Pre-tour Activities Info for Livingstone

I have been checking out and booking a few pre-tour activities for our upcoming Botswana, South Africa, Zambia tour. Let me just say it has been interesting, and at times a bit frustrating. I can't give you a lot of help, other than to prepare you for your ordeal if you are planning to do the same.

First, some background- there are quite a few activities offered in and around Livingstone, Zambia (it is a tourist destination after all!) that you can do before your tour- ride elephants, fly in a helo or microlight over the falls, go canoeing, speed boating, whitewater rafting or fishing on the Zambezi, rappel, bungee jump, zipline, etc. into the Zambezi's Batoka Gorge river, visit cultural places, etc. etc. You can do an internet search and also check the usual suspects- TripAdvisor, Viator, etc. If you email the Royal Livingstone, they or their activities coordinator (Bushtracks Africa) will email you a 45 +/- page PDF or MSWord document that lists and provides details for most of the popular ones. It does not include prices which are not insignificant (it is a tourist destination after all!)! I sometimes found those by going to the specific provider, TripAdvisor, or subsequently from Bushtracks. Most activity providers provide free transportation from / to the Royal Livingstone. The individual websites will have photos and sometimes more information.

You can book the ones in the listing through Bushtracks, or in many cases, directly with the provider. Multiple providers may offer the same or similar experiences. It was a bit difficult to sort it all out. Also, be advised, providers, offerings, times, etc. can change from what you'll see in the Bushtracks info- it did with us- the first (PDF) listing we received was out of date, and was one reason for confusion and frustration. Also, activities offered and scheduled times change depending on season- remember- their winter is our summer- one of the providers wasn't thinking about when we planned to visit when they gave us hotel pickup times. We eventually got it straightened out- a 0700 pickup is early for us, but not as early as a 0600 pickup in summer (their summer) would have been! : )

The process of contacting all these folks was a bit frustrating, especially the further down the food chain we got. I'll post a few email addresses that worked for us, but since they appear subject to change at a moment's notice, you may need to go through this process on your own. For instance, the only email address I initially found for the Royal Livingstone was to corporate. That worked and my email was forwarded, but I've also seen other Royal Livingstone email addresses. The email address I had been using to correspond with Bushtracks went dead, and they didn't respond to it or another address I found on their website. I finally had to go through the Royal Livingstone. It turned out the agent I initially dealt with left the company, her email address had been deactivated, and they changed their main one. The reply I finally got from Bushtracks was from another, totally-new-to-me email address. A similar situation occurred with Mukuni Big 5 Safaris, an animal encounter provider. I used Facebook Messenger to reconnect with them!! I had initially contacted flight providers Batoka Sky directly, but follow-up from them was nil, so I booked thru Bushtracks. Contact by phone is possible, but due to the time difference and other issues, it is something I did not try.

Payment varies with provider- one required payment upon arrival while Bushtracks, NLT than 30 days prior. Cancellation policies differ as well. Payment to Bushtracks (which evidently goes to their bank in Mauritius!?) can be done via AMEX, VISA, MC - they provide a link. I'm about to see how that works and will update this if there is anything significant to report. Update: The process was straight forward, went smoothly, and appeared to be secure using AMEX.

Another thing to consider- some activities may be across the bridge (border) in Victoria Falls/Zimbabwe- if you are planning one of those, I suggest getting a KAZA uni-visa upon arrival at Livingstone airport (LVI) in Zambia - it costs only $50 and is good for 30 days and multiple entries into both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara:

Website: https://www.anantara.com/en/royal-livingstone

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

Bushtracks:

Website: https://www.bushtracksafrica.com/livingstone-activites

[email protected]
[email protected]

Mukuni Big 5 Safaris:


Website: http://www.mukunibig5.com/

[email protected]

Comments

  • You can easily book these activities when you arrive, they are unlikely to be filled up, especailly if you book them as soon as you arrive. It also gives you the option to change your mind if you are more tired from the journey than you expected.
  • edited January 2019
    British wrote:
    You can easily book these activities when you arrive, they are unlikely to be filled up, especially if you book them as soon as you arrive. It also gives you the option to change your mind if you are more tired from the journey than you expected.

    Ah, you say, "easily booked." If you haven't already figured it out, some who know me claim I'm a bit OCD*, so I like to have as much as possible arranged well ahead of time- leaving as little as possible to chance. : ) Luckily, so far that has worked out for us. And as Seth once said, "Remember, this is Africa."

    * Like I did before Classic Italy where we planned a number of additional activities on different days, this time I made a spreadsheet of activities, costs, available times, etc.

    A group of us are doing animal encounters together and wanted to ensure we locked in a specific date/time, no advanced deposit or payment was required. Just my wife and I are doing an activity on arrival day but will have spent the previous night, hopefully sleeping soundly for 8 - 10 hours, at the Intercontinental in Jo'burg. This activity had limited availability, so we pre-booked. But as I said, it required pre-payment.

    We are arriving early and still have one afternoon and part of the next day, before the tour starts, free to do something or nothing. We'll just "wing it" on those days. Did I really say we were just going to wing it, how could I be OCD?? : ) Speaking of winging it- one of our major irritations on Tauck tours- meals on our own- we seem to waste a lot of time finding and deciding on a place to eat that could be spent sightseeing- but that's just us.
  • There are few meals on your own on the Z,B, and SA trip. I think one dinner after a long day of travel to Cape Town, and one lunch in Cape Town.
  • Sealord wrote:
    There are few meals on your own on the Z,B, and SA trip. I think one dinner after a long day of travel to Cape Town, and one lunch in Cape Town.

    You mean we won't need to go out to the local beetle and scorpion joint at Camp Kalahari? : ) I knew that : ) I guess I won't need to use the Tauck app either : )

    Sealord- we had to go directly to the provider (not Bushtracks) but we are all set for the "special" activity Eloise liked so much, plus are doing two other activities at the same place (a combo deal.) Are you at sea yet?
  • Me B ate tarantula on the Vietnam Cambodia Laos tour, not me though,yuck. Apparently tastes like chicken. We watched the Meercats enjoy them.
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