Experiencing Victoria Falls- Zambia vs. Zimbabwe

Getting up close to the majestic Victoria Falls, is what a visit to Livingstone is all about. There are paths that run along the gorge edge of Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, which offer stunning views of the Eastern Cataract, which is approximately a quarter of the falls. Victoria Falls, which is approximately a mile in length and more than 100m high, is the largest curtain waterfall in the world. The Zambezi River plunges into the Batoka Gorge, which runs downstream from the waterfall.

It’s is home to some of the most exciting white water rafting in the country. The Zimbabwean side is home to about two-thirds of the waterfall including the main falls. While the Zambian side offers great views of the remainder and includes Livingstone Island, where Dr David Livingstone first saw the falls.

On the Zimbabwean side, the town is known as Victoria Falls. While Livingstone is on the Zambian side. Both have a busy international airport and good infrastructure. The bridge over the Zambezi River connects Zambia and Zimbabwe just downstream of the falls.

Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe

Many consider Zimbabwe to be the best destination to see the falls, especially in the low water seasons. 70% of the exquisite views are seen from the Zimbabwe rainforest . You can walk along paved footpaths to reach the different views at the gorge’s edge. Travellers entering the Zimbabwe rainforest rain forest will be liable to pay a park fee.

Important information* Zimparks has set daily entry fees into the Rainforest at US$7 or $441 per person while clients will pay US$5 to enter Zambezi National Park or $315 per day per person. However, with African Bush Camps a visit to these parks is included whether you’re visiting the Zambian side, Thorntree River Lodge or the Zimbabwe Side in the low-season.

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You can view the falls from many different points. A tour will usually take between 1-2 hours. At some points, especially during February and July, when it is high-water season, you can expect to experience some spray from the Vic falls.

The falls are spectacular at the peak of high-water season (March-June). However, the spray can often be so strong that it’s is difficult to see the falls from many of the viewing points. Be aware of slippery paths and rocks.

Zimbabwe has the best view of the falls and is also known for its wide range of camps. You can have the best of both worlds;- a visit to the iconic Victoria Falls and a unforgettable wildlife safari.

Victoria Falls from Zambia

The tourism boom in Zambia was as a result of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis between 2000 and 2010. Livingstone was the most popular destination for Victoria Falls visitors, thanks to rapid growth in accommodation options and activities for travellers.

Devils Pool Victoria Falls

The Zambian side has many wonderful camps right at the Zambezi River’s edge, just upstream of the falls. One of which is our pride and joy, Thorntree River Lodge.

The best time to view the falls from the Zambian sides is July and August. This is when the water level has started to drop, but the Zambian side still has not dried up.

The Zambian side is almost dry during low water season (September to December) and there is little to see except a dry rock wall, unless you visit the Livingstone Island.

The spray is so strong during the high-water season (March through June), that the Zambian side becomes a white-out. It can be compared to walking in a storm without any visibility. Raincoats are available at the entrance. However, the pathways can be slippery during high water seasons. Be careful and when packing for a visit to Vic falls, please include a raincoat and some wellingtons.

The Zambian side offers only a dry rock wall during low water season. However, Livingstone Island is a unique viewpoint from which you can enjoy amazing views of the falls. Although it is located next to the main waterfall, the island can still be reached throughout the year, except for when its peak high season.

Zambia or Zimbabwe- Which is Better?

It all depends on the season, your budget, and your personal interests. Both have their benefits. The views of the falls from the Zimbabwe side are generally better, especially in low water seasons. Low water season is the best time to visit Livingstone Island, Devils Pool or Angels Pool. Zimbabwe also offers a range of African safari camps, ideal if you’re looking to combine a family-friendly safari, with your visit to the Vic falls.

Victoria Falls in morning light

The Zambian side has a logistical advantage in that there is a direct flight from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, located in Nelspruit, near the Kruger Park, to Livingstone on certain days. Combining Kruger Park with the Zambian side to Victoria Falls means that you don’t need to travel via Johannesburg.

If you decide to visit Zambia on safari, experiencing the Vic Falls will be a part of you itinerary. Including game drives in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, rhino tracking, bush walks, sunrise & sunset boat cruises, Simonga Village visits among other activities.