Not much can prepare you for the sheer impressive power of Victoria Falls. Affectionately known as “Vic Falls”, it is the classified as the largest waterfall, in terms of volume, in the world. Though still mercifully free of tourists, the area is a magnet for thrill seekers with numerous activities that will keep even the seasoned veteran happy. With the dust settling over more than a decade of political unrest, Zimbabwe is ploughing full steam ahead into the tourist industry in hopes of making its mark on the world again, with the launch of its new airport and much anticipated flights with Qatar Airways and Emirates.
Our marketing expert, Shona, has returned with the latest tips, tricks and to do list for exploring this fantastic, action-packed destination:
For the highlights:
Visit Victoria Falls National Park
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Victoria Falls is one of Africa's greatest geographical features. At 1,700 metres wide and over 100 metres in height, visitors cannot fail to be inspired and amazed by the sheer size, power and beauty of the thundering curtain of water, which can be heard from a distance of 40 kilometres and seen from a distance of 50. An absolute must is to walk through the Victoria Falls National Park taking pictures from any one of the 16 viewpoints that hug the cliff, face-on to the tumbling falls. If you travel between February and May expect to come out of the rainforest thick pathways completely drenched by the spray of the falls or if you go outside of the rainy season, hop across the border to Zambia to hang over the precipice at Devil’s Pool for spectacular views over the falls.
Sunset Zambezi River Cruise
Victoria Falls serves as the boundary between the upper and middle Zambezi, the fourth longest river in Africa. Below the falls, the great Zambezi River twists and turns through basalt rock gorges, providing excellent commercial white water rafting; however, above the falls, the river forms the wildlife-rich border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and offers exciting water-based excursions. With kayaking, canoe trips and fishing expeditions all available you can easily spend your days floating past bathing elephants, laughing hippos and very well camouflaged crocodiles, but be sure to hit the perfect spot along the river at sunset for one of Africa’s most iconic sights. As the sun sets touching the watery horizon, take a boat cruise to watch as the area catches fire with breath-taking reds, vibrant oranges and romantic pinks. Made even better by a refreshing gin and tonic, enjoy the entertaining tales about local culture and the region’s history explained by the knowledge guides and boating crew.
For the family:
With a truly thriving population of elephant, Zimbabwe is a great destination to get up close and personal with these kings of beasts. Taking a half day trip safari, you and your family (children aged six and up) can climb on top of the elephants and experience a safari like no other. Seated very comfortably, you will be transported silently through the grasslands of Victoria Falls National Park spotting buffalo, giraffe, zebra and wildebeest, whilst looking across the wilderness areas and the beautiful riverine scenery – definitely consider joining the sunrise or sunset rides as the golden hour makes for a stunning photograph.
Imagine a children’s playground complete with swing and zip line, and now imagine it 95m long and suspended 120m high above water. With your harness secured to a rope, which is in turn attached to the middle of a cable that runs across the full width of the gorge, you will leave the edge of the platform and free fall about 70 m to finally sway on the 95m long pendulum- offering a seriously exciting jump! Whilst in your harness, you can also complete the fast zip-line, hurtling at 106kms across the gorge, and the flying fox cable slide, where you take a running jump into the air to soar over the thundering Zambezi below. Once you have worked up an appetite, head to the Lookout Café to watch others take part in the high-wire activities as you dine on tasty burgers and bright cocktails in the semi open-air restaurant.
For adrenaline junkies:
White Water Rafting
The white water rafting on the Zambezi River after the falls has been classified as Grade 5, and as the British Canoe Union says: “extremely difficult, long and violent rapids, steep gradients, big drops and pressure areas”. If this is your idea of fun then go between July and mid-February for the best time to test Zimbabwe’s white waters. With adrenaline rushing as fast as the river beneath, brave the world class rapids appropriately named the Terminator, Judgement Day and Devils Toilet Bowl for a crack at some of the world’s best rafting.
Voted one of the best jumps in the world, go against your nature and plummet the thrilling 111 metres towards the turbulent and crocodile infested river. Harnessed to the Victoria Falls Bridge, test your sense of recklessness and free fall over the no-mans land between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Though the fall only lasts a few seconds, make sure to appreciate the beauty of the area when you are being brought back up as from that vantage, you’ll have one of the best views possible.
For something super special:
Helicopter ride over Victoria Falls
Originally coined by David Livingstone when he first wrote about the area that surrounds the falls: "a sight so wonderful that Angels must have gazed down on it in flight", the ‘Flight of the Angels’ is an incredible experience, where you fly over the falls in a helicopter. Certainly one for the bucket list, take to the skies and see Victoria Falls from a unique perspective. Flown in a figure of eight across the width of the falls for 12 minutes, you’ll feel closer than ever to the thundering spray. On the way back, keep your eyes open as you might be able to spot some of the local wildlife, such as giraffe, elephant and many species of antelope.
Stay at the Elephant Camp and meet Sylvester, Cheetah Ambassador
Romantic, opulent and with excellent service- the Elephant Camp is known as one of the best lodges in Victoria Falls for a reason. Staying in canvas covered suites, you can spend your time flitting between the fully-stocked all-inclusive bar and lounge, splashing about in your own private plunge pool or feeding and interacting with the Wild Horizons elephants. Also part of the lodge is meeting Sylvester, the cheetah ambassador. With the go-ahead from the handlers, you can sit, stroke and take pictures with the giant cat but be prepared, he might try to give you a tongue bath!