One of 7 wonders of the Natural World
Victoria Falls is the biggest sheet of falling water on earth.
It is 1.5 times wider and twice as high as Niagara Falls in the United States. And at just over a mile wide and over 300 ft (100 meters) high, with 145 million gallons of water rushing over the precipice every minute, the spray of water from Victoria Falls is visible from up to 43 miles away during high water.
Victoria Falls is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya which means the ‘Smoke that Thunders’ locally… but they are actually neither wider than Khone Falls or higher than Angel Falls.
On the Zimbabwean side of the Falls you can walk inside a Rainforest that boasts unique plant and animal life and is also the only place on earth where it never stops raining.
When the moon is full the park stays open late into the night and you can wander around and spy moonbows. This is just about as incredibly magical as it sounds… or maybe even a little more. Do comment and let us know what you think about seeing a moonbow!
It really isn’t a big wonder that visiting the iconic Victoria Falls is on the bucket list of many of our travelers.
Interestingly, Victoria Falls has also become the “adrenaline capital of Africa” in recent years. From white-water rafting, bungee jumping, and abseiling to canoe-based safaris and helicopter trips around the area, there is so much to do around Victoria Falls that it is a great destination for travelers who need to keep busy and there is something for every member of the family.
If visiting Victoria Falls is on your bucket list, here is what you need to know to start planning.
To be clear, “Victoria Falls” is the name of the waterfall itself as well as the town and National Park on the Zimbabwean side of the falls. Victoria Falls (the waterfall) is shared between Zimbabwe and Zambia, forming the border between these two countries. The town on the Zambian side is called Livingstone.
Victoria Falls itself sits on the Zambian side. The Batoka Gorge that the falls fall into is shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Getting from one side to the other
The second gorge connects the two countries with a bridge that was first called the Great Zambezi or Zambezi Bridge but is now known as the Victoria Falls Bridge. It was originally part of Cecil Rhodes’ Cape to Cairo railway dream and was declared open in 1905. You can walk across (maybe stopping to bungee jump if the mood takes you) but our favorite way of visiting the bridge is by a vintage locomotive.
What is the best time of year to visit Victoria Falls?
If you want to experience the falls at it’s greatest volume, consider visiting from February to May. These months immediately follow the heavy rains in Angola that make the Zambezi River rise. The result is an experience that is basically like walking inside a power shower.
But… if you are planning on combining Victoria Falls with other destinations in Southern Africa, you may be looking at other months. June – August is a great time to explore neighboring Botswana and experience the falls, during which time you can expect great game viewing, warm days, cool nights, little to no rain and still have plenty of water thundering over the falls.
During the dry winter period, October through November, the water level of the Zambezi River is at its lowest and the weather is hot and humid. While low water levels guarantee you’ll have the best views of the falls, with no misty spray obstructing views, some areas of the falls (especially the view from the Zambian side) can dry up completely during the dry season. There are also a number of activities that can only be done when the water is low – like swimming in the famous Devil’s or Angel’s pools from Livingstone Island.
The ideal scenario? Visiting Victoria Falls when it is dry on one Safari… and seeing it in full flood on another. 😎
Bonus fact: Queen Victoria never visited the Falls.
Where are the best places to stay when visiting Victoria Falls?
However, regardless of where you stay, be sure to see the falls from both sides, which is easy to do in the same day.
Make sure you request a multiple-country visa when you arrive. The Zimbabwe side tends to offer better, more iconic views of the falls and the view from this side offers water falling year round. From the Zambian side of the falls, the geological formation is always clear and there is also the incredible opportunity to visit Livingstone Island and Devil’s Pool from Zambia.