On Wednesday 12 August 2020 Camilla and I set out for our first flights since Covid arrived in our lives to Livingstone, home to Zambia’s Victoria Falls. We were off to do some lodge inspections and plan some new adventures for our guests. It felt like we were breaking out of a little bubble and we wondered if we were doing the wrong or the right thing.
The flights were great and very few passengers (everyone was wearing their masks) and the bonus was a short connection in Lusaka. On arrival the airport felt a bit spooky with so few people and we collected our high clearance hire vehicle and set off to Taita Falcon Lodge. Perched on top of the Gorge with sweeping views overlooking the Zambezi this is truly a special place. We were the only guests in camp and were treated to a fantastic candlelit dinner ( I ordered the fillet steak and the Tilapia fish looked fantastic). Sitting with Faan and Anmarie we were discussing some ideas on how to increase visitor numbers and the Taita Tango Cocktail was born. Faan makes some amazing liquors from local fruits but you will have to visit Taita to try them. The chalets are quite open and walls are made from reed matting, lots of fresh air and the huge bathroom showers built with local stone are awesome. Each chalet also has its own private garden with an outside shower. We went to bed exhausted and the cherry on the top was the hot water bottle……it is still a little chilly at night in August.
Early wakeup call by the staff with a pot of coffee and homemade rusks was a treat as we lay in bed listening to the sounds of the bush. The bush and gorge walks are amazing and highly recommended.
Later that morning we set off to explore Livingstone via Nsongwe village where time has stood still for these villagers. We could not resist stopping to assist pumping the water at the local well and watch the villagers go about daily life and of course some great pictures of the cattle boma and ox drawn cart. Camilla did manage to climb the stairs up the giant Baobab for those incredible views of the town and the Falls spray (getting down was a little more tricky) while I bravely opted to be the photographer on the ground!
Over the next few days we managed a glass of the wine at the Royal Livingstone overlooking the gardens and Zambezi river followed by lunch at Avani – both highly recommended. A breathtaking unnguided tour of the Victoria Falls ensued – it does not matter how many times you visit the Falls, each time leaves an inspirational visual memory and manages to rejuvenate your soul. It truly is a wonder of the world. Mosi–au-Tunya “The Smoke that Thunders”
Do remember to take a raincoat and protection for your camera, there is no way to avoid all the spray if you want to do the full tour and everyone wants to cross the pedestrian bridge across the gorge and only possible in Zambia.
Friday we stopped in for afternoon tea at The Victoria Falls Waterfront (one of our favourite haunts) which turned out to be wine but we could not resist the pancakes which are another must. They have fantastic rates on accommodation and activities right now.
On Saturday we finally got confirmation we could have dinner at The Elephant Café (yippee as you need to be a minimum of 4 guests) all I can say is WOW and well done to the team. World class fine dining with lots of local ingredients. The Elephant Cafe is one of Livingstone’s best activities. Your visit supports the feeding of the rescued Elephants who all have their own story of how they survived. Elephant interaction was followed by dinner in Zambia’s best restaurant with locally sourced ingredients for the meal. Some of our treats were Wild Masawa Fruit Jelly, Wild Musika Syrup, homemade Dhukka Garnish and best of all is the Mongu rice and Nzembe with Peppery leaves and mixed nuts and Cranberries. Don’t miss this experience whatever you do.
All we can advise travellers is that now is just a fantastic time to travel if you can, you will feel like the world is yours alone – definitely far from the maddening crowds. 4 nights was just too short and so we will be back.