July 18, 2024
How to Explore Victoria Falls from the Zambian and Zimbabwean Sides

Did you know that you can experience the breathtaking Victoria Falls from two different countries? These majestic falls straddle the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, offering two distinct but equally awe-inspiring perspectives.

Known locally as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” or “The Smoke That Thunders,” Victoria Falls is not just a visual marvel but also a profound cultural and historical landmark.

Whether you’re standing on the Zambian or Zimbabwean side, prepare for an adventure of a lifetime.

In this guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know for a truly immersive visit to Victoria Falls. From essential tips on what to see and do, historical insights, to a comprehensive packing list – we’ve got you covered.

Ready to embark on this journey? Let’s dive in!

Here’s an overview:

Points of Interest When Visiting Victoria Falls

Before we start, use the interactive map below to explore key points of interest on both sides of Victoria Falls. Click on each marker to learn more about what awaits you.

Related read: A Guide to Victoria Falls Activities

Victoria Falls
The Smoke That Thunders

Highlights of Victoria Falls from the Zambian Side

For those exploring the Zambian side of Victoria Falls, here are the best spots, trails, and experiences:

1. Devil’s Pool

This natural infinity pool is perched right on the edge of Victoria Falls. It’s accessible during the dry season (typically from August to December) when the water level is lower. Swimming here offers a thrilling experience as you peer over the precipice into the churning waters below.

Safety Note: Always go with a licensed guide.

Devil’s Pool on the Zambian side when exploring Victoria Falls
(Seasonal) Brave the edge and take a dip in this natural infinity pool during the dry season.

2. Knife-Edge Bridge

For some of the most dramatic views of Victoria Falls, walk across the Knife-Edge Bridge. The bridge provides close-up views of the Eastern Cataract, the Main Falls, and the Boiling Pot. Expect to get drenched by the mist – it’s all part of the adventure!

The Knife Edge Bridge, Victoria Falls, Zambia
The Knife Edge Bridge

3. Eastern Cataract

This viewpoint offers an up-close perspective of one of the most powerful sections of the Falls. The thundering sound and the sheer force of the water are mesmerizing.

Eastern Cataract, Victoria Falls, Zambia
Witness the powerful and dramatic cascades from one of the best viewpoints.

4. Livingstone Statue

Located on the Zambian side near the Knife-Edge Bridge, this statue commemorates David Livingstone’s discovery of the Falls. It’s a great spot to reflect on the historical significance of the area.

Livingstone Statue at Victoria Falls, Zambia

5. Boiling Pot

Descend into the gorge to witness the swirling waters at the base of the Falls. The Boiling Pot is a great spot for viewing the turbulent Zambezi River and offers a unique perspective from below the Falls.

Boiling Pot at the base of the Victoria Falls
How to Explore Victoria Falls from the Zambian and Zimbabwean Sides

6. Livingstone Island

Although shared with Zambia, access to Livingstone Island from the Zimbabwean side offers a unique perspective and historical significance.

  • Guided Tours: Take a boat ride to the island where Dr. David Livingstone first saw the Falls in 1855.
  • Edge of Adventure: If you’re visiting during the dry season, you can peer over the edge at Devil’s Pool, a natural infinity pool on the island.
Livingstone Island in Victoria Falls
How to Explore Victoria Falls from the Zambian and Zimbabwean Sides

Points of Interest on the Zimbabwean Side

1. Main Falls

The Main Falls are the heart of Victoria Falls, presenting the widest and most dramatic section of the waterfall. Here, you can witness the full force of the Zambezi River as it plunges into the gorge below.

  • Best Views: Visit the viewpoints along the well-maintained trails for spectacular photo opportunities.
  • Rainbows: Catch the magical rainbows that form in the mist, especially in the morning and late afternoon.
Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls

2. Devil’s Cataract

This is the westernmost part of Victoria Falls, characterized by its powerful torrents and breathtaking drop.

  • Historic Site: It’s named after a local legend and offers insight into the cultural stories tied to the Falls.
  • Viewing Point: Stand at the edge and feel the ground tremble beneath the thundering water.

3. Rainforest Walk

The rainforest on the Zimbabwean side is perpetually soaked by the spray from the Falls, creating a unique microclimate rich with vegetation and wildlife.

  • Trail Exploration: Follow the well-marked trails to experience the lush greenery and cooling mist.
  • Flora and Fauna: Enjoy the variety of plants and animal species that thrive in this humid environment.

4. Victoria Falls Bridge

Spanning the Zambezi River, this historic bridge connects Zimbabwe and Zambia and offers spectacular views of the Falls and the gorge.

  • Historical Landmark: Learn about the bridge’s construction in 1905 and its significance in the region’s development.
  • Adventure Activities: For thrill-seekers, the bridge is also a hotspot for bungee jumping and zip-lining.
Victoria Falls Bridge, Zimbabwe
How to Explore Victoria Falls from the Zambian and Zimbabwean Sides

The Smoke That Thunders: A Journey Through Time

Victoria Falls has a rich and layered history that stretches back to its indigenous roots. Understanding this history adds a deeper dimension to your visit. Here’s a glimpse into its storied past:

Historical Insights on the Victoria Falls

  • Pre-colonial Era: The local tribes revered Victoria Falls long before European explorers arrived. They called it “Mosi-oa-Tunya,” meaning “The Smoke That Thunders,” capturing the essence of its roaring cascades and the mist that rises like smoke.
  • 1855: David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary and explorer, became the first European to see the Falls. He was so captivated by its beauty that he named it in honor of Queen Victoria.
  • Early 20th Century: The completion of the Victoria Falls Bridge in 1905 connected Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia) and Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia), boosting tourism and trade. The bridge itself is a marvel of engineering and a testament to the region’s historical development.
  • Modern Day: Today, Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognized for both its natural beauty and cultural significance. Efforts are ongoing to preserve its ecological and historical integrity amidst growing tourism.
  • Indigenous Legends and Lore: Local legends speak of Nyami Nyami, the river god who is believed to inhabit the Zambezi River. Stories of his sightings and the impact of his wrath on the local communities add a mystical layer to the Falls’ already enchanting aura.
  • Colonial Encounters: The arrival of Europeans marked a significant shift in the region, impacting local communities and leading to the development of infrastructure and tourism around the Falls.
  • Tourism Development: From early explorers to modern-day adventurers, Victoria Falls has evolved into a premier tourist destination. Its rich history and natural beauty continue to draw visitors from around the world.

What to Pack When Visiting Victoria Falls

A successful trip to Victoria Falls requires thoughtful preparation. Here’s a curated list of essentials to ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable experience:

Clothing

  • Lightweight, breathable clothing for warm days.
  • Long-sleeved shirts and pants for mosquito protection in the evenings.
  • A waterproof jacket or poncho to stay dry in the mist.
  • Warm layers for cooler mornings and evenings.
  • Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots for exploring trails.
  • Sandals or flip-flops for casual wear.
  • Water-resistant shoes for wet areas near the Falls.

Sun Protection

  • A wide-brimmed hat or cap to shield from the sun.
  • Sunglasses with UV protection.
  • High-SPF sunscreen, ideally water-resistant.

Additional Essentials

  • Travel-sized toiletries.
  • A refillable water bottle to stay hydrated.
  • A basic first aid kit including band-aids, antiseptic, and personal medications.
  • Binoculars for spotting distant wildlife and scenic views.
  • A camera or smartphone with waterproof casing to capture the sights.
  • A power bank to keep your devices charged during long excursions.
  • A lightweight daypack for carrying your essentials.

Wildlife at Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is surrounded by rich biodiversity, making it a haven for wildlife enthusiasts.

Here’s what you can expect to see:

  • Baboons: These intelligent primates are commonly seen around the Falls. Observe their social interactions but keep a safe distance.
  • Vervet Monkeys: Spot these agile and curious monkeys as they forage and play in the trees near the Falls.
  • Hippos: The Zambezi River is home to many hippos. These large mammals are often seen basking in the water.
  • Crocodiles: Look for these stealthy reptiles lurking in the waters near the Falls.
  • Bird Species: Victoria Falls is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Keep an eye out for colorful kingfishers, majestic hornbills, and soaring eagles.

Wildlife Spotting Tips

  • Early Mornings and Late Afternoons: These are the best times to observe wildlife, as animals are more active.
  • Quiet Observation: Maintain a respectful distance and keep noise to a minimum to avoid startling the animals.
  • Photography: Use a zoom lens to capture detailed shots of wildlife without disturbing them.

Join a Victoria Falls Guided Tour

Book your tour to Victoria Falls with HSM Adventure Tours and Safaris and prepare for an extraordinary experience. Picture spending two hours exploring one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders, guided by their expert team.

Learn about the history, geology, and wildlife of the falls while enjoying breathtaking views and feeling the mist on your face. Their knowledgeable guides will point out unique features and share captivating stories, making your visit truly unforgettable.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, adventure seeker, or simply in search of a remarkable outing, our guided tour will surpass your expectations and leave you in awe of Victoria Falls’ immense beauty.

Price: $60

Book this tour directly with the operator here

Ready to Explore Victoria Falls?

We hope you’ve gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the remarkable beauty and cultural significance of Victoria Falls. Whether you explore from the Zambian or Zimbabwean side, this natural wonder continues to captivate and inspire visitors from around the globe.

Ready to Embark on Your Journey? Begin planning your real-life adventure to Victoria Falls today. Whether you’re drawn to the thrill of Devil’s Pool, the misty rainforest walks, or the rich history, Victoria Falls promises an experience like no other.

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