Intro – Two Premium Flying Experiences On A Second Visit To Africa
Part 1: Getting To Mauritius On My New Favorite Airline
Part 2: Spending Time In Southern Africa – Mauritius
Part 3: Spending Time In Southern Africa – Cape Town
Part 4: Spending Time In Southern Africa – Zambia
Part 5: The Long Luxurious Ride Home
After a short layover and change of planes in Johannesburg, I paid my $50 single entry visa fee at Livingstone International Airport, and proceeded to meet my ride just outside of immigration.
Hotels around Victoria Falls are very expensive, so I booked two nights at a highly rated, reasonably priced guesthouse called Green Tree Lodge for my two night stopover. Breakfast and free airport pick up /drop off are complimentary with a paid stay.
The property has several small individual chalets, with private bath, satellite TV, mosquito nets, and a wifi signal that mostly works. The securely gated grounds are flush with mature fruit trees and there is a swimming pool, though it was too cold to use when I was there. The English owner, Andrew, is a trained chef, and in addition to cooking made to order breakfast for guests every morning, runs a fairly popular restaurant located in the main property.
I arrived in the afternoon, and after dropping my things off, arranged for John, the friendly taxi driver that had collected me from the airport, to take me to the falls. There’s no public transportation of note, so unless you are up for a 14 kilometer walk, you’ll need a ride. The lodge has a couple of preferred drivers, John being one of them.
Admission to the park is $20 for a single entry, and only US dollars are accepted. John dropped me off at the entrance and agreed to come back to pick me up three hours later, which is more than enough time to explore the park.
I was advised that at this time of year, there wouldn’t be much of a flow. But that wasn’t the case. The park isn’t actually that big, though there is a hike down to the base of the falls (called The Boiling Pot) which takes about a half hour. There were lots of locals enjoying a dip at the bottom of the trail.
There is a 111 meter bungy jump off the Victoria Falls bridge, and I sat for a good while enjoying the view while watching people engage in this craziness!
For a close up view of the falls, prepare to get really drenched. The Knife Edge Bridge provides amazing access, though going over it is a bit like walking through a rain storm!
Since I hadn’t gotten a yellow fever vaccination, I didn’t want to risk going over the boarder to see the Zimbabwe side of the falls, so I decided to splurge on a helicopter ride.
Before boarding, we were advised of a few safety formalities and shown what our routing would be for the short flight.
The helicopter holds six people and there were two pilots on board. I had a window seat in the back, and the views were spectacular!
I opted for the shortest route, the fifteen minute ride, but it was well worth it as I definitely got a really good feel for the massiveness of the falls!
After the ride, I had the shuttle driver drop me off at The Royal Livingstone hotel, rather than back at my lodge. It was my final afternoon before the long journey home, and taking high tea at this legendary property seemed like the perfect way to end the trip.
The property is located within the national park, next to the Zambezi. As we drove up the driveway, we were greeted by these guys!
At rates in excess of $500 per night, I wouldn’t be staying here this trip. But it certainly was beautiful, maybe even splurge worthy.
The hotel sits right on the banks of the flowing Zambezi river. You can see the spray from the falls just down stream. Even though they weren’t around during my visit, there are often Hippos staying cool in the waters directly in front of the property.
High tea is serious at this hotel, and they certainly did go all out with traditional finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets.
I could have spent days here, and even though I didn’t want to leave, after a perfect lazy afternoon, I called my taxi driver John for a pickup. He was soon waiting for me in the lobby. By the time we returned to Green Tea lodge, the sun had set. I said so long to John and turned in for the night.
My flight didn’t leave until 1pm, so the next morning I ventured into town to do a little exploring. It’s about a ten minute walk from the Green Tree to the main drag. The town is very small, but there are a few shops, restaurants, and a couple of decent sized grocery stores. There’s only one traffic light in the entire town!
Livingstone is a good base for other activities like visits to Namibia or Chobe National Park, but I didn’t have plans beyond visiting the falls, so two nights was perfect. I headed back to the lodge where Andrew was waiting to take me to the airport.