Zambezi River Sunset Cruise – Lady Livingstone

A must for any tourist in Zambia is a sunset river cruise whether you are a birder or not.  But birders can take full advantage of being in the middle of the river with excellent views over both Zambian and Zimbabwean sides of the river to spot some cool birds!  There are several cruise boat operators in Livingstone, I suggest checking with the reception of your lodge for any current specials they may have.  Fawlty Towers had a $10 off deal on the posh Lady Livingstone and we were able to book it with a few hours notice!

They picked us up about half an hour before the cruise and brought us to the luxury David Livingstone Lodge where we paid for the cruise and waited to board.  This is where we made a mistake, you have to sign in before they let you board and we almost didn’t get seats on the top tier of the boat (best for birders) but luckily I managed to drag a chair over to the rear for stunning views.

Welcome aboard with wine.

Birders want to be on that 3rd deck at the rear.  If you are lucky, one of the crew may know something about birds and join you but I am not sure of crew staffing.  It’s not designed to be a birding cruise.  It’s a sunset cruise with snacks and drinks included.  There is live music on the bottom deck. 

While waiting you can watch other tourists flying overhead in helicopters and light aircraft.

Off we go!

I will try to identify the birds we saw, I do have a check list but can’t match them all to the photos (my bad photography).  I have tons of shots that are even blurrier than these, some of which were Hail Mary’s at the Grey-headed Parrots but no luck!

We saw lots of other boats passing by, none as nice as ours though!  Drinks and snacks are brought around and you can have all you want.  I stopped drinking when it began to affect my ability to hold the camera somewhat straight!  These sunset cruises can also be referred to as “booze cruises” with good reason!

I did one of these ultralight trips back in the mid 90’s from the Zimbabwe side, they have gone way up in price since then!

Sun is beginning to set.

Musicians on the bottom deck, even this shot was blurry but I didn’t have the flash out.

After the cruise, they returned us to Fawlty Towers.  Although it’s not a dinner cruise per se, I found the snacks were filling enough that we weren’t hungry and didn’t need to eat dinner afterwards, more savings!

Visiting Victoria Falls & Mosi-oa-Tunya NP, Zambia

You can choose to see the magnificent Victoria Falls from either Zambia, Zimbabwe or both.  If you want to visit both sides, be sure to get the KAZA visa which is $50 at the point of entry.  Most accommodations have shuttle buses to get you to the park entrance but in our case, we had to go to the National Art Gallery first to pay for our birding trip so we had to hire a taxi from Fawlty Towers to the gallery, then to the park.  We settled a time for the driver to come back and pick us up again.  I forget the actual cost but it was very reasonable.

There is a view point on the Mosi-oa-Tunya Road to see the mist rising above the falls.

You enter the grounds and the taxi will drop you at the place you pay your entrance fee, $10 USD or the equivalent in Kwacha.

You have been warned!

Car park and shopping area, some people choose to have their taxis wait here.

All the trails are very well marked.  Most people will go direct to the falls, get drenched, then walk around the park while they dry off.  That’s what we did!

The closer you get, the wetter you get.  If you don’t have rain ponchos, you can rent or buy them at several kiosks.

The falls are very powerful from this angle.  You can walk across the bridge but I only went as far as the entrance because I was worried about my camera gear.  Even with the ponchos, we were hard pressed to protect the cameras……………and take pictures!

I think these are Egyptian Geese but I only saw them from the rear.

You have to look twice to see which restroom to use!

Nice butterflies!

Signs point the way to the various trails.

Baboons are everywhere so don’t even carry food, they will steal it!

Cordon-blue Waxbill

Helicopters were frequent, birds less frequent but we were there around mid-day so that was probably the reason.

This trail looked interesting but too steep for us.

Beaded bird, I already have one like this from a previous trip.

There are several souvenir shops near the entrance, good place to kill time while waiting for your taxi or shuttle back to town.

This was a pretty brief visit to the falls and there are so many other ways to experience Mosi-oa-Tunya NP such as helicopers, light aircraft, rafting and the traditional Zambezi River cruise………………more on that coming soon!

Livingstone National Art Gallery

This was a lucky coincidence as I hadn’t been researching galleries or museums thinking we wouldn’t have time to visit either.  But I needed to pay for the birding trip with Savannah Southern Safaris (wait for the separate post) and they happen to be located in the lobby of the National Art Gallery.

We had taken a taxi out there and the driver was waiting as I thought it would be a quick run in, put the credit card through the machine and back off to the Victoria Falls waterfall area.  It actually took quite awhile as the girl tried again and again to process the credit card and couldn’t get a connection.  This gave me plenty of time to look around the art gallery.  They have an amazing variety of artwork for sale and I highly recommend coming out here both to see the art and book Savannah Southern Safaris!

Here’s some of what you can expect!

I was quite tempted by that one with the birds in the trees but it was over my budget and too big for the backpack.

Happily the credit card finally went through and I not only paid for my birding trip but bought these two bird drawings by Alec Lishandu which are now on my living room wall!

Lodge Review: Fawlty Towers, Livingstone

Although Fawlty Towers is better known as a backpackers lodge, they do have nice private rooms available and this is the product I will be reviewing.  I chose to stay here because we basically only needed a place to lay our heads at night, the 2 full days we planned in Livingstone were jam-packed with activities so no time to enjoy luxury facilities.  The location can’t be beat, right in the middle of town with a shopping centre across the street.

We arrived around 8am after the bus ride from Lusaka with a stop in Monze and as one would expect it was too early to check in.  We went to the restaurant upstairs for breakfast (paid separately, not included in rate) and I checked my emails.  The wifi is not great but not bad, it may be due to having several people on all at once, some of them were Skype-ing.

There is a security guard on duty round the clock which was really good for us as we had a 3am pick up for Machile IBA.

Taxis congregate just outside and the security guard will help you if needed.

Courtyard with places to sit and use wifi or eat & drink.

Breakfast is paid downstairs, they have a menu to choose from and they give you a ticket to bring to the kitchen.  You can help yourself to coffee and tea. 

 

The receptionist can book any tours you want and they have a wide variety of things to do.   Everyone is catered for whether adrenaline enthusiasts or relaxing cruises down the Zambezi.  Although I had originally inquired about the budget Booze Cruise, it wasn’t running and they booked us on the Lady Livingstone.  This turned out to be a great cruise which will be covered in a separate post. 

This section has the private rooms which are a fantastic deal, especially if you can get some portal points or airline miles or cashback.  After using a coupon on Orbitz, I got it for around $36 a night!

Our room was on the end.

Very comfortable beds and plenty of room to spread out.

The shopping centre across the street has most of what travelers need – ATMs, souvenirs, a supermarket and a couple small restaurants & fast food places.

Hungry Lion is like a KFC, good for cheap fast food.

Honestly you can spend hundreds of $$ in Livingstone and stay at some stunning eco-lodges in the bush but if you aren’t going to be around during the day, why bother?  There is just so much to do in Livingstone & Victoria Falls area that unless you have lots of time to spare, you won’t be at your accommodation all that much.  Fawlty Towers was a great little budget place, very well-run and the staff are very nice and helpful.