Welcome to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe!
In the Southern region of Africa, the Zambezi River flows across a flat plateau that extends hundreds of kilometers in all directions. It is here that you will find the largest waterfall in the world, the majestic Victoria Falls, Wonder of the World (it’s on the list of the seven natural wonders, and is, appropriately, wonderful).
Tourists travel many miles to come and see the famous spots, but a worldwide local knows all the most exquisite places that will make your experience even more memorable. This is an insider’s guide on how to make the most of your visit to Victoria Falls.
Begin with, of course, Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls lies between Zimbabwe and Zambia, two countries separated by the Zambezi River and the chasm of the Batoka Gorge. The waterfall can be marveled from either country, but sixteen of the twenty viewpoints are in the rainforest on the Zimbabwean side (that’s 75% of the waterfall); so you are better off viewing it from Zimbabwe.
Worldwide Local Tip: Many visitors, especially first-timers mistake Zimbabwe and Zambia as one country. Don’t make the same mistake! So when looking up accommodations, consider booking in a country which you have many activities, to avoid the hassles of trying to cross through Immigration.
Weigh Your Options for Visiting: the Victoria Falls/Devil’s Pool Debate
When deciding the best time to visit, it’s vitally important to prioritize your expectations and choose the right time of year. To witness Victoria Falls in peak flow, visit between March and June; but note that due to the high water volume, the Devil’s Pool remains closed.
White-water-rafting is best between August and December when the water is low, which is also the best time to take a swim at the Devil’s Pool. If you are looking for a quintessential safari, however, travel between July and October. This is when the bush is dry, and animals congregate around the only available water sources, which in most cases is near a hotel.
Worldwide Local Tip: Victoria Falls is a malaria zone, but malaria is, fortunately, preventable. Ensure that you consult a doctor before visiting, and there will be nothing to fear.
Jump off a Bridge--or Meet a Baby Elephant
While many choose to zip line or partake adrenaline-filled bungee jumping from the 112-year-old Victoria Falls Bridge, there are so many other fun activities to enjoy around Victoria Falls. Visit the vastly underrated Zambezi National Park, which is only 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from the town center, and see Africa’s big five. You can also visit Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, to learn how they care for the orphaned elephants.
Keep in mind that each time you do an activity; it will most likely involve entering a park, and therefore paying entrance fees, that will sometimes not be included in the tour price. The fees also need to be paid in cash.
Worldwide Local Tip: Given the ongoing money crisis in Zimbabwe, it’s crucial you bring enough cash with you (USD is now the official currency). You will NOT be able to get money out of an ATM machine in Zimbabwe. To avoid carrying a large sum of cash, pre-book, and pay for as much as you can before arrival.
Eating and Drinking in Victoria Falls
The best place to enjoy, both the local cuisine and the natural beauty of Victoria Falls is at The Palm, at the Ilala Lodge Hotel. You can enjoy your meal and the beautiful outdoor setting with the roar of the falls in the distance, even if you are not a guest of this lovely Victoria Falls hotel. It’s great for celebrating a special occasion with your loved ones, and you can enjoy a wide variety of wild game dishes like ostrich, warthog, kudu, crocodile, impala, or blesbok (an antelope endemic to South Africa).
There is plenty to fill up your days while exploring Victoria Falls, and some good places to kick back at night with a cocktail or a craft beer after a busy day in the African bush. Victoria Falls has some very entertaining nightlife. Shoestrings Bar is a great place to enjoy good food at affordable prices, and the drinks are delicious and cheap, as well. This bar is where all the people meet, from party ragers, food lovers, travelers, and locals!
The Victoria Falls River Brewing Company is a microbrewery that has a fantastic craft beer selection. They offer a vast range of different beer varieties, and you can also do a beer tasting to sample the different brews. You can try the gin and baobab ginger ale if you are not into beer, it’s delicious!
Worldwide Local Tip: The town of Victoria Falls is right in the middle of a national park area. You will come across animals like antelopes and elephants navigating. In that case, always be alert and if need be, request the assistance of the tourist police; there are plenty who are happy to help.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Victoria Falls’s mind-blowing beauty ensures that your visit becomes a memorable one; but make sure you don’t only visit the popular spots. Exploring it as a worldwide local, will require you to spend more than a few days here, and make you want to come back every time you leave.