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The Livingstone legacy In just ten years, the town of Livingstone has blossomed from a crumbling backwater into the adventure capital of southern Africa. How is it coping with this startling metamorphosis? Huw Williams went to see for himself. May 2007 Travel Zambia 19 ZAMBIAN NATIONAL TOURIST BOARD

20 Travel Zambia May 2007 Livingstone From the small hill on which the town of Livingstone is perched, you can clearly see the great cloud of water vapour that hangs over Victoria Falls, 10km to the south. The Makololo people called this awe-inspiring sight Mosi oa Tunya (‘the smoke that thunders’), and David Livingstone himself famously waxed lyrical about its beauty. Today ‘Mosi’ is the name of a local beer, and the small settlement that was founded in the great explorer’s name has mushroomed into a tourist boomtown. Livingstone was founded in 1905 with the arrival of the railway line that Cecil Rhodes grandly envisaged would link Cape Town and Cairo. The town was laid out with wide, tree-lined streets in keeping with its role as the capital of colonial Northern Rhodesia. In 1939, however, the administration moved to Lusaka and, after only twenty years of privilege, Livingstone was stripped of its rank. This marked the start of a long, slow decline that left its once majestic streets pot-holed and neglected. Until ten years ago the town had very few visitors, but since then its apparent slide into obscurity has been radically reversed. Last year, nearly 150,000 international passengers landed at Livingstone Airport – roughly equal to the town’s current population – and the overwhelming majority of these were tourists. They came from all over the world to sample the host of adventure activities available around the Falls, from white-knuckle rafting to bungee-jumping, quad-biking and elephant-back safaris. They came to see wildlife in the nearby Mosi oa Tunya and Zambezi National Parks. They came because Livingstone is a gateway to the world famous safari destinations of Kafue, Chobe and Hwange. And most of all they came to see one of the natural wonders of the world: the Victoria Falls themselves. The nearest Zambian hotel to the Falls is the Zambezi Sun, which clearly benefits from having one of the world’s most spectacular sights right on its doorstep. “The key is location, location, location,” says manager Sean Tomkins, Canoeists share the Zambezi with hippos (below), while fishermen still ply the waters in more traditional craft (opposite). TONGABEZI “It is this close-up view of power and beauty that draws visitors from all over the globe.”