The Best Way to See and Experience Victoria Falls
Facts About Victoria Falls
As the mighty Zambezi River crashes over a basalt rock ledge and drops 354 feet down into a powerful whirlpool, it forms the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Traditionally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, ‘The Smoke that Thunders’, Victoria Falls’ impressive roar can sometimes be heard from about 25 miles away. The falls are part of two national parks, Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia.
Stretching just over 1 mile wide, the amount of water plummeting over the edge of the rock ledge generates a huge spray which shoots 1000 feet into the sky and can be seen about 30 miles away. The unique geography of the area means you can watch them the falls face-on and get to enjoy the full force of the spray, noise and spectacular rainbows that are ever-present. The Victoria Falls are impressive to view at any time, but the best time for a visit is during the rainy season from February to July when they are at their most splendid. On a wind-free day during high-water season, you can sometimes see a dazzling cloud of mist floating high above the Falls. Without a doubt, this is truly a magnificent wonder of nature that every traveler should experience at least once!
Zambia or Zimbabwe?
Why not simply go for both? Granted, the greater portion of the Falls are in Zimbabwe, and here you’ll glimpse the best overall impression of their epic scale – all 1700m of thundering whitewater cascading down to the Zambezi. There are several lookouts running along the gorge inside Victoria Falls National Park, including the precarious Danger Point, the Devil’s Cataract, and the spectacular Main Falls, which is the largest single sheet of water in the world. The water flows all year round and most of the hotels are within walking distance of the falls.
Head on to the Zambian side, and check out the lookout points in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Here you can see the falls from another angle entirely as sheets of water plummet over the edge from just a few feet behind the Eastern Cataract. You can also into Knife Point Island for that in-the-thick-of-it experience or climb down to the river’s edge to the so-called Boiling Pot, so named for the way the water rebounds off the rock to create a treacherous swirl of crisscrossing currents. One of the main highlights here is the famous Devil’s Pool which you can swim in low-water season, as well as visit Livingstone Island.
Purchase a “Two Country” VisaAs established, It’s best to visit both sides of the falls, and purchasing a “Two Country” Visa is one of the easiest ways to make that happen. Crossing the border into and out of Zimbabwe can be a pain and usually involves a swamp of paperwork and lines, so going in with a UniVisa that allows access to both countries is the best way to make sure you are able to visit both sides of the falls with a lot less hassle.
Activities at the Falls
Victoria Falls holds the title of Southern Africa’s Adventure Capital thanks to its array of adventure activities that cater to just about all tastes and types – from the mildly adventurous traveler to the raging adrenalin junkie. These include:
- Bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge — Not for the fainthearted, but is definitely the highlight of many people’s visit to the falls
- Taking the plunge and swimming in the world-famous Devil’s Pool — You can only do this during the dry season, but the fact that you’re even considering doing it is a testament to how daring you are.
- Gorge swinging — Want to take swinging to another level? Stand on a platform 120m above the flowing Zambezi river below, step off and drop 70m straight down in free fall through the Zambezi Gorges before the rope tightens and swings you in a 95-degree arc. The adrenaline surge is unlike anything you’ve ever felt.
- White water rafting down the rapids of the Zambezi River — This is an incredible adventure you don’t want to miss. Keep in mind, however, that these are Grade 5 rapids, so be prepared to get wet and work hard at staying upright. Still, it’s an unforgettable experience.
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