Da is he in the flashlight, the surprise guest at the hotel bar: a snorting elephant. With his trunk, he examines the drinks stocks, throwing a few glasses, touching the cash register and digging a bit in the freezer compartment. Then the show is over again. Excited guards bang on pots, scream and blind him. The elephant trolls into the bushes. The eyewitnesses stay behind on the terrace on the Zambesi and ask themselves: Was this a circus performance or was it wildlife?
In the five-star hotel "The Royal Livingstone" near the Victoria Falls, nothing is normally left to chance. Africa yes – but please only in the light version. Zebras graze on the grass near the pool, antelopes race, monkeys make fun in the trees in front of the entrance.
On the way with the buggy to the Victoria Falls is also a giraffe to see. But the animals are obviously used to humans. It's like a well-kept zoo, not like on a safari.
The elephant is already a sensation. Quite completely can not solve the puzzle. He is a frequent guest in the evening, say staff and smile. The animal is attracted by the waste and comes from the river to the hotel grounds. And it gets more and more cheeky. But they do not seem to be unhappy about the uninvited guest. So the paying guests have a little thrill – and a few "wild" video sequences for the loved ones at home.
View from the hotel terrace to the river Zambezi
So that no misunderstandings arise: The "Royal Livingstone" – led by the Thai Minor Group since 2016 as well as the neighboring "Victoria Falls Resort" – is wonderful. Location, service, rooms: just fantastic. No smears, just maybe for the piano-Klimper music in foyer, bar and restaurant, which can be annoying after a few days.
The elephant-ridden terrace right on the Zambezi River is probably one of the best spots in Africa. With a gin and tonic in his hand you look at the river and look for hippos in the water. In the background the spray rises from the Victoria Falls.
In the afternoon is Tea Time with scones and cucumber cutlets. The colonial legacy is held here in the former Northern Rhodesia – Zambia was granted its independence only in 1964. Finally, most of the guests come from the United Kingdom and culturally "related" states like the US and Australia.
Mostly it's an older audience, Lions club and Rotary clientele. They usually spend two to three days at the falls as the crowning glory of a safari in South Africa, Zimbabwe or Botswana. Zambia has a tough time against this competition. The Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, where the Victoria Falls lie, is comparatively small.
This is not the right Africa
Germans are rarely found here. After all, a "dream ship" episode has already been shot here. And on arrival and departure there is a serenade of choristers in colorful shirts. Nevertheless, one gets the feeling that this is not the right Africa here, but an African amusement park. And you have to be able to afford it: A double room in the "Royal Livingstone" is from 550 euros to have the night.
The region around the city of Livingstone – named after the English discoverer of the falls – is an important currency donor for the government in the capital Lusaka. She did not make the best impression recently. Government employees are at best paid only irregularly. Priests face imprisonment when they preach about corruption and the economic crisis in the country.
Some time ago, 2,000 hippos were released on the Luangwa River for launch. Official reason: the water level is too low. In fact, licenses are granted to international hunting companies. For foreign exchange, of course.
When entering the modern airport in Livingstone first 50 dollars per person payable. Zambia aims to become one of the top five African tourism destinations by 2030. So far, the country is only ranked 18th Since it is of course good to own the Victoria Falls an absolute natural wonder. At around 1.7 kilometers, they are the widest continuous waterfall in the world. Two thirds are in Zimbabwe territory, one third in Zambia.
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But the political permanent crisis in the former Mugabe country deters wealthy tourists from the West. Zambia, on the other hand, presents itself as a stable feel-good zone – despite corrupt government in the capital. The typical street traders in Africa are barely visible in Zambia. Instead, most of the locals with whom you are a tourist have name tags.
Helicopters circle over the Victoria Falls
The Victoria Falls can be approached traditionally on foot via a slippery path. Admission for hotel guests is free. The gorge is only 50 meters wide. The view and especially the roar are terrific. Please pack the sound once for the home!
Of course, the cases can be explored quite differently. In recent years, a recreational industry has developed: rafting, bungee jumping, kayaking and of course flying by helicopter or microlight. However, this has side effects. There is aircraft noise! Especially in the morning, when every minute the helicopters circle over the falls.
In the evening, a luxury train sneaks over the slanted tracks of Livingstone to the border bridge. But most passengers only get out for a short time. Because there are actually traders from Zimbabwe on the go, who aggressively promote their miniature hippos. Another asks if you can not get him a job with a European airline. He was a steward and the state airline in Harare went broke.
The guests then prefer to stay in the saloon car. Africa please only bit by bit and with a cool drink. The same is true for an exploration tour on the Zambezi. Whether by motorboat or sluggish steamer – one looks forward to a spotted Hippo family on the shore and the sunset. And otherwise remains at a lethargic distance, which of course is not so wrong from an animal welfare point of view.
The Devils Pool is the biggest adventure
The biggest adventure in Victoria Falls is undoubtedly the Devils Pool. The net tells stories and videos of the "most dangerous pool in the world". It's a little over the top, but somehow true. Before boarding the motorboat that drives you from the hotel to Livingstone Island, you already signed something fine print. At your own risk.
Then on site it requires good cajoling of the guides to swim directly to the abyss of the falls. Before, several rapids and rocks have to be overcome. The group holds hands. The pool itself is a naturally rock shaped basin. There you feel surprisingly safe.
Even if the power of nature is enormous and a pusher can end 110 meters lower. For spectacular photos you better trust smartphone and camera to the guides. These then actually climb worryingly close to the abyss. The passed test of courage acts as an adrenalin kick for the whole group. After that a second breakfast, and it goes back to the hotel.
Tips and information for Zambia
Getting there: For example with South African Airways or British Airways via South Africa directly to Livingstone. Zambia currently has no national airline. The upscale lodges organize their guests' transfer to the resort.
Travel time: In the rainy season from December to April, the Victoria Falls are particularly impressive. The climate is then hot and humid. The Devils Pool is overflowing at this time because of the water masses. In the period from September to November, the daytime temperatures are pleasant, but at night it can be very cold.
Accommodation: The "The Royal Livingstone Hotel" described in the text is located near the Victoria Falls, double room from 550 Euro, anantara.com. Designed more for families, the "Avani Victoria Falls Resort", double room from 250 euros, avanihotels.com/en/victoria-falls. The "Stanley Safari Lodge" offers views of the Zambezi and the Falls, double rooms from 750, robinpopesafaris.net/de
Information desk: zambiatourism.com
Participation in the trip was supported by Anantara and Avani hotels. Our standards of transparency and journalistic independence can be found at axelspringer.de/unabhaengigkeit.
Zambia (t) Country Portraits (t) Safari (t) Hotels (t) Hotels (t) Luxury Hotels (t) Livingstone Island (t) Victoria Falls (t) Royal Livingstone (t) Zimbabwe (t) Zambezi (t) The Royal Livingstone (t) Journey (s) Victoria Falls (t) Livingstone – (t) Zambia (t) Hamburg Germany (t) Gin Tonic (t) Africa (t) Anantara (t) South Africa