Due to the famous travels of Dr. David Livingstone, his name has become synonymous with adventure for many people. As someone who loves adventure herself, Livingstone has been a place I’d always wanted to visit. Ultimately, the town itself turned out not to be the most thrilling place in the world. But it did have a few things I found worth checking out. To get a balanced visit of Livingstone, I suggest hitting the following three points – culture, food, and the outdoors. Read on to learn about the specific things I recommend!
Okay. First thing to note is that the museum does not allow photography past the front lobby (sigh). Second thing to note, which is possibly the reason for the first thing, is that this museum doesn’t seem well-funded. Many of the exhibits are simple and basic in presentation and some are downright hokey. That being said, I still enjoyed them. I particularly appreciated the dioramas describing the impact of the pursuit of city life has had on Zambian society. Overall, I spent a couple hours in Livingstone museum. Also, if you are tired of being hassled at markets, there is a gift shop here. I personally hate bargaining, so I was more than happy to pay the decent prices in this shop.
This was surprisingly interesting. The museum is mostly open air with actual old trains from the 19th-century. You are even allowed to explore the inside of some of them. I highly recommend you hire a guide upon arrival. You can wander the grounds on your own but there are no explanatory signs. As such, you’ll get more out of a guided visit than solo. But don’t fret – the guide I had was extremely knowledgeable and friendly.
Gateway Jewish Museum
The Railway Museum shares its grounds with the Jewish Museum. Your guide for the former will also take you through this one which is all indoors. Zambia’s Jewish history started in the 1890s with people fleeing European persecution; since post-WWII, the local community’s size has shrunk. Today, this museum both educates and thanks the country for what is has done for the Jewish community.
Restaurants – Casual Dining
Livingstone has a pretty good variety of restaurants, so you’ll not go hungry. If you’re interested in trying local food, Café Zambezi is a good choice. They serve Zambian food as well as Western food. Oddly enough, there are also a couple Caribbean dishes on the menu as well! I went for the crocodile bites, chunks of crocodile tail served with peri peri and sweet chili sauce. It is probably one of the stranger tasting things I’ve tried to date. It was kind of like a cross between chicken and fish, haha.
Restaurants – Upscale Dining
I definitely recommend making a reservation for a private dinner experience at the Royal Livingstone. Considering the cost of the Royal Livingstone (waaay out of my price range), the dinner itself was surprisingly affordable. While I was unable to do so, I strongly suggest going at least an hour before sunset. Your table faces the river and has direct sunset viewing. The whole dinner is quite the experience – quasi-private sommelier, private chef, a five-course meal, and a fabulous dessert show. Also, you may get a few striped guests having their own dinner on the lawns!
Boat Cruise on the Zambezi
To see another side of Livingstone’s surrounding area, I recommend doing a boat cruise. You’ll see birds, animals, and (assuming clear skies) gorgeous sunsets. Check out this post that describes my experience on the African Queen sunset cruise.
Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls
The main reason most people visit Livingstone is, of course, Mosi-oa Tunya (aka Victoria Falls. Avani Resort isn’t the usual sort of place I normally stay at but I’m glad I did. The falls are about a half-hour outside of Livingstone proper and Avani literally has them in its backyard. When visiting the falls, note that the grounds has opening and closing times – check online for the current times. Getting there right when it opened (in shoulder season) meant that I had the trail along the falls all to myself for about 40 minutes – it was glorious. There is a reason why this national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!