Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe & Zambia

Victoria Falls Pat Dunlap Zambia
Spectacular Victoria Falls!
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe & Zambia (1/22-26/2023)

Magnificent Victoria Falls definitely lives up to its reputation being one of the world’s seven natural wonders! Viewing this amazing site and enjoying some of the many fun adventures in this area should be considered by all travelers.

This is What You See from Zambia Side
The fissure framing Victoria Falls is over a mile long of the Zambezi River (see photo) where during its height an incredible one-third million gallons of water per second rush over a vertical, 328-foot-high drop creating this natural wonder. The rim of the Falls is broken into separate falls with names like the Devil’s Cataract, Rainbow Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Armchair Falls - all amazing!

Rain Forest Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Rain Forest - Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Due to its close proximity to the Falls, we chose to stay in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, within a 10-minute walk to see a spectacular panoramic view of the Falls (better than the Zambia side) and stayed in a lodge where we could see the water spray. The view of the Falls and the gorge is spectacular from Zimbabwe. While enjoying the Falls, you walk on a trail in a small rain forest with exotic flowers created by the spray on the Zimbabwe side (see photo) - bring a rain cover. The political unrest in Zimbabwe is much reduced now and staying in the more relaxed town of Victoria Falls is safe.

Knife Edge Bride Victoria Falls Zambia
Knife Edge Bride - Victoria Falls Zambia
Although located about 6 miles from the Falls many choose to stay in the town of Livingstone in bordering Zambia because it has many nice safari lodges along the Zambezi River and adventure lovers enjoy the many thrilling activities like the Knife Edge Bridge (see photo) where you can experience the power of Victoria Falls on an easy but very wet hike on this footbridge - magnificent views of Victoria Falls can be seen here. It’s fun and you will get wet.

Devil's Pool Victoria Falls Zambia
Devil's Pool - Victoria Falls Zambia
Also providing a high level of thrills on the Zambia side are the steep steps down to the Boiling Pot (a huge whirlpool), bungee jumping (available from both sides), and during low water season swimming in the Devil’s Pool (see photo) on Livingstone Island looking over the Falls - exciting! Day-trips activities to the other side in both Zimbabwe and Zambia can be done staying on either side of Victoria Falls when purchasing the necessary VISAs. Guided tours are reasonably priced and well worth the transportation, assistance with immigration and trails, and interesting narration.

Lions Chobe National Park Botswana
Lions in Chobe National Park - Botswana
Travel Tip...
When visiting Victoria Falls, for those wishing a serious African game-viewing experience (see photos), a day trip to the famous Chobe National Park in Botswana (click here to view) is only about 44 miles from the town of Victoria Falls. Day trips normally include a boat ride on the Chobe River, lunch at a Safari Lodge, afternoon game drive, and transportation from your hotel and assistance with immigration.

Elephants - Chobe National Park, Botswana
The dry season (May through September) is considered best for safari game viewing in Chobe because it is easier to see many more animals coming out of the dry forest for water along the Chobe River. Chobe can get crowded with vehicles this time of year and it is the most expensive time to visit. The green season (November through February) is less expensive but you will probably see less animals. There are more baby animals and Victoria Falls has much more water flowing over it.

Victoria Falls Main Falls Zimbabwe Wayne Dunlap
Victoria Falls Main Falls - Zimbabwe
The town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, has grown since the 1970’s. It has an easygoing feel and most of the compact town is within easy walking distance to the Falls. U.S. Dollars are widely accepted in Zimbabwe, and although credit cards are now used for many hotels and excursions, they are not always accepted so bring some U.S. cash. ATM’s issuing U.S. Dollars are available.

Map Victoria Falls
Map - Victoria Falls
English is spoken everywhere and people are wonderful! Visas are required in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana. Fortunately, if you want to also visit Zambia or Botswana while in Zimbabwe, purchase a KAZA UNIVISA (available for US$50/person at Victoria Falls Airport when we visited). It allows multiple entries into Zimbabwe and is good for day trips to Zambia and Botswana - good deal instead of purchasing multiple Visas. If you do not intend to visit either Zambia or Botswana/Chobe, then a standard single-entry Visa may be less expensive.

Horseshoe Falls Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Horseshoe Falls - Zimbabwe
Best time to visit Victoria Falls…
The Falls at Victoria Falls are spectacular any time of year. To witness it at its peak, the time to visit is from February to May, after the summer rains, when you will see the world’s largest sheet of falling water flowing at its greatest volume. The spray from the powerful Victoria Falls can rise hundreds of feet above the Falls and can be seen from up to 20 miles away.

Cataract Falls Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Cataract Falls - Zimbabwe
Unfortunately, at the peak, people report the spray is huge and the view of the Falls can be obscured this time of year. Also, expect to be soaked and it can be hot. In addition, visiting Victoria Falls at this time doesn’t coincide with peak safari season in nearby Chobe in Botswana or Hwange in Zimbabwe - wildlife viewing can be limited. Some activities, like swimming in Devil’s Pool and certain sections of white-water rapids, are too dangerous when the water is at its highest and fastest.

Victoria Falls Zambia
Victoria Falls - Zambia
To beat the heat and witness a high level of the Falls, the best time to visit Victoria Falls combined with a Chobe River game safari in Botswana is the dry winter period from June to August. At this time there is good game viewing, warm days and cool nights, little rain, and plenty of water still thundering over the precipice. 

Victoria Bridge & Falls
Swimming the thrilling Devil’s Pool and walking along the bottom of the Falls is available. For seekers of the ultimate adrenaline rush, try the 364-foot bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge (available from Zimbabwe and Zambia sides - see photo). This is a popular time to visit and hotel prices can be higher.

Pat Dunlap Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Pat at Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park
During October to November the water level at Victoria Falls is at its lowest and the weather is hot and humid. During the low-water season you will have panoramic views (no misty spray) on both sides of the Falls, but the Zambian side (about one quarter of its width) may dry up and all you will see is bare rock. Water flow on the Zimbabwean side is permanent but lower this time of year. Safari wildlife viewing is very good this time of year.

Victoria Bridge Batik Gorge Victoria Falls
Victoria Bridge & Batik Gorge
Located just below the Falls, Batik Gorge (see photo) is actually a series of gorges 75 miles long dropping away from Victoria Fall’s high cliffs of Zimbabwe and Zambia. They are named First Gorge to Fifth Gorge followed by Songwe Gorge and finally the official Bataka Gorge. Some say it has the world’s best one-day white-water rafting - only for the most adventurous.

Zambezi Explorer Sunset River Cruise Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Zambezi Explorer Sunset River Cruise
We enjoyed a sunset boat ride on Pure Africa’s elegant Zambezi Explorer river boat (see photo). The upper ‘Signature Deck’ is luxury with uninterrupted views on comfy couches and premium drinks. Also, many consider taking a helicopter ride over the Falls to be a highlight of their visit to Victoria Falls.

Elephant’s Walk Shopping Mall Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Elephant’s Walk Shopping Mall
Victoria Falls is located in southern Africa and physically provides a natural border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Each country has a national park surrounding the Falls and a tourist center town (Victoria Falls National Park and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Mosioa-Tunya National Park and Livingstone in Zambia).

Ilala Lodge Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Ilala Lodge - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Located just a 10-minute walk to the Falls in a beautiful setting, we stayed at the Ilala Lodge in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (see photo). The elegant interior design with thatch roofs gives it a graceful old-world African grandeur and you can enjoy the spray from the Falls while having breakfast. The Cassia Restaurant located in the Ilala Lodge has delicious food. 

The Palms River Hotel Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
The Palms River Hotel

We also had a wonderful dinner at the The Palms Restaurant at the The Palm River Hotel - a beautiful new hotel located on the river about 2 miles from Victoria Falls (see photo). Both the Ilala Lodge and The Palm River Hotel are good places to stay with beautiful properties, nice rooms, very attentive staff, and will organize your desired activities during your stay at Victoria Falls.

Warthogs Victoria Falls Hotel Zimbabwe
Warthogs at Victoria Falls Hotel
Lovers of old-world charm should visit the Victoria Falls Hotel (see photo) - a good way is to enjoy their high tea (3-6PM) on the Stanley’s Terrace. The view of Victoria Falls Bridge and spray from the Falls is great here. Elephant’s Walk Shopping Mall is a nice place for upscale shopping for local African merchandise - it is interesting just to visit.

While visiting Victoria Falls, do enjoy the many things to do in this area including others not included in this post. HAVE FUN!

Click on these links to view other places we visited in Southern Africa...

Cape Town, South Africa

Garden Route, South Africa

Stellenbosch Cape Winelands Wine Region, South Africa

Port Elizabeth & Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa - A Safari Day Trip

Richards Bay and Hluhluve Game Reserve, South Africa - A Safari Day Trip

Durban and uShaka Marine World, South Africa 

Oudtshoorn & Cango Caves, South Africa

Hermanus, South Africa

Chobe National Park, Botswana - A Safari Day Trip

Walvis Bay, Namibia

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