Listed on many Southern African travelers’ bucket list adventures, Victoria Falls is a one of a kind natural wonder of the world. The combination of it’s height and width create a massive single sheet of flowing water. This makes it the largest waterfall in the world. Depending on the country you visit and time of the year, there is a variety of activities at Victoria Falls.
After planning a bungee jumping excersion for my 25th birthday, I thought it was a great idea to share tips with anyone whose planning a similar trip. From Victoria Fall Activies to Best Victoria Falls viewing points and costs to visit Victoria Falls. Here’s everything you need to know:
Facts about Victoria Falls
- Victoria Falls is known to locals as Mosi-ao-Tunya which translates to the smoke that thunders.
- David Livingstone was the first European to find the waterfall in 1855 and he re-named the falls in honour of Queen Victoria.
- The waterfall lies on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia in the heart of Southern Africa.
- The waterfall is 1,708 metres wide and 108 metres high (one and a half times wider than Niagra Falls and twice as high.)
- Without the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls simply wouldn’t exist. The falls are part of the Zambezi’s 2,574km stretch and they lie almost exactly halfway along it.
- The Zambezi River makes its way east from the falls across six countries and then out to the Indian Ocean.
- South Africans don’t need a visa to visit both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- Citizens from Australia, Canada, France, United Kingdom, United States of America and these 60 countries, qualify for a UniVisa on on arrival to visit both countries for $50 (USD).
The Best Time to visit Victoria Falls
Heavy rains and flood conditions sometimes occur in January and February. The Falls are at their most spectacular between February and May, when the Zambezi River is at its annual peak flooding time. The dry season generally runs from May to October through the southern fall (Autumn). I don’t recommend visiting the Falls at the end of the dry winter period (October – December). This is when the water level is lowest and the weather is very hot and humid. However, you can safely enjoy a swim in the Devil’s Pool during this time, or walk to the bottom of the First Gorge at the Zimbabwean side.
How to get to Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is accessible from Zimbabwe or Zambia by plane, train or car. Due to the volatile polictal situation in Zimbabwe, most travelers choose to stay in Zambia and sometimes visit both sides. There is a border post which you can easily cross with a UniVisa that allows access to both countries.
From South Africa, you can fly directly to Livingstone in Zimbabwe or Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in the capital city of Zambia – Lusaka. Livingstone is 290 miles (470 kms).
Suggested Reading: How to spend 48 hours in Lusaka
Zambia vs. Zimababwe
- Zimbabwe has a great choice of accommodation close to the falls.
- Zambia has some incredible riverfront lodges along the Zambezi.
- The Devil’s Pool is only accessible from Zambia.
- On the Zimbabwe side, the falls flow all year round.
- Zambia’s falls dry up around October / November.
- Zimbabwe has more viewpoints, including the Main Falls
Things to do in Victoria Falls:
The Victoria Falls Bridge is home to one of the world’s most scenic bungee jumps at a height of 111 meters (364 ft). Voted as one of the World’s Top 5 best bungee jumping experiences.
Helicopter tour of the Falls
Helicopter tour offers outstanding views and a breathtaking experience every time!
Swim in the Devils Pool (Zambia Side)
From September to December the flow of the Zambezi lessens and water levels drop. This allows dare devils to swim to the very edge of Victoria Falls in a naturally formed pool and look down into the chasm below. The pool is made by a rock wall that halts the current enough for a swim; it is ominously named ‘Devil’s Pool.’
Swimming isn’t recommended if you aren’t confident in your swimming abilities.
Because of the danger of hanging off the edge of a waterfall, access is limited to certain months of the year (when it is deemed safe with low water levels) and daily visitors as restricted to 12 at each time, with a maximum of 80 people per day. As it is located in Zambia, it will require you to take a day trips across the border to visit if you are staying in Zimbabwe.
Canoe Safari on Zambezi River
If you fancy taking a day trip from Victoria Falls, the Lower Zambezi National Park is easy to reach from the Zambia side of the falls and is where you can chose to take a boat safari, there are different options like a speedboat or canoe. I’d prefer a normal boat that simply floats while you keep your eyes peeled for the wildlife on the riverbanks.
The use of an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other body of water. This is often done on white water or different degrees of rough water. At least two people are needed for this activity.
Safari (game drive)
Visiting Southern African and not going on safari would be a waste. For the best game viewing in Zambia, head to Lower Zambezi National Park and consider staying in a bush camp retreat like I did. If you’re in Zimbabwe, visit Hwange National Park – the perfect option for those with time on their hands, located as it is 100km south of the Falls. Alternatively, the wildlife-packed Chobe National Park in neighbouring Botswana is just an hour’s drive from Vic Falls.
Sunset Cruise on Zambezi
Sunset cruises are the perfect way to relax after a day filled with Victoria Falls Activities.
Victoria Falls Accommodation
There are many options for accommodation around the Victoria Falls area. With lodging options like hotels, hostels, backpackers, campsites, guesthouses and resorts, you’ll be spoilt for choices for a variety of budgets and tastes.
Luxury: Kanyemba Lodge strives to provide a haven in which to enjoy the beauty and activities on offer in the Lower Zambezi. Catering for a maximum of 20 guests, the lodge comprises 6 stone and thatch “rondavel” chalets, each with their own large private deck overlooking the Zambezi River, full en-suite bathroom and walk-in wardrobe. My favorite thing about staying at the lodge was it’s unique activities near Vic Falls, exclusivity and many opportunities to unwind and relax (no TV and WiFi in rooms).
Luxury: The David Livingstone Lodge and Spa provides guests with affordable luxury, family-oriented accommodation. This 4-star hotel is vibrant and colourful, which is reflective of the Zambian people themselves. With WIFI access in all of the rooms. The property overlooks the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, which creates a tranquil environment and the perfect space for a Victoria Falls spa experience.
Budget: Gloria’s Backpackers is perfect for budget travelers. It has 6 spacious rooms – 1 Family Room, 2 Standard Twins, 1 Double Room and 2 Cottages with clean and well furnished en-suite bathrooms and they are all air-conditioned rooms. Cottages have cooking facilities for self catering with a comfortable lounge area for relaxing and they are best for long term stay.
Victoria Falls Activities Prices
Prices vary on the time of the year and tour operator. As usual, I’d encourage you to shop around before booking tours.
How much my trip to Victoria Falls cost:
Food ($2 – $5 per meal): Total for 3 days and 2 nights = $40