23 Things To Know BEFORE Visiting Victoria Falls

There are few things more majestic than a waterfall, but when it comes to Victoria Falls, “majestic” doesn’t even BEGIN to describe it.

This humongous waterfall is one of the world’s most remarkable natural wonders and a true gem of Africa. With rich forestry, abundant and diverse wildlife, and natural beauty wherever you set your eyes, Victoria Falls should be a bucket-list location for everyone.

It was with this spirit that we booked our trip to Victoria Falls when we knew we would be visiting Zimbabwe and the experience did not disappoint one bit.

Through our experience, we’ve compiled this detailed list of things you should know before visiting Victoria Falls, to ensure your trip goes off without a hitch. 

About Victoria Falls

About Victoria Falls

Located in southern Africa, on the Zambezi River, this is one of the most astonishing waterfalls you could ever see. 

This African waterfall stretches to a width of 5604 feet (longer than 18 football fields!) and a height of 300 feet, making for a very imposing sight.

While not the tallest or the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is considered the largest because the area of the sheet of water it produces is larger than any other waterfall. Many consider Niagara Falls, one of the most famous places in the world, to be impressive, but it dwarfs in comparison to Victoria Falls, which is twice as tall and twice as wide.

The European’s first encounter with these majestic falls was through a Scottish explorer and missionary, David Livingstone, in 1855. Upon seeing the awe-inspiring sight, he was taken aback and decided to name the waterfall after the reigning monarch at the time, Queen Victoria.

Victoria Falls Brings Together Two Countries

Victoria Falls Brings Together Two Countries

The Zambezi River runs along the borders of many countries, forming a link between them. Victoria Falls is one of the gems along this historic river that lies on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Another fun fact; one more way that the Zambezi River brings these two countries together is through the Kariba Dam, which provides electricity to both countries.

Which Side Is Better To Visit From? Zimbabwe or Zambia?

 Which Side Is Better To Visit From? Zimbabwe or Zambia?

If you’re planning your trip primarily to see Victoria Falls, then Zimbabwe is the easy choice. While you can access and see the waterfall from both countries, the Zimbabwean side has more viewpoints (16 out of 20 in total) that give a wider view of Victoria Falls. We’ve now been multiple times to Victoria Falls, and can attest that the better view is from Zimbabwe, as a majority of the water flows on the Zambia side.

When visiting from Zimbabwe, you aren’t that affected by the change in season either, since most of the water on the Zambian side dries up during the dry season, while the Zimbabwean side still has an impressive flow of water. The last time we visited it was in November, the end of the dry season, and the falls were still insanely impressive from the Zimbabwe side. While if I were on the Zambia side, there is not much I would have been seeing across the Zambezi.

Though all that being said there are advantages to visiting from Zambia. Mosi Oa Tunya National Park on the Zambian side typically attracts fewer visitors compared to the Zimbabwe side, with a lower entry cost of just US$20. These routes provide various perspectives of the Falls, including views from the bottom and the side. During the rainy season, visiting the Zambian side may result in a thoroughly drenched experience. The nearby major town of Livingstone offers a pleasant two-day stay, boasting excellent dining options and accommodation. Zambia’s currency tends to be more stable than that of Zimbabwe and the popular Devil’s Pool and Livingstone Island excursion is conveniently located on the Zambian side.

This should go without saying, but double-check your travel plans, because tourists have gotten confused thinking Zambia and Zimbabwe are the same country. We ran into a couple who had booked their visas and tickets to Zimbabwe, but their hotels in Zambia, and one of the guides told us later on that it was a common occurrence.

If you have plans to travel into Zambia and Zimbabwe it’s best to look into a KAZA UniVisa. This unique visa grants unlimited entry into Zimbabwe and Zambia within a 30-day period. If your nationality necessitates a visa for both countries, obtaining this visa is more economical than purchasing individual visas. Additionally, it permits a day-trip to Botswana with the flexibility to return to Zambia or Zimbabwe. The fee for this visa is $50.

How To Get To Victoria Falls

How To Get To Victoria Falls

Since Victoria Falls was the last stop on our travel itinerary for Zimbabwe, we decided to take the most convenient route and flew right into Victoria Falls International Airport from Hwange National Park, which is where we were on safari. The Vic Falls Airport is one of Zimbabwe’s major airports and located just a short distance from the town of Victoria Falls. It takes about 20 minutes to drive from the Vic Falls Airport to the town of Victoria Falls, however the fee is a fixed price at a whopping $30.

The town of Victoria Falls is where most hotels are located, and from the town it’s just a short 20 minute walk to Victoria Falls, or a five minute drive. Many hotels and resorts offer shuttles to Vic Falls. If you are staying at a safari lodge, like the Vic Falls River Lodge, often the transfer to Victoria Falls is included.

There are bus services that you could also use to reach the town of Victoria Falls from other parts of Zimbabwe and many tour operators will offer visits to the Falls with transportation included.

What is the Cost of Entry?

Cost of Entry of Victoria Falls

Since April of 2023, entry prices have seen a steep increase. International visitors have to pay $50 to enter Victoria Falls Park and get a proper view of the majestic Falls. For SADC countries, the entry fee is $30, and the fee is $7 for Zimbabweans. Children aged 6 to 12 pay half, while children under the age of 6 enjoy free entry. If you are a member of SADC or Zimbabwean, you must bring proof with an ID.

It’s important to remember that this is for a single-entry ticket. If you exit and would like to return later in the day, you must pay the entry fee again.

Like most businesses in Vic Falls, it’s possible to pay with credit card at Victoria Falls. Though it’s always advisable to have cash on you in Zimbabwe – particularly USD.

When is the Best Time to Visit Victoria Falls?

the best time to visit victoria falls
Mid November at Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls
Mid December at Victoria Falls

While there is flow of water all year round, each season has its unique specialty. 

Victoria Falls is at its peak between March and June, but while you can get the full experience of the Falls, other activities become limited. For example, if you’re looking for some outdoor adventures while you’re here, white water rafting isn’t possible during this time.

For such activities, you’ll need to wait till August through December. This is also when you can visit the famed Devil’s Pool (more on that later). However, the water in the Falls is quite low during this time. If wildlife is more your thing, then any time between July and October is ideal.

Exploring Victoria Falls 

Exploring Victoria Falls 

Once you enter the Falls Park, all you need to do is follow the Victoria Falls footpath to the Falls themselves. You’ll know when you’re close because it’ll get misty quickly. There’s a pretty easy pathway to follow that’s easy to understand. We recommend starting at the David Livingstone Statue and working your way to the right from there!

When on the observation decks, make sure you have firm footing and don’t act a fool by jumping around or hanging off the rails. At some spots the water will be mere few feet away from your feet and, with one wrong move, you could get pulled down with the water. However the trails are well maintained and provide plenty of distance from the edge. You’d have to try hard to fall, but it does happen.

Safety precautions notwithstanding, when you get a full view of Victoria Falls from any of the observation decks, you’re left standing in awe. Nature’s beauty and power are on full display, especially during the peak rainy season.

However, exploring Victoria Falls Park will hardly take you a couple of hours, so you’ll need to find something to do for the rest of the day. Luckily, the resort town of Victoria Falls is nearby and there’s plenty to do there.

Visiting The Devil’s Pool

 Visiting The Devil’s Pool
Devil’s Pool (these people went unguided which is not recommended)

August to January mark the drier months of the year for Victoria Falls and this is when one of the best spots in the entire area opens up. The Devil’s Pool is a natural rock pool, dubbed the world’s best infinity pool, located at the very edge of Victoria Falls on the Zambia side only.

Embarking on a challenging journey of walking and swimming through the Zambezi, adventurers strive to reach a unique pool. Upon reaching this adrenaline-pumping swimming hole, those bold enough to take the plunge experience a thrilling encounter with the river’s force. The formidable current propels them to the pool’s edge, where a rocky lip halts their descent, and the tumultuous waters of the Zambezi cascade over nearby cliffs.

The vantage point from the precipice offers an utterly exhilarating panorama, allowing you to sense the sheer power of the Zambezi River as it rushes past and plunges down a breathtaking 100-meter (320-foot) drop!

With over 500 million liters (132 million gallons) of water plummeting over the Falls every minute, this natural spectacle demands respect. This activity must be made with a knowledgeable guide.

During the dry months (August to January) you can go swimming at this spot and take pictures right at the edge of the waterfall. In addition to making for great Instagram moments, it’s also a place where you can make lasting memories.

Keep An Eye Out for Wildlife

wildlife at victoria falls

The surrounding areas in Zambezi National Park are home to many species of wildlife such as giraffes, antelopes, Cape buffalo, zebras, and even elephants. Big cats such as lions and cheetahs are seen from time to time, but not too frequently.  You’ll also have the chance to see crocodiles and hippos, along with baboons and vervet monkeys. However at Vic Falls you are most likely to see warthogs running about, baboons, and monkeys.

Bird watching is also quite popular with more than 35 species of raptors calling the area their home.

Victoria Falls Is Steeped In History

Victoria Falls Is Steeped In History

While a great deal of credit is given to David Livingstone for the discovery of Victoria Falls, and even though the waterfall itself is named after a British Monarch, this waterfall has held an important place in the local tribal culture for many centuries.

The locals even have their very own names for the waterfall. In Lozi, it is called “Mosi-oa-Tunya,” which translates to “thundering smoke,” and in Tonga, it is called “Shungu Namutitima,” which means “boiling water.”

There is evidence that proves that humans going back to the Stone Age have used the falls as a source of water or for civilization. Archaeologists have found human artifacts from various time periods and there is even evidence of a settlement in the area that dates back to more than a thousand years ago.

You Can See Victoria Falls From The Sky!

You Can See Victoria Falls From The Sky

While an expensive indulgence, helicopter rides are available at Victoria Falls, allowing visitors a chance to get an aerial view of the majestic waterfall from the sky.

A short helicopter ride start at $150 (Excludes Park Fee & Fuel Levy), whereas a longer ride will cost you nearly $400. However, it’s a splurge-worthy activity, as let’s face it this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Many say it’s well worth the money!

Flora Around Victoria Falls

flora at vic falls

The area around the waterfall has a dense forested region with palm trees, mopane, and teak dominating the tree line. Vegetation around the falls is also ample, with the water providing nutrition to ivory palms, wild date palms, pod mahogany, and batoko plum! Keep your eye out for all the different plant life!

Take A Train Ride Around Victoria Falls!

If you can’t do the helicopter ride, definitely take advantage of the train ride around the falls. A restored train, steam engine, and all, will take you on a ride and offer a completely different view of the majestic waterfall.  The train comes with several lounge areas, dining, and incredibly comfortable chairs.

14. About the Town of Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls, the Town

Victoria Falls, the town, is a cute little resort town and it is home to many small markets that sell different goods and crafts. There are also many activities that you could take part in, such as zip lining, canoeing, bungee jumping, and even crocodile diving!

We enjoyed heading here for some shopping, as well as grabbing a drink at the River Brewing Co.

What To Bring to Victoria Falls

A water bottle, sunscreen, hat, and comfortable walking shoes are necessities when visiting Victoria Falls. Depending on how much you walk around and explore, you also might want to keep something to snack on such as trail mix, an energy bar, or sandwiches. 

You’ll also want to bring something to keep your belongings dry because you are DEFINITELY going to get wet when visiting the Falls. By the time we reached the last observation deck, we were pretty much soaked through and through! We recommend a travel camera to capture the beauty of the falls, it is one of the best vacation spots in the world after all. If you decide to bring a camera, you 100% need to also have something to protect it from the water, like a waterproof safari bag.

Climate Change Is Impacting Victoria Falls

Climate Change Is Impacting Victoria Falls

Many experts are in fear that Victoria Falls will soon be declared a last-chance destination World Heritage Site. This is because of climate change’s significant adverse impacts on Victoria Falls.

Due to rising temperatures, water flow has decreased over the years and droughts are becoming more frequent and severe each year. When we last visited in November, the rains were weeks late, and Zimbabwe was well into a drought. On safari, we saw many elephants nearly dying of dehydration and heat.

Many major channels such as Discovery and National Geographic, have also documented the threat of climate change to this incredible natural wonder and broadcasted them in several programs and documentaries.

All these adverse conditions have an impact not only on the Falls and how they look but also on the local wildlife. With increasing droughts, the natural habitat of many animals is disappearing and could soon lead to irreversible damage to their population numbers.

Best Restaurants Near Victoria Falls

Restaurants Near Victoria Falls

The town of Victoria Falls has many restaurants that offer quality food, but the most popular, by a wide margin, is the Three Monkeys Restaurant & Bar. Both locals and tourists flock to this restaurant in large numbers.

Throughout our two days in Victoria Falls, we ate at Three Monkeys, and the Lookout Cafe. In addition to a wide variety of foods such as burgers, pizzas, BBQ, and wood-fired dishes, there are also vegan options and an impressive selection of drinks at the bar.

For dinner though, we almost always stuck to the dining options at our accommodation, the Vic Falls Hotel.

Malaria is a Risk

Victoria Falls

While Victoria Falls is technically classified as a malaria zone, you can do many things to protect yourself. Use mosquito repellant profusely and ensure your windows are closed for the night. This is especially true during the rainy season when the bugs are bad.

We have visited Zimbabwe multiple times and never take malaria tablets, as we aren’t in malaria prone areas or it’s the dry season and there are not many mosquitos around.

However it you think you may be at risk, it’s best to consult with your doctor on other ways that you could prevent and safeguard yourself from malaria.

Is Victoria Falls Worth Visiting?

Is Victoria Falls Worth Visiting?

A magnificent waterfall, rich greenery, diverse wildlife, and incredibly vivid rainbows. What more could one ask for out of a trip?

I would easily recommend Victoria Falls as a bucket list location to anyone without a moment’s hesitation. The experience of seeing one of the world’s natural wonders, and one that is on such a gigantic scale, is an experience that should not be missed. We loved it so much we’ve traveled twice to Victoria Falls.

If you’re into adventure activities, Vic Falls is also declared the adventure capital of Africa. With bungee jumping, Devil’s Pool, helicopter flights, and white water rafting on offer, it’s hard to get bored!

How Long Should You Stay At Victoria Falls?

How Long Should You Stay At Victoria Falls?

While we spent three full days in Victoria Falls, it seemed like it wasn’t enough time. You should have at least two days to yourself in this location; the first day to rest in some picturesque settings. Many people head here before or after their Southern Africa safari, especially since there’s a well connected airport!

As far as time actually at Victoria Falls, I would allocate 2-3 hours to amply explore. We spent a nice morning at Victoria Falls, arriving around 9 am to beat the midday crowds and spent three hours enjoying the views and taking lots of photos. If I were to redo the experience, I would have liked to get there right at opening to beat all the crowds and get better late. Though there is plenty of space to spread about here.

Lunar Rainbow – A moonbow!

Lunar Rainbow - A moonbow!

The enchanting phenomenon known as the lunar rainbow or ‘moonbow’ is formed when light refracts through airborne water particles, with the moon serving as the light source instead of the sun. During this celestial display, the Victoria Falls National Park welcomes visitors for exclusive lunar rainbow tours.

On every full moon, the Victoria Falls rainforest reopens in the evening, presenting a unique opportunity for special tours that unveil the mesmerizing beauty of the lunar rainbow, contingent upon favorable weather conditions and spray intensity.

Victoria Falls stands as one of the rare locations on our planet where this captivating natural event occurs, easily accessible for those seeking to witness its splendor. Surprisingly, many visitors to the area remain unaware of this breathtaking occurrence, which ranks among the most awe-inspiring spectacles at Victoria Falls. To ensure you don’t miss this magical display, it’s advisable to monitor the full moon cycle and plan your visit accordingly.

Stay at the Vic Falls Hotel

Victoria Falls Hotel

During our time at Vic Falls, we knew we had to book somewhere iconic. Cue the Victoria Falls Hotel, which stands as a beacon of luxury and sophistication in the heart of Africa. With its timeless elegance and captivating views, a stay at this iconic establishment is more than just accommodation – it’s an immersive journey into the natural and cultural wonders surrounding it.

Built in 1904, the Victoria Falls Hotel has a rich history that mirrors the evolving tapestry of Southern Africa. Constructed initially as accommodation for workers on the Cape-to-Cairo railway, the hotel has since transformed into a symbol of refined colonial charm. Stepping into its storied halls is like stepping back in time, with vintage decor, high tea traditions, and a sense of timeless grandeur.

Victoria Falls Hotel

The hotel offers a range of accommodations, from stylish rooms to opulent suites, each meticulously designed to blend classic elegance with modern comfort. The rooms are adorned with colonial-era furnishings, exuding a refined ambiance that pays homage to the hotel’s historical roots. The attentive staff, known for their warm hospitality, ensures that every guest feels like royalty throughout their stay.

We loved our stay here, and it was well-positioned in the Town of Victoria Falls. It was also just a 15 minute walk to Victoria Falls, which was easy for us to walk to in the morning! Though even when you’re not right up close to the waterfall one of the standout features of the Victoria Falls Hotel is its unrivaled view of the majestic Victoria Falls. Imagine waking up to the sound of cascading water and stepping outside to a magnificent view of the falls – a sight that never fails to inspire awe.

The other stand out of the Victoria Falls hotel is their iconic high tea. Offered daily to hotel and non hotel guests, having high tea here like the royals used to is one of the best things to do in Victoria Falls.

Check availability for the Vic Falls Hotel!

Victoria Falls Travel Tips

How Long Should You Stay At Victoria Falls?
  • Stop at every viewpoint: Stop at every single viewpoint you can while at Victoria Falls. Each one offers a unique and different view than the other. And you’ve already paid $50 to enter so you may as well get your money’s worth!
  • Plan on getting wet: We visited in the height of a drought during the dry season and still got pretty freaking wet! Plan on getting wet on your visit, and bring some dry gear for your electronics.
  • It is expensive: The entry fee keeps rising to Victoria Falls, and I have to admit that $50 is a pretty steep entry price. The first time we visited in 2016, the price was $30, which I already thought was high! Just accept that it is a dream destination and that Africa isn’t the cheapest destination and enjoy the natural wonder!
  • Cafes and Restrooms: There are multiple places to grab snacks, a meal, and multiple bathrooms near the entrance to Victoria Falls!
  • Plan on walking: The Vic Falls complex is rather large, and to see each viewpoint will require some walking. Bring good travel shoes for the day, we recommend non slip trainers!
  • You Don’t Need A Guide: The paths are easy to follow and a guide is not needed, though you may get asked a few times if you want one. While a guide may be helpful for telling the history and about the land, it’s far from necessary unless you want someone to take your photos!
  • Plan to Spend 2-3 hours enjoying the falls. If you can get there at sunrise, you won’t be disappointed.

Plan Your Trip to Africa

  • Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans. 
  • Travel Waterbottle: When we’re uncertain about the water supply we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
  • Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-4 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
  • Safari Clothes: Lightweight, beige, and moisture-wicking clothing are great for traveling Africa. See our favorite safari clothing here.
  • Safari Hat: A good hat is both stylish and functional.
  • Safari Bag: A durable bag is ideal for traveling around Africa.
  • Safari Pants: We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors.
  • Safari Shirt: Shirts like these are lightweight and keep the bugs away!
  • Boots: While you don’t need to wear sturdy shoes every day, at least one pair of safari boots will make your trip nicer!
  • Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling to Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.
About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.