When it comes to comfort and luxury, you really only have two options when you are coming to see the Victoria Falls, known to locals as “Mosi-oa-Tunya”. This roughly translates in English to “The Smoke that Thunders”. These two options are The Royal Livingstone by Anantara or AVANI Victoria Falls.
Become immersed in this hotel as you chill on the sundeck named Kubu watching the sunset over the Zambezi River as the mist from Victoria Falls sprays a rainbow in the sky. For the active, enjoy a walk around the property and share the footpath with dozens of zebra and giraffes. For the adventurous, the Victoria Falls bridge is home to one of the worlds biggest bungee jumping platforms and an absolute must.
Where is The Royal Livingstone by Anantara Located
The Royal Livingstone is a few hundred metres from the massive drop of the mighty Victoria Falls. From its backyard, you can see the mist of the powerful falls. Did you know that the Victoria Falls are part of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world?
As you walk in the Royal Livingstone Anantara, you will either get treated by Zambian musicians singing or the lovely Edward Minyoyi, the Guest Relations Officer but also is the insider for local knowledge and personal tales. Edward is known to plunge guests into the colours, customs and majesty of Zambia through the age-old art of storytelling. In a country where tribal stories and traditional practices are passed down from one generation to another, storytelling is an intrinsic part of Zambian daily life, and Edward is a proud narrator you must find to spend some time with during your stay.
How to get around the hotel
The Royal Livingstone Hotel by Anantara and neighbouring AVANI Victoria Falls Resort are the only hotels on the Zambian side of the Falls to offer luxury water taxi arrival transfers along the Zambezi River, treating travellers to exceptional photographic opportunities, even before the real adventures begin.
Everything is accessible by walk and buggies are available if you desire a transfer around the property for quicker access to your destination.
From the airport, you can request the hotel to arrange your transfer to the hotel. If you have your own car, there is parking for free. We drove from Namibia, you can read here our day to day drive itinerary and also read about the information for the border crossing from Namibia to Zambia by car.
Dining at The Royal Livingstone by Anantara
Breakfast and Dinner are mainly served at The Royal Livingstone Dining Room, You can choose to sit inside the dining room or outside on the terrace, which we strongly recommend for a first-class view to the river but also the wildlife passing by. The breakfast is rich in choices with also a healthy corner with gluten-free offerings as well. There is a large range of cold cuts and cheese for those who like it for breakfast but, most importantly, the hashbrowns are extremely crispy.
During dinner, often, musicians play while guests savour appetizers. The mains are a mix of European classics, Zambian specialities and Indian influences, giving you plenty of choices. We absolutely enjoyed our dinner here. For appetizers, the seafood chowder, the Kudu carpaccio and Slow cooked crocodile tail served with mango salad with balsamic dressing and delicious avocado puree. For mains, we ordered slow cooked braised lamb shoulder and pan seared blue cheese and butternut squash gnocchi. For dessert, we shared a delicious Mundambi Panna served with tamarind sorbet before going back to bed and pass out.
At Kubu (hippo), guests can relax on platforms on the bank of the Zambezi to drink in the sights and sounds of river life and the musicians playing some great instrumentals in the background.
Come earlier at around 5 PM to find yourself a cushy chair and perfect view for sundowners. Throughout the day, this waterfront haven refreshes with chilled beverages. It is the perfect place for a light lunch or dinner. We made sure to have lunch but also experience dinner there with the same menu where you kind of order many dishes to share. For lunch, we had the cheese platter with biltong and crocodile rolls. For lunch, we had to test the Vietnamese spring rolls, pork belly and lamb croquettes. We absolutely loved the refreshers to accompany our meals.
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The Royal Livingstone lounge & Traveller’s Bar
Our favourite block in the hotel. The explorer’s gallery of noble décor defines The Royal Livingstone Lounge where guests are directed at arrival to check-in and go through the Anantara welcome ritual. Open 24-hours, comfortable elegance pays tribute to the famous explorer Sir David Livingstone after which the hotel is named. You will be surrounded by antique wooden chests, rugs and ambient lighting (if arriving at night), the perfect setting to enjoy a whiskey or two.
Early risers enjoy speciality teas and coffees in preparation for audacious outings and can map out their next quests inspired by Livingstone’s paintings, vintage artefacts and travel books. Snacks and light meals propose casual daytime dining. Evening nightcaps can be indulgently relaxed in this atmospheric lounge.
Connected to the latter is The Travellers Bar which exudes an old world charm and is also open round the clock. Sinking into armchairs, it is also the perfect setting for an afternoon tea, a recommended journey when staying at this African Anantara property. Try teas from around the world, or sparkling wine with capsicum, bacon and cheddar scones with whipped cream and homemade preserves, Mediterranean quiches, classic English sandwiches and a vast array of splendid cakes. Tall leather stools nestle the bar, where bartenders concoct each guest’s pleasure. Sophisticated evenings flow over a gin and tonic, old and new world wines, along with fine whisky and gin selections, as a pianist tinkles the ivories.
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Boma is an experience to not miss when staying at this property. It is offered on Tuesdays and Fridays, located at the traditional village on the property of the AVANI Victoria Falls. Go enjoy anytime from 6:30 PM to 10 PM traditional dance, music and African cuisines, including delicious game meat like crocodile, impala, etc. You can read more about the experience in our review of the AVANI Hotel Victoria Falls.
The Royal Livingstone Express Dinner experience
For an authentic experience of vintage travel, The Royal Livingstone Express steam locomotive combines the luxury of the Royal Livingstone Hotel with Victorian elegance and exquisite fine dining. Trundling through the picturesque Zambezi Valley, guests relive a bygone era as they relax in lovingly restored Pullman-style coaches. Crossing the Victoria Falls Bridge, sunset beside the world’s largest waterfall is toasted with sparkling wine or a cocktail, followed by a gourmet dinner. In addition to the Bridge Route, the Mulobezi Route passes through the heart of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, providing up-close wildlife encounters.
Activities at The Royal Livingstone by Anantara
The Victoria Falls are home to many adventures. A range of thrilling water, land and sky adventures which are available only on the Zambian side of the Falls.
Think of doing, for example, the Devil’s pool if the water levels are right (unfortunately for us, it was too high, it can only be visited between mid-August and mid-January, before the summer rains swell the river) or even going for an adrenaline high bungee jumping session on the Victoria Falls Bridge. You can also do a swing or a biplane (zipline) if you don’t feel as adventurous.
You can also enjoy an adventure flight in a Huey helicopter, flown with doors open at a lower level, skimming over the African bush, deep down into the dramatic Batoka Gorge and over the Falls. Note that there is a helipad on-site so you won’t be going too far!
The microlight flight flying adventure is another great flying experience above the Victoria Falls and continues upstream over Long Island, Palm Island, Kakunka and Kandahar Islands and finally onto the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park for a bird’s eye view of the awesome spectacle.
If you fancy more being on the water, safari boats and other cruises are available. We personally did the safari boat tour to spot birds and hippos. These safari boats have the unique ability to traverse the rapids safely and comfortably and can even cruise in shallow water. You can enjoy all you can drink bar including wines, gin and tonic, Mozi local beers and other soft drinks. The rushing rapids of the Batoka Gorge offer white water river rafting and jet-boat thrills as well.
A full-day outing into the nearby Chobe National Park in Botswana is a must-do if you are an animal lover. Day trips are offered and you will be back on time for a delicious dinner.
Many options of things to do eh? Hope you choose wisely or stay longer to be able to them all!
Unlimited access to Victoria Falls at The Royal Livingstone by Anantara
One of the many perks, a stay at the hotel grants you unlimited complimentary access to Victoria Falls, with just a 10-minute walk away with its own private entrance. If you don’t fancy walking, you may call a buggy that will drop you to that private entrance within minutes. You can access it at any time from 6 AM to 6 PM, the opening hours of the park.
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Rooms at The Royal Livingstone by Anantara
The hotel is beautifully structured with 17 riverbank residences housing a total of 169 rooms and four spacious suites. They all have a balcony or veranda with a table and chairs, facing the river and gardens frequented by free-roaming zebras, impalas, giraffes and monkeys. Rooms all have marble bathrooms with both rain showers and a tub which you get sea salts provided in the room to prepare your rewarding bath at the end of the day.
Deluxe Rooms offer 30 square metres of space with a host of modern comforts, from a king size bed or twin singles dressed in fine white linen, to air conditioning, a desk and WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, a mini bar and satellite television, enhanced by a butler, laundry and valet services.
Hate mosquitos? No worries, not only you get bug cream, there is are repellent devices inside and a spray for outdoors to insects away!
We stayed in a Deluxe Corner Room, embellished by an enclosed glass-walled patio with a sliding door and refined mosquito netting, a wicker sofa and ceiling fan, providing a nice setting for us to settle and work to the Zambezi River views. We were lucky to be right by the main blocks, the Traveller’s bar and reception. Initially worried about the noise and foot traffic, our concerns were quickly eradicated as there was barely any people walking past which allowed us to relax in peace. Needless to say, we had many visits of the impalas and zebras while working in the comfort of our patio.
Spa & Wellness at The Royal Livingstone by Anantara
Marrying world-class wellness expertise of Anantara Spas with indigenous wellness culture and breathtaking scenery of the treatment rooms by the Zambezi river, you get unique African treatments when booking a spa session whilst staying at the property. There are four luxury treatment rooms for individuals and couples, even a beauty salon if you choose to get a facial or revitalizing eye treatment, manicure, pedicure and even waxing. The spa is open at 8 AM to 7 PM and is extremely accommodating and professional to find ways to arrange the schedule to fit all considering many go on excursions. We absolutely loved our 60-minutes signature full body massage which started with a Safari Foot Treat using a chocolate smell scrub. Travellers may also opt for a poolside spa experience, with expert therapists reviving tired soles after national park adventures with the rejuvenating Safari Foot Treat.
The property is full of lush green grass where you can do your own bodyweight workout overlooking the Zambezi River. If you prefer a gym, it is there for you to use with 24h access. If you feel more adventurous and want to have some fun, you can go to the AVANI and enjoy the adventure and fitness trail.
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Sustainability at The Royal Livingstone by Anantara
Water bottles: Room water is bottled in glass. Although at the restaurants, when water or sparkling water is ordered, it is unfortunately still being served in plastic bottles that they recycle after use. Tap water in the room is filtered and totally drinkable.
Animal protection: Staying within the national park amongst the wildlife, it is strictly not allowed to touch or feed the animals. It is recommended to stay a few meters away from them unless indicated by the people that feed them when you can be close for photo opportunities.
Social responsibility: The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara is empowering women through collaborations with three nearby communities to provide skill development and health support. Anantara guests benefit with opportunities to enjoy the artisanal handmade products created by these projects, providing an authentic, memorable taste of Zambia. The project includes the Libuyu Women’s Peanut Butter Project, Nsongwe Women’s Farm and Maramba Women’s Mushroom Farm project.
Anantara constantly reinforces its commitment towards environmental, social and cultural conservation. Around the world, the group works in partnership with local communities and often promote cultural awareness amongst guests by integrating indigenous culture into everyday experiences. Special consideration is given to employing and empowering communities, and wherever possible, sustainable products and services are sourced locally.
Save water: Like many hotels, they encourage you to keep your towels and linen unless you really need a rotation to be able to save water. This is a behaviour we encourage all vacationers to be sensitive towards.
Our experience at The Royal Livingstone by Anantara
Staying at the Royal Livingstone by Anantara but also at the Avani Victoria Falls is a fun adventure. You get up close and personal with zebras, impalas, giraffes and monkeys meandering freely about the resort grounds. On arrival, we were greeted by lovely Cornelia which walked through the whole check-in process and briefing us of all services and surroundings. While she talked to us, on top of the delicious welcome drink and wet towel ritual, a complimentary hand massage is offered as a pampering pre-treatment ritual to all guests of the hotel.