andBeyond Matetsi River Lodge is located on the Zambezi River, Africa’s fourth longest river, which passes through four countries before crashing into Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls. The river links renowned wilderness areas in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia on its way to Mozambique, where it meets the Indian Ocean. The lodge is just 25 miles (40 km) downstream from Victoria Falls, not far from the Zambian border.
One of the world’s greatest waterfalls, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Victoria Falls—or Mosi-oa-Tunya (“the smoke that thunders”), as the local Kololo people called it—plunges as much as 354 feet, spraying mists that can be spotted more than a dozen miles away. The falls are on the Zambezi River, with Zambia on one side and Zimbabwe on the other. Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is split into Victoria Falls and a wildlife area famous for its white rhinos. Boat tours offer the chance to take in the falls from Livingstone Island, the vantage from which David Livingstone first set eyes on the world wonder, and (during the dry season) Devil’s Pool, a thrilling swimming hole perched at the edge of Victoria Falls.
Livingstone serves as the Zambian base of Victoria Falls, with plenty of craft stalls and restaurants. Livingstone Museum, Zambia’s oldest—and many consider best—museum, features galleries dedicated to the region’s cultural and natural history, tribal artifacts, and original David Livingstone ephemera.
Upstream from Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side of the Zambezi, this reserve teems with birds and big game, including elephants, buffalo, waterbucks, hippos, and crocodiles. Lions, leopards, spotted hyena, and wild dogs are often spotted as well. In addition to game drives, visitors can take half-day canoe trips.
Archaeologists have uncovered signs that humans have lived around the falls for millions of years. Evidence shows that Stone Age civilizations were replaced by Khoisan hunter-gatherers, who were later pushed out by an influx of Bantu tribes. Two of those ethnic groups—the Toka and the Leya, continue to call this region home. Their traditions live on in the nearby Mukuni and Sognwe villages, which are open to visitors.
A who’s who of African wildlife convenes along the Zambezi: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, sable antelopes, African wild dogs, spotted hyenas, impalas, kudu, and more. Additionally, about 366 bird species inhabit Matetsi Private Game Reserve, and the waters are rich in fierce tiger fish. At Victoria Falls, the eight basalt gorges serve as breeding grounds for raptors including the endangered Taita falcon and Verreaux's eagle. Bird-watchers also come to this region in pursuit of grey-headed parrots, African skimmers, Dickinson’s kestrel, Western banded snake eagles, white-backed night heron, and more.
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