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RE-IMAGINING VICTORIA FALLS

OVERVIEW

A visit to southern Africa isn’t complete without a trip to Victoria Falls, the majestic waterfall that serves as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.  British explorer David Livingstone put Victoria Falls on the map in the 1850s, and since then millions of visitors have been awestruck by the site’s tremendous size and depth.  The Batoka tribe referred to the Falls as “the smoke that thunders,” a nod to the constant rumbling water and pervasive misty spray.  Travelers today can also participate in a number of activities that include breathtaking helicopter and microlight plane safaris, swimming in the stunning natural Devil’s Pool at the edge of the Falls, and battling world class rapids down below in the Zambezi River – all while luxuriating at stunning lodges that combine style, service and wondrous views.

WHAT WE LOVE
  • Visiting Livingstone Island and swimming in Devil’s Pool is by far one of the continent’s highlights, as here is the closest one can safely get to the edge of one of the world’s most majestic waterfalls.  Devil’s Pool is surprisingly free of currents, so a dip is actually quite safe, and affords plenty of opportunities to photograph the rainbows that often appear in the mist of the cascading waters. 
  • Helicopter rides combine uninterrupted views of Victoria Falls and nearby Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, filled with African game. Sunset flights are truly unforgettable, with colors that can only be seen in Africa.
  • Serious white water rafters put Victoria Falls on their bucket list for a reason: the Class V rapids that rollick in the Zambezi River right below.  For those more interested in observing wildlife than in perfecting their rafting moves, canoeing down the river is another more placid option.
  • Elephant-backed safaris are an increasingly popular way to explore the beautiful grasslands of Victoria Falls National Park while enjoying exhilarating views along the edge of the Zambezi River Gorges. Everything looks better from the top of an elephant.
  • For those who might want a slightly more thrilling ride, hop on board a Microlight plane. Microlights carry just a pilot and a passenger, who ride in an open cockpit, with the wind and sun directly in their face: an exhilarating and extremely unforgettable bird’s eye view of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.
  • The rim of Victoria Falls can be navigated by foot on the Zimbabwean side, and the path provides full length, fully-immersive views. An afternoon stroll will never be quite so spectacular.  

 

REST & REJUVENATE

After a full day of exploring, you will need a comfortable place to lay your head. Luxury lodges like those below start at slightly less than US$500 per person in low season. Hotels can be booked on a full board or bed and breakfast basis.

  • Royal Livingstone: A recent million-dollar renovation brought the 21st century to this Victorian hotel, while leaving its original charm intact. The Zambezi River rushes through a front lawn dotted with giraffes and zebras, sundecks were built with Zambia’s legendary sunsets in mind, and most rooms have private riverside verandas. But head directly to the hotel pool – situated to provide absolutely breathtaking views of the Falls – to see what really makes the Livingstone special: it’s worth staying here for the swims alone.
  • Tongabezi: For a little more romance, head up the Zambezi to Tongabezi, which offers a luxury safari lodge feeling right on the River’s banks. Whether you want to spend the night on a private island, enjoy a candlelit dinner for two under the bright African stars, or return to your room for a bubble bath, everything you do will be framed by sweeping views and unparalleled service.
  • Royal Chundu: Those yearning for a little more isolation will appreciate the exclusivity of the private villas at the Royal Chundu River Lodge. Built on a private island nestled on a gentle stretch of the Zambezi, each villa is encircled by an outdoor deck, and guests can lounge amidst groves of Baobab trees that date back almost two thousand years: the perfect juxtaposition of convenient elegance and rustic nature.
  • WHAT TO KNOW

  • May through August is considered the best time to maximize your Victoria Falls experience: water levels are still high, yet dry enough for a safari adventure, and views are unobstructed.
  • The rainy season runs from December to March and, while the resulting mist and cloud cover may hamper views, this is also when you’ll see the water at peak flow.
  • A tourist visa is required for visitors from the United States and can be obtained on arrival to Zambia.
  • MORE ON ZAMBIA & ZIMBABWE