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 to 400 m in the air and be seen for miles.

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. In 2000 I decided it was one of my favourite places on Earth.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is Zimbabwe’s prime tourist destination and offers a variety of not to be missed adventures and resorts.

Victoria Falls

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 walk the paths by yourself. Or you may want to hire a knowledgeable guide to add to the experience by sharing the history and stories 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 as you can view 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. Several local tour operators 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 of the falls within a game park, you are likely to come across Warthogs and Monkeys while walking through town. Do exercise caution as they may seem tame but can be quite mischievous.

Zimbabweans are proud of their game (animals) and passionate about sharing wildlife experiences with you. The Siduli Elephant Hide, Kayaking expeditions on the river, and the Vulture Culture Experience are just a few of them.

The Zambezi National Park is five minutes out of town. You will drive through this park 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 several 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.

Yep … that’s me holding on for dear life in the back with the yellow helmet.

Enjoy Excellent Foodie Experiences in Victoria Falls

With an abundance of natural beauty and a vibrant local culture, you won’t be short of unique and authentic culinary experiences to enjoy at Victoria Falls.

Test your courage by eating a Mopane Worm at The Boma Restaurant (I have the certificate) 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.

You can share a meal with locals or chat with the artisans as you meander through the markets. Begin by visiting the Wild Horizons website to see what cultural activities they organize. Safari Par Excellence also offers organized Township and shopping tours.

Creative Arts

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. One word of caution, be mindful 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 Falls Safari Lodge

Bayete Guest Lodge

Sprayview Hotel

Visit The Gallery to read more about this fascinating artwork as well as 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 talent with Art of Africa who offer incredible painting experiences. Try an Art Safari on a Zambezi River cruise – the beautiful surroundings are bound to dish up plenty of inspiration.

Wild Horizons also offers an Art Safari at the Elephant Sanctuary where you can get up close and personal to paint these magnificent animals.

Victoria Falls

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 is involved in research, rehabilitation of wildlife, and community outreaches. You can tour the laboratory and rehab cages while you are there but it is worth checking out their website before your visit to find out how you can help and support the initiative.

The Elephant Sanctuary and Orphanage carries out essential work in rescuing and caring for elephants. They 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, as well as to all the volunteers and sponsors who are invaluable to the continuation of these projects.

Unique Accommodation

Africa truly does have some of the most spectacular lodgings in the world and with the beautiful surroundings, Vic Falls certainly delivers.

My 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 river frontage 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.

Weather

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 game viewing, mainly 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 can 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 increases 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 unlikely to get as wet and there will be better photo opportunities, but you do miss out on the site of the full falls. If you go when the water is high just remember to pack a raincoat.

Tough choice I know. My personal preference is to go in June: temperatures are more bearable yet still warm; there is lower rainfall which means fewer flies and mosquitoes; the game viewing is best at this time of year which makes it a popular season but not as busy as some other months.

Below is a summary timetable to help you make your choice

MONTHRAINFALLTEMPSWATER LEVELGAME VIEWINGBIRDINGRaftingPOPULARITY
JANHighHighModerately
High
LowGoodHigh water raftingPeak
FEBHighHighModerately HighLowGoodHigh water raftingLow
MARModerateModHighLowGoodPossibly closedLow
APRLowModHighLowGoodClosedLow
MAYMinimalModHighLowGoodLow water raftingLow
JUNMinimalModModerateExcellentFairLow water raftingPeak
JULMinimalModLowExcellentFairLow water raftingPeak
AUGMinimalModLowExcellentFairLow water raftingPeak
SEPMinimalModLowExcellentGoodLow water raftingLow
OCTLowHighLowExcellentGoodGoodLow
NOVModerateHighLowExcellentGoodGoodLow
DECHighHighLowGoodGoodGoodPeak
Table of best times to visit Victoria Falls

Location

Victoria Falls is easily accessible by air, rail, and road.

By Air

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 from Vic Falls town, and the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Zambia is approximately 30 minutes from Vic Falls town.

I have only flown, 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 will fetch you from your accommodation regardless of where you are.

Whichever way you choose, this is Africa. Plan your transport 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 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 in Zimbabwe are just two of the many attractions you can add to your trip.

Further Reading

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.

Visit Victoria Falls

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. I have no doubt you will fall in love with Vic Falls as I have.

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