I recently had the chance to finish an African Safari at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world. As this was the end of my amazing African safari trip I took an extra couple nights to have a good look around this small but fascinating town. For a compact place, there is most definitely plenty of things to do in Victoria Falls and it would come as no surprise to hear that most features around the Falls themselves and the world-renowned white-water rafting river, the mighty Zambezi River. All the required information to ensure you have your trip to Victoria Falls planned is available in this Victoria Falls guide or will point you to the appropriate blog post for your needs.
Victoria Falls Guide – Zimbabwe
Where is Victoria Falls
This intriguing town is now one of the busiest and most important tourist regions in Zimbabwe and lies on the banks of the Zambezi River. Zimbabwe has been going through a host of corruption and political issues as of late but Victoria Falls continues to attract tourists from all over the world. It is located in the northwest corner of Zimbabwe with only the nearby Zambezi River separating it from Zambia, with Botswana and the famous Chobe National Park, home to the largest number of African elephants, a further 90 minutes to the west.
How to get to Victoria Falls
Arriving here can be down in a variety of ways depending on what sort of trip you are completing in Africa. Maybe you are passing through as part of an African safari, flying in at one of the nearby airports, riding a motorbike or have hired your own car and completing an epic self-drive safari trip.
Safari Options in Victoria Falls
Almost all the safari options will start, end or be passing through Victoria Falls at some stage so chances are you will have the opportunity to spend a couple of nights here. Safaris are a great option to see many different locations throughout Africa and cover a lot of the continent. You can choose the level of comfort you desire and the duration of such a trip. I personally completed a 21-day safari from Cape Town to here and had a great time.
Best Safari Tour Options
Find a complete list of African safaris by the best travel companies in the business below. I have listed three from each company that I think to offer great value for money, you can find options for short, medium and long safari trips.
Best short safari options:
Best medium length safari option:
- Vic Falls to Stone Town
- Southern Africa Overland: Canoes and Camp-outs
- Victoria Falls – Windhoek Accommodated
Best long safari options (if you have the time):
Take a closer look at each safari individually or have a look at the detailed blog I have written featuring these great trips in more detail.
Victoria Falls Airport Options
For a small town, you will have an unexpectedly high amount of airports to choose from. This is because as mentioned before you are close to various other desirable locations. If you are just planning to visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world without crossing over to Botswana or Zambia then the only option you will have is to fly in and out of the Victoria Falls airport. This is the cheapest airport I found to fly in and out of as well.
If you are planning to visit the neighbouring countries of Botswana, Zambia or both then you might find that flying from one of their airports is a better option for you. The airports to check out close by are called Kasane Airport in Botswana and Livingstone Airport in Zambia.
Where to stay in Victoria Falls
One of the most important decisions you need to make with any travel trip is to decide where to book your accommodation and if you are travelling on a budget or willing to spend a little extra for some creature comforts. As always I try and combine both where possible and save money on travel accommodation with smart cost-saving tips.
The best accommodation in Victoria Falls to combine comfort, value for money, location and activities in without a doubt the Shearwater’s Explorers Village. They have a variety of budget-friendly room options to suit most travellers and are one of the closest accommodation options to the waterfalls. Combine this with an onsite restaurant/bar area as well as a small but adequate pool area, perfect for a refreshing dip after a day of high adrenaline adventure or relaxing safari.
Shearwater’s Explorers Village can also provide you with all the information on tours and activities in the area and even offer a video on all the different trips available. I found Shearwater’s Explorers Village to be the best valued accommodation option in Victoria Falls. Read a more in-depth review of the property.
Other Accommodation recommended
- Victoria Falls Backpackers Lodge
- Shoestrings Backpackers Lodge Vic Falls
- Victoria Falls Rest Camp and Lodges
Family minded Accommodation:
Something for a special occasion Accommodation:
Best restaurants in Victoria Falls
The options are plenty when it comes to finding quality food in Victoria Falls. Whether you are searching for African specialities, cheap cafe favourites, grab and go fast food or even delicious Asian cuisine you can find it all.
When travelling, eating is one of the easiest and best ways to learn about the culture and traditions of the location you are in. With that being said it can also be one of the most confusing, especially when you are in a foreign country so I wanted to make it a little easier for you to find the best restaurants in Victoria Falls and explain a little more about each on so you can make the right choice for yourself.
Below are 10 of the best restaurants in Victoria Falls:
- Mama Africa Restaurant
- Nam Took Restaurant
- Shearwater Resort Restaurant
- In Da Belly Restaurant
- Lola’s Tapas & Carnivore Restaurant
- Boma Restaurant
- The 3 Monkeys Restaurant
- Shearwater Café
- The Lookout Café
- Makuwa Kuwa Restaurant
All of these offer a choice of something different and boast not only interesting food options but also a variety of locations and dining options. Read more about best restaurants in Victoria Falls and find a full description for each of the venues mentioned above.
Guide for activities to do at Victoria Falls
This place is really an adrenaline junkee’s playground and could keep you busy for literally weeks. If you are like me though and only have a limited amount of time then choosing the right trips is crucial to ensuring you have an amazing experience. Don’t be too concerned though if high octane activities are not your thing because there are various other options to keep you occupied as well.
The Activities to do at Victoria Falls list includes bungee jumping, cable gliding, bridge swing, white-water rafting, devil’s pool visit, cruise/dinner on the river, animal safari, rhino conservation visit, Falls visit, and the list goes on. All activities were reasonably priced and you can find more information below on the ones I recommend.
- Bungee Jumping at Victoria Falls
- Devil’s Pool – Swim on the Edge of Victoria Falls
- Helicopter & Microlight Flights over Vic Falls – Flight of Angels
- White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River
- Zambezi River Canoeing Trips at Vic Falls
- Victoria Falls Canopy Tours
- Abseiling at Vic Falls
- Tandem Skydiving at Victoria Falls
- High Wire Activities – Zipline, Gorge Swing & Flying Fox
Tame and Family Friendly Options
- Zambezi River Sunset Boat Cruises above Vic Falls
- Cultural boma dinner & village tour
- Chobe National Park Safari
- Half-day Zambezi Canoeing Trip
- Vic Falls Helicopter Flight of Angels
- Wildlife Safaris at Vic Falls & Chobe Day Trips
- Horse-riding Safaris at Vic Falls
- Visit Victoria Falls waterfall
- Traditional Village Tour
If you would like to do a little more research about any activity and be more informed of what you can expect to learn, discover or do in each head to either the adrenaline options or tame and family-friendly options blogs for a full review and further information.
The activities I decided to complete with the time I had included the white-water rafting which, I’ve written a separate blog about, visit the Falls which was included in the safari I had completed and experience the cable gliding across the Zambezi River. I certainly would have been interested in some of the safari and cruise options if I hadn’t already done so much of this during my 21-day Safari tour from Cape Town.
One of the seven natural wonders of the world
Having one of the seven natural wonders of the world in your backyard is sure to attract tourists from all over the world but just what should you expect when you see Victoria Falls and will you be impressed?
The waterfall doesn’t actually hold any records for being either the widest or tallest in the world. The highest waterfall in the world is Angels Falls, at a whopping 979m high, in Venezuela and the widest waterfall in the world belongs to the impressive and downright crazy Khone Falls in Laos, some 10,782m in width. Victoria falls actually doesn’t come close to being the tallest waterfall and is ranked just outside the top 10 for width. So why is this waterfall so famous and featured in the seven natural wonders of the world?
The waterfall itself is classified as technically the largest waterfall in the world and this is based on the pure amount of water it has flowing over it every day. How much is the amount of water going over Victoria Falls I hear you ask? On average a ludicrous 625 million litres of water per minute is dropping from the 108-metre edge. Now you can see why the Zambezi River is so famous for the whitewater raft right?
What is the size of Victoria Falls?
The official size of Victoria Falls is 1,708 metres in width and as mentioned before has a maximum height drop of 108 metres, the smallest drop off along the waterfall is 80 metres. The water flow varies throughout the year as the wet and dry seasons produce different climates in Africa but continues to have water falling from it every day. Even at full flood there as two islands on top of the waterfall that provide a divide for the water, the full flood occurs in April.
See the chart below to compare the different waterfalls in width and height throughout the world.
Highest waterfalls compared to Victoria Falls
|Ranking||Name of waterfall||Height||Country Located In|
|1||Angel Falls||979 metres (3,212 ft)||Venezuela|
|2||Tugela Falls||948 metres (3,110 ft)||South Africa|
|3||Tres Hermanas Falls||914 metres (2,999 ft)||Peru|
|4||Olo’upena Falls||900 metres (2,953 ft)||United States|
|5||Yumbilla Falls||896 metres (2,940 ft)||Peru|
|6||Vinnufossen||860 metres (2,822 ft)||Norway|
|7||Balåifossen||850 metres (2,789 ft)||Norway|
|8||Pu’uka’oku Falls||840 metres (2,756 ft)||United States|
|9||James Bruce Falls||840 metres (2,756 ft)||Canada|
|10||Browne Falls||836 metres (2,743 ft)||New Zealand|
|11||Strupenfossen||820 metres (2,690 ft)||Norway|
|12||Ramnefjellsfossen||818 metres (2,684 ft)||Norway|
|13||Waihilau Falls||792 metres (2,598 ft)||United States|
|14||Colonial Creek Falls||788 metres (2,585 ft)||United States|
|Not in top 100||Victoria Falls||108 metres (354 ft)||Zimbabwe|
Widest waterfalls compared to Victoria Falls
|Ranking||Name of waterfall||Width||Country Located In|
|1||Chutes de Khone||35,376 feet||Laos|
|2||Salto Pará||18,400 feet||Venezuela|
|3||Salto del Guaíra||15,840 feet||Brazil|
|4||Kongou Falls||10,500 feet||Gabon|
|5||Cataratas del Iguazú||8,800 feet||Argentina|
|6||Saltos del Mocona||6,775 feet||Argentina|
|7||Salto do Urubupunga||6,600 feet||Brazil|
|8||Saltos dos Patos e Maribondo||6,600 feet||Brazil|
|9||Vermilion Falls||6,000 feet||Canada|
|10||Celilo Falls||5,800 feet||United States|
|11||Victoria Falls||5,600 feet||Zimbabwe|
|12||Chutes Wagenia||4,500 feet||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|13||Niagara Falls||3,950 feet||Canada/United States|
|14||Inga Falls||3,000 feet||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|15||Chutes de Livingstone||2,300 feet||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
The best time to visit Victoria Falls
As I briefly mentioned above Africa has two very different climates depending on the time of year you visit and this, of course, has a great deal of effect on when is the best time to visit Victoria Falls. The rainy season that occurs upstream from the falls in the Zambezi River happens each year between the end of November and start of April. This results in the river enduring its flood season from February through to when it peaks in April.
As a result of the amount of water going over Victoria Falls during this time a moist spray is found. This spray can vary from 400 to even up to 800m high and has been recorded as being visible some 48km away from the falls themselves. As you can imagine this results in the area being extremely moist and the walkways and paths close to the falls become dangerous and slippery. This combined with the lack of visibility makes April and May a less desirable time to visit for most visitors. The only clear sight of the falls you will have is from the air, although during this time at full moon the light combined with the mist produces a magical light show that is known by the locals as a “Moonbow”.
With these facts in mind, it makes perfect sense that the best time to visit Victoria Falls and also the best time to view Victoria Falls is in fact either July-August or from early December through to the end of February. This is because as the water from the rainy season is either slowly beginning to stop or has begun to build up again. These months gives you an impressive view of the falls with a good amount of water flowing over it without the excess amount of spray. You can view the falls perfectly from the platforms on both sides of the river as well as from the air in a helicopter or plane tour. Instead of getting the “Moonbow” during the full moon you will instead get a traditional rainbow colour that forms just above the top of the fall. This is caused by the light from the sun hitting the slight mist in the air.
As well as being the best time to visit Victoria Falls it is also the best time to do other activities such as bungee jumping, Devil’s Pool and whitewater rafting. There will also be extra chances to do some activities as well that can include walking to the base of the falls, something that is impossible when in full flood. Find a full list of what activities are available throughout the year to plan the best time to visit Victoria Falls for yourself.
How long should I spend in Victoria Falls
As you can tell by the sheer number of activities mentioned throughout this Victoria Falls guide, it’s essential that you plan your stay in Victoria Falls correctly. If not you may be left disappointed with the number of items you wished you done but simply didn’t have time to complete.
I have heard from many people that have visited the area as well as people about to leave while I was there saying that they didn’t allow anywhere near the right amount of time to enjoy what they wanted to do while in Victoria Falls. I understand and get it as well if you look at it on the map it’s a small town. One or two days is enough and move on, right? Wrong.
I would say the minimum you should look to spend in Victoria Falls is 4 days.
Why that long?
The list of activities above should answer that question, there is just so much to do. If you go white-water rafting that is almost one day, throw in a cruise on the river, visit Devil’s Pool and do a selection of other adrenaline activities and you are easily into your third day. Add the option of a scenic flight, time to visit the falls themselves and a bit of time to look around the town and four days will be gone before you know it.
Be warned though as any longer than this can also come with its own risks. It is a small town so you will have seen most of it by the end of your first day. If you are not planning on doing many activities or you have come from a safari where some of the activities you may have done in other locations then a shorter time might be more appropriate for you.
Have a read of my how I spent 4 days in Victoria Falls.
Visas required for Victoria Falls
As with any destination, it is super impòrtant to check the visa requirements for entry into Zimbabwe as some countries are required to apply and gain access to a visa before arriving in Zimbabwe. This can change on occasions so it is best to find this information out online at the time of your trip.
At present, there are three visa categories and it will depend on where your country is listed as to what, if any visa action you need to take before flying. There are also 3 different visa types to choose from and prices will vary depending on which one you require.
Below is a list of the three visa categories for your reference.
This is for the countries that require no visa to gain entry into Zimbabwe. Just turn up to any border crossing and you will be right to enter.
Are for the countries eligible to gain and pay for a visa before entry into the country at any of the ports of entry, airport or land arrival. These are not a problem to get as long as you can pay the appropriate fee. You can also apply for a visa online before your arrival into Zimbabwe and the payment will be completed online. To do this just head to the Zimbabwe Evisa homepage.
Is for the countries that are required to apply and have been granted access to a visa before actually arriving in Zimbabwe. If you don’t have this visa sorted before you arrive, then you won’t be gaining access to Zimbabwe. The easiest way to apply for this visa is again at the Zimbabwe Evisa website.
I have a detailed and complete blog dedicated to the visa requirements for entry into Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls which I strongly encourage you to check prior to departing for any destination in Zimbabwe.
Vaccinations required for Zimbabwe
As with any country, it is always best to consult with your doctor about what suggested vaccinations and medication is recommended before your trip. As for mandatory vaccinations to gain entry into Victoria Falls, the good news is that there isn’t any.
It is not included in the yellow fever risk zone but does fall inside the malaria area. This is a preventable illness though and with the right medication from your doctor and a few prevention measures from you, it shouldn’t cause any worries or stop you from planning an exciting trip here.
Other vaccinations to consider when consulting your doctor would include rabies, typhoid, cholera and hepatitis. These are all personal choices that you will need to make before leaving for your trip.
Getting Money While in Victoria Falls
As are probably well aware if you are planning a trip to Victoria Falls, the country of Zimbabwe is in the middle of a somewhat financial crisis. They are almost completely out of physical money and as a result withdrawing money from an ATM is almost impossible.
What is the official currency in Zimbabwe?
As from the 24th June 2019, Zimbabwe has also begun to use their official currency again called the Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWL). Previously, the country was running under the USD.
The recent changes have caused a few teething issues and the best place I have found to keep up to date with the financial situation with Zimbabwe is by looking here.
Things to think about with money in Zimbabwe
- Ensure you have USD on you when arriving into Zimbabwe.
- Book as many tours, accommodation and other travel-related expenses before arriving in Zimbabwe.
- Have a travel card or credit card that is eligible to be used in foreign countries.
- Check the Zimbabwean Dollar before arriving. Find the conversion to your local currency here.
- You can carry other national currency just like anywhere else in the world.
- Remember to not carry large amounts of cash on you when possible.
Other African Experiences
I have been to a few other places throughout Africa during my travels and have always had a great time. I have visited the Sahara Desert, learnt to surf in one of the best spots, visited the amazing Pyramids, fished for Tuna many miles of Cape Town’s coastline plus much more. Find all my African stories, hints and tips right here.
Planning on heading to Australia, Europe or South America? I have loads of vital information that will assist with many trips in these areas. I’ve been on the travel path now since 2015 so feel free to comment in the post comments below with any questions you may have.
Organise Your Trip: Travel Advice and Tricks I Personally Use
Book Your Flight
Heading to either Skyscanner or Momondo are my methods of choice for this. They are my favourite as they search for flights from different companies all over the world. You can filter the results to suit your needs and ensure you land the best price every-time.
Book Your Accommodation
This is an important part of any holiday you’re going on. Read all the reviews and get the right accommodation via TripAdvisor. They even show you the best prices available at the time for that room from suppliers like Booking.com.For booking a hostel your best bet is to start with HostelWorld or possible even use CouchSurfing if you’re on a real budget.
Recommended Accommodation in Victoria Falls:
- The best-valued accommodation option in Victoria Falls is without a doubt Shearwater’s Explorers Village
- See other top-rated hotels in Victoria Falls
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance is a must these days so you have a piece of mind you’re covered for anything that could go wrong while on your trip. I now never go on a trip away without travel insurance. I’ve been using World Nomads for the past few years.
My favourite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (little more expensive but covers everything)
- SafetyWing (cheaper option to just cover you for health issues)
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
As I have been travelling frequently over the last few years I’ve learnt some great tools to use for saving money when travelling. I have a travel resource page that lists all the trusted companies I personally use and rely on. I think you will find them good as well.
The Best Place To Book Your Tours
If you are someone you likes to have the best tours in one place and read reviews from other travellers about their personal experiences of each different tour then the best platform to use is GetYourGuide.
They offer the best tours, have money-back offers in case your trip is cancelled and ensure the price of each tour is the lowest possible.
Other posts that might interest you:
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