“It had never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight” by David Livingston
Victoria Falls is undoubtedly an African great attraction and one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world.
With a length of over one kilometre and a height of over one hundred meters, this magnificent natural wonder of cascading water defines the border separating Zimbabwe and Zambia.
In 1851, David Livingstone, a Scottish medical missionary and explorer, first heard of the great waterfall, but it was only in 1855 that he set out to visit it.
He spent the night on Kalai Island a few kilometres upstream of the Falls, having come down the river by foot, and the next morning set off in a small canoe to approach the thundering smoke.
He got to the biggest island on the lip of the falls, now called Livingstone Island and from there obtained his first view of the Falls.
That view was so impressive that Livingston wrote in his diary “No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight“.
He named the falls “Victoria” in honour of Queen Victoria of Britain, but indigenous Kalolo-Lozi people had their own name for it, “Mosi-oa-Tunya” that means “The Smoke that Thunders”
Once in Victoria Falls town , a strong roar and columns of spray can be spotted from miles away as, at the height of the rainy season, more than five hundred million cubic meters of water per minute plummet over the edge, over a width of nearly two kilometres, into a gorge more than one hundred meters below.
The seasonal rise and fall of the Zambezi river change the look of the Falls on a daily basis.
Peak flood season is around March and April when the full power of the Falls can be experienced in all its glory. Due to the masses of spray rising from the fallen water, the full width of the Falls cannot be seen on foot.
The aerial view at this time is spectacular, with clouds of spray rising high into the sky. As the floods abate the view of the Falls gets better and better through the year, but at its lowest, around November and December the Falls become little rivulets running over the edge and in some places along the 1,7 km width, no waterfalls at all.
The delight of visiting the Falls in this season is the view of the impressive cliffs that form the Falls wall, and the magnitude of the abyss can be fully appreciated. The best period to visit this wonder is during the summer months, from June to September. We’ve visited the Falls twice, the first time on July 2009 and last time in June 2017 on our way to Botswana.
Visiting the Falls is very easy, after the entrance gate there is a surfaced path leading to 16 unobstructed viewpoints. We suggest beginning your visit at viewpoint nr. 1 (the David Livingstone statue) and end it at viewpoint nr. 16 (the railway bridge). With no doubt prepare yourself to get wet as the “tremendous” spray of the falls on many of the viewpoints! This amazing visit will take you around 1.30 hours.
If you like, you can also visit the Zambia side of the falls, where the special vantage point is across the Knife-edge Bridge, where visitors can have the finest view of the Eastern Cataract and the Main Falls as well as the ”Boiling Pot”, where the river turns and heads down the Batoka Gorge. Anyway, the Zambia side is less spectacular than the Zimbabwe part, so if you don’t have enough time, skip it.
Spending more days here, there are other cool activities to enjoy the falls and the surrounding wilderness area.
1) Helicopter Flight
During our 2 trips here, we tried twice this amazing experience that with any shadow of a doubt, it’s a must-do. Seeing the Falls from the sky is breathtaking, you’ll fly left and right-hand circuits over the Victoria Falls in both directions having the best viewing, photographic and filming opportunities. A trip up the Zambezi River and back over the Zambezi National Park will complete your flight.
There are some helicopter companies offering you different flight options with different prices and duration. We had our flight with Bonisar company paying 150$ for 15 minutes flight. Alternatively, all the accommodations can arrange the flight but you can easily book through Viator or GetYourGuide.
2) Zambezi sunset (and dinner) cruise
Cruising down the Zambezi River on a sunset cruise in the late afternoon, with the Mosi-oa-Tunya and Zambezi national parks lining the banks of the river, there is no shortage of wildlife. It’s possible to spot black-faced vervet monkeys swinging through the trees, big hippos wallowed in the shallow pools, elephants came down to the water to drink, Nile crocodiles resting along the banks and obviously a beautiful sunset. You can ask your hotel to arrange the cruise, walk along the main street where you find local tour operators or book your unforgettable cruise clicking here.
3) Bungee Jumping (Bridge swing and Zipline) and Rafting
If you are brave and you’d like to live 4 seconds of free-fall and 111 meters of pure adrenaline with a spectacular backdrop of the majestic Victoria Falls, go straight to the famous Victoria Falls Bridge, on the way towards Zambia. Another adrenaline-pumping adventure is the rafting experience on the Zambesi river through the rushing waves of 19 rapids. Here, there‘s a stand where you can book your bungee jump, undoubtedly one of the most scenic in the World. Alternatively book your Bungee Jump, Bridge Swing, and Zipline from the Victoria Falls Bridge clicking here.
4) Day trip (or longer) to Chobe National Park
Enjoy a day trip in the third largest conservation area of Botswana and its large concentrations of games. Chobe National Park is well known for its elephants, currently estimated at around 120.000, and for all other types of African wildlife like lions, cheetahs, hippos, hyena, crocodile, buffaloes, giraffes, warthogs, otters, zebras, antelopes, jackals and many bird species. You can book this activity through a local agency or clicking here.
Need to Know about Victoria Falls
Where to sleep
The best place to find accommodations is Victoria Falls Town that offers several choices, from campsites to expensive Lodges. We slept at Victoria Falls Rest Camp. At the reception hall, there is a small travel agency offering and arranging all the trips and activities you need. We booked our accommodation through Booking.com and here below you can see the list of Victoria Falls Hotels. Alternatively, you can check the Victoria Falls deals clicking on Agoda.com or Hotels.com.
Where to eat
Along the main road, you’ll also find some restaurants (We ate at Mama Africa restaurant). If you want to try a more fancy experience try Boma restaurant. (Do you want to know more about Zimbabwe restaurants? Click on Tripadvisor).
You can book your activities through the Falls directly with your accommodation or with a local tour operator in the town. An easy way to book your activities or day tour from Victoria falls is to use the web Platforms: click on Viator and GetYourGuide to check amazing offers and prices in Zimbabwe.
We never leave without insurance since it’s the most important thing when travelling. We got our comprehensive protection with Worldnomads.
We spent 2 days in Victoria Falls, the first day we visited the Zimbabwe side in the morning, then we had the helicopter flight in the afternoon;
the second day we visited the Zambia side and in the afternoon we had the sunset cruise. Victoria Falls is also the most useful place where to start a trip around Botswana. In fact, it’s only 80 km from Kasane and Chobe National Park.
If you are looking for a good tour operator to visit the countries of the south part of Africa, we suggest you Undhuvu Safari and Tours.
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