Friday, May 20, 2011

Loving Livingstone

The locals have for centuries called it Mosi-oa-tunya or ‘The smoke that thunders’ but Dr David Livingstone takes the credit for naming one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls. More than 2km wide, 500 million litres of water surge over the falls every second, dropping 100 metres into the depths below. This, is what awaited photographer, Angie and I on our trip to Livingstone in Zambia for a magazine photo shoot. 

Situated on the banks of the Zambezi river and a mere 10 minute walk from the spectacular falls is the Royal Livingstone hotel with it’s majestic green lawns, colonial décor and breath-taking view of the mighty river. The thunderous roar of the gushing falls is a common sound here, as is the perfect rainbow which stretches over the clouds of spray which can be made out more than 30km away. 

On arriving at the hotel, we were greeted not only by a traditional Zambian welcome dance and a complimentary hand massage but also by a herd of hippos that happily wallowed in the fast-flowing river. After getting the planning for the next few days done with Executive chef Alex, Angie and I eagerly rushed off to the falls. No picture or words can do this magnificent attraction justice – witnessing such natural beauty and the power with which the water plummets down the gorge is a truly humbling and spiritual moment. Ignoring the locals hiring raincoats, we opted to experience the clouds of spray first-hand and the closer we got, the more we were drenched with pouring Zambezi water. And I mean absolutely bucketing down! While attempting to keep the camera snug and dry, Angie and I shared shrieks of laughter at the impossibility of just how much water there was.

Happy to return to the comfort of the Royal Livingstone, I marveled at the perfect contrast the hotel managed to pull off; the ultimate African safari adventure with zebra, giraffe and impala wondering around the manicured lawns, but with the colonial sophistication of Dr David Livingstone’s bygone era. It’s no wonder this 5 star establishment was recently rated 67th in the World’s Top 100 Hotels.

After shooting the hotel from top to toe on day two, Angie and I were in need of some relaxation and lucky for us, exploring the great Zambezi in style on a large catamaran called the African Princess was on the cards. Cocktails in hand and the sun setting in a spectacular splash of oranges and reds, we were satisfied with a hard days work!

Our last day was all about food as a full day of shooting lay ahead!

After shooting Chef Alex’s Zambian creations for an upcoming food and travel feature, we were whisked off to board the Royal Livingstone Express. Steaming off into the untamed Zambian bushveld, we were wined and dined by Royal Livingstone staff elegantly dressed in waistcoats and white gloves. A delicious end to an incredible trip and as the train left the Zambian sunset behind us I was reminded of the words Dr David Livingstone wrote when first setting sight on the area, ‘scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight’ and so I realized that I must surely be in one of the most beautiful places in Africa.

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