Victoria Falls Zambia - A Guide
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
The Victoria Falls are in Zambia.
Okay, okay, I’ll concede! I don’t want to contribute to the plethora of fake news on the internet so I will confirm here that the Victoria Falls are shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe. However, the bigger, beautifuller™ and more fun parts (hello Devils Pool, Knife Edge bridge) are in Zambia.
The Victoria Falls, also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke That Thunders), are located in the Zambian town of Livingstone, which is also the Tourist Capital of Zambia.
Livingstone is a very laid-back town that feels safe, and the people are extremely friendly and helpful. This is probably due to the number of tourists that visit yearly and ask (dumb) questions repeatedly. Livingstonians™ have built a collective shield of patient friendliness that indulges tourists and visitors alike.
Livingstone’s claim to fame is obviously the Mosi-oa-Tunya, but, there are a few other attractions that will make your stay there even more memorable. This article will focus mainly on falls-related activities.
How To Get There
From Johannesburg, British Airways runs a flight in conjunction with Kulula Airways a few days a week. It’s an easy and surprisingly affordable 2-hour flight.
From Ndola or Lusaka, there are 45 minute to 1-hour flight options offered by Proflight as well as Mahogany Airlines.
Where To Stay
If you want to get a feel for the city and country at large, I’d recommend JollyBoys Backpacking Lodge. I stayed here on a solo trip I took in April of 2018 and met so many interesting people. Its proximity to the CBD, Maramba Curio Market and Livingstone National Museum makes it perfect for the solo wanderers. It’s also incredibly affordable (I stayed in a male/female hostel) with an external bathroom but they also have higher-end ensuite rooms and camping facilities.
They are quite far from Mosi-oa-Tunya so they offer a daily one-way shuttle to the falls. You’ll have to put your name on the sign-up sheet a day before and arrange for your own transport back to the lodge.
When I went back to Livingstone a little over a year later, I stayed at the beautiful Avani Hotel. To be honest, my first choice was the Royal Livingstone Hotel but it was at capacity when I tried to book (two days before the trip). I don’t regret that though, Avani now has a special place in my heart and I will probably just continue to stay there on my future trips. The claim to fame for both hotels (they’re adjoined) is the walking distance and free entrance to the Victoria Falls. This is definitely a winner in my books as you can pace your visits more leisurely.
Avani Hotel also has an assortment of wildlife roaming free including Zebra, Antelope, Baboons and Giraffes (I also saw a monitor lizard but it didn’t add much to the ambiance).
What To Do
Spend all your days at the falls.
Seriously. Why wouldn’t you? Remember to wear rubber/non-slip sandals and some shorts. Swimming gear would be frowned upon as Zambia is a very conservative country although tourists do get a pass because they’re tourists.
The falls are heaviest between Late March and Early June so those are the best times to visit. However, this means that Devils Pool is not open and animals aren’t easy to spot (on safari) because they have enough water and don’t need to veer too far in search of it.
Once at the falls, stop at all the lookout points and take pics. There are some photographers on site to help you take pics and print them out while you wait. They also have raincoats for hire, if you don’t feel like getting wet… at the fourth-largest waterfalls in the world.
Take a Hike to the Boiling Pot and View the Falls From Below.
Warning; it’s a mild to difficult hike, but seeing Mosi-oa-Tunya from its base is such an experience. I’d suggest you dedicate a whole morning to this and wear comfortable hiking gear with enough water. There are some baboons on the way that may bully kids and smaller people but as I learned on my last trip, they are very respectful of (tall, big) men. The patriarchy is real even in the animal kingdom!
It takes about 30 minutes to get to the base of the falls and there is some rock climbing to be done at one point. You can sit on the rocks once at the Boiling Pot and watch people bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Railway Bridge.
It’s not picnic-friendly so don’t pack a basket.
I have never done this before and I don’t think I will. However, Will Smith famously did it in Zambia a few years ago so it’s celebrity tried and tested.
Take a helicopter journey over the falls in what is usually a 13-minute helicopter ride that gives a breathtaking birds-eye view of every angle of Mosi-oa-Tunya.
Walk with Lions and Cheetahs
Spend the day At Mukuni Big 5 and walk with their big cats. Again, the Zambian in me is averse to doing this but it seems fun and the animals do seem non-aggressive. Also, the instagram pics I’ve seen are awesome. Mukuni Big 5 have a rehabilitation program for their animals and their guides are very knowledgeable about this. Ask about their no-cruelty policy.
The crocodile Espatada from Zest Bar and Restaurant is a must-have. They also play local music and have a generally relaxed vibe.
Go to the Museum and Market
The Royal Livingstone Museum is centrally located in the CBD and is packed (as one would expect of a museum) with geographical and political history, artefacts, and stories. Go there if you’re interested in early African civilizations and political landscapes of former British colonies.
The museum is also within walking distance of the Maramba Cultural Market where you can make a one-stop-shop for all your “I went to Zambia and brought you back this” gifts.
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