Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Zimbabwe, is the closest to South Africa when it comes to the World’s Seven Natural Wonders; it is on our doorstep and if you ever get a chance to visit, grab the opportunity with both hands, pack in some mozzie repellent and GO!
Here are a few things not to miss out on!
1. Victoria Falls
From the parking lot the spray of the falls tickled my face, and suspension and excitement built up as the noise got louder and the spray got more, until there were no more trees blocking the view and all you could see was water. And then some more water. And more. Water, water, water.
Of course. You have to visit Victoria Falls / Vic Falls / The Smoke that Thunders / Mosi-oa-Tunya / one of the world’s seven natural wonders. Entry for South Africans is $20 per person and you can speed through the park or take your time and make a full day of it, complete with a picnic basket in your backpack (there is also a restaurant on site).
Prepare to be amazed by the sheer volume of water cascading into the depths below; the Victoria Falls flows at 4 700 cubic meters per second and the highest was in 1958, when it was 11 600 cubic meters per second. The spray will get you, some time or another at one of the 15 view points, but how soaked you’ll get all depends on the season; from September to December it will be easier to take your camera out at more spots (as opposed to March to May where ‘drenched’ will be your middle name but spectacular views and intense ‘smoke’ will be your reward from a helicopter ride).
2. Batoka Gorge
Just like the falls, the gorge is situated between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and from the Lookout Café, situated on a plateau, you are on the edge of massive drop into the gorge below… a sheer drop that is used for three different high wire activities (operated by Wild Horizons), perfect for those who want to get rid of some extra adrenaline, face their fears or get some more adrenaline with the Flying Fox, Gorge Swing or Zipline (which is the longest in the world).
Keep in mind: Unfortunately, on the 24th of December 2018, the Lookout Café was devastated by a fire and is closed until further notice, but the high wire activities continue as normal and it is still worth a visit to just admire the view of the gorge and the Victoria Falls Bridge.
3. Vulture Culture
It is shocking that eight of Africa’s eleven vulture species have declined at an average of 62% across all regions over the past 30 years; and vultures play such an important role in the ecosystem. The Vulture Culture Experience at Africa Albida Tourism’s Victoria Falls Safari Lodge in Zimbabwe is a conservation project that strives to protect endangered vultures whilst educating visitors about these birds in an unobtrusive way. This is an activity (or rather, a viewing) free of charge, and if you happen to be at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge for lunch, you can experience it. I wrote a whole blog post about it, click here to read: Bye Bye Birdie, Bye Bye Vultures?
4. The Boma – Dinner and Drum Show
The Dinner and Drum Show at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge’s Boma is the place to wine, dine and unwind on your last night in Victoria Falls; it is an evening of non-stop entertainment with singers, dancers, traditional healers and of course, drumming, where every guest will have the opportunity to beat a drum as well. The four-course buffet dinner offers something for everyone, with local delicacies and a huge variety of side dishes, salads and dessert as well.
5. Viewing deck of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
From the MaKuwa-Kuwa Restaurant (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner) you will have a clear view of one of the waterholes of the Zambezi National Park; don’t be surprised if a herd of elephants suddenly make an appearance, or if you spot a hyena at night… and grab those binoculars, there are crocodiles in that waterhole.
If you are dining at the restaurant at night, try their Vegetable Timbale (I am still considering to go back and kidnap the chef for the recipe). During dinner you will also be serenaded at your table; watch the video I made and listen to the men’s talented voices.
6. Zambezi Cruise
Soak in the setting sun with a Zambezi Lager or a gin and tonic; the cruise is about two and a half hours, hippos and crocodiles are often spotted as well as other wildlife and plenty of birds.
7. A stroll through town
Don’t just do all the bucket list items when visiting Victoria Falls, put some time aside to go on a relaxing stroll through the town. There are some shops like the Elephant Walk Shopping and Artists’ Village to pick up a souvenir, and look out for the recycled art pieces. Stop for a drink at The Three Monkeys, and count how many warthogs you can spot on your stroll. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has a bus shuttle doing trips every hour, so whether you want to spend the whole day in town, or just pop in quickly, you are sorted.
Have a look…
Watch the video of my Zimperience.
Other things to do when visiting Victoria Falls
Here are some other things that come highly recommended. Head over to Wild Horizons’ website to get a better idea of all the water-, land- and air-based activities you can get up to.
Brave those Zambezi rapids. Best time to go is between August and January.
The price tag on a helicopter ride over the falls is definitely not as affordable as visiting the falls on foot, but the bird’s eye view of the falls is something that will go on my “one day” list.
If you are one of those who are perfectly fine with heights and plunging to your own almost-death, go ahead and take the leap.
Different hotels in Victoria Falls are busy with different – and often their own and unique – community projects, so see how you can get involved and give back.
Also, be sure to read Roxanne Reid’s post, Greenline Africa Trust: a better life in Victoria Falls, that talks about an organisation that is creating a better life for especially women and children through sustainable projects such as community gardens, building preschools, recycling and more.
For affordable flights to Victoria Falls, visit fastjet.
There are numerous accommodation options when visiting, but during my visit I stayed at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge where you can stay in self-catering units sleeping up to 8 people (great for overlanders), family units, the more upmarket suites complete with your own butler, or the lodge rooms, each with their own private balcony overlooking the waterhole.
Sometimes my cat types on behalf of me but she is currently snoring up a storm, so of course, all opinions are my own.