Victoria Falls should be on everyone’s bucket list. This spectacular waterfall, located almost midway along the Zambezi River at the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, is truly magnificent. It’s not the highest or longest waterfall in the world, but it is the world’s largest sheet of falling water and the power of the water as it plunges some 100 metres takes your breath away. It can be viewed from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides, both of which offer incredible views.
During this trip I revisited the Zimbabwean side of the falls. There are several viewpoints together with a beautiful walk through the forest. You can hear the mighty roar of the falls from the car park (and often beyond) and as you walk along the path through the forest, your anticipation and excitement grow as you get closer and closer, and the noise gets louder and louder! On reaching the first viewpoint (Devil’s Cataract) you can’t help but gasp in amazement when you first catch sight of this breath-taking body of water. With another 15 viewpoints ahead, the excitement continues with each spectacular vista. Although I have visited the falls on many occasions over the years, including as a child growing up in Zimbabwe, I always feel as excited and elated as I did all those years ago seeing them as a little girl for the first time.
Victoria Falls is a year-round destination. The water levels are at their peak in April and May which does mean you need to be prepared to get wet! The billowing clouds of mist rise and drench everything and everyone within reach when the river is in flood, and this is where the local name originates – Mosi Oa Tunya, ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. Raincoats are advisable and are all part of the adventure! Even when the falls are at their lowest (October through November) they are still spectacular and with less mist, you have clearer views.
I spent a week in the Victoria Falls area visiting properties along the Zambezi River on both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides of the falls as well as a night in Victoria Falls town itself. Both countries offer an excellent selection of lodges and camps along the Zambezi River. What is so magical about staying on the river is you are anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour from the falls (depending on where you stay) so you can easily visit the falls, but still be immersed in the bush with the call of fish eagles, grunts of hippo and nightly chorus of frogs – those blissful African sounds!
When staying at one of these lodges along the river, aside from visiting the falls themselves, you can enjoy an array of activities from boat cruises, island picnics, fishing, village visits and game drives (including, from some lodges, in Mosi au Tunya or Victoria Falls National Park).
If you want a bit more town life, then Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe is a fantastic ‘bustling’ town. There are some great accommodation options from hotels to small boutique guesthouses. You can visit some of the local art galleries, coffee shops, bars, or restaurants – it has a wonderful friendly feel. With the town a few minutes from the river, you still can enjoy a boat cruise and there are some lovely river cruises for sundowner drinks or even a three course dinner as the sun is setting!
Victoria Falls combines very well pre or post safari. Starting with a few nights (ideally three, giving you two full days) allows you to gently recover after your international flights before heading on safari. Alternatively, you can finish with three or four nights for a bit of post safari R&R but still have access to lots of activities!
Michele stayed at: Tintswalo Islands of Siankaba, Waterberry Zambezi Lodge, Tongabezi Lodge, Chundukwa River Lodge, Matetsi Victoria Falls, Mpala Jena and 528 Victoria Falls
Michele visited: Royal Chundu River Lodge and Island Lodge, Mukwa River Lodge, Wilderness Toka Leya, Sanctuary Susi and Chuma, Thorntree River Lodge, Avani Victoria Falls Resort, Royal Livingstone by Anantara, Radisson Blu Mosi-Oa-Tunya, Old Drift Lodge, Stanley and Livingstone Boutique Hotel, Ursula’s Homestead, Batoka Zambezi Sands, Victoria Falls River Lodge and Island Tree Houses, Ilala Lodge, The Palm River Hotel, Victoria Falls Hotel, Batonka Guest Lodge, Pioneers Lodge, Mbano Manor, Nkosi Lodge, Shongwe Lookout and Shongwe Oasis.