The famous explorer, Sir David Livingstone, perhaps described the spectacle that is Victoria Falls best – “scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” And at twice the height of Niagara Falls, and one and half times the width, this majestic attraction boasts the title of largest sheet of falling water on the planet. Besides the truly awe-inspiring experience of the falls themselves, the surrounding countryside and communities offer an abundance of activities to keep every tourist entertained too!The locals call it “Mosi oa-Tunya" or "the smoke that thunders" – an apt description for one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Already sold on seeing this spectacular scene for yourself? Check out the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions on this destination below!
Zimbabwe or Zambia?
The great Zambezi river which creates the falls also forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe so picking which country to see them from can be tough, as each has their own attractions. Luckily, with the reinstatement of the KAZA Uni-Visa as of December 2016, tourists are now able to travel freely between the two and see both sides, wherever they choose to take up accommodation. As an added bonus, the KAZA Uni-Visa also opens up the opportunity for a day trip to Botswana to visit the spectacular wildlife of Chobe or Kasane too! It’s important to note however that these special visas are not always available, so it’s always advisable to check with your travel agent before you depart.If you're pressed for time and can only see one side, then the following summary might help you decide:
- 75% of Victoria Falls lies in Zimbabwe, so this site offers the most views including the main falls
- Water flows all year round even in the dry season
- Lower accommodation rates and better game viewing opportunities
- The Devil’s Pool, where Livingstone first viewed the Falls, is only accessible from this side. The Livingstone island tours are a huge attraction, as you get to see the Falls from a completely new angle, right up at the edge of the sheer drop!
- Microlight flights can only be done in Zambia.
How was Victoria Falls formed?
In geological time, Vic Falls is on the move! As the Zambezi River flows across the main basalt plain, it meets with weaker areas of sandstone which the water erodes over time, carving its way slowly backwards. The passage of the falls is visible in the deep gorges which it left behind many thousands of years ago – including Songwe gorge, the famous Boiling Pot and the Batoka gorges. In fact, the water is currently working on its ninth gorge from the intriguingly named Devil’s Cataract! This chasm will eventually form the next full width falls.
What’s the best time to visit Victoria Falls?
To see the falls in their full glory, the best time to visit is between February and May, when water which fell with the first spring rains in November has had time to make its way down the Zambezi and put on the thunderous showcase that Vic Falls is so famous for.However, if you want to couple your visit with the best game viewing opportunities in neighbouring Botswana, the best time to go is between June and August. While no longer at peak flow, there is still plenty of water thundering over the precipice at this time. At the same time, Chobe National Park offers some of the best Big Five game viewing opportunities that Africa has to offer during this period.
What about malaria?
Where there’s this much water coupled with warm weather, there are mosquitoes – and Victoria Falls is a malaria danger zone. Luckily it’s very easy to prevent catching the disease with some simple precautions. Number one is consulting your doctor about three weeks before you depart to receive the appropriate preventative medications. The most common reason tourists contract the disease is forgetting to take their tablets, so remain diligent about taking them every day – and finishing the course once you get home too! Preventing bites is also a good idea – use insect repellant and wear long-sleeved clothes wherever possible.
What else is there to do?
Whether you're a complete adrenalin junkie or would rather cruise gently along the river taking in the sunset, Vic Falls has it all. Some of the high-octane activities on offer include zip wires, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting and body boarding, helicopter flips, microlight flights and gorge swings to name but a few.The wildlife lovers are in for a real treat with the opportunity to ride an African elephant, take a bush walk with lions, kayaking and river cruises and experience a true rainforest (where it literally rains all the time, every day of the year).However you choose to spend your time, every visitor to this special place finds they have one thing in common – they can’t wait to visit again! We certainly hope you’ll be one of them!