World Class on the Banks of a World Wonder


The Royal Livingstone

World Class on the Banks of a World Wonder

Sun International is renowned for its memorable African experiences, thanks to a group of hotel properties that consistently go the extra mile, in an attempt to take one’s breath away. The Royal Livingstone Hotel on the banks of the Zambezi River, on the Zambian side, is no exception, offering the kind of leisure experience that will remain in the memory bank for years to come.

As he lay on the edge of where the Zambezi River thunders down a 110-metre drop, David Livingstone whispered to himself, “This will tell our story”. Over 150 years later, the story of a river that flows through the soul of Africa is still being told in the magnificence of Sun International’s Royal Livingstone Hotel.

The 5-star Royal Livingstone Hotel is a retreat into an age of exploration, grandeur and African splendour. And the story that could fill a thousand journals begins with a mere one-hour, 40-minute flight from Johannesburg in South Africa.

The flight in provides you with the first glimpse of the famous mist of Victoria Falls, and everything from here on is an assault on the senses. It’s a comfortable entry into the country through the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport, and then a short drive through the town of Livingstone to the Royal Livingstone Hotel. That is, of course, if you choose this route. But, a river that is 2,740 kilometres long and rolls over rocks filled with myths as ancient as their 200-million-year-old age, is a pretty difficult thing to ignore. And because you have not travelled to the Royal Livingstone simply to stay in a hotel, you will also not simply just drive there.

A 15-minute boat trip along the river, crossing moderate rapids and passing hippos and occasional game on the banks, is the preferred way to arrive on the sandy shores that meet the rolling green lawns of the hotel.

You will most likely be greeted by Edward, the hotel’s famous storyteller, and his team, who welcome you with refreshing towels scented with lemon grass and a glass of iced tea. The ladies of the Royal Spa will also be happy to give you a relaxing hand massage to ease away any travel frustrations and prepare you for the stay of a lifetime in a hotel voted as one of the finest in the world by Travel & Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler.

The hotel is very much in partnership with its community. The local Chief Mukuni sits on its board of directors, and the CSI projects are amongst the most innovative in Africa. Even the animals enjoy preferred status, from the zebra that will wander past your breakfast table, to the giraffe who is allowed to eat the roses when he so wishes.

A total of 173 en-suite guestrooms make up a hotel that exudes Victorian elegance and splendour, and its recent complete refurbishment has ensured that the Royal Livingstone remains one of the finest luxury accommodation options in Africa. The rooms contain all the modern amenities, including Wi-Fi. Fine dining is an art at the Royal Livingstone, from the Royal Livingstone Dining Room to the vintage ambience of the Lounge and Travellers’ Bar, to a meal under the shade of the famous Monkey Tree. The deck overlooking the river and the falls is a must for sundowners or meetings with a difference. The river is a constant theme, with the Royal Salon offering spa treatments in private gazebos that overlook the Zambezi.

As a World Heritage Site, the Victoria Falls is a short walk from the hotel, and is the base from which to launch a thousand adventures. An activity desk at the hotel will take care of all your adventure bookings on and around the greater Falls Resort. All the adventure activities are in close proximity to the hotel. You can choose from a relaxing river cruise to the best white-water river rafting in the world. Fish for legendary tiger fish at the base of the falls, or enjoy a game drive in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, which is home to elephant, hippo, buffalo, impala, giraffe, zebra, civet and serval.

Adventure is not hard to find here, from abseiling to bungee jumping, horse riding to quad bike trails, and from microlight to helicopter flips over the falls.

An unquestionable highlight is a trip to Livingstone Island in the middle of the river, located right on the lip of the falls. You can enjoy light snacks and drinks here, while soaking up the spray and the best close-up view of the falls from any point. For the truly adventurous, put your swimming costume on and let one of the guides help you into the Angel’s Pool, where you sit in a natural jacuzzi right on the edge of the falls.

As you board the Royal Livingstone Express for a unique dining experience to round off your stay, your host will speak to you of his passion for steam rail travel, and how he personally oversaw the rebuilding of this, the first steam locomotive in Zambia.

“Ours is a different time,” he says.

Yet, at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, it is a time still very much celebrated.

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