With more activities than Niagara and Iguazú Falls combined, a fun-packed post-pandemic trip, Zambia’s Victoria Falls could be just the tonic.
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in Southern Africa. Known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya, ‘the Smoke that Thunders’, the Victoria Falls is one of the largest in the world, carrying an incredible 150,000 gallons of water over the edge every minute and stretching to almost two kilometres at its widest.
It offers a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Pre-pandemic Zambia regularly welcomed around one million visitors to this breathtaking site per year. As the world gets moving again here are five reasons to consider Victoria Falls and Zambia as your first holiday destination.
Now off the ‘red list’ for the UK, Germany and France, Zambia is gearing up to welcome people back. So here’s our pick of the top 5 must-sees:
Enjoying the great Zambezi River
The river that flows over the falls, the Zambezi, provides the perfect backdrop for both adrenaline junkies and those who prefer more relaxed activities.
Whether you’re looking to experience some of the white-water rapids, or you just want to drift down the river in your own private canoe, the options are there. There is a wide range of water sports for all entry levels, as well as multiple riverboat tours where you can experience the famously beautiful Zambezi sunsets.
TIP: Want to take on the more intense rapids? Get there when the water levels are at their lowest, between August and December, and it becomes much more difficult to book excursions once the rainy season arrives. A full-day excursion will get you to the famous Batoka Gorge, arguably some of the best rapids anywhere in the world.
The floods begin in December and finish in late April, so the seasons open and close new stretches of the river to explore throughout the year depending on the water levels.
The section between Katambora and Victoria Falls has become famous for its canoe safaris and multi-day tours, which provide a unique opportunity for spotting rare animals, including the endangered White Rhino, in their natural habitat.
Bungee jump from Victoria Falls bridge
If you have the nerve, bungee jumping, and other types of extreme sports are available at Victoria Falls. Every year around 50,000 people bungee jump from the famous Victoria Falls bridge which connects Zambia with its neighbour Zimbabwe.
The jump is 111m high and aside from being one the most scenic bungee jumps anywhere on earth, it is also one of the only places in the world where you can swing between two different countries.
Visiting Livingstone, and the country’s oldest museum
The small town of Livingstone is a great place to visit after or just before your waterfall experience. It is home to the country’s largest and oldest museum, dating back to the 1930s. The museum is split into five sections and covers all different aspects of Zambian culture and history. Pop into the archaeology gallery to explore Zambia’s human story between the Stone and Iron Ages, or the ethnography and art gallery to learn about the many different cultures which make up the country.
Settlements around the falls sprung up around 1900 but earlier sightings of the falls by Scottish missionary and explorer, David Livingstone, date back to the mid-1800s. This leaves plenty of history to uncover. The museum is a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity, away from the cascading water and other visitors, where you can take a minute to catch your breath and learn about this fascinating part of the continent.
Pick up local arts and crafts from the Mukuni Village
Just 10 kilometres away from the falls lies Mukuni Village, a Royal village, and haven for arts and crafts in the area.
The village provides tourists with unrivalled insight into the local Leya people’s cultural heritage. Founded by a Leya Tribal Matriarch, the village was originally known as Gundu until the 17th century.
The chiefs of the village have invited visitors for generations to learn about traditional customs and beliefs. Visitors can take home a special memento from the area, which specialises in intricate wood carvings, stoneware, jewellery, and baskets.
If you’re lucky you’ll also be there when a fresh batch of the local beer has been brewed to wash down the various foods on offer.
Stare deep into the heart of the river – helicopter tours
Nothing is quite like seeing Victoria Falls from the air. Helicopter tours are available to take you high above the spray and mist so that you can gaze straight into the 354ft gorge.
The explorer, David Livingstone, found the falls so inspiring that he said that it must have been ‘gazed upon by angels in their flight’. It’s for this reason that the helicopter ride is known as “The flight of the angels”.
You can choose between a 15 minute or 30-minute trip.
The pilots are experienced and extremely capable, and passengers are treated to both sides of the falls before powering upstream towards the National Park. There’s truly no better way to experience one of planet earth’s greatest treasures.