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Part 1 Zambia. In times of despair British Airways should be a stabilising influence. So when you arrive tired and confused at Heathrow Airport from a days travel on the wonderful British railway system, you should transverse their 'bag drop' easily, simply, even magically. In truth It's a Nightmare! It's a do-it-yourself idea to save more money by cutting staff and all it does is destabilise their loyal customer. Panic mode sets in rapidly and all fears of loosing our precious bags somewhere in the heartland of deepest Africa between the plane change of Johannesburg and Livingstone rise and that is not the way a holiday should start. Peter and I are heading off on an amazing adventure to visit 4 countries in 5 weeks and everyone who's experienced a holiday in Africa tells us it will be magical. After nearly 10 hours flying over many familiar and some unfamiliar lands towards South Africa and our first destination, albeit for a couple of hours before our first stay in Zambia, we look out at 6am as we fly over Botswana. In my life I have never seen an orange and blue sunrise quite so stunning. I'm sure it will be one of many, I do hope so, but that was totally mind blowing and will stay will me forever. Just like a canvas with two perfect single brush strokes. Nothing more was needed just one bright vivid Navy and one acid Orange, fabulous. The moment my camera had been stowed into the overhead locker it happened, so my memory will hold on to that perfect sight. Thursday 1st June 2017 Not many mornings can you say you've landed and enjoyed a coffee in one country then 2 hours later landed in another but before lunch we were pulling into the Avani hotel Livingstone, on the banks of the Zambezi complete with all our bags! Within two hours we have our first tour booked, so it's a quick change and unpack then head off to board the African princess. Her sister Ship The African Queen was moored along side complete with Humfrey Bogart lookalike! For 2 hours we cruise majestically along the Zambezi with a couple of dozen other tourists enjoying alcoholic beverages and a finger buffet whilst our Capitano relays the creatures we might see depending on how many glasses we drink. We laugh and think his tales of crocs and rhinos, hippos and Ellies will appear in our vision when imagining a Disney film. But as Peter puts his new binoculars to his eyes he shouts hippos!!! Hippos??? Five! Six! No there are at least eight enormous ones, puffing and spouting water around just 75 metres ahead. Then further on a mother with a baby just a few month old wander out onto the river bank. This is brilliant, what a show! Our first view of the Falls albeit from the road en route to our hotel. The bar at the Avani Hotel Our first view of a Hippo Friday 2nd June We slept for ever, well at least 12 hours to make up for all the travelling and now after a good breakfast we arrive at the Victoria Falls for our guided walking tour to hear the history of the Scot David Livingstone (I presume!) and we are provided with waterproof ponchos as well as raincoats. Hopeless! At the end of our 90 minute walk along the falls, down steps over bridges we are drenched, totally and utterly. The name of the falls over here translates as the Smoke that thunders. Nothing can be more true. The millions of gallons that rush over the edge of the river cascade into a very small area compared to my last vision of a major waterfall at Niagara. So between Zambia and Zimbabwe at this time of the year, after the rains that flow from as far as Angola, Namibia, Botswana, the water falls, hits hundreds of rocks on the way down and creates an awesome spray that can be seen from some miles away. Most days there are fabulous rainbows as the spray forms and this water makes the most amazing spectacle. We go back to our hotel to chill by the pool for the rest of the day, until it is time to put on our glad rags. The cocktail bar at the Royal Livingstone Hotel with a perfect view Five O clock is Sundowner time. This is the time of day at this present time that the stunning African sunset is forming quite beautifully and so folks gather at vantage points to imbibe alcoholic beverages and watch the sun go down. Well, it would be rude not to join in with the local customs wouldn't it? The sister Hotel to our Avani, just a five minute shuttle ride away is the famous Royal Livingstone Hotel. Named after the renowned explorer and quite magnificent in its Colonial splendour, is really is a lovely hotel set on the banks of the Zambezi, with rolling lawns from the hotel to the perfect decking and bar area on the river. A Vanilla Monkey (Vanilla Vodka, Grenadine and Pineapple) for me and a Vodka Martini for Peter, followed by dinner ends a wonderful day. Saturday 3rd June Today is a free day until our train ride at 4pm so we walk to the Falls to meander the 'dry' paths. I warned Peter that I wasn't getting soaked walking again, so we enjoy taking endless pictures of the numerous bridges and views including a memorable encounter with a family of Baboons. We spend a lovely restful time at our hotel before our evening trip out and at the allotted hour get whisked to the Bushtracks station. Tonight we will spend 4 hours on a famous steam train fully restored and quite spectacular. It travels from Livingstone to the bridge that goes over the Zambezi river, by the Victoria falls, right on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border. We disembark precisely in the middle of the bridge, walk into Zimbabwe just! Take numerous photos whilst every sales pitch you can imagine is thrown at us from the traders that ply their wares. Then as the sun sets we are served a delicious 5 course dinner, before being transported back eventually to our respective hotels. The road/rail bridge by the falls which separates Zambia and Zimbabwe. Bungee jumping is also done here!!! Our train trip Mummy Baboon and her baby. Wildlife pictures from around the Avani and Royal Livingstone Hotels Tonight we must pack up and prepare for tomorrow it's Botswana and the next part of our adventure. (Next trip report will appear in the Botswana section asap - a nine day trip - hope some of you enjoy my writings/pictures, there will be 9 reports in all, also including 5 days in Cape Town and finishing with our 17 days self drive in Namibia)
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