Are you thinking of visiting Victoria Falls? If so, this blog post is for you! In it, we will discuss 11 things to help you plan your trip. We will tell you about the most important stuff to know before booking your vacation.
Whether you are a local or traveling from afar, these tips will help ensure that your trip to Victoria Falls doesn't disappoint.
The falls are located in Zambia and Zimbabwe, so make sure to plan accordingly - especially if you need visas (which can take more time than some other countries). Take a look at the full list of tips below!
Zimbabwe or Zambia?
When visiting Victoria Falls, you have two choices Zambia or Zimbabwe.
Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia, so you can only see it from one side or the other, but which is best?
To get the classic view of the Main Falls, position yourself on the Zimbabwe side where most of the viewpoints are situated.
The Zambian side, however, is where you can get right up close to the rushing water, this has a much wilder feel to it.
The beauty is that now, you can do both, no matter where you are staying. This is made possible and easier than ever thanks to the KAZA Univisa; a single visa available for US$ 50 that covers Zambia, Zimbabwe, and day trips to Chobe National Park in Botswana.
The KAZA UniVisas are available for 40 different nationalities including Brits, Americans, and Australians!
What about an entry Visa?
It can be tricky to know which visas are required (particularly if you're not from the region). The best bet is to have this sorted out before making any travel
To visit Victoria Falls, you may need a visa. This depends entirely on the passport you are traveling with.
There are 3 categories, A, B & C when determining if a visa is required. For more details, visit the Department of Immigration, Zimbabwe.
Obtaining the incorrect visa will not only cost you time and money, but it will also cause issues when traveling through Immigration.
You may encounter wildlife during your visit to Victoria Falls. Depending on the time of year, animals may be more scarce or plentiful.
Victoria Falls is in a National Park, and as such, many animals live in the area. These include elephants, hippos, crocodiles, monkeys (yes), warthogs, baboons, and more!
You will most likely come across some animals, even in the middle of the town. It's important not to try and feed or get too close to them, after all, these animals are completely wild.
Although in some regions it may look as if they are used to being around people, wild animals can be unpredictable.
While it's safe to walk around town during the day, you shouldn't wander out at night.
One of the first things you will need while in Victoria Falls is cash. While some other currencies such as the South African Rand (ZAR), GBP, and EUR are accepted, USD is what you will need.
You will be fishing out lots of money for incidentals, park fees, tips, and curio shopping on your trip. So carrying cash is important, but try not to carry too much cash at any one point.
Although there are ATMs in town, do NOT rely on these as they are rarely operational. Don't worry though, because almost all of the establishments in the Falls do accept credit cards.
Which time of year is best for visiting Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is a year-round destination, so you can visit it at any time of the year. However, the water levels of Victoria Falls change with the season--so depending on what you want to do, your experience may vary.
If you are visiting Victoria Falls to see one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world, then you will want to be there between February and May.
This is a period directly after summer rains have sunk into reservoirs providing clear and powerful falls.
Water levels are low in November and early to mid-December. If you want to see the full might of the falls, you may be disappointed if visiting at this time of year.
Rafting season typically closes between April and May, due to a high river water level. It reopens in July.
Rafting is best in August through to December when water levels are low.
The Devils Pool is closed starting around January and opens again in August. If you would like to swim, Angel's pool is available until March or April.
If game viewing is your thing, then August to mid-November would be a perfect time to visit.
For birders, January is a great time to be in Victoria Falls, be sure to check out our blog "Birding in Victoria Falls for Beginners" for more information.
Summer in the falls extends from Mid August to around the end of April where the average highs are 33 deg C (92F) and lows 18 deg C (65F).
During Winter, from May to August, expect average highs of 26 deg C (79F) and lows of around 8 deg C (46F).
What is the best length of stay?
After exploring Victoria Falls, many travelers lament that they didn't spend enough time there.
Victoria Falls is a town that's rich in culture, activities, and adventures. With so much to do, it's crucial visitors plan their time wisely.
Please visit our Activities page to see what there is to do. From there, you will be able to decide what you'd like to do and this will ultimately determine how long you should stay.
Planning a trip to Victoria Falls can be tricky. It will take an immense amount of foresight, research, and time, but I can assure you that the end result will be worth it! Hopefully this article will make it a lot easier for you too.
Take into consideration that when traveling, one may encounter delays and unexpected issues. To make sure you have time to cover the unforeseen, we recommend that your stay be at least five nights.
If it turns out that a traveler is staying for just two or three days and then realizes they need more time in Victoria Falls, there are many accommodations here as well as day trips into other countries like Zambia or Botswana
Make sure you also have good travel insurance to cover you in the advent of any unexpected issues.
What to do in Victoria Falls?
Victoria Falls National Park
Victoria Falls (mosi oa tunya) itself is a major attraction.
Victoria Falls National Park is in Zimbabwe and protected by the government. It protects one of the world's largest waterfalls. Zambia also has a national park to protect their falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Together, these two national parks protect the world's largest waterfall.
The Victoria Falls Bridge
The Victoria Falls Bridge is built over the Zambezi River. It crosses over the Second Gorge of the falls and it links the two countries (Zambia & Zimbabwe).
The bridge itself is a participant in a few activities, which include the bungee jump, bridge swing, and bridge slide. It also helps the Bushtrack Express move between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Other Victoria Falls Activities
Other attractions in the vicinity should also not be missed.
There is literally something for everyone, whether you're into the outdoors, wildlife, history, or shopping.
The falls are surrounded by nature and there is a vast range of activities to do for all levels of fitness and ability - from gentle walks to adrenaline-pumping white water rafting.
The bull of the activities would fall into one of the following categories:-
Going Green and Animal Interaction is where you can spend time up close and personal with elephants or learning more about conservation in the area.
The Devils Pool at Victoria Falls is a firm favorite and considered to be one of the most exhilarating activities; however, due to its popularity, it is often fully booked months in advance.
These range from adrenaline activities such as bungee jumping and white water rafting to wildlife viewing experiences that include white rhino tracking, elephant safaris, game drives in the National Park.
Where to stay in Victoria Falls?
One of the most common questions people ask about Victoria Falls is: Where should I stay?
To find an answer to this question, it's important to understand what you are looking for and how that ties in with your budget.
There is a wide range of options from luxurious hotels with waterfalls flowing into the swimming pools to high-end eco-lodges which provide a bush experience.
In the midrange, Victoria Falls has many lodges, self-catering accommodation units as well as B&B's.
Victoria Falls is also home to campsites and several permanent tented camps for those seeking an outdoorsy adventure.
For more information on these options visit our Accommodation page for more information.
Is it safe to visit Zimbabwe as a tourist?
Yes, Zimbabwe is a safe tourist destination. You'll find many of the same safety concerns that exist in any other country but with much less crime than what you would experience in large cities like New York or Los Angeles or Johannesburg.
The only area on this list where it's important to be cautious for your own personal safety and awareness is when visiting National Parks because animal attacks can happen without warning. Please be sure to listen carefully to the safety instructions from your guide.
It's advised to stay as close to roads as possible while hiking so that if an attack were to occur help could arrive quickly. These isolated incidents are rare and usually brought about by people who don't adhere to safety rules and should not dissuade visitors from exploring Victoria Falls National Parks.
When Should you Book?
An advance booking is encouraged to make the most of your time at Victoria Falls, proper planning will also leave enough flexibility for things that are not in your pre-defined itinerary.
Once you're aware of your exact travel dates, it's a good idea to start considering where and how long that stay should be, as well as what type of accommodation would suit the needs or tastes of everyone in your party.
Taking advantage of modern technology to plan and book your vacation in advance online, will ensure that you have the best vacation ever.
Nobody wants to arrive at the Falls and then spend half of their precious time looking for accommodation and finding out about the activities.
There are still many tourists who arrive and try to book on-site only to be bitterly disappointed. Victoria Falls is a busy place and great deals will be snapped up quickly.
Some Hotels and activities like the Devils Pool are fully booked months in advance, so please keep that in mind, especially if these are activities you really want to experience at Victoria Falls.
Booking on-site should only happen if you have no other choice or you're prepared to potentially lose the room or package that is of most interest to you.
Health and Medical
Victoria Falls is a malaria zone and in light of this threat, we advise you to speak to your doctor or travel clinic about getting medication for malaria as well as any other personal medical requirements before visiting Victoria Falls.
If you have taken adequate precautions both before and during your trip, you shouldn't worry any further about contracting malaria during your time at the Falls as the risk will be very low.
Currently, there are no specific vaccination requirements to enter Victoria Falls and this is not a yellow fever risk zone according to the CDC, so vaccinations are not considered necessary or required.
However, if you are traveling through other countries to get to the Falls, this may become mandatory. Click here for more information on the matter.
Visitors to Victoria Falls should take care to avoid overexposure from the sun and heat by wearing hats, sunglasses, and using sunscreen.
The water from taps is perfectly safe to drink. However, bottled water is available everywhere, should you prefer that option. Make sure you are mindful of the environment and only use plastic bottles if needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Victoria Falls is a great tourist destination, with an assortment of options for flying in, so you aren't confined to one airline or route.
There's the train from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls, buses from Zimbabwe as a whole, and There is the ferry link from Kariba to Milibizi and a transfer service connecting Milibizi with Victoria Falls.
You could also consider driving yourself.
The operator will arrange transfers to and from your hotel - this is included in the price.
In the Jurassic Period (150-200 million years ago), there was a lot of volcanic activity. This caused thick basalt deposits to cover a lot of Southern Africa.
When the lava cooled, cracks appeared in the hard basalt crust and these were filled with softer materials like clay and lime. Erosion from rivers cut through these softer materials, forming waterfalls. Learn more here.