Victoria Falls is one of the most visited sites in Africa and for good reason. Explorer David Livingstone named this waterfall after the Queen, however, by the locals it is still known as Mosi-oa-Tunya meaning the ‘Smoke that Thunders’.
Victoria Falls can be visited from either Zimbabwe (town of Victoria Falls) or from Zambia (town of Livingstone). I visited through Zambia and it was a three day journey just to get there! Here’s a little recap of my travel days:
Day One: Take a 9 hour bus ride from Nkhata Bay (Malawi) to the capital Lilongwe. Say goodbye to friends and stay overnight.
Day Two: Leave at 5:30 am on a 14 hour bus ride from Lilongwe to Zambia’s capital Lusaka. We were held up only two hours into the trip by immigration officials because some locals lacked proper paperwork. This bus ride was only supposed to take 11 hours. Not only was this a long day, but it dragged due to my seat buddy who wanted us to marry and move in to the bush together. Trip included a free kiss on the hand (ick) before we parted ways.
Day Three: Caught a ride with a very nice Japanese man named Uno to Livingstone. 8 hours.
It was my first night to camp on this trip, and I realized just how cold it gets at night. It’s winter here so go figure, but I was ill prepared. I bought my tent in Lusaka as a last minute realization that I would not survive Botswana without one. I have a fleece sleeping bag that is not meant for cold weather- combine that with the fact that I’m a weenie when it comes to cold weather, and well, it was cold!
All of the hostels in Livingstone offer free transport to the Falls which are 12km from town. I got there the next morning, paid the $20 USD entry fee, and shwabam. There it was in all its glory. It was overcast, but still quite a sight. Rather than trying to mush dry facts into an interesting paragraph, let me just lay it all out up front.
Vic Falls Fun Facts:
- It is neither the widest nor the tallest waterfall in the world but combine these two measurements together and it’s supposedly the largest waterfall in the world.
- It is 1.7 km wide (slightly wider than 1 mile) and 108 meters tall.
- It is more than double the height of Niagara Falls (Canada).
- Water flow drastically differs based on the season. In the rainy season, the spray from the falls can be seen up to 50km away. The minimum flow in the dry season is about 1/10th of that during the maximum flow of the rainy season.
At the height of the rainy season, the falls are not really visible due to the amount of mist. Although there was quite a bit of mist when I visited, I was lucky to see a good bit of the falls.
Victoria Falls is an adrenaline junkie’s paradise. Some of the activities here include bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, abseiling, hang-gliding, helicopter flights, quadbiking, safaris, etc. There’s no shortage of activities here, as long as you come with a nice chunk of change in your pocket. Initially, I had planned on bungee jumping but due to my incident in Malawi, it wasn’t possible at the time. Of course now I’m so glad I didn’t, because I went skydiving instead a few weeks later. Although it might be yet another waterfall, it’s astounding. The sheer size of Victoria Falls makes it totally worth a visit.
Trying to determine whether to see Vic Falls from Zimbabwe or Zambia? From Zimbabwe, you are further from the falls, but the overall views are better. From Zambia, it’s a narrower view, however you can walk to an area above the falls. Either way, you’re bound to get some amazing views. If you’re lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of the lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls.
On a final note, due to some weather and planning issues, there is one activity that I did not get to do while I was in Livingstone and that is attending High Tea at the Royal Livingstone Hotel. I believe it’s also offered at The Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe as well. You can sit on the terrace overlooking the river and enjoy decadent desserts and tea as you watch the sun set. It’s just under $20 and seems really worthwhile. I met a gentleman who had done it with the goal to sample every dessert they offered; and he failed. You can eat as many of them as you like so I believe this activity should be on every girl’s bucket list! If I ever make it back there, you better believe I’m going!