A little place I know: Chris Goldring, Mahlatini

One of the things I find so fascinating about running the A little place I know series is finding out where people who sell holidays like to holiday. Sure, they’re paid to say nice things about the places they sell, but it’s great to find out where they would choose to spend their time, and where they would return to again and again. Today, Chris Goldring, Director of Mahlatini, specialists in luxury African and Indian Ocean travel, shares one of his favourite places – from his own honeymoon. And boy, does this look like a really special place for a honeymoon.

Tell us about one of your favourite places to stay

Traditionally the groom is responsible for organising one of the most anticipated holidays you will ever take, your honeymoon. For me, as a Director of Mahlatini, the weight of expectation was multiplied! With a wealth of exotic destinations to choose from, I opted for a multi-centre honeymoon in Mauritius, Zambia and Botswana, combining a perfect balance of luxury, relaxation and adventure.

Situated in Livingstone, Zambia is home to one of my favourite locations and hotels on Earth, the Royal Livingstone Hotel.

What’s so special about it?

The Royal Livingstone enjoys what must be one of the best hotel sites in the world.Situated right on the edge of the Zambezi River, we soaked up the stunning views from a choice of vantage points in the hotel grounds: four-poster sunbeds, gazebos,hammocks and the purpose-built viewing deck. We savoured the unforgettable scarlet skies at sunset each night, listening to the laughter of the hippos from the river and absorbing the views of the Victoria Falls; so close we could almost feel the spray on our skin. With giraffes, zebra and a host of cheeky vervet monkeys roaming the grounds, a stroll in the gardens offered an almost mini-safari experience.

Our two-night stay in the hotel’s colonial luxury was so memorable in so many ways. From the exquisite spread on display for those indulging in the sumptuous afternoon tea, to the tinkling of the ivories by the resident pianist, our surroundings were synonymous with an earlier, more courteous age. Indeed, we were treated like royalty throughout our all-too-brief stay. Our suite was genuinely something special; from its sheer scale to the no-expense spared decor and luxurious attention-to-detail, including a personal butler and complimentary platters of fruit and handmade chocolates.

What was the highlight of your stay here?

An up-close encounter with the mighty Victoria Falls is obviously the main event of any stay here. We were privileged to be two in a group of only twelve tourists who accessed the Falls via a special picnic trip to Livingstone Island, a protected World Heritage site from where the water thunders down the 108m drop from the edge of the island. In contrast to other tourist meccas such as Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon or Uluru (Ayers Rock), we were able to appreciate the true beauty, power and scale of the Falls almost in privacy, with not so much as a barrier getting in the way of our perfect souvenir photos. As we visited in dry season, we were able to swim across the edge of the Falls and plunge into a unique rock pool, nicknamed Devil’s Pool, which sits at its very lip; a pretty amazing, if a somewhat hairy experience – one step wrong and you get swept away by the force of the flowing currents and enjoy an awesome free-fall (but without a parachute!). An adventure that we will never forget, and a memory to share with the grandchildren some day.

What’s the local area like?

Livingstone was once the Zambian capital but is now known as African’s ‘AdventureCapital’, due to its location at the edge of the mighty Victoria Falls. Its claim to be the biggest waterfall in the world is based on a width of 1,708 metres and a height of 108 metres, forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world. This spectacular natural wonder presents thrill-seekers with the perfect environment in which to get their adrenalin pumping – from white water rafting to abseiling; or quad-biking to micro-lighting.

If you are fortunate enough to visit this part of the world I would definitely recommend visiting the local craft market, easily found at the Zambezi Sun entrance to the Falls.I have visited many craft markets in my travels but few compare to this one. The artisans are very proud of their skill and you will surely leave with your arms full, just be prepared to pay for extra luggage on your return home!

Would you visit again?

I will definitely be back, the hotel and surrounds are so beautiful and unique and there are so many activities I didn’t have time to experience on my last visit.

Photos courtesy of Chris Goldring

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