Lounge Review: Livingstone Lounge, Zambia

The Livingstone Lounge

Location: On the upper level (airport is small, so you will find it)

Hours: 0900 – 1800

The Livingstone Lounge

Access Method: Priority Pass

The Livingstone Lounge is on the smaller side of things, but features tarmac views, sofa seating, and dining tables. Some four four-top dining tables are in the center of the lounge, which is flanked by sofas on both sides.

The Livingstone Lounge

Food/Drinks

Located at the back of the lounge, there is a fridge with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages are self-serve. The buffet has about four hot stations, and the selection is substantial enough for a full meal. When I was there, there was chicken, pasta, rice, salad, and chips.

The Livingstone Lounge

The coffee machine was broken when I was there, so the lounge attendant had to run downstairs to the café to get coffee for lounge customers.

The Livingstone Lounge

Bathroom/Shower

There’s a bathroom in the lounge, but I didn’t check it out.

Service

It was quick. Dirty dishes were cleared constantly.

Wifi & Power

Wifi is password protected, and decent. The outlets are located on the sofa area closer to the tarmac.

Overall

The Livingstone Lounge is adequate in the small Livingstone Airport, and not a bad place to spend some time while waiting for your flight to be ready for boarding.

The Livingstone Lounge

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My Adventures with the Airport Taxis in Livingstone, Zambia

Where is Uber/Lyft/app rideshare when you need them?

I arrived in the Livingstone airport in Zambia without a planned pick up. The moment I walked out, I was fed to the wolves taxi drivers, who could smell a lamb to the slaughter. The trip from the airport to downtown is about 6 km/4 miles. I knew that $20 was not a fair price. It didn’t help that seeing a solo Asian female traveling, the pack of taxi drivers decided to start pawing at me (they were trying to grab my bags), insisting it was a fair price. Intimidated, I retreated from them, and retreated into the safety of the airport terminal.

This was a bad time for Google’s ProjectFi not to function. I was trying to get it to load a map of Livingstone, because I decided that I’d rather walk the 6km, than get ripped off.

Protip 1: If you travel with a lot of suitcases, it significantly reduces your bargaining power. I had a 28L backpack, and when I told the taxi drivers I’d rather walk than pay them $20, I meant it.

Eventually, one of the drivers broke from the pack, walked into the airport terminal, and agreed to my price of $15 ($10 is probably closer to the truth).

Protip 2: If you don’t want to get rip off massively (like 10x), do a search on Tripadvisor/Wikitravel or other travel forums before going to a place. You’re doing other travelers a disservice when you agree to ridiculous prices. I knew I was offering a more-than-fair price at $15 from research

My return trip was a lot cheaper, but no less eventful. Instead of taking an overpriced hotel taxi, I decided to flag a cab on the road. The official taxis in Livingstone are blue in color, and have red license plates. I was willing to pay up to $10 for the trip, but the first guy I got gave me a price of $8, which I agreed to immediately.

The cab was in quite a condition. The handles were gone, the radio was gone. Basically, it just had all the bare essentials for the car to continue functioning.

Cab condition aside, that’s when the adventure began. I asked to be taken to the airport, which I assumed was simple enough. That’s where communication broke down. Apparently, instead of airport, he heard air force. So, we pulled into the Air Force Base.

I started flapping my arms, indicating I was trying to get on an airplane. And that’s when he pointed at this decorative plane outside the Air Force Base which looked like something the Wright Brothers would have flown, and he flapped his arms back at me. Yikes

I asked him to give me a few moments while I tried to search where we were in relation to the airport (I knew we weren’t far). Thankfully, at this moment, someone from the Air Base walked out, told the cab driver that he had gone to the wrong place, and pointed him in the right direction (it was 3 mins away by car)

Travel always gives me a new story.

Where Four Countries Converge: Visiting Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, 23 – 28 August 2018

Flower of Africa

Total Cost: ~$560 + 30,000 Marriott Rewards Points

  • British Airways Johannesburg – Livingstone round trip: $305
  • Transportation to and from Livingstone airport: $ 23
  • Botswana Day Trip: $185 (could have been a LOT cheaper)
  • Entrance to Zambia’s side of Victoria Falls: $20
  • Food: $27

Unless money is no object, country counting does require some level of efficiency, e.g. visiting a bunch of countries that are in close proximity to each other. If you look at the map, you’ll see where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe converge. So with one round-trip flight from Johannesburg, I was able to squeeze in three new countries. It’s not a super awesome way to travel sometimes, but hopefully I’ll get to return to these countries for a more in-depth visit in the future.

23 August 2018: Johannesburg – Livingstone (British Airways/South Africa Airways flies into both Livingstone, Zambia and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, if Victoria Falls is your goal. I picked Livingstone because it has a category 1 Marriott, and it was cheaper). You can read about my obnoxious seatmate here.

24 August 2018: Livingstone, Zambia – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – Livingstone, Zambia. I walked!

25 August 2018: Livingstone, Zambia. The walk took a lot out of me, but you can check out my café review.

26 August 2018: Livingstone, Zambia. I just hung out by Protea Livingstone’s pool. Check out my review of Protea Livingstone, where I spent 5 nights.

27 August 2018: Livingstone, Zambia – Chobe National Park, Botswana – Livingstone, Zambia

28 August 2018: Livingstone – Johannesburg

Livingstone

Hotel Review: Protea Livingstone, Zambia

Protea Livingstone Zambia

Protea Hotel Livingstone is a 3-star Marriott Category 1 hotel in Livingstone, Zambia. Located some 2.4 km south of Livingstone’s downtown, this well-landscaped property is a nice escape after a day’s activities. I stayed 5 nights in this property using 30,000 Marriott points (7,500 points per night + 5th night free benefit).

Elite status: Marriott Gold

Check In/Check Out

I was given a room immediately upon arrival at ~3 pm.

Check out was also pretty fast, took under 5 mins to settle my bill.

Protea Livingstone

Room

I was given a King room overlooking the pond. Try to get rooms facing the pond/pool. The other rooms face the railway track, and the trains are actually quite noisy.

Featuring hardwood floors, the average-sized room has a King bed that took up 1/3 of the room. There was also a good-sized safe deposit in the wardrobe, and a mini-fridge. Water bottles were replenished daily, and there were some tea/coffee sachets.

Protea Livingstone

Bathroom

The bathroom is large, and has a rain shower in a tiled shower area. There’s a toilet, and a single sink on a long vanity.

The hotel uses Earth Therapy products, which are okay.

Protea Livingstone

Food

Breakfast is provided to all guests. The spread was huge, but there wasn’t much variation over the five days I was there. There’s also an egg-chef, who did made-to-order eggs. Their omelets were amazing.

Protea Livingstone

There were four hot stations featuring some veggies, beans, and various meat options like sausages and bacon. The cold buffet has cold cuts, yoghurt, fruit, etc. There are also breakfast pastries.

Protea Livingstone

Protea Livingstone

I had dinner here twice. It’s quite a bit more expensive than other dining establishments in Livingstone, and the food was just so-so. I had high hopes for the sticky ribs (140 kwacha), but it was quite tough, as opposed to melt-in-your-mouth. The lasagna was also just okay. (85 kwacha)

Service

Friendly and efficient.

Amenities

There’s a pool on site, with (sorta) pool-side service. It was winter when I visited, so the pool was a bit cold even during mid-day (you can swim, but the first minute will be a shock). There’s also a playground in the expansive grounds of this property.

There’s also an onsite tour agency, which books tours at a slight premium over others.

Overall

Protea Livingstone is a lovely resort property, and I had a relaxing stay. While there are a few restaurants located nearby, it is located some ways from town, so be prepared to be held captive to hotel’s (rather expensive) options.

Protea Livingstone

Kubu Cafe, Livingstone Zambia

Livingstone

Location: Mosi-Oa-Tuna Square (kinda near Fawlty Towers, in strip mall with Shoprite and Hungry Lion)

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 08 30 – 22 00; Sunday, 08 30 – 15 00

Prices: From ~ 15 Kwacha to 42 Kwacha. My iced coffee was 32 kwacha (3.20 USD)

Wifi: Yes. Password protected, ask for the wifi code.

Bathroom: No idea

Capacity: ~ 40

Power outlets: Okay – located at the walls.

Credit Cards: Yes.

Livingstone

Kubu café is one of two cafes in Livingstone, and the only one with air-condition. It is a full service café, so you can get full meals as well. It’s divided into an indoor area and two outdoor areas.

The air-conditioned indoor area is one big room featuring the open kitchen, about five tables seating two to four guests, and a sectional sofa that can seat six people. The first outdoor area is a small fenced area immediate adjacent to the indoor area of the café, with four tables, and a small bookshelf for donated books. The second outdoor area is about 5 m from the café, in the middle of the strip mall, and features about five tables, with a small area dedicated to children furniture.

Livingstone

The full food menu features items ranging from breakfast to dinner, and you can get items from light bites like sandwiches to full meals like BBQ. Its prices are comparable to other mid-range options in Livingstone.

I ordered an iced coffee (more like iced latte), which was decent. The espresso had a clean (if somewhat mild) taste. Caffeine drinks do seem to come with a cute animal sugar cookie.

The service staff was pleasant, the wifi was strong. It’s a nice place to spend some time during the hot afternoon getting some work done, but as suggested at the sign at the door – don’t be the person who hogs the wifi.

Livingstone

A Walk by the Numbers: Crossing from Zambia to Zimbabwe on Foot, 24 August 2018

Screen Shot 2018-08-24 at 1.34.25 PMCountries number: 69 & 70.

Time at start of walk: 8 am

Time at end of walk: 11.30 am

Temperature at start of walk: 16 degree Celsius

Temperature at end of walk: 31 degree Celsius

Total spent: $30 ($20 for entrance fee into Zambia’s side of Victoria Falls, $10 for the taxi ride back to my hotel)

Total time spent in Zimbabwe: 20 mins

Total distance walked: 13 km

Total steps taken: 19,000

Number of baboons seen: Over 20. 4 young ones, 6 crossed the road, 2 fights witnessed

Number of birds seen: about 3 dozens

Number of butterflies seen: 2. I was brave, and didn’t scream.

Number of broken beer bottles seen: Countless.

Number of soda bottles seen: Less than the number of beer bottles

Number of flies that flew into my face: 8. Why do they do that??

Number of bicycles overflowing with produce: ~50

Number of tourists in ridiculous safari gear: 2

Amount of water consumed: 1000 ml

Bridges crossed: 2. Victoria Falls Bridge and Knife Edge Bridge

Change in elevation: Probably 1 degree. The walk was flat.

Livingstone, Zambia

It’s ‘winter’ in Zambia. I don’t like negotiating with taxi drivers, and I’m poor AF. So, I finally did it. I crossed a border on foot from Zambia to Zimbabwe, spent $0 and 20 mins in Zimbabwe, and got a new passport stamp (I’m rather ashamed of myself for doing that, by the way). Honestly to cross from Victoria Falls on Zambia’s side to Victoria Falls on Zimbabwe’s side is actually just about ~ 4 km round trip, but what added to my trip was deciding to make that 8 km walk from my hotel to Victoria Falls.

I wouldn’t do this walk in summer. Starting in the cool morning after a full breakfast was a good idea. By the time I was done, the mid-day temperature would have made this walk unbearable.

Livingstone, Zambia

Victoria Falls is really majestic. Interestingly, the best place to take a photo of the Falls doesn’t require entrance fees – from the Victoria Falls Bridge. You’ll also encounter a lot of touts asking you to do the bungee jump. The Zambian side charges $20, but doesn’t take credit cards. I paid in USD. The Zimbabwe side charges $30, but they do take credit cards.

Welcome to Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Dollar devaluation crisis must be getting bad, because the immigration person stamping me into Zimbabwe asked if I would give her my USD in exchange for Zimbabwe Dollars, and pay my entrance fee in Zimbabwe Dollars.

Screen Shot 2018-08-24 at 2.24.31 PM.png