Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
Tumbling down 100m (328ft) high cliffs surrounded by lush forest, Victoria Falls is undoubtedly one of Africa’s most astounding sights and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World: the biggest sheet of falling water on the planet.
Zimbabwe’s most popular tourist attraction is Mosi-oa-Tunya (which translates to ‘the smoke that thunders’), and the spray it sends up is visible from 50km (31mi) away.
Stretching 1.7 kilometers wide, the falls span both Zimbabwe and Zambia, and on each side of the border, some pathways take you to the edge of cliffs where you can get dramatic views (and get soaking wet from the spray).
On the Zimbabwean side, the town of Victoria Falls sits right by the falls themselves. It offers a huge array of adrenaline sports and safari activities, including bungee jumping, abseiling, whitewater rafting, and horseback safaris.
Seeing Victoria Falls for the first time from the cliffside paths is one of Africa’s bucket list experiences, but there are many other exciting ways to experience the falls.
For an aerial perspective, you can do a helicopter flip which will get you some spectacular photos, or for a more adventurous flight, hop on the back of a microlight – a tiny light aircraft – to fly like a bird above the mist and spray.
There’s more to visiting Victoria Falls than just the falls – the town adjacent to the falls is a center for activities that range from the sedate to the extreme.
On the relaxing end of the spectrum, there are boat cruises and canoe trips along the Zambezi river, dinner or high tea onboard an old-fashioned steam train, game drives, horseback rides and walks in the nearby Zambezi National Park, which is an ideal opportunity for a Big Five safari in Zimbabwe.
To get your adrenaline pumping, you can go bungee jumping off the 111m (364ft) bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia (said to be one of the best bungee jumps in the world).
There’s also cage diving with crocodiles, swinging across the gorge, whizzing along a zip line, abseiling, or getting drenched tackling the rapids of the Zambezi River on a whitewater rafting adventure.
- You can visit Victoria Falls year-round, but depending on which time of year you go, you’ll get a very different experience. From February to May, the Zambezi River is at its fullest after the summer rains, and the view of the falls at their most intense is dramatic.
- However, the tremendous amount of mist and spray obscures the view of the falls, so if visibility is what you’re after, then visit between June and September when the river is lower – though not at its lowest – and your view of the cascading falls is clear. If you visit during February and May, you’ll get soaking wet – be sure to wear a plastic poncho or raincoat and protect your camera with a waterproof bag. The paths can be extremely slippery, so wearing a good pair of walking shoes or hiking sandals is essential.
- As the falls span Zimbabwe and Zambia, there are benefits to seeing them from both sides of the border. Zimbabwe has wider views of the falls, with most of the viewing points, but on the Zambian side – a short walk across a bridge – the viewing path takes you closer to the falls. When the river runs low (from October to December), you can swim in Devil’s Pool, a natural rock pool right on Zambia’s edge of the falls.
- If you’d like to visit the Zambian side, you’ll need to get a KAZA visa when you enter Zimbabwe, which costs $50 for 30 days of travel and allows you to enter both Zimbabwe and Zambia.