Friday, 2 May 2008 12:00 AM
The tiny Zambian town of Livingstone is a great base for enjoying the excitement of Victoria Falls, including experiencing the thrilling 'devil's armchair', bungee jumping and white-water rafting on the mighty Zambezi.
Unsurprisingly the town is named after 19th-century explorer David Livingstone and approaching the viewing area it is difficult not to try to imagine how it must have appeared to him.
Although the level of the Zambezi river rises and drops at different times of the year, the falls always do thunder, the spray does rise in a huge mist, and the sun does shine through creating a multitude of brilliant rainbows.
A couple of local guides showed me the 'path' along the riverbed at the top of Victoria Falls to a place called the Angel's or Devil's Armchair, depending on your point of view.
The wide, swift-flowing river has scooped out a shallow pool at the very lip of the cataract and left a low rock on which you can sit and dangle your legs over the abyss.
This is a truly mind-blowing experience, looking across to Zimbabwe on the other side. I couldn't get enough of swimming in the warm water.
Livingstone is also a great base for adventure activities such as white-water rafting on the Zambezi (one or multi-day adventures are available).
The famous 111m bungee jump in what is possibly the most spectacular setting in the world is also available here. Thrill-seekers leap from the bridge that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Staying in Livingstone also offers the opportunity to spend some time at a local orphanage. I visited the Lubasa Childrens' Home several afternoons during the time I was there, playing board games and football with the kids.
The staff and children really appreciated the attention and if you have old clothes or school materials to donate this is a great place to leave them.
The most important rule in the football appeared to be: Never let the scoreline get in the way of a good penalty shootout.
Another charitable venture to get involved with when travelling to Africa is the Footballs for Fun campaign, which has been set up in the run up to the World Cup in 2010.
Acacia Adventure Holidays is getting behind the campaign and travellers are being asked to pay Â£10 to pay for footballs to be given to local kids and also to support charity work fighting HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB, Polio and other health problems in Africa.
The writer stayed at JollyBoys International Backpackers in Livingstone, which has doubles, dorms and camping as well as a great atmosphere - especially around the barbeque and the pool.
Natasha von Geldern