A few months ago, I was fortunate to fulfill a lifetime goal of experiencing an African safari. Being employed in the incentive industry for more than 13 years, has offered me many opportunities to see and experience the world. I believe there are few destinations more sensational than Africa with the marketing power to excite your top sales executives or top customers.
I found the areas in and around Livingstone, Zambia to be incredibly friendly and very safe. Named after Dr. David Livingstone, the British explorer and missionary, Livingstone, Zambia is the center of the largest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls. The five-star hotels and lodges serve as home base for exploration and adventure. Excellent infrastructure and professional operators offer great activities and event options for incentive groups. Group options include safaris in the National Parks, boat cruises (including animal sittings) on the Zambezi River, guided walking with lions or cheetahs, elephant safaris, zip-lining, bungee jumping, hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing and exploring Victoria Falls via a walking trail, helicopter or microlight aircraft. There are activities abound that will keep your participants busy checking goals off their bucket lists.
Some of my favorite events and activities for a Livingstone Group Incentive:
- Full-day Game Drive and River Safari into Chobe National Park in Botswana. The Morning Game Drive is followed by lunch at one of several Lodges in the Park. Then the River Safari completes the afternoon.
- Sundowner (Sunset Reception) Cruise on the Zambezi River. Depending on group size, boats can dock at one of the many fabulous restaurants along the river for a private dinner. Several quality boats are available to accommodate a range of group sizes.
- Elegant Dinner onboard the Royal Livingstone Express luxury train. The Royal Livingstone Express will stop across a bridge for a beautiful sunset view of the Falls. The Royal Livingstone Hotel caters the luxurious experience.
- Swimming in Devils Pool at Victoria Falls. Boats leave from the Royal Livingstone dock for the two-minute boat ride to Devils Pool.
- Guided walking encounters with lions, cheetahs or elephants. My most memorable experience was a morning cheetah walk.
- Walking tour of Victoria Falls, including a ten minute walk from the Royal Livingston Hotel. There are no costs to enter the park because the hotel is located inside the national park zone. Visit Mukuni Cultural Village.
WHERE TO STAY IN ZAMBIA
For smaller groups, the area features several five-star lodges and boutique hotels. For larger groups I really like The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Hotel. It is one of the most luxurious hotels in the area. The Royal Livingstone is a 173-room group-friendly resort perfectly situated on the banks of the Zambezi River with walking trails leading to Victoria Falls. During my recent stay, the service was warm, friendly and efficient. The three F&B outlets include an all-day dining room, a bar, and the Sundowner Deck, which is a very popular bar to enjoy the afternoon sunset while listening to and watching the hippos in the Zambezi River. Located inside gated grounds with free roaming wildlife, your participants will be dodging giraffes and zebras on the walk between their guestrooms and restaurants. Indoor event space is limited. The outdoor space is wonderful including the hotel’s outdoor BOMA event space, sundowner deck, bar, and lawn, which are all great for events.
WHEN TO TRAVEL TO ZAMBIA
Zambia enjoys mild weather year-round with temperatures ranging from the mid-90’s in the hot, dry months of September and October, to mid-70’s May through August. November through April are the rainy season and probably should be avoided. The best time to see Victoria Falls at its most magnificent would be late April through August. By late September, the water over the falls is reduced significantly.
LET'S TALK ABOUT SAFETY
While there are many areas of Africa that remain unsafe, Zambia has long been considered a safe country for tourists and enjoys the highest security rating from the US Department of State – Level 1. There are no special VISA requirements for US citizens to visit the area; however, if you plan to visit Zimbabwe or Botswana to experience safaris in the National Parks, which I highly recommend, a special multi-country KAZA Visa is necessary. The KAZA Visa is available to purchase for $50 USD upon arrival at the Livingstone Airport or can be pre-arranged for the group by your ground operator. The KAZA Visa is valid for extended stays in Zambia and Zimbabwe while also allowing day trips to Botswana. Although no special vaccinations are required to enter Zambia when arriving from the US, your doctor may recommend Malaria tablets as a preventative to be taken daily during your stay and 10 days after your return home.
You’ll need a minimum of 3 nights to get the full experience of a Safari plus an event. My recommendation for a group would be a five-night stay in Livingstone. Or for the complete African experience, combine three nights in Livingstone with three nights in a modern city like Cape Town. Regardless, Africa is an amazing destination for any incentive group.
Call or email us for more information or to request a proposal for your group.