A question often asked by our guests is which ‘side’ is best for viewing Victoria Falls in all her glory? Depending on your depth of geographical knowledge of Victoria Falls, this may be news to you, that it’s possible to view Victoria Falls from Zambia and Zimbabwe. with just the bridge in between (and 550 million litres of water dropping 305 feet (93 metres) every minute over the cliffs.
So let’s delve in and share what we know about the stunning Victoria Falls.
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Livingstone – Zambia
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to one half of Victoria Falls and on the Zambian side. Mosi-oa-Tunya means ‘the Smoke Which Thunders’ and it certainly was a reality when we visited in May this year – the water thunders over the cliffs and throws up an impressive smokey cloud of spray that leaves one drenched.
As water levels drop, the viewing from this side of the Falls becomes less attractive as you cannot see the main cataract that runs all year round whilst others start to dry up. So if you base your decision purely on the best viewing of the Falls, Livingstone is ideal up until around September. Having said that, its diversity of accommodation and activities plus the ease of crossing to the Zimbabwean side on a day means it is great all year round.
There is a skinny bridge called Knife-edge Bridge and it is only accessible from the Zambian side. Of course you walk high above the cauldron of rushing water and get drenched when it is high waters. The bridge is popular for its views of the Falls – allowing the widest perspective from this side.
Another bonus to visiting the Zambian side of Victoria Falls is the vast array of water sports available such as canoeing, sunset river cruises, white water rafting, tiger fishing and during low waters, Livingstone Island and Devil’s Pool, a natural rock pool right at the edge of the Falls (pictured).
When it comes to accommodation, many of the Zambian properties are located slightly out of Livingstone town and mostly riverfront. Great for the romantics looking for the perfect riverside suite to relax in. Our favourites are Tongabezi for true romance, Waterberry for that home away from home feel and the newly opened Thorntree.
Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is equally as enticing as Zambia with its own unique features that will draw you in. Known for its classic views of Victoria Falls, the Falls flow year round on this side so even in the dry season, you’ll see the main area of the Falls with water.
The Victoria Falls National Park has plenty of little paths that meander through the forest and open up on the cliff edge to fantastic view points named Devils cataract, the Main Falls, Horseshoes Falls and the picture perfect Rainbow Falls. The actual Victoria Falls town is a buzz with tourists, markets and lovely cafes and restaurants. The local craft markets are ideal for souvenir shopping.
If adventure is what you seek, we can highly recommend the gorge swing (Jonathon and Danica did this just last month and loved it) or zip line plus the canopy tour gets rave reviews.
Accommodation in Victoria Falls varies greatly from budget large hotels, owner run boutique bed and breakfasts to more safari style properties with all inclusive stays. Not all are within walking distance so if not, we always recommend that you know what is and is not included in your stay to avoid disappointment locally.
Where would we stay if we had to find a great spot on Victoria Falls side? Victoria Falls Hotel is the grand old lady that commands respect for its location is unrivalled and its historical beauty and significance hard to go past. If that’s not your thing and you want low key, we love Batonka and Bayete, both owner run B&Bs. In between these two styles is one of our personal favourites, Ilala Lodge.
Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) or Livingstone (Zambia)?
If you still cannot decide what you’d like to do don’t worry we can now make it super easy to see the Falls from both ‘sides’ thanks to the Kaza Univisa. This visa lasts for 30 days so long as you stay in Zimbabwe or Zambia. It will save you time and money and make travel effortless, just how it should be.
I hope we have got you thinking about safari holiday possibilities with Victoria Falls in the mix. If you think you are safari ready, get in touch and we can talk you through just how we do things differently here at Encompass Africa. Oh and ask for a copy of our Safari Life e-magazine.
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