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.
With 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.
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. After arriving at the entrance you will pay the $30 a person fee. This fee is for a one time entry only.
Within the park there are paved pathways that you will follow. Be sure to stay on the path for obvious safety reasons. The path is usually wet and slippery due to the falls’ intense spray. So be sure to wear appropriate footwear!
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.
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It’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).
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One 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. I’d recommend a waterproof housing or even a plastic bag in a pinch! A backpack or dry-bag will work for storing your belongings so they don’t get drenched. 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 surrounded by trees and occupied by vervet monkeys and birds.
The monkeys are very playful but always be careful as they will sometimes try to steal your belongings!
Every 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!
You will walk the entirety of the path until you reached the 108 year old Victoria Falls Bridge that was built in 1905 and serves as a crossing to link Zimbabwe and Zambia.
We then followed the same path back to the entrance and met back up with a 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.
There are many different activities that you can participate in 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.
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 US dollars. The visa price varies depending on your country of residency. 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. The will turn you away if you do not meet the requirements. 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.