This Is The World's Largest Waterfall And Getting Here Is More Affordable Than You Think

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View of Victoria Falls from the Zambian side.

Photo of Victoria Falls, Kazungula, Southern Province, Zambia by Caitlin Graaf

There’s no doubt that Victoria Falls is a bucket list item for many travelers. Carved into a twisting gorge flanked by Zimbabwe on one side and Zambia on the other, this gargantuan waterfall is 355-ft tall and over 5,500-ft wide! The behemoth churns 550-million liters of water per minute over its sheer cliff face.

The local Lozi name for the falls is “Mosi oa Tunya”, which translates into Smoke that Thunders for the enormous spray of mist that rises up above the falls and can be heard far before it can be seen.

Paying a visit to Victoria Falls should definitely be on your travel bucket list, but getting there isn’t always easy and this destination can be surprisingly pricey! Before anything else, you’ll need to decide whether you want to visit the falls from the Zimbabwe side or the Zambia side!

The edge of Victoria Falls

Photo of This Is The World's Largest Waterfall And Getting Here Is More Affordable Than You Think by Caitlin Graaf

Zimbabwe or Zambia?

It is often said that the views from the Zimbabwean side of the falls are better, but the truth is that the views are exceptional no matter which side you are on. Factoring in other travel plans, logistics, and accommodation is a must before you choose your side.

Both Zambia and Zimbabwe offer a range of budget to luxury accommodation options.

Zambia

If you see the falls from the Zambia side, you will most likely stay in or near the capital city of Livingstone, an easy fly-in zone. Another perk to staying on the Zambian side is the accessibility to continue your travels in Botswana or Namibia after your time at Victoria Falls.

If you choose to continue your travels to Botswana or Namibia, the proximity of the borders from Livingstone make Zambia a compelling, and more budget option!

Hostels, hotels and lodges on the Zambian side range in price and are a plenty. That said, there are a number of budget options that cater specifically to backpacker and budget travelers!

One of my personal favorite hostels, is Jolly Boys! This leafy bohemian paradise is the perfect spot to enjoy the company of other travelers from around the world in a quaint and cool location nearby to the falls!

The bohemian common room at Jollyboys Backpackers, Livingstone

Photo of Jollyboys Backpackers, Livingstone, Zambia by Caitlin Graaf

Zimbabwe

If you visit from the Zimbabwean side, you will stay in Victoria Falls town which also has a number of accommodation options! Despite Zimbabwe’s notorious reputation for political instability, Victoria Falls has remained a hot spot for tourism. The town is neat and walk-able, and relatively safe, although wild animals (including elephant!) do explore the town by night so it is advised not to explore by foot past sunset.

Victoria Falls for Dummies is a great resource for anyone visiting the falls, and provides the wonderful explanation that “if you want to see the falls, visit Zimbabwe; if you want to feel the falls, visit Zambia”! The best way to solve the problem is to visit both! Standing at the bridge between the two countries offers a fantastic perspective of and view of the waterfalls, and seeing the falls from both the Zimbabwean and Zambian side is possible in one day.

Visas

It is worth noting that by purchasing the UniVisa (also known as the Kaza Visa) allows tourists the ability to move between Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia, therefore allowing tourists to cross the Zimbabwe-Zambia border directly at the falls.

Sunrise at a rural campsite in Zambia

Photo of Zimbabwe by Caitlin Graaf

Activities

Victoria falls is one of the best adventure travel destinations in all of Africa! There are blood-pumping activities for the intrepid and scenic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for those looking to appreciate the small splendors of this magnificent environment at a slower pace.

For adventure seekers, white water rafting, bungee jumping and taking a swim in Devil's Pool are all available here.

The Zambezi is touted as one of the world's best rapids and is not for the faint of heart! The names of the rapids are an accurate prelude for what is to come and include: Stairway to Heaven, The Terminator, The Washing Machine, Judgement Day, Devils Toilet Bowl and Oblivion! If getting in the water isn't enough for you, bungee jumping off of the bridge between the two countries is also an option!

Victoria Falls from the Zambian side

Photo of This Is The World's Largest Waterfall And Getting Here Is More Affordable Than You Think by Caitlin Graaf

Devil's pool is perhaps the most sought-after experience at Victoria Falls, wherein guests can swim in a protected pool adjacent to Livingstone Island right on the cliff's edge! Devil's pool is only open during the dry season (between mid August and mid January) when water levels are low enough that the pool is safe.

Chances are that on your trip the to falls, you will get a few different perspectives of the natural wonder. None, however, are more enticing that the view from the air! Microlighting over the falls is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

For the less-adventurous among us, Victoria Falls is still a wonderful place to explore. Many nearby lodges offer game viewing opportunities (although, you will probably have already spotted elephants walking down the roads in town!) and sunset cruises along the Zambezi! Sunset (aka booze) cruises are a great way to admire the spray from the falls and see wildlife drinking from the rivers edge as well as large pods of hippos enjoying the water.

A pod of hippo relax in the cool waters of the Zambezi River

Photo of This Is The World's Largest Waterfall And Getting Here Is More Affordable Than You Think by Caitlin Graaf

There is no doubt that adventure abounds at Victoria Falls, but the costs behind all of these activities certainly add up. Tour companies get this, and many offer specialized or discounted packages to help defray the cost for travelers!

One pro tip to seeing Victoria Falls on a budget is to book your tours in advance, and book with a single company who will offer you a discounted fee for booking multiple activities. Hotels and hostels often get in on the action, so be sure to check with your hostel or backpackers for special rates and packages offered by their touring partners. Happy traveling! 

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