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Information About Livingstone - Victoria Falls Zambia
The town of Livingstone, named after David Livingstone - the first European to set eyes on the Victoria Falls and the surrounding area, sits on a sandy plateau in the Southern Province of Zambia. It was established in 1907 and it was Zambia's capital city in pre-colonial times.
Livingstone town seems like a place almost stuck in time, lined with colonial British architecture in the main road, but also with modern as well as African designs. A few of the hotels and lodges in and around Livingstone also reflect the old European influence both architecturally and in the interior design. One such example is the Royal Livingstone Hotel.
Although it is situated 10 kilometres away from the actual Victoria Falls, Livingstone receives guests from all over the world, who want to enjoy the world wonder, as well as the many exciting activities that both side of the Falls have to offer.
The Weather in Livingstone
The weather in Livingstone like in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is humid subtropical, with dry winters and humid and wet summers.
In the summer months, the highest temperatures of the day range between 28°C and 34°C, although they can reach 40°C. The lower daily temperatures in summer are between 14°C and 19°C. In winter (June and July), night-time temperatures go as low as about 6°C, although occasionally may reach freezing. During the day, it is about 25.5°C. The maximum winter temperature ever recorded in Livingstone was 32.5°C.
• It is good practice to keep your bags and purses closed, and your valuables close to you instead of in your trouser pockets, for example.
• If you are travelling by car, keep your doors locked and do not leave bags where thieves can see them.
• Avoid walking along the streets at night - get a taxi instead.
• Watch out for fraudsters and people trying to sell you goods or services at exorbitant prices.
• Do not exchange your foreign currency on the black market - you can get false notes. Use the registered foreign exchange bureaus such as the ones in the banks and supermarkets.
• Avoid walking around with a lot of cash.
• Women travelling alone are at higher risk of receiving verbal hassle, especially if wearing skimpy clothing. It is advisable to avoid dingy areas, and not to walk around alone. If you are approached, be polite but firm. Again, if you need to travel at night, get a taxi!
Health & Medical
Livingstone town has a few primary health clinics, government run hospitals and a few privately run medical centres. There are also some pharmacies in the area where you can get over-the-counter medicine, although you should carry your own prescription medication before your travel.
Visitors to Zambia are expected to purchase their own travel insurance before arriving to Zambia. Some lodges may include medical evacuation cover in their rates, but you must make sure before you make your bookings, and know the terms and conditions.
Yellow Fever certificates are only required if those travelling have previously been in a country of high risk (see list of high risk countries here). Zambia is considered a low-risk area, and this includes the Livingstone area.
Malaria is still prevalent in Zambia, especially in the low lying areas. It is always a good idea to take preventative measures when travelling to the Zambezi region. Taking prophylactics two weeks before and two weeks after your trip is recommended. Contact your doctor for advise and medication. The clothes that you wear need to cover the body - long sleeved shirts, long pants, etc. In the evenings especially, the mosquitoes really go to work. You will also want to use mosquito repellent (which is also available locally) on exposed skin. Mosquito coils and insecticide sprays are can also be used to keep the bugs away. Most hotels and lodges will have mosquito nets, but make sure that you have done your part to prevent getting bitten.
Water in the hotels and lodges is generally safe to drink. You will also find bottled water available in the shops or supermarkets. You must not swim in areas that are not designated. Hotel and lodge swimming pools are fine but other still water bodies can contain diseases and must be avoided. Swimming by the river banks (unless otherwise advised) should not be done because these areas can have crocodiles and hippos. Never swim at night in places near the river.
How to Get to Livingstone
By Road - Good tar roads access Livingstone from Lusaka, Kazangula in Botswana and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The Victoria Falls Bridge border post with Zimbabwe opens from 06h00 to 22h00. The next nearest border post is the Kazangula border with Botswana. This border crosses the Zambezi River on a pontoon ferry, and opens between 06h00 and 18h00. There is no scheduled departure for the ferry so do not expect to get through quickly. The Sesheke border with Namibia is crossed via the Katima Mulilo Bridge, and opens from 06h00 to 18h00. The bridge is about 200 kilometres (124.3 miles) from Livingstone town. For information about vehicle and other requirements, read our Zambia Information page.
Getting Around Livingstone
Probably the fastest way of getting around Livingstone is by taxi. They are easy to spot and you will see them all over the town, the majority are a light blue in colour. The taxis are generally not metered, but there is a price range that you can get from the Civic Centre in Livingstone. Otherwise, prices are negotiable.
If you are driving, especially at night watch out for drunk drivers and potholes. Driving in Livingstone is generally safe, but be sure to lock your doors and do not leave any valuables in plain sight as these may attract thieves. You will should to keep your drivers license and vehicle registration documents close to hand. See more information about driving in Zambia here.
Transfers between hotels and lodges in Livingstone, and activities or the airport can be arranged, although some hotels will pick up their guests from Livingstone Airport. Transfers can also be arranged for destinations across the border to Victoria Falls and Victoria Falls airport, as well as to Chobe in Botswana. Charter flights can be expensive, for the longer distances such as to the Okavango and very remote areas where it is difficult to drive. However, for larger groups, it may prove to be the best value for money.
History of Livingstone and the Victoria Falls
It was the reports by David Livingstone that sparked interest to the area, and eventually missionaries and traders settled in Victoria Falls and Livingstone. The Victoria Falls Bridge was completed in 1905, and this railway line resulted in even more people gaining access to Victoria Falls - a journey that used to take 4 months now only took 4 days by train. The Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe was meant to be torn down after the bridge was built, but had to be expanded due to the increased number of tourists to the area.
After the bridge was completed, the settlers at the Old Drift were made to move to a less mosquito-ridden new town about 12 kilometres inland from the Victoria Falls. This distance of the planned town from the Falls was opposed by the settlers who felt that it was too far from the natural wonder, and that they would loose out on income from tourism.
Transportation was by mule-cart, and later, a trolley line was built from the government house to the Railway Station and the Boat Club. The trolleys ceased in 1927 because they were involved in too many accidents, and roads had improved by then.
In 1911, Livingstone became the capital of Northern Rhodesia (as Zambia was called then), since is was the most modern town at that time. It was still under the British South African Company. In 1928, Livingstone was given municipal status after it came under British rule. However, the town lost its status when Lusaka was named the capital in 1935 in order to move the country's administration closer to the copper mines and farming districts. Despite the setback, Livingstone town managed to expand with a new airport, a secondary school, a public hall, a new civic centre, and in the early 1960's a new railway station, a new hospital, a bigger post office, and a big new hotel came to being. African welfare, housing and education centres were developed, and Livingstone had 10 African schools and a teacher training college. The town had developed in a big way, and had beautiful green gardens, clean and neat shops, and a buzzing social life.
Livingstone is now a place bursting with life infused with historical and contemporary Zambian culture. You can still see the charm of old in the colonial and public buildings with their wide, columned entrances, white facades and some with wooden verandas.
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park
On the Victoria Falls side of the park, there is dense rainforest which is kept that way by the spray of the Falls. Ebony trees, date and ivory palm are present in this side of the park. Downstream and along the Zambezi River's banks, one can find riverine forest and palm trees. The majority of Mosi oa Tunya National Park is characterised by savannah woodland, miombo and Rhodesian teak woodland.
Information about Livingstone's AccommodationZambezi Sun Hotel), and the Royal Livingstone Hotel (see Victoria Falls Accommodation - Zambia).
Dining in Livingstone
Restaurants in Livingstone are a mesh of different cuisines - Indian, Chinese, Italian, steakhouses, Mediterranean, European, Pizza, Spanish, seafood, traditional African and fast food. Hotels will also have their own restaurants, and some lodges may have bars as well.
Very few restaurants offer vegan and vegetarian options. A few of the restaurants will offer game meat such as crocodile, kudu and impala.
A fantastic alternative to dining at a restaurant is a ride on the Royal Livingstone Express. This is a formal and exquisite touring and dining experience aboard a classic steam train, which take you to the Victoria Falls Bridge and then through Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. This is a 5-star dining experience which will not disappoint.
Activities in Livingstone
Livingstone offers visitors a whole lot more, culturally - from visits to local villages, museums, historical and architectural sites, to high tea on the Livingstone Island or the Royal Livingstone Hotel. There are also a few art galleries and studios in Livingstone town.
Shopping in Livingstone
There are a couple of small shopping malls in Livingstone, the main ones being Falls Park Mall and Mosi-oa-Tunya Square. These are located along the main road - the one that runs from Victoria Falls into Livingstone town. You will find a music store, a popular seafood restaurant, fast food restaurants, curio shops, and some supermarkets. There are other shops lined up along the main road including clothing shops, boutiques, grocery stores, and pharmacies.
Craft stores and curio markets offer a variety of products from sculptures and paintings to wall hangings and handmade jewellery (bracelets, earrings, and necklaces) with a cultural meaning. There is also a souvenir shop which sells postcards, local crafts and wall hangings.
Books, magazines and newspapers can be found in town at local supermarkets and The Book Shop in Mosi-oa-Tunya square. The Kubu Craft Cafe deals with used books and there are some hotels and lodges at which you can pass on or swap in your own books that you have read.
Map of Livingstone
You can find most of the accommodation, restaurants and places of interest in our Google map of Livingstone.
Read more important information on our Zambia Information page.
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