- Victoria Falls is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World
- Explore the Rich and Diverse Wildlife Area
- Victoria Falls is the Adventure Capital of Africa
- Enjoy Excellent Foodie Experiences in Victoria Falls
- Friendly and Vibrant Local Culture
- Creative Arts to Enjoy
- Sustainability Initiatives at Victoria Falls
- Unique Accommodation
- Victoria Falls is a Year-Round Destination
- Further Reading
To see the ‘smoke’ of Victoria Falls, rising out of a flat, arid plain as you approach from the air, is memorable. At 1708 m wide and 108 m high, it is the biggest falling curtain of water on the planet, resulting in a misty spray that can rise up to 400 m into the air and be seen from miles away.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is Zimbabwe’s prime tourist destination and offers a variety of not to be missed activities and resorts.
Here are 10 reasons to make Victoria Falls your next holiday destination:
Victoria Falls is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World
The first European to lay eyes on the magnificent spectacle of Vic Falls, was Scottish explorer and missionary, David Livingston. He named the Falls after the reigning monarch Queen Victoria, but the locals more appropriately call it Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning the smoke that thunders. In 1989 it was recognized as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.
Thrill seekers may view the Falls from above by helicopter or microlight. For the rest of us, there are the more conventional pathways that run alongside the falls, providing spectacular views at various points. It is easy enough to explore the falls by yourself. Or you may want to hire a knowledgeable guide who adds to the experience by sharing stories and the history of the area. Africa is big on storytelling.
The Falls are on the Zambezi River which forms the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe, making it easily accessible from both countries. However, the trail on the Zimbabwe side is preferred by many because you are able to see 80% of the Falls from the footpath.
See the link at the end of the article for further details on visiting the falls.
Explore the Rich and Diverse Wildlife Area
Africa is known for its majestic and fascinating wildlife, most of which can be found in the game reserves around Vic Falls. The KAZA (Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area) is one of the richest wildlife areas in the world.
If you are unfamiliar with the area, the best way to see the wildlife is on an organized safari into one of the game reserves. There are several local tour operators available who offer guided safaris.
The falls straddle two National Parks, the Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe, and the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia. Due to the position within a park, you are likely to come across Warthogs and Monkeys while walking through town, but do exercise caution as they can be quite mischievous.
Zimbabweans are proud of their wildlife and passionate about sharing experiences that bring you into close encounters. The Siduli Elephant Hide, Kayaking expeditions on the river, and Vulture Culture Experience are just a few of them.
The Zambezi National Park is five minutes out of town. This is the park you drive through on your way to Chobe and may add some excitement to your excursion while en route. We were fortunate to spot some endangered wild dogs on our trip.
I highly recommend including a Chobe day cruise and game drive during your visit. It is only 80 km from Vic Falls and trips can be arranged through various tour operators. Speak to the receptionist at your hotel who will be happy to assist.
Victoria Falls is the Adventure Capital of Africa
While this blog does not focus on adventure activities, a post of the top things to do in Vic Falls would be incomplete without a mention. There is no shortage of adrenalin-pumping action in this tiny village. I can’t say I have braved the Bridge Swing or Bunjee jump into Batoka Gorge. However, I did take on the white water rapids of the mighty Zambezi and can vouch that it is one of the best things I ever did.
The award-winning Safari Par Excellence calmed my shattered nerves with their professionalism and briefing beforehand. They are based in Livingstone, know the area well, and offer a number of tours and experiences in and around Victoria Falls.
Wild Horizons is another reputable organization who have over 250 years of combined experience. There is always risk involved with these activities, so dealing with experienced guides is essential. They are also an eco-conscious organization passionately engaged in sustainable travel, so you know you are in excellent hands.
Enjoy Excellent Foodie Experiences in Victoria Falls
With an abundance of natural beauty and a vibrant local culture, there are a number of unique and authentic culinary experiences to enjoy at Victoria Falls.
Test your courage by eating a Mopane Worm at The Boma Restaurant or prepare to be blown away by the breathtaking views across the Bakota Gorge from Lookout Cafe. A canape and cocktail cruise at sunset on the Zambezi is unforgettable, as is eating a traditional buffet to the beat of the African drum. You will not leave unchanged.
For a more laid-back experience, step back into the colonial era and enjoy dinner on the Victoria Falls steam train. The train doesn’t run every day so check the schedule when planning your trip.
There are also amazing fine dining experiences and top-rated restaurants. Most hotels will assist you with reservations from reception and operators will collect you from the door. For more information on these and some of my other favorites, read the post on Culinary Destinations in Victoria Falls.
Friendly and Vibrant Local Culture
Zimbabweans are some of the friendliest people I have encountered, with their wide smiles and ready laughs. Explore deeper into their vibrant culture during a Township tour led by a local guide, and learn more about the people through their food and crafts.
There are several options available where you can share a meal with locals, or chat with the artisans as you meander through the markets. Start by visiting the Wild Horizons website to see what cultural activities they offer. Safari Par Excellence also offer organised Township and shopping tours.
Creative Arts to Enjoy
The creative talent of the local artists is evident in the artworks and world-renowned stone sculptures you can admire and purchase to take home as souvenirs. Be careful of what wood curios you buy as some are not ethically sourced, leading to deforestation.
The stone sculpture in Zimbabwe is world renowned and permanent displays can be viewed at the following venues:
The Victoria Falls Hotel
Victoria Fall Safari Lodge
Bayete Guest Lodge
Visit The Gallery to read more about this fascinating artwork and the artists who create it.
For locally produced entertainment you may want to consider a performance at the Ndlovu Theatre in Victoria Falls.
Go a step further and polish your own talent with Art of Africa who offer incredible painting experiences. Try an Art Safari on a Zambezi River cruise – the beautiful surroundings dish up plenty of inspiration.
Wild Horizons also offer an Art Safari at the Elephant Sanctuary where you can get up close and personal to paint these magnificent animals.
Sustainability Initiatives at Victoria Falls
I love that the local inhabitants around Victoria Falls are (justifiably) proud and passionate about their history and heritage. There are several conservation and sustainability projects where you can visit, support, or get involved.
Some notable initiatives that may appeal to you are:
Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust are involved in research, rehabilitation of wildlife, and community oureaches. You can tour the lab and rehab cages while you are there but it is worth checking out their web site before your visit to find out how you can help and support the initiative.
The Elephant Sanctuary and Orphanage carry out essential work in rescuing and caring for elephants, and offer visitors educational talks and walks with the elephants.
Wild Horizons is involved in supporting anti-poaching volunteers and rangers as well as The Elephant Sanctuary https://www.wildhorizons.co.za/about-us/victoria-falls-ethical-tourism/
See the Greenline Africa Trust Facebook page to learn about some of the amazing community upliftment and conservation projects in place. Well done to all of these teams for their dedication and commitment.
Africa truly does have some of the most spectacular lodgings in the world and with the beautiful surroundings, Vic Falls certainly delivers.
My personal favorite is the historic Victoria Falls Hotel with its old-world elegance and gorgeous view across to the falls. Perhaps for you, it will be a bush lodge with riverfrontage or a star bed amongst the treetops.
For a list of my top recommendations for accommodation in Vic Falls, all known for sustainability initiatives and community involvement read 15 Amazing Places to Stay in Vic Falls.
Victoria Falls is a Year-Round Destination
There is never a wrong time to visit Vic Falls but the best time to go will depend on what you plan to do.
The hottest months are from September to May (Above 30 deg C) with mild evenings of 15-20 deg C
Rainfall is highest during the summer months from November to January. Combined with high temperatures, this results in hot, humid weather.
June to August has warm days (25-30) with cool evenings below 10.
Water Levels at Victoria Falls
Water levels will affect certain activities and viewing primarily the rafting and other river based activities. Swimming and white water rafting are usually closed during high water levels because of the danger. September to December is when the Falls are at the lowest and you are able to swim in Devil’s Pool and visit Livingston Island on the Zambian side.
March to May is good for viewing the Lunar rainbow, a spectacular sight as the full moon can be seen rising through the mist which is increased when the water levels are high.
When the water levels are high the sheer force of water pounding into the gorge is mesmerizing causing thick mist to rise high into the air. This also means that you and your camera will get soaked and the thick mist may hamper your viewing.
The mist is present throughout the year but it is far less when the water level is low. You are not likely to get as wet and there will be better photo opportunities, however you do miss out on the site of the full Falls. Just remember to pack a raincoat.
Tough choice I know. My personal preference is to go in June when temperatures are more bearable yet still warm. There is lower rainfall as well as less Flies and Mosquitos. The game viewing is best at this time of year which makes it a popular season but not as busy as some other months months.
Below is a summary timetable to help you choose your preference.
|MONTH||RAINFALL||TEMPS||WATER LEVEL||GAME VIEWING||BIRDING||Rafting||POPULARITY|
|Low||Good||High water rafting||Peak|
|FEB||High||High||Moderately High||Low||Good||High water rafting||Low|
|MAY||Minimal||Mod||High||Low||Good||Low water rafting||Low|
|JUN||Minimal||Mod||Moderate||Excellent||Fair||Low water rafting||Peak|
|JUL||Minimal||Mod||Low||Excellent||Fair||Low water rafting||Peak|
|AUG||Minimal||Mod||Low||Excellent||Fair||Low water rafting||Peak|
|SEP||Minimal||Mod||Low||Excellent||Good||Low water rafting||Low|
Victoria Falls is easily accessible by air, rail, and road.
Due to the remote location, it is preferable to fly in unless you plan on touring nearby countries in which case you may arrive by car. There are 2 airports nearby. The new Victoria Falls Airport in Zimbabwe is less than 20 minutes to Vic Falls town, and the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Zambia is approximately 30 minutes from Vic Falls town.
I have only flown in, once into Zambia and once into Zimbabwe. You can travel fairly easily from one country to the other with the minor inconvenience of border control. However, the Vic Falls village is on the Zimbabwe side which is where most things happen and I find this to be more convenient.
The Falls are better viewed from the Zimbabwe side so keep that in mind when planning your trip. Tour operators are well experienced and will fetch you from your accommodation regardless of where you are.
Whichever way you choose, this is Africa. Plan your transport in advance so that you are not at the mercy of scrupulous taxi operators when you leave the airport. Most accommodation establishments provide or arrange transport for you. Alternatively, you may contact Wild Horizons who will be able to assist with reliable transport.
Within close proximity to South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia, as well as Zimbabwe and Zambia, Vic Falls is a convenient base from which to explore further. Chobe in Botswana and lake Kariba, Zimbabwe are just two of the many attractions you can add onto your trip.
I have visited Vic Falls twice and can’t wait to go back. It is an area of incredible natural beauty that is not just a destination, but an experience you’ll never forget. Here are further links to follow and whet your appetite.
Wild Horizons are experts in all you need to know when visiting Vic Falls. They have extensive local knowledge and contacts, to cater to all your needs. Visit their website to search for accommodation, plan your trip, and support local small businesses in the process.
The We are Victoria Falls Facebook page provides further inspiration on community activities in Victoria Falls
Further information for visiting the Falls
For more inspiration and more stunning lodge suggestions visit the Vic Falls Guide Facebook Page
Two pre-trip recommended reads for those interested in the history of the area:
John Creewel ~ History of Victoria Falls Hotel
Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa ~ David Livingston
All that remains now is to decide on dates and make the booking.