Victoria Falls is a must-do Zimbabwean destination. It is home to one of the largest waterfalls in the world. It is the adrenalin capital of Africa and has hotels to satisfy every taste.
Go white-water rafting, bungee jumping, and abseiling, all around the magnificent Zambezi River. If you are a wildlife lover, you can go on a range of safaris, from canoe-based ones, to conventional game drives, to horseback excursions.
You can fly above the falls in a helicopter or go on a sunset river cruise. I am sure that all visitors to Victoria Falls will share one thing: the unforgettable exhilaration of being in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Victoria Falls is the biggest sheet of falling water in the world: twice as high and 1,5 times wider than Niagara Falls. It is 1,7km wide, over 100 metres high and the spray of the water is visible from up to 70 km away.
Confusingly, “Victoria Falls” is the name of the waterfall itself, and the town on the Zimbabwean side of the falls, and the National Park on the Zimbabwe side.
Victoria Falls (the waterfall) is shared between Zimbabwe and Zambia because it forms the border between the two countries. The town on the Zambian side is called Livingstone, and it receives a higher amount of tourism traffic.
The positive news is that visitor numbers to the Zimbabwean side are increasing, which is good for the visitors themselves. You see, Zimbabwe rather than Zambia has the best view of Victoria Falls as 15 of the 19 viewing points are in Zimbabwe, that is 80% of the waterfall. Only four of the viewing points are in Zambia.
The town of Victoria Falls is compact and easily walkable, so visitors can stroll between the curio shops, lodges and craft markets at their hearts’ content. The town is tourist-oriented to the extent that it can sometimes feel like a bit of a theme park.
There are take-aways, supermarkets and cafes in town, as well as superb restaurants in the hotels dotted around the area. Some accommodation, such as Victoria Falls Hotel, are within walking distance of the town, and some are a little further out, easily reached by shuttle buses and taxis.
As you drive through an avenue either from Victoria Falls Airport or from the Hwange road, you will first catch a distant glimpse of the spray coming up from Victoria Falls on your right.
At first glance, the spray will look like a low, white, fluffy cloud – an innocent teaser of the power of the water beneath. As you continue towards the town, monkeys will greet you from the side of the road, and if you are lucky, perhaps they will be joined by a local elephant.
The wild animals are allowed to roam freely around Victoria Falls Town, an arrangement which works well – most animals instinctively stay away from populated areas, and are not dangerous if left alone.
If you want to see the Victoria Falls in full power, go between March and May. If your main reason to visit is for the white water-rafting, go between August and early January when the rapids are at their best.
If a safari is your priority, go between May and October when the vegetation is low and animals are more easily spotted.
If you are a party animal, don’t miss the Victoria Falls Carnival which takes place over the days surrounding New Year’s Eve. It is one long party with live bands and entertainment, and thousands of revellers descend on the town.
You can also take part in the Victoria Falls Marathon and the Zambezi Cycle Challenge in July, to push your physical endurance whilst being spurred on by some awe-inspiring scenery.
Elephants (as well as warthogs, monkeys and other animals) do wander around the town centre from time to time, and this is one of the unique joys of Victoria Falls town.
If you encounter an elephant, just give it space and respect. Do not make any sudden movements or a loud noise and do not get too close. Just wait for the animal to move along, and then you can proceed on your way.