Victoria Falls – Zambia or Zimbabwe, which side to visit?

The famous Victoria Falls is shared by two countries: Zambia and Zimbabwe. Both offer a full range of wonderful accommodation and experiences. When deciding on which side of the falls to visit it is helpful to keep the following points in mind.

The first thing to understand is that travel between the two countries is extremely easy, so whichever side you end up on, a trip to the other side of the falls is always an option to complete the experience. The iconic Victoria Falls Bridge links the countries right next to the falls and involves a short walk or drive, a uni-Visa is available allowing you to visit both sides.

Approximately two thirds of the Victoria Falls lies in Zimbabwe – so for the most comprehensive view of the falls Zimbabwe wins with its various viewpoints within the Victoria Falls National Park including the Devil’s Cataract, Main Falls, Horseshoe Falls and well-named Rainbow Falls.

If viewing the Falls from the Zambian side, you would be situated in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, with an opportunity to walk across the Knife Edge bridge. Zambia also offers the chance to visit to Livingstone Island combined with a dip in the aptly named Devils pool – a rock pool formed over thousands of years and naturally suspended at a dizzying height over the Victoria Falls. Devil’s Pool is popular with guests from all over the world eager to get that perfect camera shot as they lie on the edge of the rock lip just metres away from 103 m chasm and the gushing torrent of water that is the Victoria Falls. Note this is only available when water levels are low enough to allow crossing safely. An exclusive picnic for a maximum of 24 guests at a time can be enjoyed on the Island itself as a seasonal activity, when the Zambezi water levels are low enough to allow access onto the island. (Late June to early March).

Which side you stay on may be governed by when you plan to visit. During high water levels (February-May) both sides offer great spray experiences. In the drier months, particularly October/November the water levels are low and the Zambian side will sometimes dry up completely- whereas on the Zimbabwean side the water flows all year round.

Livingstone town in Zambia is a larger town than Victoria Falls town (Zimbabwe) and is located approximately 10 km from the falls, whereas on the Victoria Falls side, the Falls are located a mere 2km away from the vibey, tourist town with its great selection of shops and modern cafes and restaurants. Both towns have internationally recognized airports, though it worth considering that Livingstone Airport has better regional connections with destinations such as Cape Town and the Kruger National Park/Nelspruit.

Hippos wallow in the waters in the Zambezi below Tongabezi Lodge

Both sides offer a wonderful range of accommodation – both have some beautiful luxury safari style lodges along the river. Victoria Falls has a bigger range of accommodation from the colonial Victoria Fall Hotel to more affordable guest houses and hotels, while the accommodation on the Zambian side focuses on the river and local water-loving wildlife. This accommodation option falls into the high -end category of safari lodges and is generally more expensive.

 

Front facade of the classic five star Victoria Falls Hotel

Both sides offer exciting adrenaline filled activities, from half day and full day canoe safaris on the upper Zambezi River – ideal for spotting wildlife such as hippo and elephant that come down to the river to drink – to adrenalin junkie favourites such as bridge swinging, bungee jumping and river boarding.

If deciding between the two destinations is proving difficult, the KAZA visa allows access into Zambia, Zimbabwe and into the Chobe National Park for specific day trips. These visas are available at a current cost of USD50 per person (rates subject to change) to International travelers from all over the world.

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