The David Livingstone Safari Lodge overlooks the 'Siloka' island in the Zambezi River.
David Livingstone Safari Lodge: Our full report
Opened in 2008, the imposing four-star David Livingstone Safari Lodge & Spa is set on the Zambian bank a sweeping bend of the Zambezi River opposite Siloka Island, about 7km upstream of the Victoria Falls and 5km from the town of Livingstone.
Accommodation at the David Livingstone consists of 72 standard rooms and five executive suites, all air conditioned, and all facing the Zambezi River. Each has a private balcony, although in the standard rooms, this is very narrow so the concertina doors have to be opened fully in order to make it a useable space. However, the view of the river from our room on the second floor was fabulous and worth the effort!
- The standard rooms are a reasonable size and quite well-appointed, with a large twin or double bed under a mosquito net in the centre. A writing desk doubles as a vanity unit with a large mirror above it, and also features a tea and coffee station. There is a minibar fridge, but you’ll have to ask for it to be filled with your preference of drinks.
Up a couple of steps, the en-suite bathroom has a shower cubicle, a handbasin and a separate toilet, plus the usual assortment of lotions and potions. There is also a large, free-standing bathtub, although we weren’t tempted to try it as the inside looked a little past its ‘use by’ date.
- The executive suites at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge are substantially larger with a separategood-size lounge and an enormous bathroom, plus an indoor jacuzzi. The suites are particularly well-appointed, but really quite dark as, unlike most of the standard rooms, they don’t get much natural light.
Upstairs in the open-fronted main building, breakfast and dinner are served in the David Livingstone’s main Kalai restaurant, where we found a good selection from the breakfast buffet when we last visited, but dinner was both expensive and quite disappointing. During the day, light meals and snacks can be ordered downstairs in the bar, or on the sundeck overlooking the river.
Also overlooking the river is a good-size infinity swimming pool, although this is often flooded when the river rises when the level of the river does. In addition there’s a well-utilised conference centre (state of the art, we’re told), a small gym and a spa with five treatment rooms offering a good selection of treatments such as massages, facials, manicures and pedicures.
David Livingstone Safari Lodge has its own triple-decked 144-seater river cruiser – the Lady Livingstone, which offers sunset cruises along the Zambezi. This section of the river is busier than upstream, where the more remote, smaller lodges are based, but on our most recent visit in June 2013 we were surprised by just how quiet the cruisers engines were and found that the elevated decks of the boat gave us a fantastic 360-degree view of the river and the banks on both sides.
Livingstone itself offers a variety of activities, including game drives, helicopter flights over Victoria Falls, Zambezi River cruises, white-water rafting, and elephant encounters. A tour of the Falls is not to be missed, and the David Livingstone Museum in the town centre is fascinating. All activities will cost extra during your stay at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge, but they can be arranged and paid for at the hotel’s activity centre, which is open between 8.00am and 7.00pm daily.
Our viewThe David Livingstone is a smaller-than-average hotel; the setting is lovely and the staff friendly and accommodating. We were surprised, therefore, by its ‘corporate’ atmosphere and apparent focus on groups and business travellers – perhaps attracted by its busy conference facilities. In terms of value for money, we usually recommend the slightly cheaper, three-star Zambezi Sun, or the more costly five-star Royal Livingstone, both of which are within walking distance of the Falls.
Ideal length of stay: A stay of two–three nights is typical, but the ideal length of stay really depends on the activities you’d like to try while in Livingstone.
Directions: There are daily flights into Livingstone Airport from Lusaka and Johannesburg. Then it's around 20 minutes by road to the David Livingstone. Alternatively, transfer overland from Kasane in Botswana, which takes around 1½–2 hours
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Marketed by Three Cities
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: Breakfast at the David Livingstone Lodge is available between 6.30am and 10.00am, and dinner 6.30–10.00pm.
On our most recent stay in June 2013, we found the breakfast selection excellent. As well as the usual cooked dishes, cereals, fruit and yoghurt, there were freshly made pancakes cooked to order: light, fluffy and delicious!
By contrast, the dinner buffet was a little disappointing. Despite a reasonable selection, the beef we tried was tough and dry. Having said that, the chef prepared pan-fried fish to order, which was delicious with a salad.
Snacks or a light lunch are served from an à la carte menu between 12.30pm and 5.00pm, either at the bar or on the sundeck.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included.
Further dining info: No room service is available.
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome.
Equipment: A limited number of cots are available, but no other equipment is provided.
Generally recommended for children: Although the David Livingstone accepts children of all ages, it caters particularly well for conferences and groups, and thus feels rather corporate. We think the Zambezi Sun is geared much more to families with younger children and caters better for them.
Notes: The lodge’s pool is unfenced and hippos usually make their way out of the water at night to graze on the hotels manicured lawns. Children need to be supervised by their parents at all times.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There are telephones in all the rooms at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge and there is cellphone reception and WiFi throughout the hotel. The first 100MB of data is free; thereafter there is a charge.
TV & radio: There is a TV in every room, with some satellite channels.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The closest doctor is in Livingstone, approximately a 15 minute drive away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: This ‘safari lodge’ hotel grounds are fenced and there is a security gate. Security guards patrol the grounds at night.
Fire safety: There are fire hoses and fire extinguishers strategically placed throughout the hotel buildings.
Disabled access: In Place
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge
Money: There is an electronic safe in each room. The hotel does not offer exchange facilities.
Accepted payment on location: Cash payments may be made in US dollars, South African rand, pounds sterling, euros and Zambian kwacha. Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted, but Amex and Diners Club are not. Any card payments will be charged in kwacha at the prevailing exchange rate.