Three Reasons to Visit Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is one of the top destinations in Africa. Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The Smoke That Thunders”, attracts millions of visitors every year. But what is it that makes this small town and its iconic waterfalls a bucket-list item for so many travelers from around the world? Of course the main attraction is the world’s largest sheet of falling water, but besides that, there is actually a lot more to see. I’ve visited Victoria Falls myself recently and was enchanted by the natural beauty of its surroundings and the plethora of activities you can do there. Let’s clear up the confusion about the name first: Victoria Falls are both the famous waterfalls on the Zambezi River, which constitutes the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and a small town on the Zimbabwean side. Victoria Falls town is a lot of things at once: it’s the gateway (the airport) to see the Falls, it’s a tourist adventure hub, it still has the flair of an authentic African village and it is still truly wild. When the night arrives, don’t be surprised to see elephants or buffaloes crossing the road or paying the historic train station a visit. Victoria Falls is surrounded by wilderness, the Zambezi National Park on one side, the Victoria Falls National Park on the other and the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia in the north. Unlike South Africa, there are no fences here. So animals roam freely and cohabit with humans. Speaking of wildlife and nature: another highlight for me is the beautiful Zambezi River. One of Africa’s grandest lifelines, the Zambezi meanders through several countries, constantly changes its persona, but always enchants with its beauty. So there you have it: let’s talk more about our top three reasons to visit Victoria Falls:
The Victoria Falls – One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World
If you visit Victoria Falls, you cannot leave this place without having seen the actual waterfalls and – depending on the season – got soaking wet while admiring the sky-high spray. The huge mushroom-shaped cloud of evaporating water is a landmark around here. From kilometers away, you can spot the spray and you know: this is where in the rainy season over one million liters of water crash down and create this natural spectacle and the thundering sound. The only way to truly understand and grasp the magnitude and grandeur of the Falls is a guided tour. You will need to enter through the Victoria Falls National Park gate, with entrance fees being 30 USD (20 USD for regional visitors). There are plenty of knowledgeable, local guides to choose from: they will take you around the fairly straightforward footpath and stop at the most beautiful viewing points. Once you enter the National Park, you feel like you’re walking into a different world. You leave the dry bushland behind and venture into a tropical rainforest wonderland with exotic plants and dense vegetation. One of the highlights is Danger Point: from here you look out into the vast gorge below and you have a wonderful view of the historic Victoria Falls Bridge and Zambia across. If you’re lucky you might see some wildlife too, although it’s most likely a bushbuck or a few monkeys. Should you want to celebrate a special occasion in Victoria Falls and combine it with a guided tour followed by a romantic brunch or sundowner drinks, some operators offer special packages.
The Zambezi – A Wildlife Paradise
With its source being in neighboring Zambia, the Zambezi is one of the lifelines of Africa. It flows through some of the wildest and most untouched places on the continent and is witness to incredible wildlife spectacles. You might not expect it, but you can get a very good idea of that right here in Victoria Falls. If you don’t see wild animals roam through the suburbs of the sleepy town at night, then you will definitely see them by or on the river – any time of the day. There are plenty of options to explore the Zambezi, whether it’s simply by lounging on its shores in a stylish restaurant or on the water on a boat cruise. The famous sunset cruises are our absolute favorite. You sit back with your favorite drink, enjoy the sunset and let the wonders around you unfold. Glide down the river in style and watch hippos surfacing from the water, crocodiles basking on sandbanks and even elephants feeding on the high grass along the shores. The boats will take routes that will also face the Victoria Falls spray at some point during the cruise – the highlights are endless. Most cruises offer snacks and drinks, if you’re in the mood for a proper meal, however, we can highly recommend a lunch or dinner cruise. You will be treated to a 3-course meal in a beautiful setting, freshly prepared on board. A hidden gem among the experiences on the Zambezi are the morning cruises. The rising sun, mirror-like waters and the awakening of the surroundings create the most magical atmosphere. Another great advantage is that most travellers are still asleep and you will almost have the entire river to yourself. These cruises are especially great for bird nerds like me: the plethora of bird species in the early morning hours is unmatched.
Africa’s Adventure Capital Has Evolved – It’s All About Experiences Now
So, a guided tour of the Victoria Falls and a boat cruise on the Zambezi are must-dos, but it doesn’t stop here. Formerly dubbed as the adventure capital of Africa – which in my opinion has a terribly touristy ring to it – Victoria Falls has evolved into a more sophisticated, premium travel destination, offering a multitude of bespoke experiences. This doesn’t mean you have to be active all the time, there have also been wonderful additions in accommodation that invite you to relax on the shores of the Zambezi or in private game reserves. If you want to experience Victoria Falls from different angles and learn more about its traditions and history, however, we have two great experiences for you that are off the beaten track. Enjoy a scenic ride on a restored tram during the Historic Bridge & Tram Lunch Experience. You will embark at the beautiful Victoria Falls Station, where Pimm’s, bubbly, snacks and freshly prepared artisanal sandwiches await, before you cross the famous Victoria Falls Bridge to Zambia. If you’re lucky you might spot some wildlife on the way as well. The historic tram stops in the middle of the bridge, you disembark and learn more about its history by an actual historian, before you take in the most stunning views from a secret view point, including a pop-up bar and snacks. Another innovative activity is the Pot & experience. You first get to enjoy an afternoon activity like a boat cruise, a game drive in the Zambezi National Park or attend a painting class on the shores of the Zambezi, before you can indulge in the most delicious food during a potjie dinner. Potjies are traditional cooking pots, in which people in Southern Africa prepare stews for hours. Look forward to a beautiful setup on the shores of the Zambezi and truly immerse yourself into the magic of a night under the African sky.
Are you ready to experience Victoria Falls off the beaten track? Combine this top destination with nearby Botswana or the natural wonders of Zimbabwe. Get in touch with our expert travel designers now!
Image Courtesy: Pure Africa
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