Victoria Falls, do I go to Zambia or Zimbabwe? One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO sit, Victoria Falls is attributed to as being the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Known by the locals as Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke that Thunders), it is created by the Zambezi River and lies between Zambia and Zimbabwe. I think the best way to answer this question is to ask yourself: do you want to have great views of the falls or do you want to interact with them.
I Want to View Victoria Falls:
Zimbabwe is going to provide you with the best views of the falls, hands down (a commanding 75% of it). No matter what time of year you visit and now matter how much or little water is going over the falls, you will always be able to see it from Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls National Park will give you the perfect setting for viewing the falls at your leisure. A great bonus to the park is the entrance fee and Rangers keep all of the hawkers at bay, leaving you to enjoy the scenery in peace.
As with anything, there are better times of day to view the falls than others, look to be closer to sunset than sunrise. With sunset the light will be shining on the falls themselves, also in the afternoon, the mist clears some providing sharper views.
I Want to Interact with Victoria Falls:
Zambia has two official ways in which you can interact with the falls. The most famous without a doubt is going on a tour of Livingstone Island and taking a dip in one of the pools; with the most renowned being Devil’s Pool. The other option is to go into Zambia’s Mosi-oa-Tunya Park and take the path heading upstream; this will give you a chance to reach out and touch the Zambezi just seconds before it hurls itself over the edge.
While Zimbabwe’s best visibility relies on a time of day, Zambia’s is more about the season in which you visit. If you arrive at the end of dry season in October and November, you can find the falls completely non-existent. On the converse visit during the rainy season or just after it and there will be to much water to safely get to Livingstone Island, let alone enter one of the pools. Livingstone Island is generally only open from early July to the beginning of March. The famous Devils Pool has an even smaller window and is only available typically from late August to early January.
Visas: We entered both countries via land borders, and had no trouble with getting visas on the spot. We even walked from Zimbabwe across the bridge over the Zambezi to Zambia, and we had our visas and were on our way in less than 20 minutes. The visas were not cheap, and your only break could come in the fact that Zambia has a one-day tourist visa, but you must enter and exit through the same border to qualify.
Money Matters: First off, I found both locations to be rather pricey. Zimbabwe is without a national currency; so just walking into a store is a little crazy. There are signs all over talking about what neighboring currency will get you what. U.S. Dollars and South African Rand were the two most popular; we used Botswana Pula because that is what we had. Do Not count on ATM’s as none of the five we tried worked for us. As for Zambia, everything we tried worked including credit cards and ATM’s just don’t expect cheap prices.
Getting There: We were stationed in Botswana, and while Botswana has fabulous public transportation, we couldn’t find any options in either Zambia or Zimbabwe. For us to travel between the falls and Botswana, we had to employ taxis. Our driver in Zimbabwe was outstanding, and I would recommend him in a heartbeat, his name is Blessed Tshuma, and you can contact him at either +26-377-643-6601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Tips: We all know water and cameras are not friends. That being said there is a serious amount of moisture coming off of Victoria Falls; particularly on the Zimbabwe side. In some places, while you are walking through the park it literally rains down on you. While you can dodge some of the mist on the Zimbabwe side, if you trek to Livingstone Island in Zambia, think GoPro or some other waterproof camera.
4 out of 5 Travelationship High Fives. I give this rating to my time directly with Victoria Falls. As for our time in Zambia and Zimbabwe, it did not stand out to me, and the only word that comes to mind is expensive. Type of traveler rating – adventure, romance, bucket lister.