The Roaring Thunder of Victoria Falls: The Largest Waterfall in the World

As part of our first visit to Southern Africa we made a multi-day stop in Zimbabwe to visit Victoria Falls. Located along the Zambezi river which serves as the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world and one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.

Panoramic view of Victoria Falls in ZimbabweWith a height of 355 feet and width of 5,604 feet, Victoria Falls plummets into the gorge below creating a mist that seemingly erupts out of a canyon.

"The Smoke that Thunders"

Our hotel, the Ilala Lodge, has one of the closest locations to the entrance of Victoria Falls and can be reached by a short walk. Unfortunately, Jamin had recently injured his knee in a sports accident so we opted to take a taxi. The hotel gave us an old wheel chair to use in Victoria Falls park which we threw into the taxicab’s trunk, but when we arrived at the falls we found it had a flat tire.  We arrived at the entrance and paid the $30 a person fee and began our walk through the park. Ultimately Jamin opted to use crutches to move through the park. It was wet and slippery due to the falls’ intense spray but he made it work at only a slightly slower pace than me.

Jamin exploring Victoria Falls while on crutches in Zimbabwe

A tremendous amount of water flows over Victoria Falls, and as a result the spray rising into the air covers every inch of the park–including visitors and their cameras. The mist wafts this way and that, mimicking a light rain that will quickly soak you and your clothing.

The gorgeous Victoria Falls waterfall in ZimbabweIt’s said that Victoria Falls is the only place in the world that has “rain” twenty four hours a day. We were there in April which is one of the months with the heaviest water flow so depending on which way the wind was blowing it was difficult to see the entirety of the falls’ length (and it is long).

The high mist coming off of Victoria Falls in ZimbabweOne way to protect yourself is to dress with either waterproof or quick-drying clothing. We wore a combination of both because it was very warm when we visited. We also protected ourselves from mosquitos by using a mesh, lightweight jacket. Be sure to bring something to protect your camera…a backpack or dry-bag will work. Also, make sure you pack a lens cloth or equivalent to wipe the water droplets and spots that will quickly accumulate on your lens when your photographing the beautiful waterfall.

The path that runs through the park is paved and surrounded by trees occupied by vervet monkeys and birds.

The forest covered path at Victoria Falls in ZimbabweWe were distracted by a baby Vervet monkey who was begging to be photographed at one point.

The sweet baby vervet monkey bouncing around at Victoria Falls in ZimbabweEvery so often the path opens up to viewpoints with protective railings that overlook the river below and give wonderful views of the falls flowing over the cliffs on the opposite side. There are plenty of viewpoints along the way–some where you will get very wet!

Getting soaked from the mist coming off of Victoria Falls in ZimbabweStunning views of Victoria Falls from the overlooks

We walked the entirety of the path until we reached the 108 year old Victoria Falls Bridge that was built in 1905 and serves as a crossing to link Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Built in 1905, the Victoria Falls Bridge is the link between Zimbabwe & ZambiaWe then followed the same path back to the entrance and met back up with our taxi driver. With his recommendation, we were dropped off at the Victoria Falls Hotel for lunch where we ordered their traditional (and very popular) high tea. The views from the hotel were just as stunning as the views from our hotel as we watched the mist rise above the earth.

Enjoying high tea at the Victoria Falls HotelThe mist rising from Victoria Falls as seen from the Victoria Falls HotelThere are many different activities that are offered at Victoria Falls, the most popular being the helicopter ride over the falls. But if you prefer water over air then you should try out the white-water rafting. For the über adventurous type, take a leap with bungee jumping or, dare I say, relax in the Devil’s Pool.

The heavy flow of water plummeting into the gorge below at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

Tips Before Your Trip:

For our visit we stayed on the Zimbabwean side of the falls. Upon arrival at the Zimbabwe airport we needed to go through passport control and purchase our visas. Bring plenty of American dollars. The visa price varies depending on your country of residency, but for Americans it was $60.00 a person payable in cash (and exact change only). There are also no ATM’s prior to reaching the visa checkpoint so make sure that you already have the correct amount of cash with you. Their currency is the USD but they will also take euro. Additionally, make sure to bring your yellow fever shot record (if required) with you as you could be asked to show it on arrival.

Make sure that your passport has at least 6 months validity and three blank pages. You can absolutely get turned away at the airport and that would be very bad. The Zimbabwe visa takes up an entire page in your passport. My favorite Passport wallet is this one by Fjallraven. There is plenty of space for your passport, credit cards and much more all in the convenience of a zipped case.

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