22 Sep 2014 | By Sun International

The Livingstone Island Experience

"The most wonderful sight I had witnessed in Africa."

That is how explorer, Dr David Livingstone, described Victoria Falls the first time that he laid his eyes on it from what was then known as "Goat Island". On 16 November 1855, Livingstone, accompanied by local guides including Chief Sekeletu of the Makololo, paddled his dugout canoe to the island that seems to balance on the very edge of the mighty falls.

A sacred site for the local tribes, Livingstone noted in his diary that he felt a "tremor of fear" as he approached the island. Following his historic visit, Dr Livingstone named the heart-stopping waterfall Victoria Falls in honor of Queen Victoria. Aptly known by locals as "Mosi-oa-Tunya" (the smoke that Thunders), first-time visitors to the island have been known to simply call it: the most beautiful sight in the world.

A tiny island that is filled with unique treasures, Livingstone Island is most famous for being the best place to soak in (literally) the incredible view of Victoria Falls. As close as you can get to the edge without being in the water, Livingstone Island is an essential visit for all guests of Sun International's Royal Livingstone Hotel and Zambezi Sun. Located only a few minutes away from the Royal Livingstone Sundeck, the island feels like paradise in the middle of the Zambezi River.

Each trip to the island departs from the Royal Livingstone Sundeck and includes a brief guided tour of the island and a selection of light snacks. For those feeling a bit more peckish, a delicious buffet lunch is served in the afternoon. It is important to remember that the island is closed from approximately the middle of March through to the middle of June. However, this is subject to change as it is entirely dependent on the water levels in the Zambezi. We suggest that you book ahead as it is a popular destination among all tourists and daily visitors to the island are limited in order to protect the natural integrity of this one-of-a-kind site.

Did you know? After first visiting the island, also known as "Garden Island", Dr Livingstone returned to plant peach, apricot and coffee seeds. Perhaps impressed by his handiwork, Livingstone also carved his name on one of the African Ebony trees. Unfortunately, the garden was not fenced off and so it has been "trimmed" quite considerably by the local hippos and elephants.

Insider's tip: Strange as it may seem, for a unique viewing point, be sure to visit the loo!

Besides being arguably the world's best picnic site, the island also offers visitors the thrilling opportunity to sit in the Devil's Armchair found at the edge of Devil's Pool. For those unacquainted with the ultimate Bucket List experience, Devil's Pool is a natural infinity pool found, almost unbelievably, at the extreme edge of Victoria Falls.

From Livingstone Island you can access Devil's Pool with the assistance of the island's highly experienced guides. There you will have the incredible opportunity to experience the true meaning of natural exhilaration by diving into Devil's Pool and swimming to very edge. A swim in Devil's Pool is undoubtedly a daredevil's dream adventure, but the view is nothing short of heavenly. Once you gaze upon the magnificent view you might suggest that the name should be changed to "Heaven's Pool".

Holiday tip: For safety reasons, Devil's Pool is only opened from approximately the middle of August through to the middle of January.

To make the most of your Livingstone Island experience, remember to pack the following:

  • The usual suspects: sunscreen, insect repellant, waterproof camera and bathing suit.
  • Shoes that can be easily removed. Upon arrival visitors are advised to remove their shoes as the island paths are extremely muddy.
  • Speaking of mud, it is highly likely that your clothes will be "customised" by mud splatters, so avoid wearing new or expensive items.
  • If you are visiting the Livingstone Island from June to August, remember to dress warmly as it can get very chilly.
  • Your adventurous spirit!

For more thrills and adventure courtesy of Sun International's Royal Livingstone Hotel and Zambezi Sun, see our list of things to do here.