Updated: Dec 27, 2021
Our last trip of the year took us to yet another off the beaten track country in Africa. This time we landed in Zambia only to be welcomed by a new variant of a pandemic that refuses to die out. That did not stop us from making a long trip from Lusaka to Livingstone to stay at not one but two fantastic properties right next to the mighty Victoria Falls.
Both these properties are located within the same compound inside the National Park, so in essence you have the best of both worlds within a few minutes of each other. Although you will soon find out that both places offer vastly different experiences.
We spent our first two nights at this three star resort.
After an arduous 9 hour shared bus ride, it felt so good to be welcomed by smiling dancing Zambians. The atmosphere was welcoming, the staff courteous and the relaxing vibe was just what we needed to forget the nightmare ensuing around the world for just a few days.
Safety and Hygiene
There were sanitizers everywhere and all staff wear mask at restaurants and all common areas. The rooms are always well sanitized.
Though this is rated as a three-star property, to us, it felt much more posh than that. Massive African art adorn the high-ceiling rooms and passages.
The rooms are done up tastefully with all the necessary amenities. There are 221 rooms and most of them either face the national park or the pool. Ours faced the pool. The bold orange all over the resort was a definite mood booster.
We were so excited to wake up to see the wildlife grazing right outside your balcony. Just your regular morning in wild Africa!
There are so many things to love about this property but most of all it is the wildlife roaming freely across the yard that was a breath of fresh air.
We found them everywhere. Imagine waking up to jumping monkeys... or vividly colored birds. You get all that and more. In spades.
We are still in awe of the how wonderful it was to watch the zebras grazing peacefully as people quietly walk past. Not a care in the world.
You can choose between two restaurants. Options, options, so many options. One of the restaurants is purely buffet-style, that serves a generous breakfast spread every morning. From flavored yogurts, fresh fruits, bread, eggs to order, cut meats, baked beans and the whole shebang. Warm coffee to order. I was a happy sailor.
For lunch and dinner, there is the Pool side Bar & Grill restaurant with an elaborate menu. I liked how many vegetarian options there were. We even found a few Indian appetizers on the menu. You will also have live entertainment at night where you will find local performers putting up a show. How cool is that?
Special Zambian Dinner
If you are celebrating a special occasion, you cannot miss indulging in a beautiful local dinner set up by the hotel.
It is a four-course meal elegantly with soup, starters, mains and desserts - all from the vegetable heavy Zambian cuisine.
We asked the chef to make it vegetarian friendly and we were surprised by how delicious every course tasted. The privacy, the candle-lit set up was just the date we needed after a long travel day.
The Avani property, and it's sister hotel, are both located in the center of Mosi-O-Tunya National Park, making it the perfect location to take a stroll to watch the thunderous Victoria Falls.
The entrance to the hike of the Victoria Falls. The cost is $120 per person and I highly recommended that it be one of the things you do during your stay at Avani.
If you love staying at luxury hotels around the world, this spectacular resort in southern Africa should be on your bucket list. The majestic view, the elegant upscale vibe, the cool sophistication of the interiors is like taking a step back in time.
This is one of the best luxury properties in Victoria Falls, named after the famous David Livingstone himself. It's impossible to miss the myriad of ways it pays tribute to him.
The first thing that hits us as we make our way over to the property is the lush resort setting.
Safety and Hygiene
Cannot go wrong with Anantara service, hospitality and hygiene anywhere in the world. Top of the line every time.
The Lounge & The Travelers Bar
This was one of my favorite corners on the property. As were waiting for our rooms to be ready, we were welcomed by our beautiful concierge with drinks and wet towels. She took her time explaining the different things to do at the resort.
What drew me in was the colonial style architecture, the old books, the gramophone, I half expected Winston Churchill to show up there.
Just beside the lounge is the traveler's bar. If you are looking to rest your legs after a long safari day, you cannot go wrong with this well-lit space, inspired after David Livingstone. You will find his paintings adorning the walls.
Slightly more intimate than Avani, this resort has 173 rooms. Our deluxe room was more than spacious with ridiculously comfortable king size beds and a balcony so big that it felt like a whole other room with breathtaking views of the Zambezi river. Talk about paradise.
Just like Avani, the highlight of this property is the wildlife. We were warned that we would be seeing giraffes, so we had our eyes peeled as we turned around the corner from Avani. Lo Behold, just a few minutes in we saw our first mom-baby duo munching deep in the bush. Again, surreal.
From Zebras, to giraffe, to impala, to monkeys it was like having a safari inside the resort. What a delightful experience to suddenly spot a wild animal. The excitement never dims.
The Anantara Spa
How could you not indulge in some pampering when you are in the midst of such beauty? The masseuse was pitch perfect and so were the views. That was followed by a floral bath. We could actually feel your worries melt away.
Remember how I told you you can spot the Victoria Falls from every inch of the property? Here you go. The pool is huge with extraordinary views of wildlife and the African bush.
Breakfast at the restaurant
Your room rate should include breakfast. This would include fresh salads, hot buffet, cut meats, sparkling wine, fruits, bread and everything else. With a backdrop of the lush green garden, it was a perfect start to the day.
Breakfast on the Jetty
For an additional cost, you can also have the staff prepare breakfast on the jetty. If you are celebrating a special occasion, it is a fabulous way to treat yourself to decadent food as you float along the Zambezi river.
Would you look at these landscapes?
Kubu Deck for sundowners
This is the place you go to for sunset view of the thundering view of the Victoria Falls. It is an idyllic setting which makes you wonder if you have somehow stumbled on to the secret gateway to heaven. Watch out for the hippos too.
For lunch and dinner, you have the Drift. I was pleasantly surprised to see a whole bunch of vegetarian and keto options. We had ourselves a beautiful date night under the moon-lit sky.
Located at just a few hundred meters from the Victoria Falls, you can spot the mist of the mighty falls throughout the day.
Before choosing to stay here, I did my research as always. From employing locals to supporting the local villagers to no single use plastic, both the properties impressed me with their sustainable measures.
Things to do
No matter which of these properties you stay at, you are never far away from adventure.
You can indulge in a handful of adrenaline packed activities ranging from hikes, zip lining, bungee jumping to river rafting down the Zambezi river. Take your pick.
At Royal Livingstone, you cannot miss giraffe the feeding and the breakfast on the jetty overlooking the Victoria Falls.
So which one to pick? My two cents:
The Avani is rated three-star while the Royal Livingstone is a five-star property.
Both these properties are family-friendly and great for couples who enjoy some privacy.
They are also located inside the same national park, on the Zambezi river.
The service and food were spectacular at both resorts as well. We fell in completely in love with the grazing animals. It was easily the highlight of our stay.
Bottom line - if you have the time and don't mind splurging, I recommend you stay at both places during your trip. Experiencing one without the other would feel like you have missed out on a thing or two. No matter which resort you pick, they will each offer you some much needed R&R, incredibly unique experiences that you are not going to forget in a long time.
Stays at both properties were given to us on a complimentary basis in exchange for a post about our experiences but all opinions expressed here are my own and completely honest. I also earn no commission from you choosing to book with them.
Drop your comments below and show some love. Feel free to shoot me an email with your feedback.