Known as ‘the smoke that thunders’, Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River forms a staggeringly beautiful natural border between Zimbabwe and Zambia
Wow! The sheer force of the Victoria Falls seen up close (you get absolutely drenched) and from a helicopter with a partially transparent floor beneath my feet!
Known locally as Mosi-Oa-Tunya, Victoria Falls is one of the world’s largest waterfalls and one of Africa’s gems. We think everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime, be it from the Zambia or Zimbabwe side – or both!
Huge volumes of water tumble over the rock face falling 108m into the narrow gorge below. At their height, in the rainy season, about 5 million cubic metres of water cascade over the top of the rocks every single minute. Down below are miles and miles of twisting rapids that make their way down to the Lower Zambezi basin. The water continues on to Mana Pools and eventually meets the Indian Ocean in Mozambique.
- Zambia vs Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls can be viewed from both Zambia and Zimbabwe so here are a few pointers to consider when making your choice. 75% of the falls can be viewed from Zimbabwe across 16 different viewing points. In Zambia you can look down the length of the falls and get closer to them, whereas in Zimbabwe you view the falls from the opposite side. Time of year will also have an impact on your choice. In the dry season, Zimbabwe offers better viewing as the falls all but dry up on the Zambian side. Livingstone Island and Devil’s Pool tours are only offered in Zambia whereas bungee jumping and helicopter flights are offered on both sides. Victoria Falls town is within walking distance of the falls, Livingstone town is about 10km from the entrance on the Zambian side, so you will need to consider transfers.
- The good news is, there is now a Univisa (not always available) which you can get on arrival into Zambia or Zimbabwe. This allows you access to both countries, so if you have the time and the inclination you can get the best of both worlds and see the Falls in their entirety. If in doubt, chat to us and we’ll help you decide what’s best for you.
- Zambezi National Park: Upstream from Victoria Falls town is the Zambezi National Park, boasting 40km of Zambezi River front. The mopane woodland and extensive savannah harbour a rich variety of wildlife. You can expect to see elephant, giraffe, zebra, buffalo and if you’re very lucky lion, leopard and cheetah. It’s possible to visit the park as a day trip from Victoria Falls, or if you wish, there are several luxury lodges on the riverfront that are waiting to welcome you.
- Devil’s Pool: This is a popular spot for adrenalin seekers and can be visited as part of a Livingstone Island tour on the Zambian side. Devil’s Pool is only open for swimmers when water levels are low and it’s safe, which is usually from mid-august to December. This is as close to the falls as it is possible to get – it’s an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
- Adrenalin adventure: There is no shortage of adrenalin-fuelled activities on both sides of the water, be it white water rafting, bungee jumping off Victoria Falls Bridge, helicopter flights over the falls, you can even zipline from Zambia to Zimbabwe, 100m above the swirling waters of the Zambezi.
- Zambezi cruise: This is a must for visitors to the region, and a little more sedate than the adrenalin-based activities above. You can opt for breakfast, lunch and sunset cruises. These take place upriver from the falls. It’s much more serene and sedate here. It’s also a relaxing way to view the birdlife and wildlife that roams the shores.
- Flight of the angels: This is a helicopter flight over the falls. It’s called Flight of the Angels as David Livingstone once said “a sight so wonderful that angels must have gazed down on it in flight” – and he was right. Short flights take 12-13 minutes and give you an opportunity to take photographs and admire the mighty falls from above, but if you can budget for the longer 25-minute flight, that is even better.
- Rhino tracking: Experience a walking safari as you go in search of white rhino in Mosi Oa Tunya National Park in Livingstone. It’s a three-hour excursion that presents the opportunity to observe the wildlife whilst on foot together with your experienced guide.
- Chobe day trip: If you aren’t going to Botswana on your holiday, a stay in Victoria Falls also presents the opportunity to visit Chobe National Park on a day trip. It’s a full day but so worth it and it can be done from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe side. Chobe is home to the largest population of elephant in Africa and is well known for a healthy lion population and huge buffalo herds. Birding is exceptional here too with over 460 species recorded.