How to visit the Victoria Falls in Zambia & Zimbabwe – the best travel guide & tips
One of the most spectacular waterfalls on our planet and the largest in Africa – the Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe are an incredible natural spectacle that should definitely be on your bucket list! This post is a travel guide with useful tips on how you can visit the Victoria Falls yourself and what you should definitely keep in mind before visiting.
How to visit the Victoria Falls in Zambia & Zimbabwe – the ultimate guide
When is the best time to visit the Victoria Falls?
In general, the Victoria Falls can be visited all year round. However, there are significant differences whether you want to travel to this beautiful part of Africa during the dry season or the rainy season:
Rainy season or dry season?
The rainy season begins in December and extends into March.
Pros: The masses of water flowing through the Zambezi River, which is the source of the Victoria Falls, increases tenfold during this time! Especially at the end of the rainy season, when the water volumes are at their highest, it is a tremendous sight that shows the true dimensions of the waterfalls. During the dry season, these can only be guessed at. You will find the highest water levels in April and May, after the end of the rainy season. Temperatures are also significantly cooler in winter (which corresponds to our summer in the northern hemisphere) and can even drop below 10°C at night.
Cons: The enormous masses of water also mean an enormous spray by the waterfall, which can hardly be put into words. Especially on the Zimbabwe side, you will get drenched when visiting the Victoria Falls National Park during the rainy season. This is the case even during the dry season at some viewpoints, but when the water masses have reached their maximum, you can already feel the spray on the road leading into the national park – a few minutes’ walk from the first viewpoint.
In Zambia, the Devils Pool cannot be visited during the rainy season for safety reasons.
The dry season begins in May and extends into September.
Significantly lower water volumes also mean significantly lower water levels. But even at only a tenth of their maximum strength, the Victoria Falls are still impressive. We ourselves were there at the end of November, when the water level is at its lowest, and were still speechless.
There is a huge advantage for all adventure lovers who want to swim in the legendary Devil’s Pool, which is located at the source of the waterfall in Zambia. It can only be visited when the Zambezi River has a low water level and therefore less power. You can find out more about the Devil’s Pool later in this post under “Activities”.
Temperatures are significantly higher during the dry season. However, even at over 30 degrees Celsius during our visit in November, it never felt oppressive, but pleasant, as it was not humid.
You can therefore choose the ideal travel time for Victoria Falls according to your personal preferences from this naturally recurring change in water and weather.
How many days should you plan for the visit of the Victoria Falls?
One day is not enough to experience the Victoria Falls. Especially if you also want to explore the surrounding area and relax a little in a great hotel, I recommend five days.
You can visit the Victoria Falls from both Zambia and Zimbabwe and do different activities from each. The Mosi Oa Tunya National Park in Zambia is also great for safaris!
Which side is more beautiful to see the Victoria Falls? Zambia or Zimbabwe?
Again, both options offer different advantages. However, due to their close proximity, they are easy to combine:
The Zambezi River, which is the source of the Victoria Falls, flows through Zambia and plunges into a deep gorge that forms the border with Zimbabwe. Therefore, you have the best view of the falls themselves from the Zimbabwean side at the Victoria Falls National Park.
Nevertheless, we opted to stay at a very special hotel in Zambia and only took a day trip to Zimbabwe. And this was the best decision, because the location of the hotel on the Zambezi River in Zambia, just a few meters from the start of the Victoria Falls, was unique! You can find out more about this under “Hotel recommendation for the Victoria Falls”. Another benefit of Zambia is, that the Devils Pool is also located on that side!
Book the best tours at the Victoria Falls here:
How to reach the Victoria Falls?
No matter which side you choose, your journey will be by plane. The closest airport is Livingstone (LVI) in Zambia, but Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) is, as the name suggests, also a very close airport in Zimbabwe.
We ourselves first flew to Johannesburg (JNB) in South Africa and then on to Livingstone with the airline Safair. And it’s hard to believe, but there are even direct flights with Eurowings Discover from Frankfurt to Livingstone!
Do you need to apply for a visa for your trip to Victoria Falls?
Since 2023, it has become much easier for German citizens to enter Zambia and Zimbabwe with a visa on arrival! On → this website you will find a list of all countries that do not need to apply for a visa for Zambia. On → this website you can find the entry requirements for Zimbabwe.
The entry from Zambia to Zimbabwe by car during our day trip also went smoothly.
Costs for the Visa on Arrival:
in Zambia: 25 USD
in Zimbabwe: 30 USD
!! Please note – some countries still require you to apply for a visa for both countries before traveling. You can find more information on this in the links above.
Can I fly a drone at Victoria Falls?
Shooting the Victoria Falls with a drone would be a dream come true for nature and hobby photographers! But unfortunately this is not very easy. Drones may only be imported into Zambia with a special registration. As we didn’t have such a permit, this was the first time we had to hand out our drones at the airport when we entered the country. Fortunately, we got them back when we left Zambia without any problems.
Is it safe to visit the Victoria Falls?
We always felt safe during our visit to the Victoria Falls, both in Zambia and in Zimbabwe. The contacts we had with the locals were always warm and hospitable – even outside the hotel. The hotels, national parks and activities offered on both sides are an important source of income for most of the locals who live near the Victoria Falls. Negative events would deter tourists, discourage them from traveling and thus minimize revenue. Therefore, almost everyone is concerned that tourists feel comfortable.
Nevertheless, one should never forget that Zambia is one of the poorest countries in the world (but also a country with one of the fastest growing economies in the world). The “ideal world” in the secure hotel grounds therefore does not necessarily reflect the outside world. When exploring the Victoria Falls, you should therefore refrain from carrying obvious valuables and always keep a close eye on and secure your belongings.
Hotel tip at the Victoria Falls
My absolute hotel tip at the Victoria Falls is the Royal Livingstone by Anantara Hotels. We had one of the most beautiful and unique stays here ever! As the name suggests, the Royal Livingstone is located in Livingstone in Zambia, in the middle of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. The location on the banks of the Zambezi River, right at the source of the waterfalls, is incomparable. Wild zebras, giraffes and monkeys roam the hotel grounds and you can marvel at hippos up close by the river. The hotel also has direct access to the Victoria Falls! The Royal Livingstone is an incredibly great hotel that will make your trip to the Victoria Falls even more unforgettable!
Which excursions at Victoria Falls are really worthwhile?
The Devils Pool
If you are traveling to Victoria Falls between August and January, you should definitely not miss a boat trip to Livingstone Island and the Devil’s Pool. The tour starts with a boat trip across the Zambezi River in Zambia to the small Livingstone Island. It is located directly at the point where the Zambezi River plunges into the gorge to form the Victoria Falls. The more adventurous can even swim to the Devil’s Pool with a guide. It is a natural pool at the source of the Victoria Falls. But don’t worry, even if the pictures look daring, this excursion is safer than it might seem. To date, there has never been an accident at Devils Pool. From around mid-January to July, however, it is closed for safety reasons as the power water is too strong during these months.
Cost: approx. 170 EUR per person (including breakfast or lunch)
Helicopter flight over the Victoria Falls
A helicopter flight offers a unique bird’s eye view of the mighty masses of water and the Mosi-oa-Tunay National Park with its wild animals. Prices are similar in both countries. If you decide to take a helicopter flight, I strongly recommend booking the longer 22-minute route, which includes a flight through the gorge. It is a little more expensive, but the experience is incredible! After the regular tour, the pilot flies in a small helicopter deep into the gorge into which the Victoria Falls plunge. This is not for the faint-hearted, but it is the most impressive helicopter flight we have ever experienced! You can find some impressions in my “Zambia” story highlight on my Instagram profile 😉
→ You can book your helicopter flight here! *The 22-minute option includes the flight through the gorge.
Cost: 170 USD without the flight through the gorge & 250 USD for the longer flight through the gorge
Another option for admiring the waterfalls from the air is a microlight flight. This is a small motorized machine that is attached to a paraglider. One person at a time can sit behind the pilot at lofty heights. A helmet with a visor protects your face from the wind and you are secured to the seat with an airplane harness. This is probably a horror for anyone with a fear of flying, but I personally found it very exciting and more peaceful than the helicopter flight. The microlight planes glide gently through the sky and are closer to the ground than the helicopters.
However, it is not a great option if you like to take photos as any cameras, GoPros and cell phones are strictly forbidden during the flight. The wind is far too strong and the devices could get into the rotor! However, a GoPro is attached to the wing of the plane and you can buy the footage after the flight.
Cost: approx. 160,- EUR (plus approx. 30 EUR for the GoPro footage)
Visit to the Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe
Even if you’re staying in Zambia, a trip to Victoria Falls wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe! Here you will find spectacular views of the waterfalls from numerous vantage points. In sunny weather you can see rainbows everywhere thanks to the mist and it’s a magical sight! We booked a tour to Zimbabwe starting at the hotel. This included the drive to border control, the drive over the Victoria Falls Bridge to Zimbabwe, entry into Zimbabwe and the short drive to the entrance of the national park as well as a personal guide for the national park. Even though we usually travel without tours and guides, it is very worthwhile in this case and a very safe option to marvel at the Victoria Falls from two countries.
Cost: from USD 45 per person for the private tour plus USD 30 for the visa for Zimbabwe
The Victoria Falls Bridge connects Zambia with Zimbabwe and is crossed at the border crossing.
Of course, there are numerous other activities that you can experience at the Victoria Falls: Such as wild water rafting through the gorge on the Zambezi River or bungee jumping and zip lining from the Victoria Falls Bridge or a sunset dinner cruise. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to do these activities, which is why I can’t report on my personal experiences.
However, I would advise against the so-called Lion Walks, which are unfortunately very popular here. Walking with a trained lion on a leash and taking photos with baby lions is in my opinion not animal friendly at all! Much more impressive is a safari tour with an open off-road vehicle through the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park to see elephants, giraffes, hippos and zebras – and with a bit of luck also the endangered black rhinos – in their natural habitat!
Book the best activities at the Victoria Falls here:
Visiting the Victoria Falls is an incredible experience that I definitely want to do again! It was an unforgettable tour, which has been one of my favorite travel moments ever – especially in combination with a stay at the Royal Livingstone Hotel in Zambia!
I hope this post helps you plan your own travels to Victoria Falls and I was able to give you some important tips for your trip! If you have any further questions about visiting the Victoria Falls, feel free to write a comment or message me on Instagram!