“Victoria” — is one of the most spectacular attractions of Africa and one of the most unusual waterfalls in the world. It is created by the Zambezi River that suddenly plummets into a narrow, 100-meters deep chasm. At the same time, Victoria — is the only waterfall in the world that is over one kilometer wide and over one hundred meters deep.
Its roar can be heard from 40 kilometers away, while the spray and mist from the falling water rises up to 400 meters and is visible from the distance of 50 kilometers. Even the rainbows are incredible here — they are of the “moon” kind: produced by the light reflected off the surface of the Moon.
The falls were discovered in 1855 by David Livingstone, the British doctor and a missionary, who named them in honor of Queen Victoria. Locals called this Nature’s wonder “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (“The Smoke Which Thunders”) and were afraid to even get close to it. Brave Livingstone was the first European who could cross the entire Dark Continent from the South to the North. His expedition, aimed at bringing Christianity to Africa, was accompanied by 300 warriors from one of the tribes, but only two of them dared to get close to the waterfall.
However, the traveler was not too happy about his discovery. For Livingstone, this wall of water was just an obstacle that prevented the Christians from reaching the tribes in the depths of the continent.
For a long time the waterfall remained practically without any visitors, until the construction of the railroad in 1905. Nowadays, this place is named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Locals from both Zambia and Zimbabwe have lost their fears of the “Smoke That Thunders” and they have successfully developed tourist business on both sides of the river.
Curiously, during the dry season that lasts approximately from September to December, water level in Zambezi river falls, and one can walk through the most part of the waterfall, jumping between the streams that are running down. However, at all other times, Victoria is a roaring machine, the power of which leaves an unforgettable impression.
One of the peculiar ways of entertainment at Victoria, hardly known to the mainstream tourists — is a natural pool, about ten meters wide, located right next to the cliff, next to the Livingstone’s island. Just a narrow strip separates it from the deep precipice. No wonder that his place was called “Devil’s Pool”.
After getting into this pool the swimmer can feel how tons and tons of swirling water plummet nearby. This pool is closed during the high-water season, as the swimmers can be dragged by the current into the precipice, so the tours to this pool only start in autumn.
Zambia has been selling their side of the Victoria Falls and have been doing a great job of it as well. Even South Africa sells Fictoria Falls better than Zimbabwe does. Despite the fact that we have the better side of the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe is losing business as the Zambians begin to aggressively market their side of the Falls.
Zimbabwe is the better side of Victoria Falls. Zambia offers great close-ups and some spectacular vantage points. But Zimbabwe has by far the greater share of Falls frontage, picturesque views and year-round flow. Zimbabwe side offers great hotels convenience and a lot of exciting activities.
Don’t be misled by that statement though: the Zambian side is truly spectacular in the high water season as well so here is our low-down on which side of Victoria Falls to choose.
Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe
Look at any pictures of Victoria Falls. As a rule of thumb, if the water is to the left of the picture and land to the right, you’re looking at Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe. The reverse is true of Zambia: water on the right, land to the left. Most of those pictures are taken from the Zimbabwean side.
About two thirds of the Victoria Falls frontage is on the Zimbabwean side and most of the Falls plunges down this section with the Main Falls and Devils Cataract being the deepest channels in the Zambezi River. It also has the lion’s share of viewpoints too. Visit Victoria Falls National Park and wander the well laid out footpaths through dripping rainforest and out onto a cliff face-on to the tumbling Main Falls, the ground below your feet trembling as the mighty Zambezi River plunges 93m into the rocky chasm below.
And with so much frontage on the Zimbabwean side, the views are that much more picturesque and the rain forest opposite is dense from the constant spray.
Another plus is the town of Victoria Falls and many of the hotels on the Zimbabwean side are a short walk from the entrance to the falls giving you much more freedom to explore the area at your leisure and to join activities easily.
Victoria Falls from Zambia
With great close-ups, interesting angles, the footbridge and knife-edge, Rainbow Falls and a chance to swim above the falls in Devils Pools, the Zambian side of Victoria Falls has its fair share of amazing experiences.
All those pictures you’ve seen of people swimming at the edge of the falls, dive-bombing with gay abandon and generally making everyone’s toes curl in fear: they are taken at Devil’s Pools on the Zambian side and there are many more thrilling photo ops besides.
While The Zambezi Sun and the Royal Livingstone are about as close as you can to the Falls without actually being in the water, the rest of the lodges and hotels are a long way upstream and beyond walking distance of the falls. All the lodges do offer regular and frequent shuttle services so you are not entirely isolated from the action.
One important consideration is the time of year. The dry months from about October to December leave the Zambian side of Victoria Falls completely dry while the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls reduces to a relatively demure and picturesque cascade.
It goes without saying that the Zimbabwean side is the best side. For convenience and the best views, we recommend staying on the Zimbabwean side. If you’re concerned about safety – though there is no reason to be – you can just as easily stay on the Zambian side and day-pass through to the Zimbabwean side. Of course, you must then have a look from the Zambian side for some great angles, close-up shots and interesting perspectives.
Both sides of Victoria Falls are easily incorporated into your itinerary whether you are coming from South Africa , Botswana or one of the other regional destinations such as Namibia , Zimbabwe or Zambia .
Our final recommendation is always: though we recommend Zimbabwe over Zambia it doesn’t really matter what side you choose to stay, just make sure you visit the falls from both sides. Just like you have to take the Sunset Cruise when you visit Kariba, mandatory in our opinion, take the incredible, mind-bogglingly beautiful Flight of Angels.
When is the best time to visit Victoria Falls?
The best time of year to visit Victoria Falls is between May and September. However a lot depends on the rest of your holiday.
Pan-African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education: US$75,000 to Innovative projects Combating Poverty
All Africa based organizations working in education (primary, secondary, tertiary education; non-formal and adult education) and combating poverty in an innovative, sustainable and effective way are invited to participate in Pan-African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education. Teach a Man to Fish is seeking for organizations or projects making great changes in their community. Entries can be made by a non-African NGO on behalf of their local partner/office (in Africa) in a condition that the prize money and conference travel bursaries are claimed by and used for the benefit of Africa-based organization.
Teach a Man to Fish partners with the Saville Foundation to award this prize.
- US$10,000 – Best entry award
- US$5,000 each – Two runner ups
- US$1,000 each – 55 best entries from each African country
- Top three award winners will be offered a sponsored trip to the international conference and peer-learning workshop of Teach a man to fish.
- Media publicity and enhanced sponsorship and donation opportunities are other benefits.
- Applicants can be organizations in any African country focusing on education.
- Applying professionals can be teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, accountants, bankers, engineers, and police officers.
- Organizations outside Africa can submit entries on behalf of their African partner. The African organization will be beneficiary in this condition.
- Entries must be accompanied by work contact details of a suitable referee. Referees must be independent of entrant organization and either a government official, qualified professional, or senior employee of an internationally recognized institution. Referees cannot be family members of the entrant.
- List of eligible countries: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic of the), Congo-Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo), Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
For more information, please visit The Saville Foundation Pan-African Awards.