One of Africa’s absolute icons: Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunyac (The Smoke That Thunders). Victoria Falls is considered one of the Natural Wonders of the World with about 500.000 liters of water / per second, falling down 108 meters, over a 1.7 km edge. Pretty impressive stats! I visited Victoria Falls a few weeks ago during my Southern Africa backpacking trip and decided to compile this list of tips to make most out of your Victoria Falls visit!
Tips for your Victoria Falls visit
1. Don’t ruin your camera or other electronic equipment (like I did).
I had my DSLR under my poncho, but didn’t realise all water was still coming in. I wasn’t the only one though and I met several people who got their camera or phone ruined. If you do bring electronic equipment, please waterproof this 100% (eg plastic bags / dry bags). You will get completely soaked.
2. View Victoria Falls from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean side.
The Zimbabwean side has the best views on the falls, but the Zambian side has Boiling Pot (huge natural whirlpool), an awesome footbridge, a relax spot at the top of the falls and Livingstone Island / Devil’s pool. You can stay overnight or just visit for the day with a special one-day-visa.
3. Have a milkshake at the Look Out cafe.
On the Zimbabwean side you will see the Look Out cafe signposted on your way to Victoria Falls. This cafe has splendid milkshakes and a great view on the railway bridge and gorge. It’s also the place for gorge swings and ziplining.
4. Stay at the Jollyboys Backpackers hostel in Livingstone.
A beautiful, well-run, responsible and sociable hostel with camping, dorms and private rooms. They also have amazing massages in their beauty salon. I had the best time there!
5. Book your activities on the Zimbabwean side.
Although I ended up doing none of the activities, I did enquire. At the Zimbabwean side there was room for negotiation and there were offers/discounts, while on the Zambian side prices were fixed.
6. Walk over the railway bridge for free.
This bridge is in the border area, but you should be able to go here, by showing your passport. The bridge offers nice views on the river and it’s also busy with the coming and going of locals with fruits / baskets etc.
7. Visit Victoria Falls in the morning and afternoon.
I actually got this tip from a fellow backpacker. The best time to visit the falls is supposedly around 11AM. However, if you come back at 4 PM (and the sun is out) there will be rainbows everywhere! Pretty cool experience! You can only enter once, so we just waited at the Shearwater cafe.
8. Have dinner at the Cafe Zambezi in Livingstone!
Great atmosphere and affordable local food! Try the catarpillars or croc ribs!
9. In Livingstone, visit the Livingstone Museum.
It’s a bit pricey, but has good info on different tribes, daily life and on David Livingstone himself!
10. If possible try to visit Victoria Falls in the dry season (jul-oct) as it offers the best views.
I was there during the rainy seasons and there was loads of mist/smoke. However, I did witness the falls at full force!
Let me know if you have questions about your Victoria Falls visit!
Recommended further reading for backpacking Zimbabwe
All you need to know about backpacking in Zimbabwe: a complete guide!
My ultimate overview of backpacking in Southern Africa