A stay at the Avani Victoria Falls Resort and its sister hotel, The Royal Livingstone, provides a great opportunity to tick experiences off one’s bucket list. For example – see one of the seven natural wonders of the world, go horse riding in a game reserve, get massaged overlooking the spray of the waterfalls, take a dip in the world’s most incredible natural infinity pool and the list goes on…. It is no wonder that the Victoria Falls region is known as the Adventure Capital of Africa.
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world by area. A whopping 1.7 kilometres wide and 108 metres high, it produces the world’s largest sheet of falling water. The falls are situated on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and this was my first time visiting the Zambian side. It was spectacular.
Perfectly located, the Avani Victoria Falls Resort is the nearest hotel to the falls in Zambia. Guests at the hotel get free unlimited access to the falls from morning to evening, which means that you can go in and out as you please. During our two-day stay, we spent our first afternoon being enthralled by the waterfalls. We went again on our final morning for the sunrise views and an exhilarating hike to Boiling Pot, a mass of swirling water under the historic Victoria Falls Bridge. We would have spent even more time there if there weren’t so many other activities to do in and around the resort.
Our second day was filled with other enjoyable adventures. We went horse-riding through the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in the morning. Our beautiful horses were named Treacle, Storm, Night’s Landing and King’s Glory. Not being experienced riders, we were a bit anxious at first, but our experienced guide put us at ease, and we enjoyed the experience, while bonding with our horses. My kids especially loved it and my daughter discovered a love of horse-riding.
After the horse ride, I was treated to a heavenly massage at the Royal Livingstone by Anantara Spa, in probably one of the most beautiful locations I’ve ever had a massage in. My spa sanctuary in the hotel gardens overlooked the Zambezi River and the spray of the Victoria Falls.
In the afternoon we went for a game drive in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. As we drove through the reserve, we saw elephants, hippos, buffalos, giraffe and much more. We stopped on the river banks for drinks and snacks. From there, we could see the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe on the opposite banks, and the boats doing river safaris in between.
The Avani Victoria Falls Resort is a great family hotel. Children of all ages are welcome and my kids were quite happy there. Previously known as the Zambezi Sun, the hotel exterior resembles an ancient walled city with its ochre walls. The interiors reflect earthy colours and traditional Zambian décor. We had a family room with two double beds overlooking a lake. It was comfortable and equipped with all the necessary mod-cons, including satellite television and fast complimentary wifi.
The sprawling hotel grounds encompass a huge swimming pool, a supervised kids’ fun club, a business centre, a jogging trail, two restaurants and a retail centre. The activity desk can arrange any number of exciting or relaxing activities in the area for you. Wildlife like zebras and antelopes roam the property, which is surrounded by a forest. They often come to drink at the swimming pool. The staff are warm and hospitable, and will make you feel at home.
Guests also have access to the facilities at the plush Royal Livingstone next door, which is where I enjoyed my massage. If you are more adventurous than me, and fancy a swim right on the edge of the Victoria Falls, then you will be pleased to know that trips to Devil’s Pool on Livingstone Island – from where David Livingstone first witnessed the Falls in 1855 – begin from the deck of the Royal Livingstone.
Breakfast at the Avani Theatre of Food consisted of a huge buffet which included vegetarian and pescatarian options as well as a waffle station.
Dinner was á la carte and there is a separate menu for the little ones. We dined on freshly caught bream fish and jumbo prawns. For dessert, we enjoyed Gulab Jamun, delicately flavoured sorbet and chocolate brownies. Mains and hot starters were served in attractive cast iron cookware. The food was delicious and the presentation was impressive. The Poolside Grill is great for lighter meals like wood-fired pizzas and pastas. Live entertainment is offered in the evenings. We enjoyed pastas for lunch there.
Livingstone is under two hours away by air from Johannesburg, and the hotel can arrange airport transfers – by road or by water taxi over the Zambezi River. South Africans don’t need a visa for Zambia, and African residents get discounted rates at the hotel. There’s no excuse not to visit one of the worlds natural wonders, right on our doorstep.
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