a bucketlist spot!
Love you pictures (and your hat!!!). This looks like a beautiful place to visit. I have added it to my list!
Awesome! Hope you get to tick it off soon.
What a stunning location!
omg!!! so lucky for your to experience that! that is just breath taking!!
Zimbabwe and more particularly Vic Falls is one of my all time favourites! I only regret not wearing a fab outfit like yours when I was there. The pictures look amazing!
I would have loved to see the Vic falls from Zimbabwean side but we were in Zambia for these shots 🙂
Gorgeous and inspiring article! Thanks for putting so much time to do it!
Glad you appreciate 😀
Loving your blog too.
What a breathtaking view xx
Beautiful moments captured perfectly 🙂
Amazing photos. My husband and I have Victoria falls on our bucket list. Lovely inspiring images.
Thank you for sharing.
Thats awesome, I am sure you will love it!
Would love to do the devils swim & Livingstone island tour in zambia. You are seriously a brave woman than me. Not sure whether I would go through with both. I may be able to do the island tour. Not sure about the Devils Pool.