To make sure you don’t miss this sought after travel hotspot, we’ve created the ultimate Victoria Falls guide with everything that you need to know about visiting one of the greatest waterfalls in Africa.
Read everything from interesting Victoria Falls facts to the best Victoria Falls activities and the best time to go to this sought after travel destination.
Victoria Falls facts – A history of the falls
The formation of the Victoria Falls waterfall system dates back roughly 2 million years. It was during this time that the Zambezi River was formed; when the supercontinent known as Gondwanaland separated. The cracks in the basalt would later give way to the waters of the Zambezi, resulting in what is known today as Victoria Falls.
As well as the waterfall itself, Victoria Falls is also the name of the town on the Zimbabwean side of the waterfall.
Victoria Falls was named in honour of Queen Victoria by the European explorer David Livingstone in 1855. Although most maps say ‘Victoria Falls”, the local people have long had a name for this natural wonder. In the language of the indigenous people of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is called Mosi-oa-Tunya, which translates to “The Smoke that Thunders”.
Should you travel to Zimbabwe or Zambia?
When visiting Victoria Falls, one must decide whether to stay on the Zambia or Zimbabwe side of the Zambezi River. Experiencing the falls from either Zambia or Zimbabwe can result in a different experience. Both destinations have their own unique visibility of the falls, however, the Zimbabwean side flows all year round.
Staying on the Zimbabwean side
About three-quarters of the falls are seen from the Zimbabwean side which allows visitors to view the falls from every angle thoroughly. The town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe shares a name with the waterfall and is situated less than 1-kilometre away from this natural wonder. Victoria Falls town is a busy little tourist town with plenty of restaurants, curio shops and activities for visitors to enjoy.
If you’re thinking of booking accommodation on the Zimbabwean side of the falls, the Victoria Falls Hotel is an incredible hotel offering private walkways to the falls.
Staying on the Zambian side
The Zambian side is much less crowded, and has less to do in terms of bars and restaurants. Yet many visitors report to enjoy the wild, more rugged element of Zambia.
The town of Livingstone in Zambia is bigger than Victoria Falls and everything is spread out. Livingstone is a short drive away from the falls and has less viewing points than the Zambian side. It’s important to remember that at the height of the Victoria Falls dry season (October to November) the Zambian side of the falls dries up completely.
One of our favourite hotels on the Zambian side of the falls is the Royal Livingstone Hotel. There’s also a private walkway to the waterfalls here.
Moving between Zimbabwe and Zambia
Guests can also enter neighbouring countries with ease. All you have to do is present your visa which permits travellers to move between Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.
There is a border crossing on Victoria Falls bridge – making it easy to hop between Zimbabwe and Zambia to view the falls from both sides on the same day. To learn how the visa works, contact us.
Victoria Falls Guide
Height of Victoria Falls
It may not be the highest waterfall in the world, but Victoria Falls’ combined size and surface area make it the world’s largest body of falling water.
The highest point of Victoria Falls is 108 metres, and the largest width is 1700 wide. The ledge is not straight, therefore, there are different heights as you look at it from either Zimbabwe or Zambia.
Victoria Falls Weather
Between May and September, the days are cool and dry where temperatures reach 25 to 27 C (77 to 80 F) during the day and drop from 7 to 10 C (44 to 50 F) at night.
During October and April, the days are hotter and wetter summer months with highs of 32 to 34 C (90 to 93 F) during the day, and lows of 15 to 19 C (59 to 66 F) at night.
Wildlife in Victoria Falls
Unlike the neighbouring country of Botswana, Victoria Falls does not guarantee sightings of the Big Five. Despite this, it does have a large number of wildlife species.
Elephants are in abundance on both sides of the waterfall and can often be seen crossing the river banks when water levels are low. Visitors will spot plenty of crocodiles and hippos bathing in the Zambezi River, and buffalo are often seen drinking near the water’s edge.
Big predators such as lions and hyenas can also be seen cooling off under the trees. Smaller mammals such as warthogs, impalas, mongoose and otters are found close to the falls.
How to get to Victoria Falls
Travelling to Victoria Falls is easy with direct flights from Johannesburg to Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Zambia or Victoria Falls Airport in Zimbabwe. Travelling to Victoria Falls can also be done via Kasane Airport in Botswana.
Best time to travel to Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls changes with the seasons, therefore, deciding when to travel to this natural wonder is important to your overall experience.
The months of October and November marks the end of a long dry season. During this time, the river is parched and the Zambezi is at its lowest. If you’re travelling to Victoria Falls during these months, your best bet is to go to Zimbabwe as this side of the waterfall flows all year round. That being said, don’t discount visiting other attractions during the dry months in Zambia, the low water levels are the perfect opportunity to experience the famous Devil’s Pool.
The months of February to June is the prime time to visit the Zimbabwean side of the falls as the water levels are at their highest. During this time, the waterfall offers incredible views, however the mist and spray of the water may pose a challenge for viewing and photography. You’re also guaranteed to get wet.
The weather is most pleasant during the dry winter months of May to September. During this time of year there are cool evenings and warm days.
If you’re looking forward to white water-rafting Victoria Falls, travel from August to early January when the rapids are at their best.
If you’re going on safari, travel between May and October when the vegetation is low, and animals are easily spotted.
Things to do in Victoria Falls
No Victoria Falls guide is complete without listing a few of the best Victoria Falls activities to get up when visiting the area.
Visit the Victoria Falls National Park
One of the seven natural wonders of the world and one of the greatest waterfalls in Africa, Victoria Falls is something that no traveller to Africa should never miss.
Take a dip in Devil’s Pool
A favourite spot for the adrenaline junkies, Devil’s Pool is the world’s most epic infinity pool. Visitors have the chance to swim to the edge of the Earth’s largest waterfall in a naturally formed rock pool that looks over the edge of Victoria Falls.
Go bungee jumping
Daredevils have the chance to plunge off the Victoria Falls Bridge and glide down for 111 metres on the Victoria Falls bungee jump.
Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River
Glide down the magnificent Zambezi River while the sun sets over Victoria Falls and watch how the river comes to life. This is one of the most popular Victoria Falls activities.
Go white water rafting
Whitewater rafting down the Zambezi River is a thrilling experience! Rafters sometimes have the chance to get up close to hippos and crocs.
Enjoy a safari
Wildlife lovers can enjoy a range of different safaris, from canoe-based safaris, sunset cruises, open vehicle 4 x 4 safaris and even horseback and helicopter excursions.
Explore the town of Victoria Falls
The town of Victoria Falls is compact and easily accessible. Visitors can wander the streets, strolling between the shops, lodges and craft markets at their heart’s content. The town is tourist-oriented, there are supermarkets and cafes in town, as well as superb restaurants in the hotels dotted around the area.
View the lunar rainbow
One of the most captivating sights of the Victoria Falls is the rare and beautiful view during a full moon. As the light from the moon bounces off the mist from the falls, it creates a Lunar Rainbow or “moonbow”.
Victoria Falls gives you a chance to experience one of Africa’s natural wonders. We hope this Victoria Falls guide has helped you learn a bit more about this wonderful destination.
If there is anything else you need to know about Victoria Falls, message us in the comment section below!
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