There are two options when flying in to visit Livingstone in Zambia – the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (formerly Livingstone Airport) on the northern edge of Livingstone, or the Victoria Falls International Airport in Zimbabwe.

I had previously flown into what was then the Livingstone Airport when I visit the Royal Livingstone Hotel, but on this occasion, we arrived at the latter. I was part of a group of 10 media from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana tasked with the job of testing out the feasibility of travel in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic taking into account all the PCR tests required. (Read about how that went HERE).

An easy way of dealing with the airport transfer is to make use of a ground handler, such as Bushtracks Africa to the Zimbabwe/Zambia border. They know what is required from a paper-work perspective and can often fast-track what can be a long and laborious task, and it was with little fuss our passports were stamped to exit Zimbabwe.

The notoriously busy Victoria Falls Bridge, jam packed with heavy vehicles, so Tulani our Bushtracks guide offered us the opportunity to cross the bridge on foot for our first glimpse of the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls and the Batoka Gorge.

The next stop after our Zambian border formalities was The Elephant Café, an award winning fine-dining restaurant on the banks of the Zambezi.

Champagne cocktails and fine South African wine accompany the unique menu lovingly created using wild ingredients and local staples, such as Zambian Mongo rice, finger millet and mungomba (wild sour plums).

In addition to a spectacular sunset and scrumptious dinner, we learnt about the potential fate of previously trained elephants used in the tourism trade for elephant back safaris.

Thankfully this practice is mostly a thing of the past in the region, but the future of these majestic giants is still a challenge as releasing them back into the wild compromises both their safety and that of the villages and communities that surround the town of Livingstone and the Mosi oa Tunya National Park.

Human-wildlife conflict is a very real thing for local villagers in the KAZA region but education on wildlife behaviour and the training of local farmers on co-habitation with wildlife by various NGOs in the region is helping to a certain extent.

There are several accommodation options available to visitors in the region, from a luxury suite at The River Club or the self-catering bungalows at Kayube River Estate, both located on the banks of the Zambezi, to a night or two at the much-loved Jollyboys Backpackers in Livingstone.

There is something special about getting up early to catch the sunrise especially when it’s over the mighty Zambezi River – and the pool deck of the main house at Kayube River Estate proved to be the perfect spot.

Steaming coffee in hand and serenaded by birdsong I watched as the sun made its appearance, the sky turning gradually from deep magenta to orange and then blue, the hovering mist slowly lifting to reveal a mirror-like surface.

Named after famous explorer Dr David Livingstone, the town of Livingstone is well worth exploring. Our brief encounter with its tree-lined streets and old architecture revealing a bygone era, had me wishing for time to enjoy a coffee in one of the local coffee shops, taste local cuisine in an off-street restaurant and spend time browsing the bustling arts and craft market.

A wonderful social initiative worth supporting is WayaWaya, an organisation that has female empowerment at its core developing artisanal craft skills and job creation. The result being exceptionally desirable leather and fabric accessories ranging from wallets and pouches to ‘must have’ handbags.

It was exciting to hear some of the plans that the Destination Livingstone team has to make Livingstone a more attractive and competitive tourist destination – such as increasing the socio-economic benefits to the people, businesses and communities that call Livingstone home. These include the promotion of local treasures like The Livingstone Museum, The Railway Museum and The Gateway Jewish Museum.

We fortunately managed a quick visit to both the Railway and Jewish Museum as well as the ‘Forest of Faces’ sculpture garden and the tongue-in-cheek, must-do Selfie Street.

The sculpture garden is an art installation that offers local artists an opportunity to create and display their sculptures. This initiative currently consists of 21 hand carved wooden sculptures approximately 3-4 metres in height planted in the ground to resemble a forest.

Each masterpiece tells a story, such as ‘The Great Wise Thinker’, by Freeton. S. Matongo, which represents the challenges man has dealing with life’s issues; the ‘Brave Man’, by Fredrick Mwasana, which tells that a man needs to be strong for his family and Andrew Syamalenge’s ‘Big Five’ which he says means these animals should be carved and not killed.

We might not have had time for a coffee stop, but at least we managed an ice-cold local beer -the iconic Zambian Mosi Lager.

For more info when planning your trip check out Africa’s Eden and Destination Livingstone