Livingstone is the tourist capital of Zambia, and located only ten kilometres from the spectacular Victoria Falls. It is a town well-oriented towards tourism, more so than any other place in the country. Relatively unheard of until recently, it was named after David Livingstone, the explorer and missionary.
The recent inflow of tourists on the Zambian side of the falls is due to the prevalent political problems in Zimbabwe, and there is an optimistic feeling of change in the air. You can even wake up to the sounds of Victoria Falls cascading outside the window if you are staying at one of the magnificent Livingstone Hotels that are directly located at The Victoria Falls.
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The number one tourist attraction in Livingstone is of course the magnificent Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. It is twice as tall as Niagara Falls, and several times longer, affording visitors a once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing experience. The Falls are also becoming an adventurer's paradise and abuzz with a rush of adventure and nature based things to see and do, including white water rafting, bungee jumping, helicopter- and microlight flights. Finally, there are several excellent national parks nearby offering Livingstone tours and safaris to see the abundant wildlife. Elephants, zebras, hippos, giraffes, baboons and buffalos are easily found.
With a population of around 140,000, Livingstone is a relatively compact town and easy to see on foot. If you prefer to sightsee in a taxi, look out for the certified blue taxis with red number plates. The town itself is being upgraded, and with new shops and restaurants and plenty of places to stay, travellers are well cared for. All budgets are catered for, and you can choose from decadent colonial lodges, Victoria Falls hotels and Livingstone Hotels, to more subtle bush lodges and camps. You can even use our Livingstone map to choose your Livingstone hotel based on its location.
The city of Livingstone was established on 25 February 1905, against the wishes of the English pioneers who had come here. The resilient locals settled down along the riverside, 5 km upstream from Victoria Falls, as they felt that moving to the New Livingstone area further away would be detrimental to their trade. In 1905 The British South African Company (BSAC), which governed this part of Central Africa, completed the construction of the Victoria Falls Bridge, as they thought it was high time that the settlers were shifted from the mosquito-infested swamplands near the river where they had stayed for the past ten years.
The BSAC had to implement the move by levying a fine of one shilling per day on anyone who refused to shift. In due course the old settlement known as the 'Old Drift' was vacated. There is hardly anything left to see at the original location, which is now inside a Game Park, except for some of the graves of the people who used to live here and a few trees of foreign origin. Livingstone was then the capital of Northern Rhodesia for a short period from 1911 to 1935 which resulted in prosperity for the town. The main road of Livingstone is the important 'Mosi-oa-Tunya Road' or the 'Victoria Falls Road', lined with buildings built in the classic colonial style. The English Victorian architecture is clearly visible in these tin-roofed houses with wooden verandas.
Although we tend to think of the days gone by as a romantic period, life was difficult in those times. Water was a perennial problem - it had to be pumped from the Maramba River and then transported by buckets to all the houses. Toilets were located in the backyards and sanitary buckets were used, which had to be emptied each morning by the 'bucket brigade', using ox-carts. All the roads had a lot of deep sand on them, which made walking for even a small distance very tedious.
Later, a tram-line was laid from the town to the Livingstone railway station and further up to the boat club. Although many of the houses built during this time are in bad shape, some are being beautifully restored and worth seeing. If the economy of Livingstone continues to rise, more restoration work can take place in the future, which will enhance the beauty of this town increasing the number of Livingstone accommodation options for tourists and increasing the economic stability of the region.
With quality Livingstone hotels, adventurous safaris and Livingstone tours, the magnificent Victoria Falls and a fascinating and rich culture, Livingstone is a great place to visit. Travellers of every style and budget can find a Victoria Falls hotel and accompany it with Victoria Falls tour to suit their tastes. Come and explore the town and its nearby attractions, the perfect place for a Southern Africa holiday!
Travelling around Zambia? Check out our Kafue National Park or Lusaka accommodation and tour options. We also have accommodation and tour providers in nearby locations including Cape Town, Cape Winelands, Johannesburg, Swaziland and Lesotho.