At The Royal Livingstone, the Zambian Safari Surrounds You

At The Royal Livingstone, the Zambian Safari Surrounds You

I’ve arrived at The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara, I can’t stop smiling. Right outside the breezy open-area reception are a pair of zebras, lazily munching on grass and completely un-interested in the continued gasps of happy onlookers. After all, most arriving guests react this way to them, and to the bevy of cheeky monkeys that come out during the evening hours, scampering around the premises. (Though you’ll be warned to keep your screened patio locked at all times lest you come back to find the room ransacked by the curious primates!). If you’re lucky you’ll spot giraffe and impala, as well.

Royal Livingstone zebra

Located in the beautiful Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River, the Anantara resort is just one gem among many. Just a short private walk away is Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and it lives up to its name, its roaring mist completely drenching visitors and myself. When explorer David Livingstone trekked toward to Victoria Falls in 1855 to see the area that the natives called “the smoke that thunders,” he wrote “no one can imagine the beauty of the view” in his journal. Be sure to bring or purchase a raincoat or poncho and wear sturdy, water-proof shoes and something to keep your camera or phone protected. Then, embrace the natural power of the falls.

Royal Livingstone

Back at the resort, I delight in the British Colonialism design woven throughout. Gorgeous prints of wildlife adorn the premises and the real things aren’t too far from view. Northern Rhodesia (now known as Zambia) became independent from Great Britain in 1964 and the influence is still strongly nostalgic. I see decorative bowls of ostrich eggs, stunning marble surfaces, animal skin rugs, plenty of mahogany furniture and best of all—a long bar to sidle up to and order, what else? A gin and tonic.

Royal Livingstone room

If you prefer to watch the mighty Zambezi River roar by, head down to the Sundeck for light bites and refreshing recommendations by expert bartenders. The cherry on top is to your left—the rising mist from Victoria Falls as the river rushes toward it. Prefer to be even more relaxed? Not far down the shore sit three spa gazebos, where guests can arrange for a massage while hearing the rushing waters merely feet away. I had one of the most relaxing massages while listening and watching the river. A mirror strategically placed gives you a front-row seat while stress melts away.

An entirely thrilling way to see Victoria Falls and the winding gorges of the Zambezi River (and a must-do in my opinion) is to take a microlight flight with Batoka Sky. My experienced and gregarious pilot, Pascal, spoke to me over microphone as my feet dangled and we soared among the clouds. We spotted giraffes, birds and a large group of hippos resting in shallow waters; seeing the unending landscape from this breathtaking height is not to be missed.

microlight over Victoria Falls

Wrap up your visit to Zambia with a leisurely evening aboard the Royal Livingstone Express, a beautifully restored steam locomotive. On select evenings, the train takes guests from Livingstone through Mosi-oa-Tunya and the Zambezi River Valley, where the rolling countryside provides sunset views, opportunities for gorgeous photos and a bevy of wildlife, all while featuring the delights of a bygone era. Don’t miss the picturesque views as the train crosses the Victoria Falls Bridge. Drinks are served throughout the ride and dinner is a satisfying multi-course fine-dining affair. After finishing our decadent desserts, we order one last glass of wine to toast our amazing adventure.

Royal Livingstone Express

Getting there: South African Airways flies to multiple global destinations from its hub in O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), outside of Johannesburg. From there, it’s a flight on British Airways for Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone.

Article by Sara Schwartz / Photo credits: Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas

Royal Livingstone pool