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Trip Report: Victoria Falls/Livingstone (November)

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Toronto, Canada
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Trip Report: Victoria Falls/Livingstone (November)

Here's a quick trip report to help people out who are planning a similar trip. We did 3 activities during our stay, Lion Encounter, Livingstone Island, and Whitewhater Rafting. Budget accommodations are all in Livingstone, we stayed at Fawlty Towers which was in a nice location with a supermarket across the street, it's as nice as any supermarket back home in North America. You can't walk to the falls from town, and taxis are $10 but I managed to negotiate down to $6 though it was difficult. It's like a set price. In November there are literally no falls visible from Zambia unless you visit Livingstone Island. To go to Zimbabwe for us Canadians involved paying $30 more for a double entry Zambia visa, $75 for a single entry Zimbabwe visa, and $20 Park entry fee in Zimbabwe. We decided to pay $65 to go to Livingstone Island instead, no regrets.

Livingstone Island: $65 for a morning excursion, more expensive for lunch and dinner. You don't get much time, 5 minute boat ride over from the Royal Livingstone Hotel (wow, nice place, $900/night). Then you get about 5 minutes in the pool, maybe 10 if there aren't many people.. and about 15 minutes to view the falls back on the island (still a great view). Breakfast was nice. Not a great value given the short amount of time you actually have in the pool (you could spend more time viewing the falls if you eat fast or skip breakfast), but absolutely worth doing if you are there in the dry season. A couple of people went just to view the falls, didn't swim. The pool is not scary, there are two guides there, the only chance you have of hurting yourself is if you slip on a rock and sprain your ankle.

Lion Encounter: $140. This was neat but not a great value, we were a group of 8 with 3 lions, and I got plenty of opportunities to pet the lions. We went in the afternoon so they were pretty lazy. The walk was ok, petty them was more interesting. Then it rained and they became very playful which was fun to watch. Then it really started raining and they got into hunting mode so it was time to leave. We had about an hour with the lions. Overall, yes this is a unique once in a lifetime experience but yet I still felt it was only worth $75 at most. To pay $140 and then have them ask for $35 for the DVD was a little insulting.. for $140 they should include the DVD for free, no one bought it and it left a sour taste in everyones mouth. Not a great value, can't say I recommend it. Since arriving home I've done some reading on the lion encounter program and it appears that it is ethically questionable.. a couple of articles allege that these lions end up in hunting reserves! I really regret going.

Safpar Zambezi Rafting: $155. Now this is a fantastic value! We got picked up at 8:00 and got back at 7:00 completely exhausted. What a day, 11 hours. I can't reccomend it highly enough, and unlike the lion encounter we were happy to pay the $30 for the dvd. Well worth it. Safpar is a very professional company, the guides are fantastic. We were a bit worried about the rafting beforehand but had a great time. We even flipped 3 times and I feel bad for those boats that didn't because the flips were definite highlights. It's a long day, you'll be exhausted, but you'll have a blast, I promise. They have a good lunch on the rocks, and dinner afterwards was great (salads, bbq chicken, beef sausage, bread, drinks, etc). Some advice.. wear flip flops, they can tie them to the back of the boat. You need something on your feet for the walk down to the water and for rapid #9 which you walk around.. you can't walk barefoot the rocks are scalding hot. I wore sneakers but it was a pain to dry them the next day. Wear long sleeves and long shorts if you can, and bring lots of sunscreen. The sun is blistering, it was 40 degrees, the water was very refreshing but many people got sunburns. Don't bring anything else, you don't need it, though they have a lockbox for valuables. If you wear glasses, make sure you have a string or elastic from the ends of the stems that goes around your head, and i would duct tape that string to the stems to be extra sure. If you do this, you'll be fine. If you don't you will lose your glasses the first time you fall out or flip. There's also a tiny risk of getting a paddle or body part in the face that breaks your glasses.. we were 30 people the day I went in 5 boats, don't think anyone even got so much as a bruise. Anyways, do it! It's a lot of fun and worth every penny. A lot of people forgot to tip the guides, they work really hard.

Finally, it's worth visiting the Zambezi Sun resort, you don't have to be a guest (we weren't, we just walked in). They have zebras, giraffes, monkeys, baboons. Find Ben, he's the animal caretaker and he will let you get close. They feed at the boma at 3:00 everyday, it's free and interesting to see the animals up close. Ben is also worth tipping, he's a really nice guy and will make sure your experience with his animals is interesting and memorable.

1. Re: Trip Report: Victoria Falls/Livingstone (November)

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2. Re: Trip Report: Victoria Falls/Livingstone (November)

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Stanley, Falkland...
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8. Re: Trip Report: Victoria Falls/Livingstone (November)

What is the $140 for the lion petting if not tourist gouging? It's certainly not for the lions' benefit.

The stuff about the lions is not difficult to find, so I'm surprised you didn't know about its ethics beforehand.

Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: Trip Report: Victoria Falls/Livingstone (November)

unfortunately we signed up for the lion encounter on a whim on the day we arrived, we got to the hostel and an hour later were getting picked up. it sounded great on paper, but definitely left a bad taste in our mouthes.. and was absolutely tourist gouging. the rafting was worth every penny, if not more, great value.

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