‘Arrival is by boat, putting us straight onto the mighty Zambezi River and headed in the direction of the Victoria Falls. As we pick up speed, skimming the rising rapids, we marvel at the spray that reaches hundreds of meters into the sky, marking the place where the water tumbles powerfully into the crevice below.
Yet well in time, the skipper slows down to steer us into a small wooden jetty and deck, where we are greeted by warm smiles so synonymous with the Zambian people, and welcome drink in hand, taken across to the to the AVANI Victoria Falls Resort where we will stay.
Founded in 1905 and named after the renowned Scottish explorer Dr David Livingstone, Livingstone owes its existence primarily to Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya – the Smoke that Thunders, as it is aptly known, and Victoria Falls remains the primary draw card to this frontier town, living up to its title as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. With a width of 1688m and height of 108m, in season it sends more than five hundred million cubic meters of water plummeting over the edge each minute.
Nothing quite prepares you though for the sheer exhilaration of actually being there. Walking along the pathway that hugs the crevice, taking in the full force of the spray, soaked and excited as you gaze into the deep crevice and cascading waters below, children laughing and playing as they revel in it.
Which explains why you’ll want to be as close to it as possible.
The AVANI Victoria Falls Resort is only a five minute walk away and located right on the Zambezi River, making it the best option, especially for a family holiday. Huge grounds curve along the banks, with clusters of hotel rooms accommodating couples and families.
Built around a large swimming pool in the style of an ancient African, walled city, the spacious, delightfully furnished 212 rooms and suites have modern facilities including satellite TV and high speed internet access.
Spend time on your balcony enjoying the view of either the lush African bush or the pool and gardens that lie in the heart of the resort. Don’t leave your glass doors open though, or the naughty opportunist vervet monkeys will make a dash for your biscuits and sugar.
You won’t go hungry; the resort offers every kind of eating, from African feasts to casual snacks, with the choice of dining at one of their four restaurants. Located next to the swimming pool, The Theatre of Food is the place for delicious breakfasts and international dinners, with a scrumptious buffet of different cuisines on offer each night of the week, to the accompaniment of live music.
Squires Restaurant has a good menu for lunch and dinner, while their Crocodile Café is perfect for a quick snack or coffee, at any time of the day. The Poolside Grill, the spot for wood-fired pizza and cocktails.
Actually, we drank frozen mojitos next to the small lake, keeping a watchful eye on the small resident crocodile that was oblivious to our presence.
If you’d like a retreat from it all, allow your stresses and concerns to melt away as you take your pick from a wide range of essential beauty and health treatments at the name? Spa, where the therapists will have you relaxed, recharged and refreshed.
While wondering around the resort grounds, don’t be too alarmed by the zebras casually grazing on the lawn. There are even three giraffe that you may spot standing still and tall, between the mature trees. It’s a touch of wild and wonderful, with a relaxed and attentive team that is there to overlook every aspect of your stay.
Activities to enjoy with the family.
Livingstone is at the heart of Zambian tourism. Rich in culture and history with a fusion of colonial architecture, museums, markets and traditional village life mixing naturally alongside the hotels and national park. Allow enough time to really enjoy it.
The Victoria Falls is a short walk from the AVANI Victoria Falls Resort and there is unlimited free access to guests of the hotel.
Contact Bushtracks Africa www.bushtracksafrica.com to arrange a Game Drive in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in 4×4 open safari. The park encompasses the Falls, stretching some 12 kms along the riverbanks of the upper Zambezi and is home to wildlife such as the white rhino, buffalo, elephant, antelope and excellent bird life.
Local operator Livingstone Safaris offers horse riding, canoeing upstream on the Zambezi River and sunset cruises on the African Queen. www.livingstonesadventure.com
If you’re feeling adventurous or have teenagers ready to match their energy with adrenaline, Safari Par Excellence (www.safpar.com) can help with White Water Rafting in the Batoka Gorge that runs for 115km below the Victoria Falls. This whitewater playground is classed as a Grade 5 river, meaning difficult, long rapids and big drops, making it possibly the most exhilarating thing you can choose to do during your stay.
For the brave, Bungee Jump or Bridge Swing from the Victoria Falls Bridge into the ravine below with Shearwater Victoria Falls. www.shearwatervictoriafalls.com/. There’s also abseiling above the Batoka gorge only 3km away with http://thezambeziswing.com/
Visit the Livingstone Museum. Established in 1934, its the largest and oldest museum in Zambia and holds a vast archaeological collection depicting the biodiversity of Zambia as well as a rich ethnographic dating back to the early 20th century. But it’s the David Livingstone memorabilia, handwritten letters and personal artefacts that will intrigue; as well as the displays of life in this region, present and of a bygone era.
The AVANI Victoria Falls Resort has an excellent Activity Desk to help plan your days.
The Resort has a Fan Club for the kids with carefully selected activities and adventures on offer under the supervision of specially trained child-minders, allowing you to take some free time to explore. Activities for the young guests include full and half-day excursions to places of interest, nature walks, to name but a few, all under the watchful eye of specially trained child-minders.
British Airways (www.britishairways.com) operated by Comair, offers daily return flights between Johannesburg and the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport (formerly known as Livingstone Airport), only 25 minutes from the AVANI Victoria Falls Resort. Contact Bushtracks Africa www.bushtracksafrica.com for your Airport Transfers.
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AVANI Hotels & Resorts was launched in 2011 to complement Minor Hotels’ five star Anantara brand. AVANI offers relaxed comfort and contemporary style in city and resort destinations to guests who value the details that matter. The brand currently has 16 properties in operation in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Seychelles, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia and the UAE, with a pipeline of further openings in Asia and the Middle East. MH has plans to grow the brand across Asia, India and the Indian Ocean and in the Middle East.