Exploring Victoria Falls
Undoubtedly, Victoria Falls is one of the most impressive natural sights on Earth and a must visit stop on your African adventure. It is a place to be truly awed by the nature’s beauty and incredible power.
While it is known worldwide as Victoria Falls, the wildly impressive waterfall is known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya – translating roughly to ‘the smoke which thunders’ from the regional dialects Kololo or Lozi.
As soon as you make the trek to peer at this incredible natural wonder, you will understand why, as water crashes forcefully over the edge, sending smoke-like spray into the air and all over anyone standing anywhere close to the edge! In fact, you might want to take a poncho if the water is really high, or simply get wet and feel the full force of the falls!
Since word got out about the stunning beauty of the falls, it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Africa. As a result, there has been rapid development and the Zimbabwe side of the falls has a friendly, vibrant town that is well set up for visitors.
The town features an almost endless selection of adrenaline, cultural and wildlife activities for visitors to enjoy once they’ve hiked to the Falls and (depending on the time of year and whether you’re willing to get a visa to Zambia) bathed in the Devil’s Pool which seems precariously close to the edge.
For a different and unforgettable take on the Falls, there are microflights and helicopter rides where you can take in their beauty from above and truly appreciate just how expansive they are. This glamorous activity is sure to be unforgettable experience during your African adventure.
There’s something about ‘the smoke which thunders’ which seems to bring out the inner adrenaline junkie in most people. Therefore, Victoria Falls is simply brimming with adventure activities including bungee jumping, canyoneering, sky diving, or white water rafting for an exhilarating trip down the rapids.
Tourism is a huge industry in Victoria Falls, so the equipment is well maintained and very safe. Still, we won’t blame you if you prefer to keep your feet on solid ground! Luckily, there’s no shortage of other things to see and do in Victoria Falls.
One of the most popular, relaxing activities is to take a sunset cruise down the Zambezi aboard the Zambezi Explorer, taking in the beautiful views and just soaking up the atmosphere. Many of the tours include drinks, so you can even take it in with a refreshing beer or sparkling wine in-hand. The absolute best time to do the cruise is during the sunset, when the entire landscape is bathed in a beautiful golden light, and you get to witness what the fuss is all about when it comes to an African sunset.
If it's unique and exciting that you're after, check out the Lion Encounter, a program that aims to re-introduce lions back into the wild to help grow the species’ numbers. Take part in an amazing lion walk and get closer to these predators than you ever thought possible. It really is an incredible experience to tell your friends and family about.
Somewhat surprisingly given what a vast continent Africa is and how much distance there usually is between attractions, Victoria Falls is within easy day trip distance of Botswana’s most famous national park, Chobe. Just hop across the border for a combination of a river safari and a jeep safari in pursuit of the Big 5 and your quintessential African adventure.
The proximity of Chobe means that you can be back in time for dinner, which is a good thing given that there are many good options for even the pickiest foodie in Victoria Falls! For delicious, African inspired meals head for Lola’s Tapas where you can sample an eye-brow raising selection of African animals, or perhaps Mama Africa which serves hearty African fare in a fun, laidback environment with live African music in the evenings.
For a relaxing afternoon, you have to visit Stanley’s at the Victoria Falls Hotel. Here, at one of the most luxurious hotels in all of Zimbabwe, you can enjoy a delicious high tea with cakes and hot drinks (or a cheeky cocktail), all whilst taking in the stunning views out over the Falls themselves. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
We can also highly recommend dining at our favourite hotel - the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. The food in the restaurant (Makuwa-Kuwa) and the laidback bar (Buffalo Bar) is absolutely delicious, and the view over the waterhole is stunning – it is very likely you will spy some wildlife coming to drink. In the centre of town you can sample delicious cocktails at Three Monkeys, a converted railway carriage, who also serve great food at reasonable prices, or check out the Shearwater Cafe. For lunch with a view, you simply have to visit the Lookout Cafe for spectacular views of the gorge and Zambezi River.
For all the shopaholics out there, you will be pleased to know that another popular past-time in Victoria Falls is browsing the various markets where you can buy everything from colourful beaded jewellery to wooden and stone animal carvings and notes from Zimbabwe’s mega-inflation. Simply browsing the markets chatting to the sellers is a fun way to spend an afternoon, however to do prepare yourself for a pretty hard sell and don’t tell anyone you’ll be back unless you really mean it!
Now for the safety aspect...
The town of Victoria Falls has worked hard over the years to become a safe environment for tourists, employing tourism police and developing a strong tourist friendly infrastructure. This can be quite a surprise for visitors and as welcoming as it is, we would always advise caution when walking around town at night. Poverty is still an issue and corruption remains in existence, so avoid making yourself a tempting target where you can. Use the free hotel shuttles if they have them, stick together and if in doubt head into a hotel reception or restaurant and ask them to get you a taxi. We have never had any issues whatsoever, but being cautious and a sensible traveller helps to make sure it doesn't!
Victoria Falls remains one of the highlights of the whole continent in our opinion, and is a firm favourite that we like to visit over and over again. From the beast that is the falls, to amazing safari's just across the border in Botswana, to great food and views that seem endless...what are you waiting for?!