ZAR
USD
EUR
GBP
CAD
AUD
CHF
ZAR
USD
EUR
GBP
CAD
AUD
CHF

What are you looking for?

ZAR
USD
EUR
GBP
CAD
AUD
CHF
ZAR
USD
EUR
GBP
CAD
AUD
CHF
Hello traveller!

It's in Cape Town now.

We're sorry. Our safari planners aren't available now. Our office hours are 08:00 - 19:00 (GMT+2).

Call us to speak to an experienced safari planner.


Alternatively, we recommend...

video-call-icon

Schedule a phone or Zoom call with one of our safari planners

SCHEDULE A CALL
travel-form-icon

Complete our travel enquiry form to connect with a safari planner

ENQUIRE TODAY
Email us
(optional)

Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Victoria Falls

Posted by Johnieka Holtzhausen on 25 Nov 2022

Part of the Victoria Falls Safari & Zambia Safari & Zimbabwe Safari & African Safari Collection

 

Victoria Falls is undoubtedly one of the most amazing natural wonders in the world. Every year, thousands of people come from all over the globe to see (and hear!) this magnificent sight for themselves.

There are many reasons why visiting Victoria Falls is a great idea! For starters, the waterfalls are absolutely stunning and awe-inspiring to behold. Additionally, Victoria Falls is located in a beautiful and exotic location, making for an unforgettable trip. Plus, there are plenty of activities and attractions available in the area, ensuring that visitors will never be bored.


If you’re planning on visiting Victoria Falls, there are a few things you should be aware of. In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about Victoria Falls, from how to get there, when to go, what to pack, where to stay, and what to expect when you arrive.

Interesting facts about Victoria Falls:

  • Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • The Victoria Falls are considered as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
  • The falls are 1,708 meters (5,604 feet) wide and 108 meters (354 feet) high.
  • During the peak season (April to May), the Zambezi River flows at an average of 1,086 cubic meters per second!
  • The spray from the waterfalls can reach up to 400 meters (1,300 feet) into the air.
  • Victoria Falls is home to a variety of wildlife, including hippos, elephants, and buffalo. This makes it a great destination for those who’d like to enjoy an authentic African safari as well as see the Falls themselves. 
  • In the local Kololo and Lozi languages, Victoria Falls is called Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means the “smoke that thunders”. 
  • The roar of the falling water is so loud, that it can occasionally be heard from up to 25 miles (40 kilometres) away!

Where are the Victoria Falls?

Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. (The Falls straddle Zimbabwe to the west and Zambia to the east.)

The town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is the best base for exploring the Falls from that country, while Livingstone in Zambia is an excellent choice if you’re interested in seeing more of the river and the surrounding area.

How big is Victoria Falls?

Victoria Falls is the largest curtain of falling water in the world – to be specific, it’s 1,708 meters (5,604 feet) wide and 108 meters (354 feet) high. This makes it roughly twice the height of Niagara Falls!

Technically, Victoria Falls is actually made up of five different waterfalls, one in Zambia (the Eastern Cataract) and four in Zimbabwe (The Devil’s Cataract, Main Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Horseshoe Falls). Each of these is spectacular in its own right, and it’s well worth taking the time to see all five:

Main Falls

At 93 meters (305 feet) high, the Main Falls are the largest at Victoria Falls. In fact, they are so high, that before it has a chance to reach the ground, most of the falling water is picked up by rising winds and turned into a fine, shimmering mist. For this reason, it’s often difficult to get a clear view of the Main Falls – but that just adds to their mystery and majesty!

Rainbow Falls

As you might expect from its name, Rainbow Falls are known for the stunning rainbows that form in the mist created by the falling water. These rainbows are best seen early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is at just the right angle, or on a full moon when they create otherworldly ‘moonbows’! More on those later! Rainbow Falls are 108 meters, or 354 feet, tall.

Horseshoe Falls

The Horseshoe Falls get their name from their shape, which – you guessed it – is similar to a horseshoe. They are located on the Zimbabwean side of the river and are often considered to be the most beautiful of all the waterfalls at Victoria Falls.

The Eastern Cataract

101 metres (or 331 feet) high and located on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River, the Eastern Cataract is notable for being much narrower than the other waterfalls at Victoria Falls.

The Devil’s Cataract

The smallest of all the Vic Falls at just 35 meters high, the Devil’s Cataract is still an impressive sight. It gets its name from the foaming, turbulent water that cascades over its edge. Devil’s Cataract is on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River.

The Zambezi River

The Zambezi is one of Africa’s major rivers, stretching for over 1,600 miles (2,600 kilometres) from its source in Zambia to its mouth on the Indian Ocean. The Zambezi is the fourth-longest river in Africa after the Nile, Congo, and Niger rivers. 

The Zambezi is between 80 and 120 meters (260 and 400 feet) deep at Victoria Falls. The Zambezi is also home to some of the largest populations of hippos and crocodiles in Africa!

What to do before you visit Victoria Falls?

There are a few things you should do before your trip to Victoria Falls to make sure everything goes smoothly. 

First, check the visa requirements for both Zambia and Zimbabwe. You can usually get a visa on arrival if you’re from a developed country, but it’s always best to check in advance. 

Victoria Falls aerial view

Next, make sure you have travel insurance that covers you for medical expenses and evacuation. (This is a clever idea for any trip, but it’s especially important if you’re going to be doing any activities like white-water rafting or bungee jumping, which we’ll talk about later.) 

Finally, familiarize yourself with the local currency, the Zambian kwacha and the Zimbabwean dollar. If you’ll be staying in Zimbabwe, many tourist establishments also accept US dollars, which can make things easier for visitors from the US. 

It’s a good idea to have some cash on hand when you arrive, as not all places accept credit cards.

When is the best time to visit Victoria Falls?

The best time to visit Victoria Falls is between March and May, when water levels in the Zambezi River are at their highest and the Falls are at their most spectacular. 

This is also the busiest time of year though, so if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, you might want to consider visiting during the shoulder season (November to February).

Some people prefer to visit Victoria Falls during the dry season, between June and October. This is when the water levels in the Zambezi River are at their lowest and you can get a closer view of the falls.

What is the risk of Malaria in Victoria Falls?

Malaria is a serious concern in many parts of Africa, but luckily Victoria Falls is located in a low-risk area. However, it’s still important to take precautions against mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent and sleeping under a mosquito net, which most lodges will provide for you. 

If you’re coming from a high-risk area, you may also want to consider getting malaria prophylaxis before your trip. These are easy enough to get from your doctor or a travel clinic, and they can help offer additional peace of mind while you’re travelling.

What is the climate like on a Victoria Falls holiday?

The climate in Victoria Falls is tropical, with average temperatures ranging from 20-30 degrees Celsius (68-86 degrees Fahrenheit). There is a wet season (November to March) and a dry season (April to October), but even during the wet season, rainfall is usually confined to short afternoon showers. 

Vic Falls tends to have hot summers from September through to April, with temperatures getting as high as 32 degrees Celsius (about 90 degrees Fahrenheit), and pleasantly mild winters from May through to August, with afternoon temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). 

This is one of the many reasons it’s such a popular destination with tourists from the Northern Hemisphere, who love to escape the harsh winter and bask in the African sunshine – pleasantly cooled by the fine mist, which is so characteristic of Victoria Falls, of course! 

How to get to Victoria Falls?

The best way to get to Victoria Falls is by flying into either Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) in Zimbabwe or Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (LVI) in Livingstone, Zambia. There are direct flights to both available from a variety of major airports. 

Lots of visitors like to start their holiday in South Africa, and then travel up to Zambia or Zimbabwe via one of the regional airlines. This is a terrific way to see more of Africa, such as the world-famous Kruger National Park or the many attractions of a  Cape Town holiday, but it will of course be more expensive and time-consuming than flying direct. 

Packing list for a Victoria Falls holiday

There are a few essential items you’ll need to pack for your trip to Victoria Falls, regardless of the time of year you’re visiting:

  • First, be sure to bring your passport and any other required travel documents.
  • Next, pack comfortable walking shoes and clothing that can get wet. A rain jacket is also a good idea, even if you’re visiting during the dry season. 
  • If you’re planning on doing any activities like white-water rafting or canoeing, you’ll need to bring a bathing suit and towel. This is Africa, so sunscreen is a must too.
  • Finally, don’t forget to pack your camera! Victoria Falls is one of the most photogenic places in the world, and you’ll want to have plenty of memories to look back on when you get back home.

What you can expect when you’re on a Victoria Falls holiday

Victoria Falls is truly an awe-inspiring sight. When you first see the falls, it’s hard to believe that something so vast and powerful could exist. As the famous explorer David Livingstone put it, “It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight“. 

One particularly interesting phenomenon to keep an eye open for is a lunar rainbow, or ‘moonbow’. Thanks to the constant spray from the falls, this is a familiar sight for tourists.

These charming apparitions are created by the light of the moon shining on water droplets in the air. Because the moon is often low on the horizon when Victoria Falls is at its fullest, moonbows are relatively common here. In fact, this is where one of the five falls – Rainbow Falls – gets its name from. 

Tips for a safe and enjoyable visit to Victoria Falls

If you’re planning a trip to Victoria Falls, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers and take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. 

There are a few specific safety concerns to be aware of at Victoria Falls. The most dangerous is the possibility of getting swept away by the strong currents in the Zambezi River. 

Be sure to stay well away from the edge of the river, and never attempt to swim in or near the falls. There have been several fatalities over the years, and it’s simply not worth the risk. If you’re after adventure, rather book an adrenalin activity through an experienced local operator – there are plenty to choose from! 

Victoria Falls in sunset

Another potential hazard is getting too close to wild animals. Victoria Falls is home to a variety of dangerous animals, including lions, hippos, and crocodiles. 

While it’s unlikely that you’ll come across any of these while you’re in town, it’s still important to be aware of the danger and take precautions when travelling in rural areas. If you are planning on going on a game drive or bush walk, be sure to book through a reputable operator and follow their safety instructions.

Finally, as with anywhere tourists frequent, it’s wise to follow common sense when it comes to keeping your valuables safe. Most lodges offer safes in your unit where you can store any particularly valuable items and cash while you’re out exploring. 

With these tips in mind, you’re sure to have a safe and memorable trip to Victoria Falls!

The Best Place to see Victoria Falls: Zimbabwe or Zambia?

It’s a question that has been debated by travel enthusiasts for years: Which country offers the best view of Victoria Falls? Is it Zimbabwe, where the falls are located? Or is it Zambia, which offers a more panoramic view of the waterfall? The answer is not so simple. Both countries have their pros and cons when it comes to viewing Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders.”

Quick Comparison between Zimbabwe VS Zambia

Personally, we feel Zimbabwe is the better choice if you want to see the falls up close. There are several lookout points along the Zimbabwean side of the Zambezi River, including the Devil’s Pool, which is only accessible during certain times of the year. 

Zambia is the better choice if you want to see the falls from a distance. The best viewing point is from Livingstone Island, which is located in the middle of the Zambezi River.

There are several reasons why Zambia is also a desirable choice for viewing Victoria Falls:

  1. The falls are located on the Zambezi River – the fourth-longest river in Africa. 
  2. Zambia offers a more panoramic view of the waterfall. 
  3. Livingstone Island, the best viewing point in Zambia, is located in the middle of the Zambezi River.

However, there are also several reasons why Zimbabwe makes a wonderful choice too:

  1. There are several lookout points along the Zimbabwean side of the Zambezi River, including the famous Devil’s Pool. 
  2. Zimbabwe is also home to Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, which offers a variety of footpaths and viewpoints from which to view the falls, as well as awesome game-viewing opportunities.

Zimbabwe or Zambia: Which offers better views of Victoria Falls?

Zimbabwe has the most vantage points, with about three-quarters of Victoria Falls located in the nation. From Zimbabwe, you can stand on the edge of the Devil’s Pool (a natural rock pool on Livingstone Island) and peer right over the edge of the Falls. However, this particular viewing point is only accessible during certain times of the year. 

You can also walk along the Knife-Edge Bridge, which gives you a heart-stopping view of the Zambezi River rapids you won’t forget in a hurry! 

One of the best ways to see Victoria Falls from Zambia is via helicopter. The helicopter will fly you over the Falls and then land on Livingstone Island, where you can have a champagne breakfast or lunch while overlooking the Falls. You can also take a tour of the Falls by canoe and explore some of the smaller gorges and tributaries that fed into Victoria Falls.

Whichever side you choose for your Victoria Falls holiday, you won’t want to miss a trip to the Boiling Pot: a large, deep pool at the bottom of the Falls where the Zambezi River violently swirls like a cauldron of bubbling water! 

To get to the Boiling Pot, you’ll need to take a short walk from the Knife-Edge Bridge on the Zimbabwe side or Livingstone Island on the Zambian side. The best time to visit the Boiling Pot is during the dry season when the water level is lower, and you can better see into the “pot”.

Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe highlights:

  • The Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls offers the iconic view of the Main Falls, with water flowing most of the year at varying degrees of strength. Most hotels are within walking distance of the waterfall, so you can easily explore the area. 
  • Victoria Falls Town is a classic “tourist town” with restaurants, bars and backpackers. However, there are also some historic hotels that offer traditional afternoon tea. Be sure to explore the markets for iconic soapstone sculptures that make fantastic souvenirs! 
  • If you’re looking for an adventure, consider white-water rafting or bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge. There are also a number of safari tours that depart from Victoria Falls Town.

Victoria Falls in Zambia highlights:

  • For close-up waterfall viewing, the Zambia side is hard to beat. You can swim in Devil’s Pool during the low-water season, visit Livingstone Island when water levels permit, and enjoy the views from several lodges along the Zambezi River. 
  • Livingstone is more of a ‘business town’ and home to the Livingstone Museum, but it still has its charms. There are several good restaurants and bars, as well as some interesting shops selling local arts and crafts. 
  • For wildlife lovers, the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is well worth a visit. The park is home to elephants, buffalo, antelope, and many other species of animals. 

Other activities to enjoy on a Victoria Falls holiday:

There’s no shortage of things to do at Victoria Falls, both on the Zambian side and the Zimbabwean side. 

One of the most popular activities is a guided tour of the Falls themselves. These tours usually take about an hour, and they’re a great way to learn about the history and geology of Victoria Falls. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities available as well in Victoria Falls. Both Zimbabwe and Zambia offer a variety of adrenaline-pumping activities, such as white-water rafting, bungee jumping, zip-lining, and abseiling. 

On the Zambian side, you can go white-water rafting or bungee jumping off the magnificent Victoria Falls Bridge. On the Zimbabwean side, you can take a scenic helicopter ride for a bird’s-eye view of the Falls. 

No matter which side you’re on, you’re guaranteed to have an up-close and personal experience with one of nature’s most magnificent wonders. So, whether you choose Zimbabwe or Zambia, we know you’ll have an unforgettable time!

Swimming in Devil’s Pool is a rite of passage for any visitor to Victoria Falls! Sometimes described as the ‘world’s most extreme infinity pool’, Devil’s Pool is located on the edge of Livingstone Island in Zambia. 

The pool is only accessible during the dry season, when water levels are low enough that a natural rock barrier forms at the edge of the Falls. (When water levels are high, Devil’s Pool is too dangerous to swim in.) You can swim right up to this natural barrier and enjoy the incredible views of the Zambezi River plunging down 328 feet over the edge of the Falls – an activity sure to get anyone’s heart pumping! 

If you’re interested in swimming in Devil’s Pool, be sure to book a tour with a reputable operator, as this is (understandably!) a very in-demand activity at Victoria Falls. 

Cultural experiences in and around Victoria Falls

If you’re a culture vulture, you’ll find plenty of authentic experiences to entertain and inform around Victoria Falls too.

In Zimbabwe, there’s an interesting outdoor museum to visit, built in the style of a traditional African village, which draws from the building styles of several different ethnic groups. 

In Zambia, Mukuni and Songwe villages are both great places to learn about the local way of life. There are also plenty of opportunities to see traditional dancing and music. Many lodges and hotels offer regular shows, or you can book tickets to see a show put on by one of the local villages. 

At Songwe village, you’ll get the chance to see the Royal Drums, a Zambian national treasure. These massive drums are over two hundred years old and were once used to communicate between villages. 

You can also learn about the local beliefs and customs surrounding the falls themselves. For many years, the falls were considered a sacred site, and they feature heavily in local mythology. 

The Livingstone Museum should definitely be on your itinerary too. This world-class museum is located in Zambia and is packed with information on the history of the falls, as well as the people who have lived in the area for centuries. 

We feel no visit to Victoria Falls would be complete without learning about the local culture too. 

Combining Victoria Falls with an African Safari

Aside from sharing Victoria Falls itself, both Zambia and Zimbabwe are regarded as some of Africa’s best countries to enjoy a safari. 

Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is home to elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes, and rhinos. Other creatures you might encounter include leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs. 

On the Zambian side, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is a beautiful place to see elephants, buffalo, and antelope. There are also many lodges located along the Zambezi River where you can enjoy the views and spot some wildlife. 

Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is regarded as one of the best places in Africa to see leopards in the wild, a rare experience indeed, as these are some of the continent’s most elusive creatures. 

Zambia is also home to a wide variety of birds, including some of the most colourful species in the world. The charming Marabou stork, Fulvous and whistling ducks, Lesser and Greater Flamingos, Great white pelicans, and the endangered wattle crane will all enchant keen birders. 

And in Zimbabwe, you’re quite likely to see the distinctive African fish eagle, the national bird of the country. These magnificent birds have a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters (8 feet), and their nests can weigh as much as 30 kg (66 pounds)! Their unmistakable call is perhaps the most distinctive sound of the African bush. 

Buck like the small but powerful klipspringer, huge roan antelope, and majestic Sable antelope will delight wildlife lovers in Zimbabwe too. 

Conclusion

If you’re looking for an unforgettable destination, look no further than Victoria Falls. With so much to see and do, it’s perfect for everyone from adrenaline junkies to nature lovers. Add in the amazing safari experiences on offer and you’ve got a holiday that will stay with you forever. 

Victoria Falls is also one of the most family-friendly holiday destinations in Africa, with lodges and resorts offering plenty of activities to keep children entertained. And considering just how much it has to offer, it’s also exceptionally good value for money. 

So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch with Discover Africa today and let us help you plan the trip of a lifetime

Travel with Confidence

With over 20 years of experience, our team will help you choose the perfect African safari for your adventure.
24/7 Support
Flexible
Authentic
Personalized
Copyright © Discover Africa Safaris | Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Victoria Falls | Last Updated: 25 Nov 2022