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May 2007 Travel Zambia 21 “Protect the treasure and spread the wealth are the two messages that Livingstone must heed.” who points out that visitors must now book six months to a year in advance just to get a room. Ten years ago Livingstone’s tourism industry was merely embryonic. Sun International’s investment in the Zambezi Sun and Royal Livingstone hotels has been a significant catalyst in the subsequent boom. Now there are more than 25 lodges in the town and along the Zambian banks of the Zambezi. There are also numerous guesthouses and backpacker lodges in town, and new hotels under construction. This adds up to around 3,000 tourist beds, a radical increase in a decade but still nowhere near enough if Livingstone is to meet its next goal. In 2010 South Africa will host football’s World Cup and somewhere between 500,000 and one million travelling fans are expected to attend. The lure of the Falls and their close proximity to South Africa will make Livingstone a natural destination for many, and the town is working to exploit the potential. The airport has already expanded to take bigger aircraft and even more new accommodation is planned. There is a paradox here. The success of Livingstone is built on the wild beauty of its natural surroundings. Yet all this growth means the area is much busier than it was a few years ago: more pleasure flights over the Falls, more boats on the river and more traffic on the streets. With Livingstone’s desire to expand its tourism over the next three years, the pressure on the environment and local infrastructure will only increase. It’s the potential damage to the environment that Nick Katanenkwa, Chairman of the Livingstone Tourism Association, sees as the most pressing concern. “People are not coming for hotels, they are coming for the quality of the environment,” says Nick. “If it is not sustained, why come?” He fears that without taking steps to manage the situation, Livingstone may be left with growth that will eventually crumble and an environment that has lost its wilderness value. “We want to work to ensure there is protection for our environment,” he asserts. The Zambezi Sun is the closest hotel to the falls. SUN INTERNATIONAL TONGABEZI >>

“Get down!” yelled Simba. We all seized hold of the ‘Oh-sh*t!’ safety rope around the side of the hull and threw our bodies towards the middle of the raft as it tipped slowly towards the rapid. Eyes jammed shut, I gripped the rope with all my strength as the furious water took hold of us and the inflatable bucked and lurched madly forwards. When we made it to calmer water and gingerly returned to our seats, I was disconcerted to find that my paddle (a sturdy metal one) now had a right-angled bend halfway down its length. How had that happened? The crew laughed uproariously and found me a new paddle. I lost that one altogether a couple of rapids later, when the raft upended Rafting the Zambezi may not be everyone’s idea of fun. Marianne Taylor describes her experience. and dumped us all in the river as we attempted to negotiate the last and nastiest of the ‘Three Sisters’. A passing kayaker gave me a lift back to the raft, my arms and legs wrapped round the front of his kayak. I felt profoundly grateful that I’d worn old clothes and that the only crocs I’d seen were little ones. Rafting the Zambezi is scary stuff, but I’ll never forget the exhilaration of plunging through ‘Stairway to Heaven’, ‘Washing Machine’, ‘Oblivion’ and the rest on this rollercoaster ride down 18 of the most challenging rapids in the world. Climbing out of the gorge on jelly legs, I felt I’d had a true immersion in the magic of this amazing river – in every sense. By water n White-water rafting >> The Bakota gorge below the falls offers one of the world’s best and most popular white-water rafting rapids. n Jet boat >> Race the Zambezi rapids at speeds of up to 95km/h in a purpose built jet boat. n River cruise >> Unwind after the adrenalin rush by sipping sundowners as you drift down the Zambezi on a colonial-style river boat. By air n Microlight >> Ride pillion whilst an experienced pilot swoops down to give you an eagle’s eye view of the Falls. n Helicopter >> Board a helicopter for a spectacular flight along the Zambezi, over the Falls and down the narrow river gorge. n Bungee-jump >> Plunge 111m from the Victoria Falls Bridge down to the raging Zambezi. Livingstone and Victoria Falls have a few treats in store for the adventurous visitor. Huw Williams looks at what’s on offer.Thrills and spills Another team of rafters prepares for a drenching. Livingstone 22 Travel Zambia May 2007