Livingstone Island
October 2018

During the month I took a trip to Livingstone Island.  At this time of year, the water coming over the Victoria Falls is mostly on the Zimbabwe side, with Zambia’s precipice being bare of water.  The best way, therefore, to see the Victoria Falls from Zambia is either to go on a helicopter or microlight flight or to take a trip to Livingstone Island on the lip of the Falls.

David Livingstone was brought to the Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls) in 1855. He came onto the island which he named Garden Island but the local people called it by various names.  The most-used name was Namakabwa or Overseer Island because a headman lived there.  The headman was in charge of all rituals performed on the island to appease their gods.   David Livingstone was held close to the lip of the Falls and dropped a plumbline over the edge to find out how deep the chasm is.  He also planted some seeds there, hence the name Garden Island.

David Livingstone was in awe of the great waterfall but it did not make him happy.  Throughout his explorations of this region, he was looking for trade routes, which, in his day, was often by river.  The Falls were a serious obstacle to navigating the Zambezi River.

To reach the Island, David Livingstone was taken by makora, a local dugout canoe.  Only the local people had the skill to negotiate the rapids from the river bank to the island.  It must have been a scary ride, even for the dour Scotsman.

Fortunately for us we sped through the rapids on a speedboat and it only took a couple of minutes from the deck of the Royal Livingstone, part of the AVANI Resort.

We arrived on the back of the island and walked through the trees to the main area where we were divided up into two groups.  One group was taken through the river to the pool on the edge of the falls to swim.  The rest of us, the non-swimmers (or wimps) were taken across the rocks to the lip.  Our guide was Alpha-Omega who kept us very safe, holding us as we peered into the depths below.

I will let the photographs tell you of the majesty of the Victoria Falls.  So many people have written wonderful prose describing them and I cannot compete.  As the largest curtain of falling water in the world, they have to be seen to be appreciated.

There were a few viewing points which we explored, plus a plaque which had been erected on the island in memory of David Livingstone.

Those of us in the ‘wimps group’ sat in the shade and watched the swimmers in their pool and then, holding hands, as they made their way back across the channel to return to the island.  We also watched the visitors to the Zimbabwe side of the Falls as the precipice opposite is on the Zim side of the border.

Back to the canopied area we sat down to our meals.  For me it was … I will get into trouble here … a bacon butty …  Of course, it was not just bacon in a roll, it was, they said, bacon jam in a bap with lots of salad.  Beautifully prepared, appetizing to look at and tasty.  After coffee we made our way back to the boat and the ride through the rapids to the mainland and The Royal Livingstone.

This is an excellent activity for visitors to Livingstone but it is only available when the river is low enough to be safe.

I took a short video of the Falls on this trip.  Just remember that, according to Alpha Omega, it is 108 metres from the top to the bottom of the precipice.  Those swimmers have to be mad …