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Visiting Victoria Falls from both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides is EPIC – you MUST do both! Every childhood dream of seeing the one million litres of water cascade into the gorge was fulfilled, and some. Check out our video of our time at Victoria Falls here!
Visiting Victoria Falls From Both Sides
So you’re thinking of visiting Victoria Falls, but can’t decide which side to see this incredible natural wonder from? Why only pick one? DO BOTH! Both Zimbabwe and Zambia have massive advantages for viewing the falls, and it’s definitely worth seeing both if you can. In case you’re not familiar, Victoria Falls straddles the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, with two towns for tourists – Victoria Falls town on the Zimbabwe side, and Livingstone on the Zambia side.
But surely it’s much more expensive to pay visas for both countries? WRONG. If possible, I’d recommend flying into Victoria Falls Airport (on the Zimbabwe side) and ask for a Kazi Uni Visa – costing $50, this permits you to cross the borders in the Victoria Falls region as many times as you want. This is much cheaper than obtaining a double entry visa for Zimbabwe, and then a single entry for Zambia – and more convenient! Make sure to check your country’s Foreign Office website, as not all nationalities are offered this visa. At the time of writing it wasn’t clear whether it was possible for UK citizens, but upon arrival this was fine.
Why Visit Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe?
- It’s generally quite a lot cheaper! Although accommodation and food is similarly priced in Victoria Falls to in Livingstone, activities are definitely cheaper. For instance, a helicopter flight over the falls is $190 in Livingstone, but only $150 in Victoria Falls – THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST. Jaw dropping experience!
- The falls itself is 1.7km across, and 1.2km of this belongs to Zimbabwe. Therefore, you can see a lot more of the falls from this side.
- Victoria Falls town is quite literally built for tourism, and is just a 10 minute walk from the entrance to the Victoria Falls National Park.
Any drawbacks to visiting Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side?
- At the time of writing this, there have been some political troubles in Zimbabwe. Consequently, there have been cash shortages across the country. Therefore, it’s essential that you arrive in Victoria Falls with enough US Dollars to pay for everything whilst you’re here – it is not possible to withdraw money at ATMs. This also comes hand in hand with some safety concerns, but we felt perfectly safe whilst we were here – just get back to the hotel before it’s too dark in the evenings.
- Touts on the roads around Victoria Falls town can be quite aggressive. That said, hotel staff and tour operators are incredibly friendly, keen to give you the best experience possible in order to reclaim the tourism industry from the growing Zambian side.
Why go to Livingstone to see Victoria Falls from the Zambian side too?
- You can get much closer to the falls on the Zambian side. Although you only get a 500m length of falls, the view is arguably better.
- You can visit the Devil’s Pool or Angel’s Pool. This is an absolute must, and a highlight of our whole experience. Visit the Devil’s Pool in dry season, and Angel’s Pool in the rainy season. We visited right at the beginning the rainy season (March), which I think is the best time to go – enough water to feel the full force of the falls, but not too much that the spray stops you from seeing it!
- Entry to the Victoria Falls National Park is cheaper on the Zambian side ($20USD per entry, as opposed to $30USD on the Zimbabwean side).
- Livingstone has a bit more going on than Victoria Falls town, with more backpackers and things to do aside from the falls.
Drawbacks to visiting the Falls from the Zambian side?
- Livingstone is situated about 11km away from the falls, so taxis are necessary to reach the Victoria Falls National Park. The road between the two has been known for robberies, so it’s not safe to walk.
- Activities are more expensive.
- You need local currency (Kwacha, which you can withdraw at ATMs) as well as USD.
Which activities are best when visiting Victoria Falls?
- Angel’s Pool and Devil’s Pool (Angels in rainy season, Devil’s in dry season). Either of these are an absolute must – swim right up to the edge, and watch the water cascade 105m into the gorge. Not for the faint hearted, but one of the best things I did whilst at Victoria Falls. Expect to pay $100USD per person, departing from the Royal Livingstone Hotel and taking 1.5 hours in duration. This price includes a wonderful breakfast on the infamous Livingstone Island too.
- Helicopter over Victoria Falls. Yes, it’s expensive ($150 per person for a 12-15 minute flight on the Zimbabwe side) but it’s worth every cent.
- Lunar Rainbow. If you can time your visit around a Full Moon, enter the National Park on either side after between 7pm and midnight (best at around 9-10pm), and see the incredible rainbows created by the moon, with the backdrop of the ethereal white falls by moonlight. This costs $5USD more than normal entry – we did it from the Zambian side for a total of $25USD.
- Sunset over the Zambezi. There are two options for this – either paying $50USD for a Zambezi sunset cruise, or going for a drink on the sundeck of the Royal Livingstone Hotel. The sunset cruise looks amazing, and apparently you can see lots of wildlife on the banks of the river as your float along, but it was just a step too far for us financially. Therefore, we opted for sundowner drinks at the very fancy Royal Livingstone Hotel, providing stunning views of the sunset and spray from the falls. There are also giraffes, zebra and impala that roam the hotel’s grounds so you get your wildlife fix.
- Although I didn’t do any of the other adventure activities (such as bungee jumping, sky diving, zip lining or white water rafting), make sure to book these on the Zimbabwean side to save some money. Note: if you’re willing to pay in cash, you may be able to negotiate this lower.
- If like me, you’re a fan of High Tea (such an English girl!), visit the Victoria Falls Hotel on the Zimbabwe side for a delicious traditional afternoon tea, with a beautiful view of the bridge. It costs $35 for two people, and while the portion isn’t massive, it’s still a very good deal.
So you’re all ready for visiting Victoria Falls? Final practical tips:
- If you’re on a budget, Victoria Falls Rest Camp on the Zimbabwe side, and JollyBoys Backpackers in Livingstone are great cheap places to stay, both with lovely little swimming pools. If you can afford it, the Royal Livingstone in Zambia is incredibly special.
- Don’t forget plenty of US Dollars for Zimbabwe.
- Make the border crossing between the two countries on foot, you get a gorgeous view from the bridge. It takes about 30 minutes to walk between the border posts. There are taxis there if you need.
- Go and enjoy it!