Are you planning a trip to Victoria Falls? Here are the essential Victoria Falls tips plus everything you need to know before you visit this incredible landmark.
Located in the middle of the Zambezi river and at the border of both Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world that is high on every traveler’s bucket list.
I mean every adventure traveler would one day want to see the biggest curtains of falling water at the Victoria Falls.
Though it may not be the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest waterfall with a height of 108 meters (354 ft) and a width of 1,708 meters (5,604 ft). Now that’s something you’d want to see at least once in a lifetime.
But before you travel to the storm that thunders, there are a few essential Victoria falls tips you should know to make sure that you plan you’re trip very well.
So as you plan your trip to Victoria Falls, here are the best tips you need to know for an amazing time.
Victoria Falls tips to know to help you plan your trip
1. Best time to visit Victoria falls
Though Victoria falls is a year-long destination, not every time of the year is perfect to visit depending on what you want to do. You should know that the water levels of the falls change as the season changes.
If you want to see the falls at their highest capacity with the mist so high and the sound so thunderous, you might want to visit from February to May. The only downside of visiting at this time of the year is that some times the mist gets too thick that it becomes hard to see the falls themselves perfectly.
But as the mist clears a bit in the months of January and June, it becomes easier to see the Falls perfectly well plus the bottom of the cliff to see where the water – falls.
Though the water levels reduce a little bit, I believe it’s the perfect season to get a clear view of the Falls and to also take part in some of the Victoria Falls activities like White water rafting.
However, if you want to swim in the devil’s pool on the Zambian side, it can’t be done when the water levels are at their highest as its deadly, you’ll need to wait for September through December when the water levels reduce completely.
With those variations in mind, you’ll need to figure out what you exactly want to do at the Falls and choose the right time for you.
But regardless of what time of the year you visit the Victoria falls, I can guarantee that you’ll be blown away by this incredible natural wonder.
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2. Which side of the boarder should you stay at
This might be the hugest debate and the most asked question about visiting the Victoria Falls. Since the Falls are right at the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, it’s sometimes not easy to decide where to stay or visit from.
Of course, it would be so cool to visit from both sides which you should actually do if you can but not everyone is lucky enough to have that option.
Visiting from either side has its own pros and cons that you should put into account. What I advise you is to look at the pros and cons of visiting from either side and then decide on the perfect side for you.
So to make decision making easy for you, here a few advantages and disadvantages of visiting from either side.
From the Zimbabwe side
- You can see 75% of the waterfalls from the Zimbabwean side.
- The Falls of the Zimbabwean side never dry out, unlike the Zambian side which dries out in the months of September to December.
- The closest town “Victoria falls town” is just a few minutes’ walk from the Victoria falls which makes access very easy at any time of the day unlike the 10km distance of Livingstone town in Zambia from the Falls.
- The cost of living is a bit high on the Zimbabwean side as the Victoria falls town is completely designed for tourists with everything a bit pricier than in Livingstone town in Zambia.
From the Zambian side
- You can swim in the devil’s pool which is one of the bucket list activities for adrenaline junkies.
- The cost of living is a bit low in Living stone town. Actually, even the entrance fee to the falls is a bit cheaper here compare to the Zimbabwean side.
With those few points, it’s easy to see why I highly recommend visiting from the Zimbabwean side. Regardless of when you visit, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the most famous landmarks in Africa from the Zimbabwean side.
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3. Check to see if you need a Visa
If you have zeroed down on the side of the border you’ll be staying at, check with your government to see if you need a visa to enter either country and that should be easy.
The tourist Visa is $30 for Zimbabwe and $50 for Zambia but if it’s only a day trip, then you can expect to pay $20.
But what if you plan on visiting the Falls from both countries?
This can be the tricky part! Some people get a visa for one country and loosely assume that it will be automatic to access the falls from the other side of the border without another visa.
But just like crossing any border, you’ll still need to get a visa (depending on the passport you hold).
Zimbabwe might require you to get a visa and Zambia not, or the other way round! What I advise you to do is to make one country your visiting base and treat the other one as a day trip if you don’t plan on doing any activities there other than just seeing the Falls. This will save you a lot of money on accommodation.
You might also look into getting a double entry visa for your base country which is a bit cheaper instead of paying for two separate visas for when you’ll enter the country the second time after your day trip to the other side of the border.
But if both countries require you to get visas, still find out how easy/hard it is to obtain them and whether you need to get them before you travel or visas on arrival are possible. And if it’s Visa on arrival, make sure that you have cash on you to pay for them! It’s normally in US dollars.
Pro tip* Make sure that you get cleared with customs and get your Passport stamped for any border crossing you make not to run into any trouble with the law.
4. How to get to the Victoria Falls
The best part about visiting Victoria Falls is that it’s easily accessible regardless of where you’re coming from and which side of the border you choose to stay at.
To give you an idea, here is how to get to the Victoria Falls both in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
To Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe
Just fly directly into Victoria falls airport and take a taxi to Victoria Falls town.
If you’re flying from any of the Southern African countries, it’s super easy to fly directly to Victoria Falls town. For some countries, flights are not daily, so check to see and book your flight on time.
When you get to Victoria Falls town, it’s so easy to just walk to the falls depending on where you’re staying. Some hotels (mentioned later in this post) are just a 10 to 20 minutes’ walk to the falls.
But for hotels that are not within a walkable distance, some offer free shuttle transfers to and from the falls at specific times. But if you want to go on your own, you can just hire a taxi that will take you directly to the entrance of Victoria falls national park. It can be anywhere between $5 to $10 depending on the distance.
However, if your booked a guided tour (I recommend some later in the post), the tour company will pick you up and later drop you back to your hotel after the tour.
To Livingstone town in Zambia
You can still fly from any of the Southern African airports directly to Livingstone airport which is the getaway to the Falls in Zambia.
Unlike Victoria Falls town, Livingstone is not near the Falls to walk there so by all means, you will need to find a way to get. Still, some hotels offer free shuttle transfers to the falls but if not, then you can get a taxi from Livingstone which can be around $10 to $15 depending on the distance.
For a complete guide on how to get to the Victoria falls, check out this post to know exactly how to get there whether by flying, self-drive, or using buses from the major southern African countries.
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5. Opening hours for Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls National park opening hours (Zimbabwe)
In Summer (From 1st September to 30th April): The park opens at 06:00 am and closes at 06:00 pm.
In Winter (From 1st May to 31st August): The park opens at 06:30 am and closes at 06:00 pm.
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park Opening Hours (Zambia)
The park opens daily at 6: 00 am and closes at 6: 00 pm (regardless of the season).
6. Entrance fee to Victoria Falls
The park entry fees vary depending on your nationality. The park fees can be paid both by cash or by Card.
Victoria Falls National park entry fees (Zimbabwe)
- International visitors: US $ 30
- Southern African Development Community (SADC) visitors: US $20
- Zimbabwean citizens: RTGS$ 60
- Lunar tour visitors: US $40
- Children between 6 and 12: 50% of the adult fee
- Children under 6 years: Free
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park Entry fees (Zambia)
- International visitors: US $20
- Southern African Development Community (SADC) visitors: US $20
- Zambian citizens: US $2 or K20
- Lunar tour visitors: US $30
- Children between 6 and 12: 50% of the adult fee
- Children under 6 years: Free
Disclaimer* Please note that all these prices were accurate by the time this post was written but are subject to change at any time without any warning.
7. Where to stay at Victoria Falls
You only need to book accommodation on just one side of the border if you plan to treat the other border as a day trip. And since there are so many things to do on the Zimbabwean side, I’d advise staying on this side.
But if you feel adventurous, have the money, time, and want to explore both sides a bit more, then you can choose to stay a couple of days on each side.
There is a variety of accommodation in both Victoria falls town and Livingstone town ranging from camping, budget, mid-range to luxury. So below are a few places I recommend on both the Zimbabwean and the Zambian side.
Accommodation at Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side
Victoria falls rest camp and Lodges
The camp offers a number of campsites for both pitched tents and rooftop tented cars. The campsites are fully developed with well-maintained ablutions plus electricity on-site.
The advantage of camping at Victoria falls rest camp is that it is just a few minutes walk to the Falls.
Other than camping, it also offers private guest houses for non-campers. There is also a restaurant on-site – (In da belly restaurant) which serves a variety of cuisines, so you don’t have to move far if you’re hungry.
N1 Hotel & Campsite Victoria Falls
N1 Hotel is a perfect choice for budget travelers and it is just located 1 km away from the Victoria falls.
It also offers a camping area with beautiful green grasses though there is no privacy if you’re someone who wants it while camping.
Shearwater’s Explorers village
Shearwater Explorers village offers a variety of accommodation types from private chalets, dorm tents, to individual camping. It is also near Victoria Falls.
Campsites are reasonably cheap but the Chalets are mid-range which means that it can accommodate a number of budgets.
Victoria falls Safari Suites
Located in the heart of Victoria falls town, Victoria Falls Safari Suites is a five-star hotel that commands luxury like no other. If want to be at home away from home, then this is the place to stay.
Victoria falls safari Lodge
Just located 4km from the mighty Victoria Falls, Victoria falls safari Lodge is the place to be for travelers seeking absolute luxury.
Accommodation at Victoria Falls on the Zambian side
Woodlands Lodge & Tours
For people that want to stay in a comfortable place after a day’s sightseeing, then go to Woodlands Lodge and Tours. The availability of a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, and a bar makes up for the distance to the Victoria Falls.
Camp Nkwazi provides amazing views or River Zambezi as it’s right in front of the River. It’s also not far from Livingstone town which makes moving around easy. On top of that, you can participate in fishing and horse ride when you want to chill at the hotel.
The Royal Livingstone Hotel by Anantara
If luxury is all you want as you experience one of the best adventures in Africa, then sleep at the Royal Livingstone Hotel. It is right next to River Zambezi and just a short minutes walk to the Victoria Falls.
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8. Things to do at Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls offer a range of activities to participate in spanning from the high adrenaline activities to the less adventurous. So below are a few activities you should plan to do on top of gazing at the glorious Falls.
Take a flight over the Victoria falls
Flying over the Victoria Falls is the most exciting activity at Victoria Falls. The flight offers breathing taking views of the Falls from all angles which makes you appreciate them even more.
The flight also comes with an Audio guide which is well in sync with everything making the experience even much more enjoyable.
It was truly the highlight of my entire trip to Victoria Falls and if it were possible, I would do it over and over again. It’s quite pricey but worth every single penny.
So don’t wait to reach there only to be told that it’s booked out on the day you want, book it now to save your spot. This is actually the exact flight I booked and I had an amazing time with Shearwater Victoria Falls.
Pro tip* I opted for a flight of angels but I know some people would prefer the Scenic Microlight Flight. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
But if you’re more adventurous than me, then you can check out the prices, review availability, or even book a Microlight Flight from here.
Also, if you’re taking the flight over the falls from the Zambian side, then this is the best flight to book.
Go for a sunset cruise along the Zambezi river.
A sunset cruise at Zambezi River is by far the best way to wind up a day while at Victoria falls. The cruise offers amazing views of the river and a chance to spot hippos and giraffes roaming around the Zambezi national park.
It’s an exciting moment where you get lose, have a couple of drinks and enjoy the most beautiful sunset at Zambezi river.
Go Bungee jumping at the Victoria Falls bridge
For the adrenaline junkies, bungee jumping off the victoria falls bridge is a perfect opportunity to test your adrenaline levels.
Honestly, it can be a bit intimidating to jump off the bridge while looking down the bottom of the cliff but it’s one activity you’ve got to tick off your bucket list.
Test your adrenaline by going for white water rafting
This is not an activity for the faint-hearted as the rapids along River Zambezi are of grade 5. But there is no better way to experience the falls than this for extremely adventurous individuals.
I personally didn’t go for white water rafting but since I’ve done white water rafting at River Nile in Uganda, I know how fun, exciting and thrilling it can be and I bet it’s much better with the view of the Falls.
So if you plan to participate, this white water rafting tour is highly recommended by previous participants and I believe you’ll have a blast.
Swim at the devil’s pool
This is truly one of the most fun things to do at Victoria Falls on the Zambian side. Imagine how cool it is to swim at the edge of one of the most famous waterfalls in the world! Incredible, right?
However, please note that swimming at the Devil’s pool can be done at specific times of the year as I mentioned earlier. So if you want to do it, you should first check to see if the time is right.
Go for a bridge swing
Believed to bring out the same heartbeat rate as Bungee jumping or even more, a bridge swing is one of the other adrenaline activities to do at the Victoria Falls.
With a free fall of 80m from the bridge, you’re bound to scream your lungs out as you take on this adventure- at least I did. However, it’s so much you don’t want to miss it.
Those are some of the few things to do at Victoria Falls but others include; the bridge slide, the bridge tour, Sunrise photography tour of the falls, Traditional Village tour, zip-lining, Quad biking, Gorge swing, and so many others. You can check out other fun things to do at the Victoria falls from my previous post.
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9. Should you take a tour to the Falls?
If you’re already in Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe or in Livingstone town in Zambia, then you honestly don’t need to book a tour as the falls are nearby and easy to get.
Actually, even when you’re in the nearby countries, say Botswana or South Africa, and you can figure out the best way to get there on your own (you can refer to my previous post on how to get to Victoria fall ), then you may not need to book a tour. I personally did a self-drive from Botswana to Victoria Falls – so it’s totally doable.
However, not everyone wants to figure out the logistics of how, where, and when. If that’s you, then here are the best tours to Victoria falls that you can consider.
Day trip from Botswana to Victoria falls
If you are in Kasane, Botswana, and just want to take a day trip to the Falls and come back, then this day trip is perfect for you.
You get to see the beauty of the smoke that thunders without the hustles of organizing a trip. The best part about this day trip from Kasane to Victoria falls in Zimbabwe is that it’s only limited to 10 people which means that you won’t be overwhelmed by a large group.
From Livingstone: Victoria falls guided tour
You might be in Livingstone town but what to have a guided tour to learn more about the facts and history of Victoria Falls. If that’s you, then this is the perfect tour to opt for.
With over 3 hours of the tour, you’ll learn everything and get all your questions answered as you hear from the knowleagable tour guides.
From Victoria falls town: Victoria Falls private guided tour
Victoria Falls might be within a walkable distance from Victoria Falls town but if you want to get a deeper understanding of this incredible world natural wonder, then opt for this private guided tour.
With a professional tour guide, you’ll learn all the history of the Falls, the local wildlife, and everything you might have wanted to learn about this smoke that thunders.
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10. What to pack for Victoria Falls
When it comes to what to pack for Victoria Falls, you don’t need to take much. Just a backpack with a few items will be enough. But to make sure that you don’t forget anything, below are a few items that are essential.
- Passport: Obviously you’ll need to take your passport to be able to purchase the entry ticket to the falls. You can also take a waterproof passport jacket to make sure that your passport doesn’t get wet.
- A daypack: I am a backpacker, so I’ll always have a daypack with me wherever I travel to make sure that all my day’s essentials are kept well.
I love the Osprey daypack as it’s lightweight, fits everything I need for a day, and also has a water bottle holder where I can just put my bottle.
If you don’t have a daypack already, you can check it out here and I promise you’ll love it. You can check for prices and reviews on Amazon or on the actual Osprey website.
- A good Camera: With this incredible sight in front of you, there is no way you wouldn’t want to take a thousand photos. I prefer a small camera as I can go anywhere with it without any hustles but you can get inspiration from these best travel cameras.
- A waterproof raincoat: They say it never stops raining at the falls and they’re right! The water splashes so high, it feels like it’s raining the entire time. If you don’t take a rainjacket, I guarantee you’ll all be wet by the end of the tour (depending on the time of the year you visit).
There are a number of shops nearby where you can rent a raincoat but it’s not cheap considering that you’ll be visiting the Falls for a couple of hours. So I recommend taking your own waterproof jacket to avoid spending more. I like this Columbia lightweight and waterproof rain jacket and for the guys, this one is perfect.
- Sunglasses: They may not be necessary to protect your eyes from the sun or look cool for that matter but rather to protect them from the nonstop rain. You could pass on them but I know it’s not fun when water gets into the eyes the entire time.
- Waterproof Phone Case: If you want to take photos very close to the falls, you might consider taking this waterproof phone case – well unless of course, your phone is water-resistant.
- Comfortable walking shoes: There is so much to see and the place is quite big. And since you’ll be on foot the entire time, you might want to take comfortable walking shoes.
Also, since water splashes all the time, the ground will definitely get slippery. So you might want to substitute your flip flops for your running shoes.
- Travel Insurance: Travel Insurance is a must-have regardless of where you’re traveling to and Victoria falls is no exception. With travel bringing on its own challenges, you’ve got to be protected the entire time and the best way to do that is to cover yourself with World Nomads travel insurance.
It covers a number of items including the most adventurous activities travelers love to do. You can request a quote from World Nomads from here.
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11. How long should your visit last
There is no set time on how long your trip should last as that depends on how fast or paced you want to take in the views from each angle of the Falls.
But to get the most out of your visit and this is when you’ve seen every little corner, I suggest putting aside 2 to 3 hours. It might seem like a lot (or little for some), but it’s the ideal time.
If you’re not traveling with a group, you won’t have to worry about this as you can take your time without feeling like you’re delaying or rushing the others.
If you visit the Falls from the Zimbabwean side, it’s very easy to see every spot as they marked out well all the best viewpoints from 1 to 16 with 1 being the starting point – so it’s hard to skip any spot.
12. Where to eat at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls town is a major tourist place with so many great restaurants to eat at. Whether you want to try out Zimbabwean dishes or Mediterranean dishes, these restaurants offer a wide range of choices.
Owned by Lola, a very friendly Spanish native, Lola’s Tapas is a great place to enjoy local games meat and Mediterranean cuisine.
While you’re there, try out the special Crocodile dish. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be treated to a performance from the local artists.
Want to treat yourself to a western meal? Then opt for Shearwaters cafe. It is perfectly located on the main street of victoria falls town serving a wide range of western meals and cocktails.
Shearwaters café has a great and welcoming ambiance – a quality that has made it a popular spot among tourists.
In da belly restaurant.
Located inside the Victoria falls rest camp, In da belly restaurant serves a mix of local game meats and traditional local dishes. The name “In da belly” is a play of words derived from “Ndebele”, one of the major tribes in Zimbabwe.
There you have it, those were the essential Victoria Falls tips you need to know to plan your trip well. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, how excited are you to finally see the Victoria Falls! I know I was at 11, so I know how incredibly amazing it is.
For me, visiting the Victoria falls was one of my best travel experiences and I am excited for you! But if you’ve already been to this wonderful landmark, share with me how your experience was!
And if you have more questions as you plan your trip to the Victoria falls, leave them in the comment section and I will answer them soon.
More posts to help you plan your African trip
- Best Countries to visit in Africa
- Safest countries to visit in Africa
- Things to know before going on an African safari
- Best National parks to visit in Africa
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