Travel Report Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)

Victoria Falls, the gateway to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia, is a breathtaking natural wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The majestic Victoria Falls, also known as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” or “The Smoke that Thunders”, stretches over 1.7 kilometers and plunges a spectacular 108 meters into the depths. Visitors can experience the thrill of bungee jumping, white water rafting or helicopter flights and explore the surrounding national parks with their diverse wildlife. Victoria Falls offers a perfect combination of adventure and nature experience and is the ideal starting point for discovering the fascinating beauty of southern Africa.

Going to Victoria Falls

From Europe, the journey usually continues via Johannesburg to Victoria Falls. Various airlines fly here several times a day. However, we would only recommend Airlink. A former subsidiary of South African Airlines, which is reliable, safe and offers a good service.

Victoria Falls is certainly the town that for most people stands for the whole of Zimbabwe and actually represents it the least.

Over the last 10 years, “Vic Falls” has developed into a lively small town and is the perfect starting point for safaris in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia. The town offers modern amenities, first-class accommodation and a variety of activities. From here, visitors can embark on exciting safaris to the famous national parks such as Hwange, Chobe and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. With its continuous growth and proximity to the breathtaking Victoria Falls, Victoria Falls is an ideal place to discover the wild beauty of Southern Africa.

However, tourism has definitely left its mark here. There are tour operators on every corner and traders on the street are constantly trying to sell you Zimbabwe currency or wood carvings. It has little to do with the tranquillity found in other parts of Zimbabwe or Botswana.

Where is Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe?

Sample itinerary for 14 days on safari ending at Victoria Falls

Very few people fly to Zimbabwe and then only want to visit one national park. For most, Victoria Falls is either the start or the end point of the trip. For this reason, we have put together an exemplary itinerary with Victora Falls as the end point:

  • 1 night in Harare – Highland House
  • 4 nights in Mana Pools – Nyamatusi Lodge
  • 3 nights at Lake Kariba – Bumi Hills Lodge
  • 2 nights in Hwange North – Deteema Springs Camp
  • 2 nights in Hwange South – Verney’s Camp
  • 2 nights in Victoria Falls – Pioneers Lodge

Alternatively, a 14-day photo tour through Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana starting in Victoria Falls

If you are going on a longer safari, you will first need 1 or 2 nights for orientation, as you have usually already traveled via Johannesburg. Here is an alternative for a safari starting in Victoria Falls.

What you should definitely think about when traveling to Victoria Falls:

National currencies: Although Zimbabwe now has its own currency, you can pay for everything in US dollars or, if necessary, in euros. Cash, especially smaller bills, should be taken along for tips and entrance fees, such as parking fees, cabs and visas. Otherwise, credit card payments often only work in hotels, tourist facilities and restaurants.

Vaccinations: Coming from Germany, no vaccinations – not even yellow fever – are mandatory. However, the standard vaccinations are recommended, see Foreign Office suggestions. Malaria prophylaxis applies to the whole of Zimbabwe and should be taken especially in Mana Pools and Lake Kariba.

Visa: A visa is required for Zimbabwe, which is issued on arrival and currently costs US$ 30 per person. It is issued relatively quickly. If you want to travel on to Zambia, you should opt for the Kaza visa for Zimbabwe and Zambia. It costs approx. 50USD. All amounts must be paid in cash on entry.

Luggage: If you are traveling by small aircraft in Africa, you should pay attention to “soft” luggage (e.g. sports bags), the weight limit and cabin luggage dimensions. Photo equipment should definitely be taken on board. Suitcases are not permitted and, depending on the airline, a maximum of 15-20 kg/person of luggage (does not apply to international flights).

Helpful: A powerful flashlight with spare batteries is often very useful. A cell phone flashlight will also do in a pinch, but often does not shine far or brightly enough.

Clothing: What should you take with you? This depends on the season, so check the weather beforehand. We generally recommend packing according to the onion principle and thus being prepared for cool or even cold temperatures (especially at night and in the morning) as well as warm to hot temperatures (during the day). As you can usually have your clothes washed in the lodges in Africa free of charge or for a small extra charge (possible in all the lodges we have mentioned), you can manage with very little luggage if you wish. This saves a lot of weight.

What accommodation / lodges do we recommend in Victoria Falls?

First of all, there is really every possibility to stay overnight in Victorai Falls, from a simple campsite to a 5-star hotel. It should be noted that there are now 3 helicopter companies that offer flights over the Falls and these start at 9 am and end around 7 pm. So the closer you stay to the Falls, the more you hear the helicopters all day long, which is really loud due to the low altitude.

THE traditional hotel, the Victoria Falls Hotel, where you feel like you’ve been transported back to colonial times within seconds, is one of the best hotels there. But we would never want to stay there because of the helicopters that practically fly right overhead. The same applies to Ilala Lodge. Both very nice accommodations, but definitely too noisy for us.

So what are the alternatives?

Pioneers Lodge

Pioneers Lodge in Victoria Falls offers exclusive and comfortable accommodation just minutes away from the majestic Victoria Falls. Since its opening, the lodge has made a name for itself with its first-class service and warm hospitality. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the lodge has stylish rooms, an inviting pool and a restaurant serving delicious local and international dishes. Pioneers Lodge is the ideal base for adventurers and nature lovers to explore the impressive waterfalls and diverse activities in the area.

Batonka Guest Lodge

Batonka Guest Lodge in Victoria Falls offers charming and luxurious accommodation in a quiet residential area, just minutes away from the famous Victoria Falls. It is slightly closer to the Falls than Pioneers Lodge. Since its opening in 2016, the lodge has established itself as an oasis of relaxation, with elegant rooms, an inviting pool and lush gardens. Guests enjoy personalized service, delicious meals in the on-site restaurant and close proximity to the region’s best attractions and activities. Batonka Guest Lodge is the perfect base for unforgettable adventures and experiences in Victoria Falls.

What activities should I plan in Victoria Falls?

What could a 1-day program in Victoria Falls look like that includes everything?

As Victoria Falls is visited by many tourists in the high season, it is definitely advisable to book the activities in advance, for example via Get your Guide.

Helicopter flight over the Victoria Falls

The best time to start is at 10:00 a.m. with a helicopter tour over the waterfalls. This takes between 13 and 15 minutes. We recommend the provider MJair here, as it is still quite new, the helicopters are all very new and are only equipped with 3-4 seats. Many other providers offer up to six seats, which is a completely different experience.

We were lucky enough to have the helicopter to ourselves and the pilot also did a few extra laps for us.

MJair picks you up directly from your hotel and takes you back to your accommodation or to any place you want within Victoria Falls.

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Visiting the Victoria Falls

After the helicopter tour, it is a good idea to visit the Victoria Falls. You can be dropped off by the helicopter tour company directly at the entrance to the Victoria Falls.

The entrance fee to the falls has risen enormously in recent years and is now 50US$ per person. On top of this, you will have to pay around six dollars for a waterproof raincoat, which we highly recommend, as it gets extremely wet from the spray of the thundering waterfalls, especially from viewpoint number eight.

There are various activities at the falls, such as abseiling into the gorge. The falls also offer one of the best views of the famous steel bridge that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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You should plan 2 hours to visit the waterfalls so that you finish around lunchtime. After the visit, you can walk straight over to the Lookout Café for a good lunch. From here you have an excellent view of the Zambezi River that you won’t soon forget. For us, this is one of the most beautiful places on earth, even if the café has developed from an insider tip to a tourist attraction in recent years.

Lookout Cafe

The Lookout Cafe has been around for many years, but it burnt down a few years ago and was then bought up and reopened by the Wilderness Group. This is what it looked like before the renovation:

And this is how it looks today, much more modern and commercial than a few years ago. But even today it is still an indescribable place that you should visit.

The view from here is simply indescribable. The café is actually a restaurant and offers everything from breakfast to dinner. The full moon dinners are a special experience if you are lucky enough to be there at the time. Otherwise, we definitely recommend taking in the sunrise.

High Tea at Victoria Falls Hotel

The Victoria Falls Hotel is the best place to enjoy a high tea. Time seems to have stood still here in the last century. You pay around 30USD for the high tea. Highly recommended and a great place to relax and unwind (if only it weren’t for the noise of the helicopters). But an experience in any case. Officially you have to book it and hotel guests are preferred, but we just went every time, got a table and that was it.

Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi river

After high tea, you can call a cab to take you back to your hotel. The standard cost for this is ten US dollars. This way you will be back in time to be picked up from your accommodation for the sunset cruise. We also recommend booking through Get your Guide here, as it is cheaper than the local providers and the quality is guaranteed. There are countless different providers, we recommend Pure Africa or Wild Horizon. We ourselves went with Pure Africa and booked the luxury version, where you can enjoy the sunset and the trip on the top deck of the ship (it has three decks). The ticket price includes drinks and snacks such as sushi, small burgers or chicken skewers. The drinks are all included except for special drinks such as champagne.

The sunset cruise starts at 16:00 and lasts 2 hours. If you wish, you can have dinner ashore afterwards. There are also cruises where you can have dinner on board. This is also a nice thing to do.

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What photo equipment should I take with me to Victoria Falls? Are drones allowed?

For Victoria Falls, a good but above all waterproof smartphone is generally sufficient. However, as you rarely fly to Victoria Falls alone, you will find our photo equipment at the end of this article, which is particularly necessary for further safaris etc.

For all drone pilots: Drones are only allowed in Zimbabwe with a permit and this is almost impossible to obtain for private travelers.

Fazit Victoria Falls

The Victoria Falls are certainly one of the most spectacular waterfalls on the planet. And if you can, you should visit them at least once. This is certainly not a cheap experience, especially if you also take a helicopter flight and a sunset cruise. But once you have experienced both, you quickly forget what it cost, as you are simply overwhelmed by the impressions. The helicopter flight in particular, which gives you a bird’s eye view, is a unique experience that we can only recommend to every visitor to Victoria Falls.

Want to order a calendar from our photo tour?

as of 18,90€, sizes A2-A5

What photo equipment for Zimbabwe?

The photographic equipment that we took with us to Zimbabwe is listed below. You also have the option of ordering the photographic equipment we used directly via our Photo-Shop and requesting further technical details. There are also lots of extras available there.

    • Nikon Z8
    • Nikon Z7ii
    • Iphone 14pro
    • 70-200mm  f/2.8 (Nikon)
    • 180-600mm f5.6-6.3 (Nikon)
    • 24-120mm f/4 (Nikon)