Victoria Falls – A world natural wonder in Africa
After 8 days in nomad’s overland safari, all the way back from Windhoek, we finally arrived to our destination. And what a destination it was… one of the seven wonders of the natural world, Victoria Falls!
Named after Queen Victoria by Dr. Livingstone, the falls original name is Mosi-o-Tunya meaning “The smoke that thunders”. When come close to the falls you can easily understand why. Although not the highest, neither the widest in the world, Victoria Falls are 108 meters high and 1708 meters wide, making it the largest sheet of falling water in the world, only rivaled by Iguzu falls, between Brazil and Argentina. Victoria falls are located in the Zambezi river, which separates Zambia from Zimbabwe and tourism is being developed on both sides, as this is one of the major attractions in Africa. In 1905 the British built a bridge very close to the falls, which was a huge engineering achievement. This bridge is still in use today, connecting Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe and Livingston in Zambia.
Victoria falls is considered one of the adventure capitals of the worlds so there is an endless number activities (rafting, bridge tours, cruises, bungee jumping, and so on…) to do around Victoria falls and huge amount tour companies doing them. Nomad recommended shearwater so we went there and chose our activities: White water rafting and Helicopter tour “flight of the Angels”.
Accommodation in Victoria Falls
Sleeping in Victoria Falls isn’t cheap. It was by far the most expensive place we slept in these holidays. We stayed in the Victoria Falls Rainbow hotel, the first night was included in the safari and after a searching for cheaper options we decided to simplify and stay there the two other nights. We had read a few reviews saying it was old, badly maintained and decadent, but we really don’t agree. After 8 nights sleeping in tents, our room felt like a 5 star hotel 🙂
The hotel is really well situated, near town and the falls. The breakfast was good, with some variety but weirdly didn’t have cheese. But the best thing about Victoria falls rainbow hotel was the swimming pool, where we cool lay down, relax and sunbathe for a while. If you aren’t on a really tight budget we fully recommend staying 3 days here.
*Note: if you use one of the links to tripadvisor to book accommodation couplertw.com receives a small percentage from tripadvisor, but you won’t pay any additional fee!
White water rafting in Zambezi River
This is commonly considered the best white water rafting in the world. We had never rafted before and we were slightly worried how difficult would it be. While booking it we asked the guides, but they just told us that there would be no problem with the rafting, although going in and out the gorge would be more than a stretch… Well stairs and hikes we could do!
The rafting started with a short security briefing where the guides explained us how to use the gear, what to do if someone falls, etc… Then we had a 20 minutes hike descending vertically 100m, many, many stairs and slippery rocks later we arrived to the boats on the river! The rafting started very close from the mighty falls, we were very excited about this. The group practiced some paddling and then jumped to the water for some swimming and practicing jumping back the raft.
We did the better and longer version of the rafting which took roughly 3 hours from rapid #1 to rapid #19. Although it requires some physical exercise it isn’t too demanding, barely anyone could make it more or less easily. If you want you can even float and swim a bit in the calmer parts of the mighty Zambezi. After the rafting we had to climb back to the top and remembered several times when we jokingly said: “stairs and hike we could do!”… Eventually we did got up there, but it was one of the most difficult climbs we have ever done!
This was a fantastic rafting morning. Although we never felt unsafe or in danger and it was thrilling and exhilarating. After all, this is one of the best rafting rivers in the world. The downside is that it’s a little pricey, we paid 120 USD (+10 of park fee) per person, and usually it’s 150 USD. But if you like water sports and / or adventure sports this is a great choice.
Flight of Angels – 13 minutes Victoria falls helicopter ride
These were probably the most expensive 13 minutes we have ever spent while traveling! The ride costed 150USD +12USD (National park fee) per person, but do you know what? It’s worth it. We had never been on a helicopter before but Victoria Falls was perfect scenery for it! flying in a helicopter is very different from an airplane. It’s more like floating or levitating. It feels like you can defy gravity.
The view is astonishing! You get to see the upper Zambezi, the river islands, the gorge, the bridge and the falls from above. We had read that it is the best way to see the falls and understand its power and magnitude. These are images that we won’t ever forget and this is the way to fully comprehend how mighty Victoria falls are.
If your budget can take the 162 USD per person punch, you should do the ride. It’s a couplertw recommendation!
Victoria Falls National Park and Bridge
To see the falls from the ground you have to enter the park, and of course you have to pay for it (30 USD, which were already included in the Nomad Safari). The park is neat with clear paths leading to viewpoints to the falls. You get to see many angles to the several parts of the falls: horseshoe falls, rainbow falls, Main falls. The first impact from the falls were a little underwhelming, devil’s falls weren’t that impressive or beautiful, but as you get more into the main falls we started to feel how powerful and dramatic Victoria falls are.
The falls are really a 4D experience, with all the mist and spray that comes right into you. It’s funny because sometimes you can’t even understand if it’s rain, mist or spray! You just get wet.
By the end of the park you have a nice viewpoint to the bridge. But if you want to visit the bridge you can either go with a tour or go by yourself. As it didn’t look too far we decided to walk, we wanted to see the bridge and maybe walk into Zambia. 15 minutes walking and dozens of approaches from street sellers later we got to the border. If you are going only the bridge you don’t need a visa, they will give you a stamped paper to get there and then you return it on the way back.
Even on the bridge we got approached, it’s very annoying but we never felt unsafe. On the bridge we can see people bungee jumping, swinging, or even doing them yourself! It’s 150 USD, so we had to skip it, our budget to Victoria falls was already being stretched. This is also an opportunity to visit another country: Zambia. It’s a bit of cheating but it counts! And we have a picture proving we were in Zambia 🙂 In our defense we had already touched Zambia while rafting.
In conclusion, Victoria Falls lived up to the expectation and it wasn’t easy! This was very high on our bucket list. If you like adrenaline it’s a must go destination, there are so many adventure activities to do, and breathtaking scenery just makes great things unforgettable.
How about you? have you been in Victoria falls? What activities have you tried?