Victoria Falls, a small town located in Zimbabwe, is full of greenery and is home to a waterfall of the same name. Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world and one of the Seven Natural Wonders. It is 108 meters tall, 1,708 meters wide and is located on the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia. It’s not the tallest or the widest, but wins the title of largest in terms of sheer water volume. Although, it is visible from both countries, there is often more water on Zimbabwe side, where many people prefer to view it.
Where to Stay
I found a great deal and chose to stay at the the A’Zambezi River Lodge. I spent two nights in Victoria Falls and it turned out to be a great value for the money!
Located on the banks of the Zambezi river, the A’Zambezi River Lodge is the only hotel in the area with a jetty site. This is perfect if you are going on a river cruise, which I highly recommend. The jetty was just a short walk from our room and it was great being able to go down to the river to just relax and take in all in beauty.
A’Zambezi River Lodge is about 5 km to town, which may seem a little far, but it is really only a 10 minute ride on the hotel’s complimentary shuttle. I found it to be really conveniently located.
It’s a larger hotel, with 83 rooms and pretty, well-kept grounds. There’s a restaurant on-site, that serves a little bit of everything, as well as a full bar. Don’t leave your food unattended though, there are cute, but hungry little monkeys everywhere and they are quick! A’Zambezi also offers entertainment nightly in the form of music and African dancers.
The hotel staff is very friendly and accommodating. There’s a number of tour companies on-site offering safaris and other activities. The staff can arrange airport transportation as well. I had a great time at the A’Zambezi River Lodge and recommend a stay if visiting Victoria Falls.
Where to Eat
The Lookout Café offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner with views that can not be beat. The café is an indoor/outdoor space overlooking the Batoka Gorge and the rushing waters of the river below. It’s owned by Wild Horizons, which operates a lot of the activities in the areas and a free shuttle to the café can be arranged in advance.
I went for breakfast, which is only offered on the weekends, and it was one of the best I had while in Africa. I was able to walk right in without a reservation, but it might be a good idea to make one for dinner or if you have a large party. I sat on the edge of the deck, just taking in the views and got some gorgeous photos! I was bummed i didn’t have more time there and had to head back to check out of my hotel.
Where to Play
There are lots of activities readily available in the Victoria Falls area. Please be mindful of anything involving animals and make sure the activity is 100% ethical before booking. Please go and enjoy a safari, but avoid anything involving captive animals. I was not able to find any true animal sanctuaries in the immediate area and found animals here to be somewhat exploited. For example, please do not participate in an elephant-back safari. Elephants are not meant to be ridden and riding them can actually damage their backs and cause them lots of pain.
I chose a couple of activities through Batoka, a safari company based in the area. They had a booth set up at my hotel, so they were extremely convenient and easy to book with.
Sunset River Cruise
A river cruise down the Zambezi is a must do. It’s the real life version of Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise and is absolutely incredible. The Zambezi is the fourth longest river in Africa at 2,574 km long. It is also the source of Victoria Falls. You won’t see the falls from the boat though, since you will be heading upstream, but you’ll see some other pretty amazing things.
I saw hippos, elephants, a crocodile and a lot of beautiful birdlife. It was unreal. At one point I had to question whether or not the elephants were robotic because it was simply too beautiful.
There really is no better way to experience the river, than actually being on it. There are a few options as far as cruises go but the one I chose, through Batoka, was roughly $45 USD and included an open bar and light snacks. It was well worth the money.
Walking Tour of Victoria Falls
I chose to take a walking tour of Victoria Falls. I went with a small group, led by a guide. Although there are many ways to see Victoria Falls, I definitely recommend walking through the rainforest and standing in front of the falls, where you can actually feel and hear the roar of the water.
The entrance fee to Victoria Falls is $30 USD per person. I paid $40 (which included the park fee) for my walking tour and was able to learn some interesting facts and history along the way. A tour isn’t absolutely necessary as it’s easy to guide yourself through the paved pathways. There’s lots of signage, pointing to the sixteen stops or viewpoints around the falls.
I recommend going to all sixteen stops. Be sure not to miss a set of stairs that go down to Devils Cataract, the lowest of the falls. Definitely make your way to the very end, no matter how wet you may get in the process. There are great views of the Victoria Falls Bridge, that links Zimbabwe and Zambia at the final stop. This is also where bungee jumping takes place. You can then either walk back the way you came or take a back way to the exit. I saw lots of beautiful birds, some monkeys and even a snake on my walk.
The spray from the falls creates an everlasting “rain” in the area and each viewpoint visited becomes progressively wetter. Raincoats are provided with most of the tours, but it wasn’t quite enough to keep out the water. Walking next to the falls is like walking through a heavy rainstorm. I was completely soaked from the knees on down. Don’t make the same mistake I did and wear jeans and tennis shoes. I recommend wearing a sandal or shoe that’s not slippery and will dry quickly, as well as light weight clothing. A swimsuit with shorts under your raincoat would probably be your best bet.
A helicopter tour is a great way to see Victoria Falls! I can’t speak from personal experience on this one though. The helicopter tours are greatly dependent on weather and it just didn’t work out while I was there. I did see a few up in the air and can only imagine how incredible the view is from above.
If you are a photographer or just someone looking to get some great shots of the falls this is the way to go. Victoria Falls is so large that it’s really difficult to capture its true beauty from the ground and in many areas, it’s simply just too wet to even get a camera out.
Helicopter tours can most likely be booked through your hotel or you can visit their office in town. I suggest booking as soon as you arrive and schedule your tour for sooner, rather than later, in case the weather changes. The cost is roughly $150 USD/ per person for the shorter flight time of 15 minutes. I was told if I booked through their office in town that I could most likely get a discounted rate. I’m bummed I missed out on this one but definitely next time!
There is so much to see and do in Victoria Falls. In addition to these activities, you can raft the river, bungee jump, or visit one of the nearby parks for a safari. You can also easily visit the Zambian side of the falls, which also has a lot to offer. Stay tuned for my next post, where I explore Zambia and visit Angel’s Pool!