Victoria falls

Tips for Visiting Victoria Falls

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Niarra Travel

One of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls will not fail to amaze those who visit its colossal cascading waters. Spanning 1,708 meters wide with a drop between 90 to 107 meters into the basalt bedrock of the Zambezi River Gorge below, no other waterfall can compare to its awe-inspiring beauty and the sheer velocity and power it commands.

A visit to Victoria Falls is nothing short of spectacular, and it shows, with around one million awe-inspired visitors each year journeying to see its waters thundering down into the river below. Straddling the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe, this legendary wall of water is one of the largest waterfalls in the world, attracting adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. From the best time to visit Victoria Falls to where to stay, here are our tips to make your Victoria Falls trip unforgettable.

Victoria Falls

History of Victoria Falls

Awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1998, the history of Victoria Falls is as rich and diverse as its natural surroundings. First documented by the Western world through the explorations of David Livingstone in 1855, the falls have been a site of reverence for local tribes for centuries.

Known as 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' - 'the smoke that thunders' - to the local Toka Leya Tonga people, Victoria Falls has held spiritual significance and held a place for traditional ceremonies for generations.

Made up of intricate sandstone gorges and grand chasms, over 481,386 cubic metres of water tumbles over the falls every minute, as the Zambezi River makes its long journey east from the borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo to the Indian Ocean. It truly is one of Africa's most impressive natural landmarks.

Victoria Falls

Best time to visit Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls boasts an eclectic range of scenes from one season to the next, making any time worth a visit. However, for those eager to see the falls at their most powerful, the best time to visit Victoria Falls is from March to August. This is during the rainy season, when the falls are at their fullest and provide its most dramatic views and famous thundering chorus.

During the low water season, roughly from September to February, the reduced water levels expose the intricate rock formations of the gorge and open up different activities, such as the famous Devil’s Pool, which is accessible only from mid-August to mid-January. Understanding these seasonal changes can help you decide on the best time to visit the falls, depending on what you want to experience.

Victoria Falls

What to see and do at Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is not only about the breath-taking views. It's also a thrill-seeker's paradise where many adrenaline-fueled activities await you.

White-water rafts down the rapids of the mighty Zambezi River or soar up to the heavens in an exhilarating helicopter ride as you glimpse at the roaring fall below from an unparalleled birds eye view. For a more relaxed experience, embark on a sunset river cruise and spot the wildlife on display. See hippos wallowing in the deep waters accompanied by Cape clawless otters, while Nile crocodiles sunbathe on the sandy banks.

Don’t miss the chance to visit Livingstone Island, where David Livingstone first beheld the falls, and take a dip, if you dare, in Devil’s Pool, a natural infinity pool perched on the precipice of the falls’ mighty drop.

At the right time of the month, Victoria Falls also offers the unique natural phenomenon of a lunar rainbow, known as a moonbow, as the spray of the water refracts the light of moonbeams. This creates magical night-time rainbows with a kaleidoscope of iridescent colours beautifully projected across the falls - a true delight to behold.

Helicopter flying over victoria falls

Wildlife encounters at Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls serves as a magnificent backdrop to a rich and diverse ecosystem. Bordered by Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and Zambezi National Park in both Zambia and Zimbabwe are home to an impressive array of wildlife.

Take guided hikes in the surrounding rainforests to learn more about the unique flora and fauna of the region on our Luxury Zambia Safari tour. Keep your eye peeled for elephants, giraffes, buffalo, black and white rhinos, as well as a variety of antelope species.

Lions, cheetahs, and leopards also prowl the area, attracted by the high concentration of prey clustering around the brimming bodies of water filled up by the nearby falls. You may also spot adorable Klipspringer antelope playfully prancing around the zigzagging gorges along with yellow-spotted rock hyraxes.

Birdwatchers will be delighted by the prolific birdlife, with over 400 species recorded in the area making it one of the most unique spots for bird watching in Africa. Exploring the dense Waterberry and Red Milkwood rainforests either on foot with a guide on a walking safari or by jeep on a game drive, offers visitors a chance to encounter these animals in their natural habitats while enjoying the breathtaking scenery and thundering sound of the falls in the background.

Amanzi lower zambezi elephant

Which side is best, Zimbabwe or Zambia?

While no one side is better than the other, the decision of which side from which to witness the falls will depend on what type of travel adventure you are after. Set astride both southern African countries, the question arises of where the best place is to visit the falls?

The Zimbabwean side is famed for its broad view of the falls, with numerous lookout points along the dark volcanic rock cliff faces. It is generally recommended for first-time visitors due to the extensive and varied views available.

On the other hand, the Zambian side offers up-close views with scenic trails leading to the very base of the falls along with access to the thrilling Devil's Pool. For those with enough time, a cross-border visit is highly recommended to capture the full spirit of Victoria Falls from both perspectives.

Amanzi lower zambezi buffalo

Where to stay when visiting Victoria Falls

When looking for the best hotels in Victoria Falls, nothing can compare to staying at a luxury lodge, and it’s the perfect way to experience the famed waterfall and the surrounding area amidst the beauty of nature, where you can relax and unwind.

Here are some of our favourite Victoria Falls luxury lodges in both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Mpala Jena Camp

Known for its sustainability and elegance, this exclusive camp offers stunning views of the Zambezi River and is just a short distance from the falls. Each of the camp's five luxury tents is constructed to have the lowest environmental footprint possible, featuring eco-friendly amenities without compromising comfort.

Enjoy guided wildlife encounters, walking tours, and birdwatching expeditions in the vicinity. The camp's strategic location also allows for serene boat rides on the Zambezi, which give you a unique vantage point to witness the vibrant river life. At the end of the day, quench your thirst at their barefoot bar or take a long soak in their outdoor baths as you take in the beautiful Zimbabwe landscape.

Matetsi Victoria Falls

Combining refinement and sophistication with a thrilling sense adventure, Matetsi is an sprawling riverfront retreat offering exceptional game drives that give you the complete safari experience.

The lodge's spacious suites boast private plunge pools and expansive river views, so you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty of your surroundings. At Matetsi, the emphasis is on personalised service and bespoke safari experiences. Take part in fascinating night drives and canoe safaris and indulge in the authentic taste of Zimbabwe with their local inspired cuisine.

Mukwa River Lodge

The charming river lodge is a secluded haven located close to the falls, offering intimate and elegant accommodation with panoramic views of the surrounding wilderness.

Each of the suites at Mukwa is designed with luxury in mind and comes with their own private plunge pool, providing you with a peaceful and beautiful stay. Indulge in a range of activities such as fishing, birdwatching, and guided nature walks. The lodge's friendly staff are always on hand to ensure your stay is filled with Zambian hospitality.

Toka Leya Camp

Nestled on the banks of the river, Toka Leya blends modern amenities with unspoiled wilderness, ideal for those looking to relax in nature.

The camp features 12 luxurious tents, including three that can host families, each with a private deck overlooking the flowing river, where herds of elephants and hippos are often sighted. Located just a short distance from Victoria Falls and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, the camp invites you to unwind in the thralls of nature after a long day's adventure of boating, rhino tacking and sightseeing.

Tips when planning your trip

Visiting Victoria Falls is an exhilarating experience, but knowing a few tips can make your trip even more enjoyable. Lightweight, breathable clothing is recommended, along with a good pair of walking shoes for the winding trails.

A waterproof jacket is a must, as the fine mist from the falls is sure to get you wet. The heat can be intense, especially during the dry season, where it can reach into the high 30s. Therefore, ensuring that you stay hydrated carrying water with you as you explore is essential.

While you can brave the falls yourself, for the best experience, nothing quite compares to having an experienced local guide at your side. They will be able to help you navigate the falls safely and give you an unrivalled insight into its history and geology.

Planning your visit to Victoria Falls can be as adventurous or as relaxed as you wish. Whether you want an extensive multi-country journey that includes the awe-inspiring Okavango Delta and stunning Cape Town or a more intimate escape off the grid in Zambia, your ideal trip awaits.

White water rafting at victoria falls

At Niarra Travel, we offer luxury trips that are not only unforgettable travel experiences but create a positive impact for both the places and people who call the land their home. So if you want to experience the wonder of Victoria Falls on your very own African adventure, then get in touch with our expert travel team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 (UK), +1 (833) 215 9353 (US) or at explore@niarratravel.com today.

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