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Information About Livingstone - Victoria Falls Zambia
The small town of Livingstone established in pre-colonial times is the Zambian base for visitors to the Victoria Falls
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 actually Zambia's capital in pre-colonial times.
The estimated population of Livingstone is over 136,897 (number from the 2010 census), with the majority of the people being of the Tonga speaking population.
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. The best time for a holiday in Livingstone depends on such things as the kind of activities you want to take part in, whether or not you want to see some good wildlife, the kind of weather you are comfortable in, etc.
Is the winter really cold? How hot does it get? When does it rain? When is a good time for rafting? When do the animals really come out? Find out how the seasons change and pick the best time for your visit.
Being a relatively small town, Livingstone is generally a safe place to be. Visitors should, however, look out for the petty crimes like pick-pocketing. It certainly is not safe to be walking around in the town's peripheral after dark, as there could be wild animals about. Here are a few safety tips for travelling around Livingstone:
• 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.
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.
Information on how to get to Livingstone town by air, road, rail and ferry. Find out which airlines fly into Livingstone; what you need in order to drive into Zambia and how to get there; how to bus to Livingstone; crossing the Zambezi from Botswana with or without a vehicle.
You will also get information about the different ways to get around Livingstone town. Do you need a taxi or a transfer vehicle? Is it alright to walk? How far will you need to go? Will my activity operator pick me up from my hotel? If you need us to answer any of these questions, contact us and ask away. Click here for Livingstone travel information.
History of Livingstone and the Victoria Falls
There is evidence of Europeans trecking and discovering many parts of the African continent. The person who made a significant discovery in his time was Dr David Livingstone, who was the first European to gaze upon the then Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke that Thunders). His writings about this magnificent waterfall made more people want to go and see what he had named The Victoria Falls (after his queen). More and more people came to visit, while other stayed and settled. Together with the building of the Victoria Falls Bridge, the towns of Victoria Falls and Livingstone were born. Discover the history of Livingstone town and the Victoria Falls.
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park
The 66 square kilometre Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, established in 1972, runs from the Victoria Falls, and up 12 kilometres along the Zambezi River. It is the smallest national park in Zambia, but certainly is important. It was created to help conserve the animals which go back and forth across the Zambezi River, and is home to big game such as buffalo, elephant, giraffe, as well as zebra, antelope, warthog and various plant and other animal species. Less than ten of the very rare white rhino are also present in 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 Accommodation
Within Livingstone town centre, accommodation ranges from backpackers lodges to luxury hotels. Outside the town's vicinity, safari lodges, camping sites and hotels are scattered along the Zambezi River and within Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. The closest to the Victoria Falls themselves are the Avani Victoria Falls Resort (formerly Zambezi 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.
The Zambian side of the Victoria Falls does have some unique activities when comparing the two sides, the most popular one being the seasonal Livingstone Island Tour and Devil's Swim. The Microlight flights over the Victoria Falls are offered only in the Zambian side. Visitors to Livingstone can of-course enjoy the bridge activities such as bungee jumping, bridge slide and swing. No visa's are necessary, but a passport will be required. Many of the other activities are common to both sides of the Falls.
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. Click here for activities 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.
There are a few market places within the town centre where you will find almost anything from blankets and clothes to curios and make-up. Maramba Market is a fresh food market that also has clothes and shoes as well as household goods. It is a fairly safe place to explore, and some lodges offer a guided tour of the market (for example Waterberry Lodge and Tongabezi Lodge).
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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