If you ever get an opportunity to travel to any of the Southern Africa countries, don’t miss the chance to visit the glorious Victoria falls which is on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Being named as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, this Mosi-oa-Tunya translated as the “smoke that thunders” is worth a sight. But how do you get to this breathtaking sight? In this post I will be detailing how to get to Victoria falls from some of the neighboring countries. But before that, you need to decide on which side you’ll be enjoying the falls from, whether the Zambian side or the Zimbabwean side.
Which side is better?
Zimbabwe side is arguably the perfect place to experience the falls from but if you can visit the falls from both sides, then that’s even better. But if you opt for one, I recommend you to go to Zimbabwe and here is why!
- 75% of the falls can be seen from the Zimbabwean side. The victoria falls national park has well-marked pathways were you can get the best views from each point, which gives an opportunity to see the falls head-on.
- Unlike in Zambia where the falls completely dry out during the months of September to December, water falls on the Zimbabwean side all year round.
- The other advantage of opting for the Zimbabwe side is that the major town “Victoria falls town” is just a few minutes walk from the falls which makes it ideal to visit instead of the 10 km distance from Livingstone town in Zambia.
- Although in the past, some tourists were afraid of opting for the Zimbabwean side because of the political unrest the country was suffering from, the conditions have recently improved and you can visit the falls from Zimbabwe without any fear.
Just because Zimbabwe is the best side to see the falls from, it doesn’t mean that visiting victoria falls from the Zambian side doesn’t have its advantages. Here are some of the perks for visiting the falls from the Zambian side.
- The entrance fee to the falls is just $20 from Mosi-oa-Tunya National park which is a bit cheaper compared to the $30 entrance fee from the Victoria Falls National park.
- The general cost of living is cheaper in Livingstone town compared to the victoria falls town where literally everything is extremely touristy.
- The Zambian side offers a golden opportunity to swim in the devil’s pool, right in Falls – an experience that can’t be compared to anything else.
So all in all, if you want to see and experience the greatest percentage of the falls, I’d recommend visiting from the Zimbabwean side.
Pro tip* You can visit the falls from both sides in a day. Make any of the countries your base, get visas for both countries and make a day trip to the other country by just crossing the Victoria falls bridge. Just remember to always get your passport stamped when leaving either country not to get on the wrong side of the law. So if you’re someone who wants to see the falls from different sides, this can definitely work for you without having to book accommodation in both Victoria falls town and Livingstone town.
When is the best time to visit the victoria falls
We can all agree that there is no bad time to visit the victoria falls, but travelers ought to know that the water levels of the falls keep changing all year round depending on the patterns of the rainfall. This means that the best time to visit victoria falls depends on what exactly you want to do as an individual.
If all you want is to gaze at spectacular falls at its full capacity- then February to May would be a perfect time. During this period, especially in April, the spray of the water and the mist is soo thick you can barely see the falls. The sound of the falls is loudest that it roars like thunder. It is indeed a natural wonder that will take all your senses away.
If you want to take part in some of the Victoria falls activities, then January and June to August are the best time to visit Victoria Falls. During this period, the mist clears out a bit and even though the volume of water reduces a bit, you get clear views of the Falls and the bottom of the cliff where the water falls.
If swimming in the Devil’s pool is on your bucket list, then September through December is the perfect time to visit. During this period, the falls almost dry out on the Zambian side giving you a perfect opportunity to swim in the Devil’s pool and also a chance to walk to the bottom of the first gorge on the Zimbabwean side.
If I have convinced you that it’s better to visit the falls from the Zimbabwean side, then let’s find out how to get to Victoria falls in Zimbabwe.
How to get to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe side)
Whether you’re coming from Botswana, South Africa, or Namibia – you can find a way of getting to the falls by using different means of transport, be it on a self-drive, flying, train or by bus. You can also opt for tour packages that include transfers and accommodation at the victoria falls. If you choose to buy a tour package, getyourguide has a variety of perfectly priced packages that will suit your needs. But if you want to DIY, here are the different ways you can get there.
How to get to Victoria Falls from Botswana
If you were on a self-drive safari in Botswana, just continue the self-drive to Kasane, and then head to Kazungula which serves as a border post between Zimbabwe and Botswana. Border crossing is easy and fast, you’ll just need to pay $30 for the visa (only if you require one) and the $100 for the vehicle. From there just drive up to Victoria falls town which is just a little over 1 and a half hours.
You can fly into Victoria falls town from either Maun, Kasane or even Gaborone depending on wherever you are. Air Botswana run flights to Victoria falls town on specific days and time, just make sure you check the flights’ availability before creating a schedule. You can also search for cheap flights from here.
If you prefer to go by train, Botswana rail services offer transfers to Victoria Falls from Lobatse, Gaborone or Francis town in a connecting train to Bulawayo which is the second-largest city in Zimbabwe. From Bulawayo, you can take an overnight train to Victoria Falls town. No need to buy the train tickets in advance as they can be bought at the stations’ offices. The train might not be very comfortable but sit tight and enjoy an African adventure. You can read more about train transfers from Botswana to Victoria falls from here.
How to get from South Africa to Victoria Falls
If you’re taking a trip to Victoria Falls from Johannesburg, a flight is definitely the quickest and most expensive way to travel. There are a number of daily flights from Johannesburg to victoria falls operated by British Airways, South African Airways, Air Zimbabwe and others. If you’re in Capetown, there are also direct flights from there to Victoria falls. You can also get daily flights from across different Airlines. Prices keep changing, so to get the best fare, compares prices of all flights from Skyscanner.
By Bus and Train
Traveling from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls by bus and train is one of the cheapest ways to get to victoria falls but also the longest. You can take a bus from Johannesburg to Bulawayo which takes almost 27hours or from Pretoria to Bulawayo for approximately 13 hours and later embark on an overnight train from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls. You can book your bus ticket from these bus companies; GreyHound and TransLux to travel from South Africa to Bulawayo.
If you want to travel in a luxurious way, Rovos Rail provides a direct luxury train service from Pretoria to Victoria falls which takes up to 6 days. As you read it, it is luxurious so it also comes with a huge price tag. It is not only just a transfer but a trip in itself as you spend those days exploring different regions in South Africa on your way to victoria falls.
Other than the train or flight, you can travel from Johannesburg to Victoria falls by self-driving through Beitbridge, a border town in the province of Matabeleland south of Zimbabwe – connect to Bulawayo and then Victoria falls. Alternatively, you can also go through Botswana for a more adventurous road trip. You can read more about self-driving in Botswana from here. But before you opt for a self-drive, just make that you have border crossing paperwork from your car renter.
How to get from Harare to Victoria Falls
There are different flights from Harare international airport to Victoria Falls airport operated by Air Zimbabwe and South African airways. You can also opt for charter flights that operate at Charles prince airport which is just a few kilometers northwest of Harare. Dong forget to compare prices of the flights from here. And since the flights can be costly, you can as well opt for a bus.
The bust trip from Harare to Victoria Falls is approximately 13 hours making routes on a daily basis. The buses are fairly cheap and quite comfortable. Different buses have different classes with some being airconditioned with onboard toilets.
If you’re on a self-drive, the best route from Harare to Victoria Falls would be through Bulawayo which is around 880km. You can do the entire journey in one day if you’re 2 drivers or make a stop at Hwange National park which is Zimbabwe’s largest national park.
How to get to Victoria Falls from Namibia
This is still the most efficient and easiest way to travel from Namibia to Victoria Falls. Air Namibia flies from Windhoek to victoria falls via Maun in Botswana on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Be sure to check their website for any changes. You can also compare prices on different dates using this flight search engine.
You can take a bus trip from Windhoek, which is Namibia’s capital city to Victoria falls. The buses are operated by Intercape taking a little over 16 hours but be sure to check their website for the schedule and availability of tickets.
I hope with this guide, you now know how to get to Victoria falls from almost all the nearby countries. Have you been to Victoria Falls? Share your experience of how you got there below in the comment section. Do you have any more questions? Still, leave them in the comment section.
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