One of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls spans the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and is considered to be the largest waterfall in the world. It’s not the highest or widest but it is the largest sheet of falling water and is a World Heritage Site.
The best time to view the Falls is from January to June, as the main rains fall during this period – but when they are heaviest around March the spray is so intense that you can hardly see the falls themselves, so take this into considertion if you want to get some great photographs! The first European to record the view of the Falls was David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer who saw them from Livingstone Island which is the only land mass in the middle of the falls on the upper Zambezi. At low water it is possible to access Livingstone Island. The indigenous name for the Fall si the ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ meaning the ‘Smoke that Thunders’ and in peak flow thunder it surely does! The original settlement near the falls was moved some 11km or so inland as the residents suffered greatly from malaria, so close to the river. The result was Livingstone town which to this day retains a colonial charm with wide streets and Victorian architecture and leafy suburbs containing houses with wide verandahs and pavement cafes. There are some great craft markets and shops here now too.
Upstream, the Zambezi River flows over basalt sheets in a shallow valley surrounded by distant hills of sandstone. There are tree covered islands all along its course along hundreds of kilometres of flat plateau lands. Elephants, Buffalo and other animals frequently cross the shallow parts of the upper Zambezi and can often be seen drinking along the shorelines.
As the river meets and tumbles over the falls, the full width of the Zambezi is pushed in a single vertical drop into a deep chasm called the First Gorge. There is only one outlet to this gorge where the whole volume of river pours down through the Victoria Falls gorges.
Victoria Falls can be visited from both the Zambian and Zimbabwe side, paying a day trip visa entry to pass between the countries. There are numerous hotels and lodges nearby on the Zambian side, some of the quieter places I would recommend include Waterberry Lodge or Maramba River Lodge. If you are looking for luxury or a special occasion, try Tongabezi Lodge, Islands of Siankaba (further upstream), or Sussi & Chuma.
If adventure and adrenalin are your thing there is enough to keep you around Victoria Falls for weeks! White water rafting, canoeing, helicopters, microlights, bungy jumping, jet boats, abseiling and gorge swings are just some of the activities on offer here. For a more sedate enjoyment of the Zambezi, take a sunset cruise or a paddle upstream with a picnic and wine ….
We have just returned from a fantastic time in Malawi and Zambia – our first venture into Africa. Our primary purpose was to spend some time with our family who are undertaking voluntary work in Malawi, but we also wanted to spend time exploring what else Malawi had to offer and also to see a little more of Africa. From the outset, Julie understood our needs, our circumstances and what we were trying to achieve. She suggested various options from which we developed the final itinerary and then booked a package of travel, transfers, activities and accommodation to suit our needs. Her experience of Africa and network of local contacts gave us confidence in the advice and information we were being given. Nothing was too much trouble and Julie always found the time to talk to us, answer our many questions and clarify every detail. In the event, everything went like clockwork and all we had to concern ourselves about was enjoying our holiday.
We would not hesitate in recommending Travel with Jules to anyone who wanted first class, worry free, personal travel services.
Dianne & David Gazeley – Malawi & Victoria Falls (June 2012)
Julie organised our holiday to Zambia which more than met our requirements – the accommodation was excellent (we stayed with Norman Carr Safaris in South Luangwa, Mayukuyuku in Kafue and Waterberry at Livingstone), our guides for safari and birdwatching were the best available and all travel arrangements went smoothly. Julie’s attention to detail and knowledge of Zambia meant that our individual wishes were met throughout our holiday. Thank you very much!
The wildlife in Zambia is superb. We had great view of a pair of leopards walking very close to our vehicle on a night safari, a cheetah, 4 lions very close to our boat, lots of elephants walked right beside us, several different types of antelopes, 100s of hippos and crocs, as well as obliging porcupines, baboons and beautiful fireflies … and we really enjoyed getting soaked to the skin at Victoria Falls! Sunrise and sunset boat trips on the Zambezi and wonderful food. Had a lovely walk at the village and were pleased to visit the school and see the children learning with help from Waterberry Lodge. Not forgetting the great birds especially Pel’s Fishing Owl and a pair of Finfoot which were on the wish list we gave Julie before we planned the trip!
Gwynfryn & Kathryn – Zambia (February 2013)
Thank you so much for organising our amazing holiday and recommending South Luangwa in Zamibia. We have had a great time. Lodges, camps, hotels and all the transfers and pick ups were brilliant throughout Zambia, Victoria Falls and Cape Town. We loved every minute of the holiday, including the lions grumbling outside our tent at night in Kakuli Camp! Baby warthogs are so cute, but Ian’s favourite was the guinea fowl…all that way for guinea fowl! We have so many photos to go through and bore people with.
I can thoroughly recommend Blackheath Lodge in Sea Point, Cape Town. The Jazz brunch at Winchester Mansions was very relaxed and fun. Taxis into the centre cost very little and there is a bus. We walked it a couple of times, in daylight, it took about 25mins. I’m sure we will be going to Africa again and I’ll give you a call. Also if I know of anyone else wanting to do a different sort of holiday anywhere in the world I will give them your details.