A complete guide for visiting Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Part four and the final stretch of our amazing Southern Africa trip. Let's call this adrenaline and indulgence. This country was meant to be combined with Zambia last December but we were forced to push it. I was determined to make it back as soon as possible to see the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls.
There is no shortage of spectacular waterfalls around the globe but seeing the mighty Victoria Falls is a unique experience because it feels raw, the way you can experience it is outstanding and more memorable than some of those waterfalls. With the borders reopening, it's as good a time as any to visit this waterfall that is actually twice as high as Niagara Falls and 500m wider!
Here is my guide for you to plan a trip to one of this UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Day wise itinerary:
Day 1: clear border immigration, check into Ilala Lodge, visiting the Mosi-O-Tunya park
Day 2: Zip lining over Victoria Falls
Day 3: check in and explore Palm view hotel
Day 4: Breakfast, R&R, fly home in the evening
At the time of writing this, you will need a vaccination certificate to enter Botswana via land or by air.
Flights, Visa and Immigration (if traveling with an Indian passport)
If flying directly to Zimbabwe from Dubai, you can fly with Emirates.
If connecting via other countries there, I would recommend doing what we did - fly from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (land and get a multiple entry visa for $50.
For the visa at the road border for Indian passport holders:
- you can get a visa on arrival at the border (we took a multiple entry one for $50 since we landed in Zimbabwe to connect to Botswana)
- the road immigration takes a bit of time, so keep that in mind
- double vaccinated certification is mandatory and you will be asked this
Solo traveling in Zimbabwe
This isn't as safe as it would be in a place like Botswana. Just exert caution and go with a trustworthy local guide. Also be mindful of additional costs going solo in this part of the world.
Best time to visit
Depending on what you want to do, you need to plan your visit. Ideal time to see the falls is between April to June.
However, if you plan to do the Devil’s pool, you can only go between end of September - early December for (swimming friendly) water levels. It is too risky to go any other time and you may not be allowed to swim.
Language and People
English is widely spoken, as is the case in many parts of Africa, which has always impressed me.
Travel and Medical Insurance, Currency
Travel Insurance is highly recommended - we have our own, but if you are looking for one try World Nomad. Carry local currency for small purchases and tipping.
Self Drive or Go With A Guide?
You don't need a guide to do just Victoria Falls. Your resort will be able to help you with booking activities and driving you to and from the airport. If you are planning to do a Safari in Zimbabwe, then you will need a guide. You can contact Collins from Southern Dynasty Safari for this.
How expensive is Zimbabwe
It isn't as expensive as Botswana or Zambia but it isn't cheap either. The high-end lodges and safari lodges will still set you back $2000 or so for 3 to 4 nights. That being said, the Zimbabwe side is cheaper than the Zambia side for five-star lodges.
Where we stayed
You can read all about our experience staying in Ilala Lodge.
Since we stayed in a lovely lodge, food wasn't an issue. I also highly recommend checking out the Three Monkeys bar right opposite the Ilala Lodge. Exceptional food, vegan choices, and fantastic vibe. Just make a reservation - it will be packed!
After checking in to the Ilala Lodge, we took a short 15 minute walk to the Victoria Falls Rainforest. There is an entrance fee of $30 per person. This place closes are at 6 p.m. so aim to go by 3 p.m. and spend a few hours until closing (if you hike all the way down the 13th spot - which is the burning point). The name forest is appropriate since you will literally walk through a forest to get to the waterfall view point. It was actually easy - accessible for kids and old people.
This was very different to the one I did in Zambia where I had to hike to Burning point - that wasn't easy.
As you keep walking and making your way through the different marked points, you can hardly even see the falls - it's that powerful, all you can see is a white haze covering your vision.
At long last, you will make it to the 13th point - the burning point - the meeting point of the Zimbabwe and Zambian side of the waterfalls.
Travel Tip: Be ready to get soaked, there is no escaping this - wear a poncho and bring a towel with you.
Since we already did the Devils pool, we didn't want to do it again. Instead we decided to the activity we could not do the last time around - Zipline.
We booked our tour with Wild Horizons, who have their offices in the city center, just opposite Ilala Lodge. They offer a whole bunch of tours you can pick from. The zip line is $120 for tandem zipline with pick up and drop at your resort. It is said to be one of the longest ziplines in the world, certainly the longest in Africa. You will go hurtling down at a speed of over 100kph. You can go solo or do a tandem zipline. The ride lasts about 25 minutes - the activity can take anywhere between one to two hours. Spend time at the Lookout Cafe after your zipline.
This is a fantastic opportunity to see both the sides of the waterfall as you are suspended 120 meters above the Zambezi river. If you are an adrenaline junkie, you don't want to miss one. There are other great activities to do here like helicopter ride over the falls, bungee jumping, white water rafting or flying fox.
Day 3 and Day 4
Since we have been mostly moving on this trip, our last two days were dedicated to complete indulgence at the five star boutique resort Palm River Hotel on the banks of Zambezi, one of Africa's five major rivers.
From dawn to dusk, we had the most amazing food, drinks, high-tea and sunset views. We could not have asked for a better ending to a fantastic two weeks in our favorite continent.
We were so thrilled to be back in one of our favorite waterfalls in the whole world. It was said to be the more majestic of the two sides and it did not disappoint.
The best way to visit Victoria Falls is to combine it with a trip to Zambia. You can only do the Devils pool from Zambia but the views are a hundred times better on the Zimbabwe side. If you are short on time, choose to stay on one side and cross over to the other side. We loved both the resorts, the high-end resorts offer just the right indulgence after adrenaline packed adventures.
More than a month later, we are still on life as we reminisce our days spent gliding over the air over one of the world's largest waterfalls on the border of two countries, enjoying incredible views of the river as it zigged and zagged between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
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