Victoria Falls Weekend: Zambia, The Shop That Thunders and frat house airport lounge

A half-day to see Victoria Falls from Zambia and check out the town of Livingstone.

I love crossing boarders, heading across the Rainbow Bridge with bungee jumpers dangling beneath, observing the cargo trucks loading up and trading supplies to bring to Zimbabwe’s crippled economy. If just popping across to see the falls there is no need for a visa. I was flying out from Zambia, though, and wanted the stamp, so went through the quick formalities.

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The falls park on the Zambia side is much smaller than Zimbabwe, just a few viewpoints on the short trail. It was wetter and mistier than my visit in Zimbabwe.

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Victoria Falls’ name is Mosi-oa-Tunya, ‘The Smoke that Thunders.’ Naturally there is The Shop That Thunders.

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I proceeded down the highway to The Royal Livingstone Hotel. I chatted with an American tourist on the patio, he had just taken a boat out to Livingstone Island. I had been misinformed that it was out of season. I talked with the valet and he tried to arrange the boat for me but I was too short on time and the boat was still out with a second batch of hotel guests. Disappointing. There are tours offered by tour agencies out in Livingstone, and they presumably are cheaper, though for someone stepping across the boarder, jumping on a tour from the hotel is much more convenient and a luxury indulgence. Depending on time of day, some of the hotel outings offer meals on the island.

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Compared to the Victoria Falls Hotel over in Zimbabwe, for a luxury experience you can’t go wrong with either. The Victoria Falls Hotel has a better view and felt more colonial, while The Royal Livingstone Hotel seems to have  more activities and be better set up for families.

My time trying to get to Livingstone Island meant I had to bypass the city of Livingstone and headed straight to the airport.

It was a battle to get into the airport lounge with my Diners Club card, despite the Diners Club logo on the door. I wondered why the staff sat outside chatting…until I went it and felt like I had entered a frat house. A memorable end to a superb weekend.

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  • Good analogy on the lounge! Wow

  • PedroNY

    Great trip! Thank you for posting this article.

    Best,

    PedroNY

  • john

    so half a day on each side was plenty? Have you been to Iguazu, how much time did you spend on each side there (how does it compare)?

  • @john – since the falls parks are rather small, just seeing them on the walking trails does not take much time on either side. If you start adding in trips to Livingstone Island and the adventure sports the time can expand.

    I did go to Iguazu last year, arriving overland from Paraguay. Day 1 I crossed into Brazil and scrambled for the last tour of Itaipu Dam which is awesome. Day 2 I did both the Argentina and Brazil sides of the falls in 1 day, very, very tight, there is a ton to do on the Argentina side and best to spend a full day on that. The Brazil side is more limited and a half-day is fine. Both parks are 30-60 minutes from the respective cities and the transit between countries is some distance, too. I just realized I wrote part 1 and never did part 2, shame on me, I need to make that up.

    Comparing falls to falls I like Iguazu since there is so much variety. Comparing the stuff around, it is hard to argue with African safari, whereas the Argentine and Brazilian towns are dumpy.

  • Mikey

    make no mistake about it Zimbabwe’s crippled economy is due to the takeover by Mugabe’s corrupt and psyco ruling party.

    It was a thriving country when it was Rhodesia.

  • john

    Thanks, that was exactly the type of information I was looking for!