When David Livingstone first saw the Victoria Falls, he wrote in his diary that, “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”
This exquisite natural landmark is one of the most iconic, and indescribably beautiful destinations in all of Southern Africa.
The sound of thundering water begins long before you first catch sight of the falls, and during the high rainfall season, the mist from the plummeting water can be seen rising some 400 meters (or 1312 feet) above the gorge, giving real meaning to its indigenous name, “The Smoke That Thunders”.
The Victoria Falls is a testament to the raw power and, in this case, the ethereal beauty of nature, and when combined with a safari trip, a holiday to the falls will become a once in a lifetime experience that you will hold dear to your heart forever.
Around 1 million tourists make the journey to the falls each year and while Zimbabwe is the most popular country from which to see the falls, Zambia offers some truly spectacular experiences as well.
Zimbabwe vs. Zambia – Which Country Has the Best Views?
The Victoria Falls form a natural border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and as such both sides have unique viewing points, as well as a couple of other attractions to entice travellers. Regardless of the side you choose, you will leave your holiday feeling euphoric but also humbled, such is the power of this utterly enchanting destination.
Seeing the Falls from Zimbabwe
- Zimbabwe offers the most panoramic and iconic views.
- The water flows all year round, with the falls putting on the most memorable display during a rainy or flood season.
- Luxury hotels, historic hotels, and rustic camping are within walking distance, and at night you fall asleep to the sounds of the falls.
- Victoria Falls Town is nearby and is home to restaurants, bars, and markets.
Zimbabwe is probably best known for being the gateway to Victoria Falls because it provides a front-row seat to the majestic cascade, with spectacular panoramic views that are nothing short of breathtaking.
And it is not just the falls that are a huge attraction in Zimbabwe; the almost untouched surrounding areas are also popular with holidaymakers.
Across from the falls is the most enchanting natural rainforest, which serves as a lush backdrop to the cascades and where those who like to hike can do so on one of the forest trails.
As you walk, you will hear the roar of the water mingled with the singing sounds of the cicadas, frogs and crickets living in the rainforest, creating the ultimate sensory experience that transcends the visual and cannot be enjoyed anywhere else but on the Zimbabwe side of the falls.
Selecting your Zimbabwe Tour to the Victoria Falls
There are so many exciting ways that you can see Zimbabwe, that have made this destination one for the adventurer at heart while at the same time offering enough comfortable holidays, that those wanting a more relaxed experience will have a great many options to look forward to.
Zimbabwe tours can transform your Victoria Falls holiday experience from a mere sightseeing venture into a curated exploration of the region’s natural and cultural treasures.
Led by knowledgeable guides, these tours offer in-depth insights into the geological formations, indigenous flora and fauna, and the historical significance of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Whether you choose to go on a walking safari through the rainforest or if what you look forward to most is enjoying a sunset cruise along the Zambezi below the falls, Zimbabwe tours provide a multifaceted encounter with the falls and its surrounding wonders.
Choosing Zimbabwe as your base for viewing the Victoria Falls not only grants you access to the waterfall but it also opens the door to so many other experiences, not to mention these tours will also include some of the best accommodation and, depending on the tour you opt for, you could even spend some time seeing the rest of this beautiful country.
The warmth of Zimbabwean hospitality, the rhythms of local traditions, and the flavours of this nation’s authentic cuisine all contribute to a holistic adventure that extends beyond the falls themselves.
As this is more than likely your first time to the falls, here’s what you need to know to help you prepare for your trip to the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe:
- The Self Drive
When you go on a self-drive adventure through Zimbabwe, you get to have up-close views of the landscapes and you can stop along the way to explore villages and towns. This sort of experience offers the daring intrepid traveller a real and utterly unforgettable front-row seat to the nation’s raw beauty.
Driving Zimbabwe’s roads is not just a journey from point A to point B; it’s a chance to explore the otherwise missed scenic routes that wind through lush greenery, along the edges of vast savannahs, and into the heart of vibrant communities.
From the iconic Victoria Falls to the sprawling Hwange National Park, the self-drive experience allows you to see and appreciate the unique diversity of Zimbabwe’s terrain and through doing so foster a sense of freedom and discovery that only a self-drive holiday can create.
Along the way, don’t be surprised if you encounter wildlife, local markets, and the warm smiles of Zimbabwean locals.
- The Pre-Planned Tour
For those seeking an experience that is fully organised by an expert travel agency, Zimbabwe’s pre-planned tours are an enticing option, and there are plenty of great tours available from a variety of different African tour agencies.
Each Zimbabwe tour is thoughtfully created by people who travel to the country to put together the very best itineraries. The best Zimbabwe tours are guided by seasoned experts, to ensure that every moment of your Zimbabwe adventure gives you the best of what this stunning land has to offer.
Seeing the Falls from Zambia
- An intimate, close-up view of the falls.
- You can swim in the Devil’s Pool during the dry season.
- A range of romantic hotels are situated along the riverside.
- Combined tours can include wildlife safaris in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park
While Zimbabwe boasts possibly the most iconic views of the Victoria Falls, when you cross the border into Zambia you will be treated to a unique and equally spectacular perspective of this natural wonder.
There are a few ways to see the Victoria Falls in Zambia, but the most daring has to be from the “Devil’s Pool” which is a deep rock pool that has formed, over millions of years of erosion, at the edge of the falls. The more daring adventurers out there can swim in this pool, going right to the very edge of the precipice.
This sort of experience is only available during the dry season (from August to December), but even so you can be sure that a swim at the very edge of the falls is an unforgettable and truly exhilarating encounter with the sheer power of the Zambezi River.
For those who are looking for a less thrilling view, Zambia offers a couple of unique spots from which to see the falls.
Guests can visit Livingstone Island, the very same place where David Livingstone was once blown away by the sight of the falls. The island is sacred to locals, so a trip here must always be respectful. It is possible to walk to the island from Zambia, but only in the company of a trained guide and only during the dry season.
Another unique vantage point is the Knife-Edge Bridge. From this bridge, tourists will see the main falls, the Eastern Cataract, and the Boiling Pot, an area from which those keen on white river rafting can enjoy such an experience.
Selecting a Zambia Tour to the Victoria Falls
Zambia tours weave a real African story that goes beyond the awe-inspiring cascades, by inviting travellers into the heart of Southern Africa’s rich culture and untamed wilderness.
From walking safaris in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park to river cruises along the Zambezi, each excursion will give travellers an experience they will never forget. Part of Zambia’s charm lies not only in its natural wonders but also in the immersive experiences that are created for guests.
There are various ways that holidaymakers heading to this side of the falls can experience them while also enjoying Zambia, a nation well-known for its unbelievable safaris and wildlife populations.
All of the best Zambia tours are led by experienced guides who take guests through the pristine landscapes surrounding Victoria Falls, offering insights into the diverse flora and fauna that call this region home.
Here are the two most popular styles of tours that guests planning a trip to Zambia, specifically to see the falls, can book.
- Self Drive
A self-drive adventure through Zambia is exactly the sort of holiday that is full of freedom and exploration, where every twist and turn of the road reveals something new and interesting to see, including sights of the Zambezi River, as it flows towards the majestic falls.
One of the best routes to take when your goal is to see the falls is the Southern Zambezi Route. As you travel along this amazing route, parts of it will bring you close to the falls and the thunderous roar of the water suddenly becomes your constant companion, guiding you deeper into the heart of this captivating landscape.
From the rugged terrain of the Lower Zambezi National Park to the lush forests of Livingstone, each leg of your self-guided journey will give you the chance to see the raw beauty that surrounds the Victoria Falls.
And with the freedom to chart your course and the majesty of nature as your backdrop, a self-drive expedition through Zambia promises to be simply unforgettable.
- Pre-Planned Tours
For those seeking a curated and hassle-free tour of the Victoria Falls, Zambia’s pre-planned tours (of which there are many) offer a laid-back holiday that will have you ticking off all of your bucket list sights.
Guided by experienced professionals, these itineraries are put together by industry experts who have visited each destination themselves and stayed in the same accommodation included on the itinerary.
When booking a Zambia tour you will delve deep into the heart of Zambia’s natural and cultural wonders, with Victoria Falls as just one focal point of your adventure.
From exciting river cruises along the Zambezi to intimate wildlife encounters in nearby national parks, each excursion promises a unique perspective on the majesty of Victoria Falls. And with all of the logistics taken care of before you arrive and local insights at your disposal, Zambia’s pre-planned tours ensure that every moment of your journey is filled with discovery, wonder, and unforgettable memories.
Which Side is Best: Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or Zambia?
No travel expert will be able to truthfully tell you which side is the best, because it really all comes down to your expectations. It is fair to say that both sides have pretty memorable views of the falls as well as all the flashy add-ons like excellent accommodation, plenty of opportunities to explore the area, get outdoors, and make memories.
Although, if you want to make sure that you are getting the best views of the falls overall, then Zimbabwe is probably where you want to be.
Ideally, if you have the time and the budget, you should consider visiting both sides during your time here. It will be worth every cent you spend and since this might be the only trip you ever make to the falls, why not make sure that you leave having seen absolutely everything the area has to offer?
Because these countries are neighbours and because they are connected by the Victoria Falls Bridge, crossing to and from either country is easy. All you will need is your passport and the appropriate visa.
What is the Best Time of the Year to Visit the Victoria Falls?
The best time of year to visit the Victoria Falls largely depends on the experience you desire.
The falls are most magnificent during the rainy season, from around November to April, when the Zambezi River is in full flood. During this time of year, the falls at their fullest, with mist rising high into the air and rainbows gracing the horizon.
However, the volume of water also means that viewing platforms can become obscured by mist, and activities like white-water rafting may be limited due to safety concerns. If you are travelling to the falls at this time of year, be sure to bring an umbrella and a rain jacket, as you will get soaked when walking along the various paths!
On the other hand, the dry season, from around May to October, offers clearer views of the falls and better opportunities for activities such as bungee jumping and helicopter tours. Wildlife viewing in nearby national parks is also excellent during this time.
The absolute best time to visit will probably be somewhere in the middle, between March and August. At this time of the year, the heavy rains have passed so the falls will be full but not so full that the view is misted over.
Ultimately, the best time to visit Victoria Falls depends on your preferences and interests, and whether you prioritise witnessing the falls at their most dramatic or engaging in a wider range of activities in the surrounding area.
Quick Practical Tips for a Seamless Victoria Falls Adventure
As you prepare for your adventure to Victoria Falls, it’s essential to arm yourself with practical tips to navigate your journey seamlessly.
No tour into the great unknown should be undertaken without having some basic and useful information as well as practical tips, such as these:
Currency and Financial Considerations
- The Currency Exchange
When travelling to Zambia or Zimbabwe, you must be mindful of currency exchange procedures. Both countries have their own currencies, Zambian kwacha (ZMW) and Zimbabwean dollar (ZWL), and it’s advisable to exchange currency at reputable banks or authorised exchange offices for the best rates.
Additionally, consider carrying a mix of cash and credit/debit cards for convenience, as not all establishments may accept cards.
- Budgeting Tips for Every Traveler
Whether you’re going on a self-drive adventure, joining a pre-planned tour, or indulging in luxurious accommodation outside of your tour, budgeting wisely ensures a stress-free journey.
You should factor in expenses such as meals, transportation, activities, and souvenirs when planning your budget.
Keep in mind that prices may vary depending on the season and location, so it’s essential to research and plan accordingly to make the most of your funds.
Health and Safety Guidelines
- Health Precautions in the Region
You should prioritise your health by taking necessary precautions before and during your journey to Victoria Falls.
Before you head to the country, make sure that you’re up to date on routine vaccinations and consider additional vaccinations such as yellow fever, especially if you plan to visit other countries in the region.
Pack a basic medical kit with essentials like insect repellent, sunscreen, and over-the-counter medications for common ailments such as headaches.
- Staying Safe During Your Journey
While Victoria Falls is a breathtaking destination, it’s essential to stay vigilant and mindful of your surroundings.
Be cautious when exploring remote areas or when venturing into wildlife habitats, and always follow the guidance of local guides and authorities.
Keep important documents, such as passports and travel insurance information, secure at all times, and maintain situational awareness to avoid potential risks.