Have you ever been to the magnificent Victoria Falls?
If yes then amazing! You know what it feels like to be alive but if not then that’s okay, now you have something exciting to add to your bucket list. And we’ve got you covered with this Victoria Falls Tour & Travel Guide that will help you plan your trip. It includes why you should visit Victoria Falls where to stay, when you visit Victoria falls and what you need while going for Victoria falls. “The first big question that challenges many people when considering a visit to Victoria Falls is “Which Country Should I Go To, Zambia Or Zimbabwe?”
Why Visit Victoria Falls?
Before we look at which side is better Zimbabwe or Zambia, we need to establish why it is important or why Victoria Falls should be your next ideal vacation spot.
It Is The Largest Waterfall In The World
Victoria Falls holds the world record for being the largest sheet of falling water in the world; it is 108m tall and 1708m wide. It is about twice the height of North America’s Niagra Falls and has about 500 million litres of water that pass through every minute.
It Is One Of The Seven Natural Wonders Of The World
The Victoria Falls was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989 and is one of the seven natural wonders of the world alongside the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest, the Harbour of Rio de Janeiro, Aurora Borealis and Paricutin. If you are to travel anywhere to witness the beauty of nature at its finest then you shouldn’t miss the seven wonders.
You Can See The Falls From Not One But 2 Countries
The falls mark the border line between Zimbabwe and Zambia and whichever side you decide to stay you are guaranteed to see the falls however 75% are seen from the Zimbabwean side and 25% are visible on the Zambian side. You can also get to see the falls from an aerial view by going on a helicopter or the famous micro light flights in Zambia.
The Victoria Falls Are On The Zambezi River, The Forth Longest River In Africa
The Zambezi River spans across 6 countries and the falls mark the halfway point of the river from its source in Northwest Zambia to its mouth in the Indian Ocean. From the source to the falls it’s about 1300km and from the falls to its mouth it’s about 1400km.
The Falls are surrounded by 2 National Parks
The Victoria Falls National Park (Zimbabwe) and the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (Zambia) which are rich in wildlife including the big five, hippos, crocodiles, a wide variety of antelope, giraffes and zebra just to name a few. The Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and what makes it unique is that it’s the only wildlife area with white rhinos which are closely protected.
It is one of the only 2 places on earth where you can see the Lunar Rainbow (moon bow)
The only other place you find this rare phenomenon is the Cumberland Falls near Corbin, Kentucky. A moon bow is a series of rainbows that are visible at night mainly when there is a full moon and as the moon rays refract in the spray of the falls it forms a beautiful rainbow that is such a delight to see.
You Can Swim To The Edge Of The Waterfall
There is a famous activity on the Zambian side that allows you to swim up to the edge of the waterfall at the famous Devils’ pool which is an interesting activity for those that dare themselves to have an adventure. The pool is adjacent to Livingstone Island. The pool is usually opened between mid- August to end of December when the when the water level is low and the flow is at its weakest.
It Rains Every Day Of The Year, At The Victoria Falls Rainforest
On the Zimbabwean side of the falls there is the Victoria Falls Rainforest which happens to be the only place on earth where you get to see rain every single day of the year hence the popular name of the falls given by the Tonga,” Mosi-oa-Tunya” meaning the smoke that thunders.
It Has Such Interesting History
Origin Of Its Name: The Victoria Falls were discovered by a British explorer and missionary, David Livingstone who became the first European to set eyes on of the world’s most beautiful wonder. He named them after the British monarch at the time, Queen Victoria. The local people had so much respect for him that the name remained unchanged to this day. Locally the falls are called “Mosi-oa-Tunya” the smoke that thunders.
The Nyami Nyami River God: The Zambezi River flows over the cascading Victoria Falls and the area is filled with great myths and legends. One of the legends that was believed by the local people is that the flooding waters of the falls and the thunder like noises were caused by spirits associated with evil. They would try to calm these by offering jewellery to what they believed was the river god, “the Nyami Nyami” as a sacrifice.
The Nyami Nyami is and has been sacred to the Tonga tribe. He is believed to be in Lake Kariba, which is situated northwards of the Victoria Falls. Nyami Nyami is described as a mix between a fish and a snake, you can buy the Nyami Nyami pendant which is a popular souvenir. The local people believed that wearing the pendant will give you protection. African mythology has it that the famous Nyami Nyami has been hiding since the white men first came to the Victoria Falls.
It Has Several Gorges
The Victoria Falls features several gorges which are the First, the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Gorges, the Batoka Gorge and the Songwe Gorge named after the Songwe River flowing in from the north east
There Are So Many Activities To Do In And Around Victoria Falls
Life in and around Victoria Falls is bustling with excitement and thrilling activities that cater for all kinds of people. From the adrenalin junkies that require adventure and fun to those that want a more relaxing feel, there is always something for you. Below are just a few:
- Devil’s Pool
- Livingstone Island
- Safari Adventures
- Bridge and Gorge Activities
- Victoria Falls Helicopter Tour
- Cruises on the upper Zambezi
- Elephant and Lion Encounter
- Vulture feeding and many more
Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or Zambia?
The first question that comes to a lot of people’s minds when considering a trip to Victoria Falls is which side is better?, which side provides the best views?, what’s the difference?
Well lucky for you, both sides are equally as good and provide you with different views, feels and excitement. I would highly recommend you do both sides if you have the time and I will explain why but however, your choice really depends on your budget, preferences, your routing and the logistics of where you are coming from and going to. It also depends on the time of year and the effect on the water levels in relation to what you want to do and see and below we will list the advantages of each side then give you my opinion and then you have the big task of deciding which side is better.
Advantages Of Victoria Falls In Zimbabwe
- Zimbabwe contains 75% of the falls and provides 16 different viewing points including the main falls, and the devil’s cataract which happen to be the deepest channels in the Zambezi River.
- The Zimbabwean side of the falls has the Victoria Falls Rainforest which receives rainfall every day of the year.
- The falls on this side never dry up this means that at any time of the year that you decide to visit the Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side you are guaranteed to see the falls and soak in the spray of the falls.
- The park on the Zimbabwean side has a restaurant and toilets.
- The Zimbabwean side has the famous David Livingstone statue.
- Many hotels on the Zimbabwean side are a short walk from the entrance to the falls making them much better in terms of accessibility to the falls and it will help you save money that you would’ve spent on getting a taxi on the Zambian side.
- This side has better game viewing opportunities as development on the banks of the Zambezi River has been carefully controlled and hence the long stretch from Victoria Falls to Kazungula about 80km is filled with wildlife.
- Although most activities can be done in both countries, the Zimbabwean side has the Elephant interaction, the bungee jump, zip line and flying fox, gorge swing and the cultural highlights at the Boma Dinner And Drum Show.
Advantages of Victoria Falls in Zambia
- The Zambian side contains only 25% of the falls, but has a wilder feel and greater opportunity for an adventure especially in the high water season
- The advantage of this side of the falls is that you can get extremely close to the falls and get an entirely different view and experience from that on the Zimbabwean side where you can get completely drenched and witness the intensity of the falls from up close.
- There are a number of lodges and hotels built right on the edge of the Zambezi River upstream from the falls as compared to Zimbabwe
- There is a direct flight between.
- The Zambian side is the only side where you can get the opportunity to access Livingstone Island and the daring Devils pool which has been a major must do for most that visit Victoria Falls. It also offers a beautiful view of the falls from the micro light flights which you can only access in Zambia
- A boat trip and a picnic on Livingstone Island is also a must-do activity. It’s quite thrilling standing in the middle of the Zambezi River exactly where David Livingstone once stood and set eyes on the Victoria Falls
- Entry into the Park on the Zambian side is $20 which is cheaper than in Zimbabwe which costs $30.
- Zambia boasts of two hotels which are situated right next to the entrance leading to Vic Falls, the Royal Livingstone Hotel and The Zambezi Sun Hotel both conveniently offer their residents a private entrance gate to the falls as many times as they want compared to single entry in Zimbabwe.
So which side is better – Zimbabwe or Zambia?
Whether you stay in Zimbabwe or Zambia, we would recommend seeing both sides of the falls as the experience is different from each side and you appreciate it more. You can see both sides of the falls thanks to the introduction of the KAZA Univisa which is a single visa that covers Zambia, Zimbabwe and day trips to Chobe National Park (in Botswana). The Univisa costs US$ 50 and is available to 40 nationalities. Please do your research before coming. Seeing both sides only takes a day as you can cross the border easily (with the Univisa).
What You Need Before You Travel To Victoria Falls?
- It is generally very hot in Victoria Falls hence when you travel think light. The winter this side is from May to July that might be the time to packer warmer stuff but otherwise it is always hot.
- You need to pack with you sunscreen or sunblock with UVA and UVB protection. You also need a pair or two of sunglasses, caps or big sunhats that cover up your face and neck as well.
- Because of the intense heat, you need to stay hydrated so make sure you drink lots of water before and during your Victoria Falls Tours.
- You will also need comfortable shoes that are not slippery as you will be walking in the rainforest for about 2 to 3 hours.
- You will also need waterproof jackets; this one is a no brainer as you will get a feel of the spray from the falls.
- You will need a camera or your smartphone because the views are simply breath-taking and you will not be able to resist a snap or 2 or 3.
- If you want to see both sides of the falls, then you need the KAZA Univisa so that you can enter into both Zimbabwe and Zambia.
- Victoria Falls is a malaria zone, but fortunately, it is preventable, please travel with enough mosquito and insect repellents.
- Don’t forget to bring your family and friends and share the wonderful experience together.
What To Expect In Victoria Falls?
- Expect to have fun, to have the time of your life, to make memories.
- Be prepared to witness the beauty of nature at its finest.
- Expect to get soaked in the spray of the falls.
Getting Around & Travelling Between Zambia & Zimbabwe
So how you will be Getting To & Around Victoria Falls? First you need the KAZA Univisa that will allow you to enter into both countries. If you are in Zambia, a taxi fare of $5 to $10 will be enough to take you from where you are staying to the entrance of the park. The entrance fee on this side is $20 and you can pay in cash or card. Once you are done you head to the Zambian border post then cross the Victoria Falls Bridge on foot or you can grab a taxi. You will then reach the Zimbabwean side and cross the border the entrance of the park is just a few meters away.
Other Things To Do Near Victoria Falls
There are so many other things that you can do near Victoria Falls from those that get your heart pumping with excitement to those that are a bit more relaxed. You can try a Victoria Falls Helicopter Flight for a more different and unique view of the falls. If you dare to be brave then don’t miss a swim to the edge of the waterfalls in the daring Devil’s Pool. A Sunset Cruise On The Zambezi would be a bit more relaxing or even high tea at the one of the oldest, grandest and luxurious Victoria Falls.
Where To Stay On The Zambian Side Of The Falls?
On the Zambian side you have a choice of so many choices of lodges, chalets and resorts, some which are even built along the Zambezi River. You can check out the wonderful Avani Victoria Falls Resort or you can try The Royal Livingstone Hotel which offers beautiful views of the surrounding savannah and wildlife that will be wandering the grounds.
Where To Stay On The Zimbabwean Side Of The Falls?
The Zimbabwean side of the falls also has a wide variety of accommodation facilities from which you can choose from. Most of the lodges and hotels are within a short walk from the falls. You can check out the famous Victoria Falls Hotel, Ilala Lodge, Shearwater’s Victoria Falls, Cresta Sprayview among other top recommended hotels.
Visiting Victoria Falls: Should You Go To The Zambian Side Or The Zimbabwean Side?
Both Sides are equally as good and your decision will depend upon what you want to get out of your trip. Falcon Safaris would highly recommend having a feel of the best of both worlds as Zimbabwe has breath taking views which you cannot see if you visit Zambia alone and Zambia also provides a completely different feel of the falls from up close. Victoria Falls Tours in Zimbabwe is a bit smaller than Livingstone in Zambia but both are so beautiful. So get ready for it & enjoy the Victoria Falls Activities!