Victoria Falls is one of the most iconic and breath taking sites in Africa. I was based at Victoria Falls for two years as a cameraman with Zambezi Video Productions, and also a rafting guide there. Here are my best tips for seeing the falls at their best:
1. When is the best time of year to see Victoria Falls?
I’d argue theres no best time simply different times:
High water at the falls (normally between March and May) has the power to make the earth move. I mean this in the literal sense as windows and doors rattle up to two miles away in Victoria Falls town. At this time of year the cloud of spray rises up to a mile into the air and is spectacular. On the downside you cant get close to the falls without getting absolutely soaked and you will need a good waterproof camera or housing to take photos.
Low water periods (normally between August and January) see much of the Zambian side of the falls dry up. Taking photos is much easier, although arguably the shots are less spectacular. At this time of year the Devils Pool is accessible for some of the best death-defying holiday photos!
2. Where should you stay and can you cross the border easily?
The answer to where to stay depends on your budget as both Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe and Livingstone in Zambia offer the complete range from campsite and hostel accommodation through to five star hotels or luxurious lodges on the banks of the Zambezi. Both countries offer very different views of the falls and if time allows you should cross the Livingstone Bridge to see them from the other side. When, or maybe if, the Univisa is working there isn’t an extra cost for visas to visit both countries, but without there is an added expense. You should expect to pay around £40 for a visa for the country you’re not staying in.
3. Are night visits worth it? Are aerial tours worth it – which ones?
Yes, do a night visit if theres a full moon and keep your fingers crossed for a moonbow. All of the flights are worth the cost plane, helicopter or microlight. Which one youll enjoy most depends on how brave you feel definitely go for the microlight option if your heart will take it.
4. What else can you do while in the area?
There are lots of adrenalin adventures based around the Livingstone Bridge or in the gorge below the falls. Among these are bungee, zip line and rafting. Those looking for a more sedate option might choose a boat trip above the falls on the Zambezi or a safari in the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe or the Mosi-oa-Tunya Park in Zambia. It is worth noting that wildlife in other national parks in both countries is better, but these parks will give you a ‘taster’. In all cases conservationist recommend that animal lovers should avoid elephant back safaris and lion walks.
5. Any tips for saving money?
There are multi-activity discounts available from many of the bigger activity companies such as Shearwater and many of the properties have much lower rates out of season. Consider staying out of town and using the hotel shuttle bus if you’re happy for a quieter location.
Above all, enjoy it. It really is one of the most striking places on earth.
Richard Smith is Operations Director at Aardvark Safaris.
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