We arrived at Livingstone airport after a short flight from Johannesburg having arrived there from the UK the previous day. Once we cleared Immigration, which was a no problem at all, we were greeted by a representative of the hotel waiting to whisk us off to the Zambezi Sun. We had a short wait while clearance was given to another couple from our flight, we then boarded the minibus for the 15/20 minute trip to the hotel.
Zambezi River Sun Hotel
On arriving at the 3 star Zambezi Sun we were informed that there no rooms for us so we had been upgraded to the 5 star Royal Livingstone hotel next door. We didn't object one little bit.
While we waited for transport to take us over to the Royal Livingstone we were served with a welcome drink, non alcoholic of course! It was here that I was reminded for the first time of the pleasantness of the Zambian people.
The Zambezi Sun Hotel has been built on the site of the old Intercontinental Hotel. I understand that the original hotel was demolished and the new hotel built in it's place.
In the centre of the hotel between the entrance and the rooms is a superb swimming pool with the bar and band stand on the opposite side to the reception buildings.
While we were there the hotel was playing host to the 'World's Strongest Man' and World's Strongest Women' competitions. If you look at the photos you will be able to pick out a number of the contestants.
Although we didn't get the opportunity to view the rooms at the Zambezi Sun, certainly from the reception and pool areas it looked to be an excellent place to stay.
Royal Livingstone Hotel
After a short wait the minibus turned up to take us to the Royal Livingstone. Walking into the reception area we were asked to accompany the receptionist to the lounge area where the registration was done in comfort, while sipping on a tall glass of iced tea. The start of the 5 start treatment.
Having registered we were taken to the front hotel where we were introduce to our butler and the driver of one of the elongated golf carts that were there to transport us between our rooms and reception. Question? what do you do with a butler? can anyone suggest what their function would be?
For those who knew Livingstone from the past and had visited the Falls the Royal Livingstone has been built up river from the falls around about the position of where the Falls Restaurant used to be. The hotel is made up of the main reception area, including dining room, lounge, bar etc, and a number of separate buildings each containing about 8 rooms. The reception is set back from the river and is about central in the complex with the rooms also set back on both sides.
It seems to me that great care was taken when building the hotel so that as many of the trees that are growing along the river were disturbed as little as possible. Between the rooms and the electric fence, that separates the residents from the river, is a lush lawn, one of the broad leaf African grasses that seem to survive even under the trees. A walk towards the river, from the reception, will take you past the swimming pool and on to the deck that partially protrudes over the river where you can sit, have a drink and watch the Zambezi as it flows past on it'd way to the falls. Whilst trying to take it all in on the Friday evening two elephants wandered down to the waters edge and waded out into the middle of the channel. Sitting gazing at the scene, the mighty Zambezi, Hippos in the foreground, Elephants in the distance all with a backdrop of the spray from the falls, I was in heaven. The Saturday afternoon saw us sitting in the same place, sipping Margaritas enjoying life.
On Friday afternoon, at about 4pm, we were collected by the courtesy couch and taken to the jetty where the African Queen was tied up awaiting out embarkation for a cruise up the Zambezi which was to be followed by dinner. This was the start of the 'Livingstone Lark' and we were joined by about 40 people from all over the world with one thing in common, our love for a country where we had all lived at some time in our life and for many getting back for the first time. I am now going to admit that I do not know where we went on the cruise. Being with people with like ideas meant that a great deal of talking took place and with the beer flowing freely the actual cruise went by in a flash. Before long the sun had set and we were tied up at the jetty, the cruise was over.
In preparation for the evening we were shepherded up stairs to the bar where we spent the time while the tables on the lower deck were laid ready for the evening meal. After the meal the band started playing and the dancing began. This was one of those nights when everything was so perfect that the time just flew past and before we knew it the clock had struck one am and it was time to make our way home. Our thanks go to Kevin who made sure that we got back to our hotel.
Saturday was spent sight seeing. This started with a walk from the Royal Livingstone to the Zambezi Sun and then on to the Falls. As expected the Falls did not have a great deal of water flowing over them, being right at the end of the dry season the Zambezi was just about at it's lowest. We did the walk over the Knife Edge Bridge and along the edge of the falls as far as the paths go.
Most of the rest of the day was spent lazing around the Zambezi Sun Hotel watching the 'World Strongest Women' competition.
We then went back to the Royal Livingstone and sat out on the deck, that overlooks the river, and had a couple of margaritas while the sun slowly settled into the west. Before we knew it we were having to go and get ready for the evening braai at the Maramba River Lodge.
Maramba River Lodge
We organised a couple of taxis to take us to the Maramba Lodge, arriving there about 5:30 in the evening. Heather had obviously been working hard all day as the braai area was set up with tables and chairs and of course the necessary braais. This was another one of those disappearing nights, it hardly seemed like we had arrived when it was time to go home. (I am beginning to think that the beer may have something to do with the disappearing nights)
Heather had hired the same band that had played on the African Queen the previous evening. Throughout the evening we were entertained with them playing a selection of reggae and rock ranging from Bob Marley to Dire Straits. The beer flowed freely and the food provided was phenomenal.
Trying to write this a number weeks later has made me realise that perhaps I did have a few as I don't remember the whole of the evening. Sufficient to say that it was truly enjoyable. Compared to the previous night it was rather subdued, not sure if this was as a result of the boat trip, too much to drink the night before, or more likely due to us knowing that it was our last evening together before we all went our separate ways.
The next morning it was off to the airport heading for Lusaka.
The trip to Lusaka was entertaining in itself. We did the flight in a 12 seater, single engine Cessna Caravan. It was a great flight, all be it just over an hour at 13,500 feet above the Zambian Bush. The flight allowed a great view of the city of Lusaka as we flew parallel to the Kafue road and then across the city and up the Great East Road to the International Airport. We were looking at the video of the approach, that Sue took, and have found that we could identify a number of landmarks as we went over them.