Victoria Falls Safari

The ultimate guide to your next Victoria Falls safari

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    Everything you need to know about your Victoria Falls holiday

    Welcome to Discover Africa’s Victoria Falls holiday guide. A Vic Falls (as it’s fondly referred to) is a holiday destination that offers the intrepid traveller the best that Africa’s safari destinations has to offer. From the legendary waterfall which cuts through Zambia and Zimbabwe, to its rich natural history. Curate your holiday experience and let us do the rest for you. It couldn’t be more easy.


    Where to go

    Travelling to Victoria Falls

    • Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side

      For many years, Zimbabwe was the country that most tourists chose to base themselves in to visit Victoria Falls, but as a result of the country’s political strife and economic instability in the 2000s, most travellers starting choosing Livingstone on the Zambian side instead. Zimbabwe has become a lot more stable in recent years, and tourism is again on the rise on the country, with more and more people choosing to stay on the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls.

      vic falls from zim
      Zimbabwe is a country rich in natural beauty

      There’s good reason to visit the Zimbabwean side: the country is home to two-thirds of Victoria Falls, as well as four out of the five waterfalls (Horseshoe Falls, Rainbow Falls, the Main Falls and the Devil’s Cataract) and almost all of the viewing points (16 out of 19), and it’s only on the side of the border the water flows year-round. Exploring the falls from Zimbabwe certainly won’t disappoint, no matter what time of year you go – the panoramas from the top of the gorge are simply astounding.

      The town of Victoria Falls, which is situated a conveniently short walk from the falls themselves, has excellent tourist infrastructure, offering a wide range of lodging options, restaurants, bars, curio shops and markets and a smorgasbord of activities and adventures. Zambezi National Park is only a 10-minute drive from town and makes for a great safari experience (especially if you don’t have time to visit other Zimbabwean parks on your trip), with picturesque landscapes and herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra, giraffe and sable in a backdrop of picturesque riverine landscapes.

      Practical advice

      Built just a few years ago, Victoria Falls Airport is a short drive outside of town and has direct flights from Johannesburg and Harare. Another way of reaching Victoria Falls is by train – either the budget-friendly Mosi-Oa-Tunya, from Bulawayo, or the very luxurious Rovos Rail from Pretoria in South Africa.

      The town of Victoria Falls has an excellent range of lodging options, including campsites, backpackers with dorm rooms and going up to all-inclusive luxury lodges. Some hotels are within walking distance from Victoria Falls, and others have a free shuttle bus that takes you to the entrance of the Victoria Falls National Park. The park entrance fee is US$30 (US$40 for a night entry) which gets you in once – if you return to the falls later in the day, you’ll need to pay again. The opening hours are 6am or 6.30am (depending on summer and winter seasons) to 6pm, and from 7pm to 10pm at night. Getting up early and watching the sun rise over the falls is truly magical – and you’ll have the paths almost to yourself.

      You don’t need a guide to see the falls, as it’s very easy to do a self-guided tour with well-marked paths and signs, but if you want to learn more about the history of the falls and the local flora and fauna, then hiring a guide or booking a guided tour from your hotel is a good idea.

      Seeing Victoria Falls during and after the rainy season (from February to May), when the Zambezi River is in full flow, means that you are guaranteed to get completely soaked by mist and spray. You’ll definitely need to wear a plastic poncho and to cover your camera carefully in a waterproof bag or casing. Be careful taking photos, because waves of spray can hit you suddenly before you’ve had a chance to cover the camera up. Wearing comfortable non-slip shoes is important, because the paths are extremely slippery when wet. Always stick to the demarcated footpaths and stay behind barriers. At viewpoints where there are no barriers, be sure to stay far away from the edge.

      zambezi river
      Experience the mighty Zambezi river in full flow from Feb-May

      If you’re looking for a safari experience beyond just a game drive and the chance to where you can fall asleep to a soundtrack of animal and bird noises, there are several options for lodging inside the Zambezi National Park, from self-catering lodges and campsites along the river to luxury lodges and camps with all-inclusive rates. It’s easy to do visits to Victoria Falls and try out all of the activities on offer in the area, as the park is only a short drive away from town.

      If you’re planning on visiting Zambia, make sure that you get the new KAZA Uni-Visa on your arrival in Zimbabwe (it’s available at Victoria Falls International Airport, the Kazungula border, Harare International Airport as well as the Victoria Falls border). The visa costs US$50, which is cheaper than buying two separate visas for Zimbabwe and Zambia. It’s s valid for 30 days and allows you to cross between Zimbabwe and Zambia as many times as you like. It also allows you to cross into Botswana for the day as long as you return to Zambia or Zimbabwe the same day – which is perfect for doing a day trip to visit Chobe National Park.

      Victoria Falls really does have something for everyone: solo travellers will discover friendly, welcoming local people and find plenty of opportunities to meet up with other travellers on group activities and in restaurants and bars, families will find a host of experiences suited for kids, such as the Victoria Falls Canopy Tour, romantic couples are well catered for in terms of intimate rooms and experiences for two (think exclusive suites, in-room couples’ spa treatments and private dinners on your terrace), while adventurers will find plenty to keep that adrenaline pumping, whether it’s bungee jumping or white-water rafting over huge rapids.

      • Highlights

        Seeing Victoria Falls is undoubtedly the top highlight of any visit, but there are more ways than one to take in the powerful display of cascading water. First up should be a viewing experience on foot: pay the entrance fee to Victoria Falls National Park and take your time to walk the cliffside trails that offer 16 viewpoints of the falls from different angles. Then it’s time for a bird’s eye perspective: take a ride in a helicopter flying high above the falls for truly spectacular photos of “the smoke that thunders” – this is particularly dramatic during the high-water season of February to May, when the mist and spray are propelled high into the air. If you’re lucky to be visiting Victoria Falls during a full moon after rainy season when the falls are in full flow, then don’t miss doing a trip to see the falls at night to witness a lunar rainbow or a “moon bow” – the rare and very special sight of a nighttime rainbow reflected in the water.

        In and around the town of Victoria Falls there are more outdoor adventures than you can shake a GoPro stick at. One of the most popular activities of all is white-water rafting on the Zambezi River – a thrilling ride that draws adventurers from around the world. Then there are the activities that get you some views along with shots of adrenaline: whizz across the Batoka Gorge at 100 kilometres an hour along a zip line suspended 120 metres above the Zambezi, or jump on the Flying Fox to slide across the gorge face-down on a cable high above the churning water far below. Gorge swinging is definitely not for the faint of heart: become a human pendulum when you jump off the edge of the gorge to swing on a giant cable suspended across the two sides of the gorge. A less extreme high-wire activity that is suitable for the whole family (with no minimum age limit) is the Victoria Falls Canopy Tour, which takes you on nine different zip lines, trails and bridges through the forest of Batoka Gorge, with spectacular views of the river and the chance to spot beautiful birds such as the purple crested turaco. You’ve heard of shark cage diving but probably not of crocodile cage diving: same idea, except you’re in protected in a cage from a pool of crocodiles. Get your closest experience with these powerful reptiles as you remain underwater with diving gear. Challenge another toothy predator on fishing excursions on the Zambezi to catch the famous tiger fish, which is regarded as the best freshwater fighting fish in the world. For those less adventurously inclined, activities also come in the more sedate variety: think guided bike tours of the town and surrounding area, relaxing river cruises in the golden light of the late afternoon to spot elephants, hippos and birds along the Zambezi River, a tram ride across the bridge to Zambia, and sunset trips on an old steam train across Victoria Falls Bridge with drinks and snacks. You can also do visits to a local village and help out with some daily chores to see what rural life is like for Zimbabweans.

        Despite its small size, Zambezi National Park packs an impressive punch: it’s home to scenic landscapes of riverine forest, mopane woodland, four of the Big Five (rhino are absent) as well as African wild dog, hippos, cheetah, crocodiles and giraffe, diverse birdlife with more than 400 species including the highlights of Pel’s fishing owl, African finfoot, goliath heron and migratory African skimmers. Go on self-guided game drives to spot wildlife easily on the 50-kilometre-long network of roads that trace the Zambezi River – the northern boundary of the park – and take along a packed lunch to eat at one of the picturesque picnic sites along the river. There’s also the option of joining game drives on open-air safari vehicles where you’ll learn more about the animals and birdlife from a guide. For more of a wilderness immersion without the sound of a motor, you can also do walking safaris with a professional guide or explore the park on a horseback safari.

        areial view of vic falls
        An aerial view of Vic Falls is undoubtedly a pinnacle experience

        Shopping for art, curios and sculptures is a highlight of a visit to Victoria Falls: Zimbabwe is known for its beautiful artisans and sculptors and you’ll find some special pieces here to take home. The best place to browse is the Elephant’s Walk Shopping and Artist Village, which has different galleries and boutiques stocked with sculptures made out of materials such as soapstone, wire and quartz, ironwood carvings and souvenirs such as wooden walking sticks with an animal head carved on top, clothes and bags made out of local fabrics, and beautiful jewellery. All the prices here are fixed, so there’s no haggling. Nearby there’s an outdoor curio market with crafts and artworks where the prices are up for negotiation.

        A small museum packed with fascinating artefacts – some centuries old – from Zimbabwe’s different ethnic groups, the Jafuta Heritage Centre (which is inside Elephant’s Walk) is a must for anyone interested in the rich cultural heritage of the country.

        elephants walk
        Elephant’s Walk Shopping and Artists Village is a hub for curios. Prices are fixed so haggling for bargains is not an option.
    • Victoria Falls on the Zambia side

      Since Zimbabwe’s economic and political troubles started in the 2000s, Zambia has taken over as the most popular destination to visit Victoria Falls. The laidback town of Livingstone, which lies 11 kilometres from the falls, has an excellent set up for tourists, from lodging that suits every budget and great restaurants to tons of adventure and cultural activities.

      luangwa np
      A troop of elephants cross a waterway in South Luanga National Park

      Zimbabwe may have more viewing points of Victoria Falls than Zambia, but the latter country does offer the chance to get much closer to the spray: you can get just tantalisingly close to the Eastern Cataract and right into the thick of the spray and when you walk across the Knife-Edge Bridge. And then there’s swimming in the Devil’s Pool, a natural rock pool right on the edge of the waterfall – one of the planet’s greatest infinity pools – as well as the hike down to Boiling Pot at the bottom of the cascading falls, where you can swim under the spray.

      In terms of wildlife, the Zambian side has Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, where the game viewing is easy due to its compact size. While spotting elephant and zebra against beautiful backdrops of the Zambezi River, the real highlight of the park is the re-introduced white rhino – the only ones in the whole country – which you can track on foot in a thrilling wildlife encounter.

      • Highlights

        Getting up close to the power of Victoria Falls is what a visit to Livingstone is all about. Inside the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park there are pathways alongside the gorge edge that give you incredible panoramas of the Eastern Cataract, one of five waterfalls of Victoria Falls. Get within a few feet of the waterfall and get soaked on the Knife-Edge Bridge before taking to the skies: you can either do a helicopter flip for heart-stopping aerial views of the falls, or for the more daring, hop on the back of a piloted microlight – essentially a paraglider with an engine – to soar like a bird above the mist. If you travel during the full moon, don’t miss seeing the lunar rainbow in the falls at night. On the night before, the night of and the night after the full moon each month, there’s a special entrance opening to see the lunar rainbow of Victoria Falls: refracted light from the moon displayed in the spray of the falls. The best time of year to see the lunar rainbow is when the waterfall spray is at its most powerful, from around February to May, and, while you can see it from either side of the border, the view from the Zambian side is better than in Zimbabwe. The most exciting view of the falls – and probably the most thrilling swim you’ll ever have is in Devil’s Pool. This natural rock pool, perched on the edge of the waterfall, is about as close as you can get to Victoria Falls. To reach it, you take a boat to Livingstone Island and then have to swim a short distance in the Zambezi before reaching the pool. It’s not as hair raising as it sounds – there is a natural ledge that stops you from going over the edge, but for safety you can only do the swim when the river is running low, from around late August to early January. Then there’s the view of the falls from below: hike down a steep trail for around 20 minutes to reach the Boiling Pot, a churning whirlpool, at the base of the waterfall (note that this hike can only be done in the low-water season of August to December). You can’t get much closer to Victoria Falls than actually swimming under the spray: paddle across the Boiling Pot to get showered by the world’s biggest sheet of cascading water.

        devils pool
        Devils Pool is one of the world’s most beautiful infinity pools

        Adventure activities are on the cards for most travellers to Livingstone, starting from the most daring: the 111-metre bungee-jump into Batoka Gorge off Victoria Falls Bridge, which connects Zimbabwe and Zambia. Regarded as one of the best bungee jumps in the world, you’ll be guaranteed spectacular views and a huge shot of adrenaline. Slightly less terrifying is the bridge swing: jump feet first – rather than dive upside down – into an 80-metre freefall and the Flying Fox, a jump across the chasm of the gorge on a cable slide. For the same spectacular views but without the adrenaline injection, a great alternative is to traverse the walkways under the bridge while strapped into a safety harness. Slide down the gorge without turning into a human pendulum when you go abseiling more than 50 metres down a rope. A wonderful way of spotting wildlife and birds and taking in the beautiful scenery of the area is on a horse ride along the Zambezi River. Head out for a few hours or an overnight ride through teak forests, where you’ll camp on the banks of the river. In terms of river activities, there’s the most extreme white-water rafting the Zambezi’s huge rapids on a heart-pumping adventure and jet boating – or the less strenuous – drifting on the Livingstone Float, canoeing safaris, and sipping cocktails on relaxing river cruises at sunset. Anglers should definitely sign up for a fishing excursion around islands upstream from the falls where the goal is the world’s most exciting freshwater fighting fish: the toothy tiger fish.

        mosi oa tunya
        Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park from above

        A memorable and romantic experience not to be missed is the five-course dinner onboard a 1920s steam train, which traces a slow journey along the Zambezi River through Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park at sunset. You’ll have the chance to spot wildlife while sipping on wine before the train stops for the dinner and then turns back to Livingstone. If you’re after spectacular views, then there’s another steam train journey you can do, from Livingstone to the Victoria Falls Bridge where the panoramas of the dramatic gorge are beyond photogenic.

        Split into two sections, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is made up of Victoria Falls and the wildlife area, which is only three kilometres from Livingstone. While small and lacking in big predators, the park offers a great introduction to Zambia’s wildlife, including elephant, buffalo, Burchell’s zebra, wildebeest and giraffe and beautiful birds such as Livingstone’s turaco and Livingstone’s flycatcher. Because of the park’s compact size, wildlife viewing is particularly easy: book a guided game drive through your hotel, or take your own car to self-drive around the park in just a few hours. The star attractions of Mosi-oa-Tunya are the re-introduced (and well-protected) white rhinos, which you can track on foot – a very special way to see these endangered creatures up close.

        burchells zebra
        Burchell’s zebra is a southern subspecies of the plains zebra

        To learn about Zambian history, culture and rural life, visit the Mukuni Village, which was established in the 13th century and is now home to around 7000 Leya people. Take a guided tour of the working village to meet the villagers in their huts, taste some traditional food and beer, see craftspeople at work and shop for carvings and souvenirs in the market.

        • Practical information
          • While the town of Livingstone is a short drive away from Victoria Falls, there are two hotels that are within walking distance of the falls. Some hotels offer a free shuttle service to the falls, or you can hire a private taxi to get you there. You don’t need to hire a guide to take you on a tour of the falls. The entrance fee to the park to see the falls is US$20, and the opening hours are from 6am to 6pm. If you want soft light, visit the falls at sunrise or sunset. If you’re visiting the falls during the high-water season from February to May, then you will get very wet: bring waterproof gear or buy a poncho at the entrance gate, and be sure to cover up any electronics. Always stick to the paths and stay behind barriers, and wear non-slip shoes with a good grip for walking on slippery paths. At some places on the paths there are no barriers – be extremely careful about going too close to the edge on slippery rocks. Don’t feed the baboons or monkeys!

          • During the high-water season (February to May), when the Zambezi River is at its fullest, the mist and spray can obscure views on the Zimbabwean side of the falls, making Zambia a better choice for views. However, after the dry winter season, in around October or November, the falls dry up on the Zambian side. If you’re visiting Victoria Falls at this time of year, it’s a good idea to consider staying on the Zimbabwean side.

          • If you’re travelling with children, be sure to check the minimum age requirement before you book any activities. For example, children need to be at least 12 years old to track white rhino, 15 for white-water rafting and 14 for bungee-jumping and bridge swinging.

          • On the edge of town, Harry Mwaanga International Airport Flights has flights from Lusaka, Johannesburg and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, which serves Kruger National Park in South Africa – a very convenient route if you’re combining a safari in South Africa with a visit to Victoria Falls.

          • If you stay in Zambia, it definitely makes sense to visit the Zimbabwean side of the falls to get the more panoramic views. The best way to do this is to obtain a KAZA Uni-Visa for US$50 on arrival in Zambia from one of the following places: the Victoria Falls border, Harry Mwaanga International Airport in Livingstone, Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka and the Kazungula border. The visa has a validity of 30 days and allows you unlimited crossings between Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as day trips into Botswana, which is ideal if you’d like to visit Chobe National Park on a day trip and return back to Livingstone that evening.

          • With a remarkable array of activities on offer on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls, every kind of traveller will find experiences that are just up their street. Adventurers will be in their element with bungee-jumping, white-water rafting, gorge swinging and abseiling, while nature lovers can get their fix on gorge hikes, game drives in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, horseback rides and canoe safaris. Couples will find lots of relaxing experiences, from spa treatments and sunset river cruises at luxury hotels and lodges which are geared up for honeymooners and romantic breaks, with special packages and extra touches such as private dining experiences in special locations. Solo travellers will have plenty of chances to meet other travellers in bars, restaurants and on group activities, but will also find peace and quiet on hikes and horse rides through the bush. Families are well catered for: many hotels and lodges have the option of booking family rooms, as well as offer kids’ activity programmes and children’s menus. The activities in and around Livingstone are suitable for all ages, from toddlers to teenagers.

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    • Zambezi River

      There’s more to the Zambezi River than just its powerful cascade down a 1.7 kilometre-wide gorge to form Victoria Falls. This mighty river – Africa’s fourth largest – draws adventure seekers from all over the planet for Africa’s most thrilling white-water rafting on powerful Grade Five rapids. White-water rafting is not the only way to have fun on the Zambezi’s rapids though: for more adventurous thrills there’s river boarding, where you surf the rapids on a bodyboard, as well as jet boating over the water at 100km an hour.

      zambezi river
      Early morning boat trips down or up the Zambezi river will offer unique views of the wading wildlife

      The river also offers more relaxing activities to match the high-intensity adventures. The Zambezi courses its way through beautiful landscapes of national parks on either side of the border, supporting a variety of wildlife and bird species – and there are lots of ways of taking in the scenery and animals without the adrenaline kick. Paddle along the river on relaxing canoe safaris, which get you close to elephant and buffalo drinking on the banks, or do the Livingstone drift tour, where a guide paddles you down the river in an inflatable raft. The famous sunset river cruises are a must: explore the river at a languid pace on a big boat and take in a glorious sunset with cocktails and snacks.

      • Highlights

        White-water rafting on the Zambezi River is said to be the best in Africa, and with nearly half of the river’s rapids classified as Grade Five, tackling the river is a wild white-knuckle ride. In between the thrilling rapids there are stretches of calm where you can soak in the dramatic scenery from the bottom of the gorge. White-water rafting can be done in both Zambia and Zimbabwe on half-day or full-day excursions, but you can also sign up for overnight or multi-day trips, where you camp out on beautiful beaches in the wilderness. River boarding is another heart-pumping white-water ride: don a wetsuit, helmet, shin guards and flippers and jump on top of a bodyboard to cruise the rapids and navigate the rocks of the Zambezi face first. It’s a close contender with white-water rafting and bungee jumping for the most thrilling adventure you can have in Victoria Falls. If speed is your thing, book a jet boating ride in either Zambia or Zimbabwe on a super-powered jet-propelled boat, which shoots over the Zambezi and its rapids at 100km an hour. Jet boats can cruise in shallow water, so you can explore parts of the river that are inaccessible to bigger boats. A thirty-minute ride includes a visit to the Boiling Pot at the base of the falls, a couple of rapids and some tricks such as 360-degree turns.

        Paddling down the Zambezi and its many channels on a canoeing safari with a qualified guide is a wonderful way of birdwatching for the more than 400 species and to spot wildlife such as hippos, crocodiles and antelopes on shore. You’ll be able to get closer to big game – such as elephants – than you would in a game drive vehicle, so it’s a wonderful way to experience the bush on half or full day trips. You can also do multi-day adventures, where your nights are spent camping under the stars on riverside beaches.

        An even more sedate alternative to canoeing trips is the Livingstone Drift: float in an inflatable raft and get paddled down the river by a guide who will point out animals and birds, while you sit back and sip on a beer.

        white water rafting
        White water rafting is an adrenalin-junkie’s dream

        Cruises on the river are offered on both sides of the border, with the large African Queen on the Zambian side which takes more than 100 passengers, and smaller boats on the Zimbabwean side. On boat trips you can get cocktails and snacks, or a full dinner. There couldn’t be a more relaxing way to take in the magnificent riverside scenery, spot wildlife such as hippos, crocodiles, elephant, buffalo and see some of the hundreds of species of birds that populate the region.

        Fishing excursions on the Zambezi are a must for keen anglers: the river is home to more than 75 species of fish, the most famous of which is the toothy tiger fish. This big predator – which can weigh up to 15 kg – is regarded as one of the best freshwater fighting fishes in the world, and it’s the most prized catch on the river. Fishing trips can take anything from a few hours to a full day, and even if you don’t catch anything you’ll have a great day out on the river exploring channels and pools and spotting birds and wildlife.

        angling
        Angling is a great pasttime on the Zambezi river
        • Practical information
          • White-water rafting is not a year-round activity: during the months of March/April to July, when the Zambezi River is at its highest, you can’t go rafting at all. August to December is the best time of year for white-water rafting (because the low water levels mean the most exciting rapids), with August and September being the optimal months. You need to be fairly fit to do white-water rafting as it’s quite a serious adventure and the walk in and out of the gorge is strenuous (bring good walking shoes along for the hikes).

          • While you can do white-water rafting in both Zambia and Zimbabwe, a benefit of the Zambian side is that you don’t have to clamber out of the steep gorge at the end of your rafting adventure because there’s a cable car lift that takes you up.

          • The minimum age for river boarding is 13, and for white-water rafting it’s 15, while the canoeing safaris on the Upper Zambezi are fairly easy going, so children aged seven and above are allowed to join trips.

          • If you’re after tiger fish, late May to December is the best time of year to try to catch these ferocious predators, while August to November is the ideal time for fishing generally because of the low water level of the Zambezi.

          • Trips on the Zambezi River are definitely for the adventurers: tackle challenging rapids on white-water rafting trips and on riverboarding adventures or shoot over the river at a high speed in a jet boat.

          • Solo travellers will be able to join up with groups for white-water rafting, jet boating, fishing trips and canoeing safaris, and the sunset river cruises are very social.

          • Zambezi River trips are great for families too. While there’s an age limit of 15 white-water rafting and river boarding, children only need to be seven and above to go the canoeing safaris, and river cruises are for all ages.

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    When to go

    • January
      January is the wettest month, meaning that the Zambezi is in full tilt Credit: Dave and Tanyas African Odyssey
      • January is mid-summer in Victoria Falls: it’s hot – the maximum average temperature is 31C – and rainy with afternoon thundershowers most afternoons. It’s the wettest month of the year.
      • The Zambezi River is starting to rise from the summer rains, which means there’s a lot of mist and spray at Victoria Falls.
      • While wildlife viewing is not ideal in January (and the Zambezi National Park may close after heavy rains), this is the best season for bird watching, as migratory species are present.
      • You can still go white-water rafting in January, although it’s not the best time of year due to the higher water level. The Devil’s Pool usually closes for swimming early on this month.
      • January is low season for travel to Victoria Falls, which means you can pick up some great discounts on lodging and all-inclusive packages.
    • February
      Tokaleya Camp Credit: Wilderness Safaris
      • February is another rainy and hot month in Victoria Falls. Though it will rain most days, usually the thundershowers clear up fairly quickly, leaving blue skies and sunshine.
      • February is a great month to see Victoria Falls if you want to experience the full dramatic power of the Zambezi River gushing down the gorge, although all of the mist and spray can make getting panoramic views difficult.
      • February is an excellent month for birdwatching, though it’s not ideal for wildlife viewing, and there’s a chance that the Zambezi National Park on the Zimbabwean side may close if it’s been raining heavily.
      • February is still the low season – known as the “green season” – in Victoria Falls, so hotels are offering lower rates.
    • March
      There is still quite a bit of mist and spray from the falls which can obscure wildlife viewing
      • March is another warm, humid, rainy month in Victoria Falls with frequent afternoon thundershowers and average daytime highs of 31C.
      • The Zambezi River is full of water from the summer rains, which means that Victoria Falls is pumping at full volume: expect to see a dramatic spectacle with a soundtrack of roaring thunder, and lots of mist and spray (which can obscure the view).
      • March is another month for birders: the migratory species are still in the national parks and in the trees around the falls. Wildlife viewing is difficult at this time of the year because of the lush vegetation.
      • White-water rafting usually ends in March or April because of the high water level in the Zambezi River.
      • March is nearing the end of the “green season”, or low season, when hotels offer their lowest rates on rooms.
    • April
      Another perspective of the falls. This is a good time of the year to see the falls from a helicopter
      • The rainy season ends in April, which is a much drier month than March. The temperature drops a bit but it’s still warm with daytime temperatures in the high 20s.
      • In April, the Zambezi River is extremely full, so Victoria Falls is in full flow. It’s a good time of year to travel to the falls if you want to see the natural spectacle at its most dramatic, however the spray sent up by the waterfalls can make it difficult to see the falls at foot level, so at this time of year a helicopter ride will give you the best view. The views from Zambian side are also better during this full flow period.
      • April is the last month to spot migratory bird species before they move in in the dry winter.
    • May
      This time of the year gets better for wildlife viewing
      • May marks the beginning of the dry winter season with almost no rainfall and a drop in temperatures (night time lows go down to 11C). Pack warm clothes to wear at night and in the early mornings.
      • May has wonderful weather, with sunshine and blue skies. It’s a good time of year to travel to Victoria Falls to witness the astounding spectacle of a huge volume of water gushing down the gorge with a roar, although there’s less spray and mist than in March and April.
    • June
      A lionness jumps through the water, intent on catching her prey
      • June is a dry, cool month in Victoria Falls, with night time temperatures dropping to below 10C, although daytimes are mild and temperatures can go up to the mid 20s. You’ll need to bring along warm clothing for night time activities and early morning hikes and game drives.
      • June is one of the busiest months of the year for visiting Victoria Falls. The views of the falls are excellent – the falls are still powerful but don’t have as much spray as earlier in the year, as the water level in the Zambezi has decreased.
      • As the vegetation starts to thin out in June, the wildlife viewing in the national parks surrounding the falls gets much easier.
    • July
      The highly endangered wild dogs
      • July is the coolest month of the year: night time temperatures drop to 7C, while day time temperatures are in the mid-20s. Be sure to pack warm clothes for night time and early morning game drives and activities.
      • July is a popular month to visit Victoria Falls for the clear blue skies, sunshine and for ideal views of the falls: the river is not at its fullest, so the mist and spray have decreased from the earlier months in the year and you’ll get perfect panoramas.
      • July is a great time of year for game viewing in the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia.
    • August
      Herds of buffalo traverse the grasslands in Zambia
      • August is another dry month, but it’s slightly warmer than July, with daytime averages of 29C and night time temperatures of 10 degrees.
      • August is one of the peak months for tourism in Victoria Falls. It’s a great time to view the falls, and the best month for white-water rafting. The Devil’s Pool usually opens near the end of this month, and swimming in this natural infinity pool is a highlight for many travellers. Wildlife viewing in August is very good as vegetation is dry and thin and animals have to drink in the Zambezi River, making them easy to spot.
      • August is a busy month, so expect to be sharing attractions and activities with many other people. It’s the peak season, so hotel rates are at their highest.
    • September
      A hippo makes a surprise visit to Zambezi River Lodge
      • September starts to get warmer – day time temperatures can be 33C, while night times are still a cool 15C. It’s still in the dry season though with usually no rainfall at all.
      • September is one of the best months of the year for visiting Victoria Falls: it’s not yet too hot, the falls are still flowing on both sides of the border and wildlife viewing and white-water rafting are excellent. It is busy though so you’ll pay high season rates and have to book ahead for lodging.
    • October
      An elephant reaches for the juiciest foliage
      • October is known as “Suicide Month”: this is the hottest month of the year with an average of 34C for day time temperatures but the highs can go above 40C.
      • With no rains for months, the water in the Zambezi River starts to run low and by the end of the month, in some years, the falls can dry up in Zambia.
      • Coming right at the end of the dry season, October is an excellent month for wildlife viewing in the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia.
      • It’s extremely hot in October and many people choose not to travel at this time of year because of the temperatures.
    • November
      White water rafting is excellent this time of year
      • In November the summer rains begin, bringing a welcome relief from the intense heat of October, although it’s still very hot.
      • The Zambezi River is at its lowest level of the year, and Victoria Falls can completely dry up on the Zambian side, although the waterfalls flow year-round in Zimbabwe. It’s not the best time to see the falls if you want to experience their full power.
      • November is one of the best months of the year for white-water rafting: the rapids are more challenging because of the low water level in the river.
      • Migratory bird species start arriving in the area in November, marking the start of bird watching season.
      • November is the beginning of the low season in Victoria Falls – a good time to travel if you want to score on discounted hotel rates and packages.
    • December
      How awesome to wake up to this view?
      • December is slightly cooler than November but still a hot month with daytime temperatures averaging 31C. It’s also the second wettest month of the year (after January), so most days you’ll get an afternoon thundershower.
      • The Zambezi River is low in December, so the falls are much less dramatic than earlier in the year. The waterfalls can also completely dry up on the Zambian side.
      • With the start of summer rains, the vegetation starts to get full and greener, which means December isn’t an ideal time for wildlife viewing. However, the birdlife at this time of year is superb, with birds in their full colourful plumage and many migratory species around.
      • December is the last month for excellent white-water rafting with the perfect water level in the Zambezi River.
      • December is low season in Vic Falls, so you’ll be able to get the lower rates on hotels and packages.

    Why Victoria Falls?

    Spanning Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is one of Africa’s most spectacular natural sights: there’s not much to beat the biggest sheet of falling water on Earth cascading with an astounding roar down cliffs speckled with lush forest into the mighty Zambezi River more than 100 metres below. Known as Mosi-oa-Tunya – “the smoke that thunders” – Victoria Falls is so forceful that the spray sent up by the plunging water rises so high up that it can be seen from 50 kilometres away: an incredible spectacle of the raw power of nature.

    There’s more to Victoria Falls than ticking off this bucket list sight though: it’s also Africa’s adrenaline capital. On both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides of the border, adventure seekers will find extreme thrills in white-water rafting, river boarding, jet boating, bungee jumping, abseiling, zip lining, microlighting above the falls and gorge swinging, while more sedate experiences such as riding an old steam train and drinking gin and tonics on sunset boat cruises are perennial crowd pleasers. That’s not to mention the safari activities and animal experiences such as tracking white rhinos on foot and canoeing trips on the Upper Zambezi to spot elephants and birds. The magic of Victoria Falls is that it’s a destination for just about anyone: solo travellers, families with kids, adventurers and romantic couples will all find more than enough memorable experiences in a visit of even just a few days.

    There’s more to Victoria Falls than ticking off this bucket list sight though: it’s also Africa’s adrenaline capital. On both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides of the border, adventure seekers will find extreme thrills in white-water rafting, river boarding, jet boating, bungee jumping, abseiling, zip lining, microlighting above the falls and gorge swinging, while more sedate experiences such as riding an old steam train and drinking gin and tonics on sunset boat cruises are perennial crowd pleasers. That’s not to mention the safari activities and animal experiences such as tracking white rhinos on foot and canoeing trips on the Upper Zambezi to spot elephants and birds. The magic of Victoria Falls is that it’s a destination for just about anyone: solo travellers, families with kids, adventurers and romantic couples will all find more than enough memorable experiences in a visit of even just a few days.

    One of the main questions that people ask when planning a trip to Victoria Falls is where to base themselves. The Zimbabwean and Zambian sides both have towns close to the falls that are geared up for tourism, with a huge choice of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, bars and activity operators. Each side of the border has quite different views of the falls (with the majority of the falls on the Zimbabwean end), and while many of the same activities are on offer on both sides, some experiences, such as bungee-jumping and ziplining through a treetop canopy can only be done on one or other side of the border. It’s important to know that the waterfall dries up on the Zambian side at the end of the dry season (in October or November), so if you’re travelling during this time it makes sense to stay in Zimbabwe. But otherwise, our recommendation would be to choose one side to stay at and visit the other on an easy day trip.

    vic falls

    What makes Victoria Falls unique?

    It doesn’t get much more unique than the biggest and most dramatic waterfall on the planet: Victoria Falls definitely deserves its mantle as one of Seven Wonders of the Natural World. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, in all its powerful glory, is enough of a bucket list sight to be a unique place to visit in itself, but the addition of the extraordinary diversity of outdoor activities on offer around Victoria Falls make this destination truly special.

    The adventures are seemingly endless: go bungee jumping in one of the world’s most spectacular locations, fly like a bird in a tiny microlight plane, track down endangered white rhinos on foot, swing like a human pendulum across the steep gorge, abseil down a cliff, zip line through the treetops and go cage diving with crocodiles – and that’s just for starters. On the mighty Zambezi River, you can experience some of the best white-water rafting on the planet, tackle rapids face-first on a bodyboard, shoot across the water on a jet boat, swim in a natural infinity pool on the edge of Victoria Falls and under the spray at the base of the falls and go on relaxing multi-day canoeing safaris where you’ll be immersed in wilderness, spotting elephants from just a few metres away and sleeping on riverside beaches under the stars. Then there are lots of ways to explore the area around the falls, from cycling tours and horseback rides to game drives in the two national parks on either side of the border.

    vic falls
    Vic Falls is one of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders - for good reason

    Another reason why Victoria Falls is a unique destination is that in just a small area on either side of the falls, there’s really something for every kind of traveller. In terms of budgets, there’s a huge range of lodging – everything from riverside campsites to high-end luxury hotels. Families are well catered for: hotels are child-friendly and there’s a host of activities for all ages, while solo travellers will find it easy to meet other people and have fun on group activities. Luxury lodges offer lots of special touches for romantic couples and honeymooners, and adventure-seekers will be in their element with the amount of adrenaline-inducing fun on offer. Travellers who prefer serene activities will discover that there are plenty of quiet pleasures: high tea on manicured lawns, relaxing spa treatments, sundowner cocktails on sunset river cruises, gourmet dinner onboard an old steam train as its chugs its way through a safari park, and sipping wine while being paddled on an inflatable raft down the Zambezi.

    What wild/natural life can I see in Victoria Falls?

    Apart from the fact that there are so many activities to do in the Victoria Falls area, an excellent reason to return to the destination is to experience the waterfalls and the outdoor adventures in changing seasons. Victoria Falls is very different month by month: the level of water in the Zambezi River changes with seasonal rains, which means that at times the waterfalls are thunderously dramatic, sending up so much spray that you will get completely soaked on the cliffside footpaths, and other times the river is running so low that the falls dry up on the Zambian side. In the summer months, the foliage is lush and green, while in winter the vegetation thins out and turns brown.

    Different seasons are best for varying activities, and returning Victoria Falls at different times of year means you’ll be able to experience all of them, from the best white-water rafting during the low-water period of August to December to wildlife viewing in the national parks on either side of the falls during the dry winter months of June to October, and superb bird watching the rainy summer season from November to April, when you can spot migratory birds and birds with their full colourful plumage.

    Victoria Falls is also great place to base yourself for trips to other safari destinations in Zimbabwe, such as Hwange National Park, and to Chobe National Park in Botswana. On repeat visits to Victoria Falls you’ll have time to explore the wonderful wildlife just an hour’s drive away.

    vic falls from the sky
    Imagine taking a microlight over the falls to get a bird’s eye view?

    Type of traveller

    What type of traveller are you?

    • A solo Victoria Falls holiday

      solo
      Enjoy a peaceful sunset dinner for one

      Victoria Falls is a perfect destination for solo travellers, whether you choose to stay in either Zambia or Zimbabwe. Both Livingstone and Victoria Falls town are well-set up for tourism and are easy to travel to, book lodging and organise activities. There are plenty of opportunities to meet other travellers in the guesthouses, hotels and in bars and restaurants in town, and many activities in the area, such as white-water rafting, and sunset river cruises, are done in groups, so you’ll be able to join up with other people for adventurous fun. There’s lots to do on your own, such as explore the falls and go for game drives in the national parks on each side of the border, but just about everything in the area can also be done with a guide.

      Highlights for solo travellers include watching the sunrise over Victoria Falls and catching the lunar rainbow reflected in the mist on full moon nights, flying above the falls in a helicopter or microlight, bungee jumping more than 100 metres down into the Batoka Gorge, getting soaked on a wild white-water rafting ride and tackling rapids head-first on a bodyboard, fishing for toothsome tiger fish, spotting wildlife on a canoeing trip on the Zambezi or from the back of a horse, zip lining through the rainforest canopy, swinging across the gorge and sipping cocktails on a sunset cruise on the river.

      Both Victoria Falls and Livingstone are safe, tourist-friendly towns and solo female travellers should encounter no problems – although it’s not advisable to walk on your own through the towns at night.

    • A family holiday in Victoria Falls

      drumming
      The children will thoroughly enjoy drumming

      Kids of all ages will love visiting Victoria Falls: seeing the world’s biggest waterfall and getting drenched by mist and spray ranks up there with the best travel experiences in the world. Apart from the thrill of exploring the waterfall, the activities on offer in the area couldn’t be more exciting, and many of them are suitable for young kids. Meanwhile, for teenagers aged 14 or 15 and above there’s the adrenaline-inducing white-water rafting trips on the powerful Zambezi River’s rapids, hikes in the gorge, bridge swinging, bungee jumping and swimming in the world’s most thrilling infinity pool on the edge of the falls.

      Wildlife experiences are great for kids, and there’s a lot to choose from. Go on self-guided game drives in Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe and Mosi-oa-Tunya Park in Zambia for easy game spotting of elephant, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra and giraffe, track white rhinos on foot (for children above 14), head out on the Zambezi River for fishing trips (for children above four) or set off on overnight canoeing safaris to spot wildlife and birds (for children aged above seven). There are also lots of activities for children of all ages. Highlights include rides on the steam train and Victoria Falls tram, river cruises, flying over the falls in a helicopter and practicing their African drumming skills at the Boma Experience in Victoria Falls.

      Livingstone and the town of Victoria Falls each have a host of lodges and hotels that cater for families with children of all ages with the option of family suites, children’s food menus and kids’ programmes filled with special activities.

      Victoria Falls is a malaria area, so ask your doctor before travelling about medication for your children. Always take special care to prevent your kids getting bitten by mosquitoes: they’ll need to wear long sleeves and long trousers at night, in the late afternoon and early morning, use mosquito repellant and sleep under a mosquito net. If you’re continuing your African safari to either Botswana or South Africa after your stay in Victoria Falls, then you’ll need to have the unabridged birth certificates for your children in order to cross the borders.

    • A romantic holiday in Victoria Falls

      romance
      A romantic dinner for two

      Victoria Falls is one of the most memorable destinations in Africa for the majestic waterfalls that have earned a place as one of the most breathtaking sights on the planet and for the incredible range of activities that you can do in the area. Whether you’re an adventurous couple looking to get adrenaline kicks on your holiday, or whether you prefer more relaxing experiences, then Victoria Falls is the perfect destination for a romantic holiday.

      There’s a good choice of luxury lodges and hotels to choose from in both Zambia and Zimbabwe: and if you’re looking for a safari experience then you can stay in an all-inclusive lodge inside the Zambezi National Park on the Zimbabwean side. Book a suite for more privacy, and enjoy special romantic touches such as private meals on your terrace, intimate picnic lunches and lantern-lit dinners for two in the garden, in-room spa treatments and a personal butler. Some hotels and lodges also offer honeymoon packages with discounted rates and bonuses such as bottles of sparkling wine.

      Highlights for couples include flying above Victoria Falls in a helicopter, doing a tandem bungee jump together off of the Victoria Falls Bridge into the Batoka Gorge, ziplining through the treetops, having a white-knuckle ride on the huge rapids of the Zambezi on a white-water rafting adventure, taking in easy on a canoeing safari to spot animals drinking in the river and more than 400 species of birds, having sundowner drinks on riverside decks, and taking in the beautiful wilderness on both sides of the river –cocktail in hand – on languid sunset cruises.

    Budgeting for Victoria Falls

    • Budget-friendly holidays in Victoria Falls

      wildlife
      Musango Safari Camp in Zimbabwe

      Both Zambia and Zimbabwe have some great lodging options for budget travellers: your options include campsites on the banks of the Zambezi, friendly backpackers and well-run guesthouses. For a bush experience you can also camp in the Zambezi National Park (on the Zimbabwean side). The best way to save money on food is to prepare your own meals: some of the backpackers offer communal kitchens.

      While many of the activities on offer in Vic Falls are on the pricier side – most start at around US$50 – there’s plenty to do that doesn’t cost much, such as the Boiling Pot Hike and hiking down into Batoka Gorge, as well as hiring a bicycle to explore Livingstone or Victoria Falls.

      Zambia is generally cheaper than Zimbabwe: lodging and food costs are lower, and the entrance fee to see the falls is also cheaper. If your main consideration for which side to stay on is cost related, then it makes sense to stay in Zambia.

      If you’d like to visit both Zimbabwe and Zambia, make sure that you ask for a KAZA Uni-Visa on arrival in either Zambia or Zimbabwe, otherwise you’ll have to pay for a separate visa to enter the other country, which is more expensive. If you travel during the low season of November to April – the rainiest months of the year – then you’ll be able to get the lowest rates on rooms and packages.

      Try our African Safari Cost Calculator
    • Affordable holiday in Victoria Falls

      There are a number of great mid-range hotels and lodges in Zambia and Zimbabwe to pick from for an affordable trip, as well as a huge choice of all-inclusive packages covering flights, lodging and some activities, which can offer excellent value.

      Activity costs can add up quickly, especially if you’re travelling in a family, so a good option is to choose an activity package, which gets you a discounted rate on a range of activities bundled together.

      little makalolo
      Little Makalolo Camp in Zimbabwe

      Travelling during the low “green” season of November to April will mean discounted hotel rates and great prices on travel packages. While this isn’t the best time of year to visit Victoria Falls, there are some benefits (other than discounted prices): it’s the best time of year for birdwatching, November and December are great months for white-water rafting, and the summer rains bring lush, green foliage in the national parks around the falls.

      Try our African Safari Cost Calculator
    • Luxury holiday in Victoria Falls

      luxury
      Sussi and Chuma Lodge, Sanctuary Retreat, Zambia

      There are some superb luxury lodge and boutique hotels in both Zambia and Zimbabwe which offer stylish rooms including spacious and lavish suites, a host of activities, elegant bars, gourmet fine dining with wine pairings, gyms, spas and swimming pools, 24-hour room service and butlers as well as beautiful grounds (and at some places, wild animals grazing on the lawns). It’s very easy to have a luxury trip to Victoria Falls: simply book your five-star hotel and they’ll organise everything for you, from airport transfers to guided tours of Victoria Falls, to all the exciting activities to fill your days. Take your pick from hotels with rolling green lawns situated on the banks of the Zambezi within walking distance from the falls, or, for more of a safari experience, stay in a lodge inside the Zambezi National Park or in a private concession on the Zimbabwean side, where you are immersed in the bush but only a short drive away from the waterfalls.

      Highlights of a luxury trip to Victoria Falls include watching wildlife graze on the hotel lawns from your balcony or terrace, tucking into an indulgent spread for High Tea each afternoon with a view of the spray of Victoria Falls in the distance, candlelit private dinners at a table set up for you in the garden, a helicopter flight over the falls, sunset cruises on the Zambezi River with cocktails and snacks, walking safaris and private guided game drives in the Zambezi National Park, getting spa treatments a few steps away from the river, a gourmet five-course dinner with wines onboard an old steam train, and day trips to the magnificent elephant-teeming Chobe National Park in Botswana and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

      If you’re planning on visiting other destinations in Zimbabwe or Zambia after your stay in Victoria Falls, the most luxurious way to travel is by private charter plane.

      Try our African Safari Cost Calculator

    Popular Victoria Falls Safaris

    These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

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    Explore the thundering Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and the wildlife rich Okavango Delta...