If you’re looking for the very best experiences at Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe, allow me to introduce them with some of my favorite pictures. Photo guide, general information and insider tips for your next trip to Victoria Falls!
In this post:
- Tips for the Devil’s Pool Swim
- Adventurous Activities at Victoria Falls (including Micro-lighting. Bungee Jumping, and Water-Rafting)
- Animal Encounters at a Victoria Falls Hotel
- Tips for Hiking from Victoria Falls Zambia to Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
- The Best Way to do a Day Trip to Botswana from Victoria Falls
- Where is Victoria Falls
- Victoria Falls City
- How Many Days in Victoria Falls
- Victoria Falls Accommodation
- Victoria Falls Safety
- What to Pack for Victoria Falls
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The 5 Best Experiences at Victoria Falls
There are so many activities and experiences at Victoria Falls, it was difficult to narrow it down! However, check out this to-do list as you plan your own trip to the Natural World Wonder!
1. The Devil’s Pool Swim
There is only one tour that runs into the actual Devil’s Pool of Victoria Falls – the Livingstone Island Tour. The guides check the water for crocodiles and hippos before leading the tourists in through a safe swim zone.
Quick stop during the walk to where the swim for Devil’s Pool begins.
The tour has never experienced a hippo or crocodile in the actual Devil’s Pool, and they’ve never had any casualties.
Swimming in the Devil’s Pool is relatively safe, as a thick rock creates a barrier before the 100 meter drop.
To get to the pool, you’ll take a motorboat from your hotel (or a nearby hotel), then a short walk to the falls for a brief, shallow swim. The swim happens as a group and only with the guides.
For a kind tip, the guides will take a separate (dry) route with your camera to photograph you at the edge of the pool.
It’s totally worth capturing the experience!
2. Adventurous Activities at Victoria Falls
There are so many exciting ways to see Victoria Falls. Consider all of the options:
- Micro-lighting over Victoria Falls
- White-water rafting at the foot of the falls
- Bungee Jumping over Victoria Falls
- Helicopter Ride over Victoria Falls
- Train dinner taking you to Victoria Falls
- Sunset River Cruise to Victoria Falls
Personally, I’ve been bungee jumping, on helicopters and river cruises twice (each), so I opted for a new experience … micro-lighting over Victoria Falls! It was amazing. I could see the falls, hippos, crocodiles and elephants from my flight!
Swipe on my Instagram post to see all of the photos.
3. Animals Encounters at the Royal Livingstone
The highlight of my experience at Victoria Falls wasn’t just the actual falls, but rather my stay at a safari lodge at Victoria Falls. My partner for the trip, Anantara Hotels hosted me at the Royal Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Zambia.
I’ve been traveling for five years — three as a travel blogger — and I just have never experienced something like this!
Monkeys, giraffes, zebras, antelope and hippos all called the Royal Livingstone home!
Rates for the hotel are modest for the return. You can stay in the Presidential Suite for $700 a night! (Prices vary across season). If you can’t stay at the hotel, I highly suggest coming for lunch or a drink to experience the animals.
Please note that while the animals on the property are accustomed to people, they are wild and CAN NOT be touched!
This is such a powerful, exciting and ethical way to experience a wild animal encounter. I can’t emphasize enough how special this trip was.
Famous stares & stripes. Zebra on property at the Royal Livingstone, Victoria Falls
Antelope on property at the Royal Livingstone, Victoria Falls
Giraffe on property at the Royal Livingstone, Victoria Falls
My best friend and travel buddy at the Royal Livingstone with zebras nearby.
4. Hiking from Victoria Falls Zambia to Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
We weren’t entirely prepared for a hike from Zambia to Zimbabwe. However, upon entering the park (it’s free for hotel guests of the Royal Livingstone), we learned a lot.
Victoria Falls Entrance Fees: Bring cash as the credit card machines are frequently out of service.
Zimbabwe Resident $10
Zimbabwe Citizen $7
While you don’t need a tour guide to walk to the falls, we HIGHLY suggest bringing along a nice tip (we did $20 USD for each guide) to have a local guide escort you on a hike from Zambia to Zimbabwe. They know all of the great photo spots, will guide you through back routes and look out for your safety. The guides we met were amazing and their back route hike was absolutely one of the best experiences at Victoria Falls! We can’t recommend them enough.
Just chillin’ en route to the falls.
5. Day Trip to Botswana from Victoria Falls
I was still in a little jet lagged when we headed to Botswana for one of the BEST experiences of my life. To be frank, I almost passed up on it and totally regret the hesitation. You have to book with Bushtracks for a safari river experience.
They took care of everything which made the day trip easy and timely. This is how a day trip to Botswana from Victoria Falls works:
- They picked us up from the Royal Livingstone Hotel
- We then drove to the border for 90 minutes to 2 hours.
- We took a ferry boat across the Zambezi River for about 10 minutes
- Another Bushtracks car and tour guide was waiting for us on the other side of the river.
- He drove us to the official border of Botswana where we walked through immigration (10 minutes, carry cash for a visa).
- We then drove to a partner hotel for a bathroom break, followed by the Big 5 Game Drive, lunch and the safari river cruise. We made it back to our hotel in Victoria Falls by late evening.
Botswana Big 5 Drive in Chobe National Park
Catching elephants bathing during the Big 5 Game Drive in Chobe National Park, Botswana
Within 5 feet from wild elephants in their natural habitat!
Where is Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, although it’s also very close to the border of Botswana. This made it easy to do day trips from our hotel at Victoria Falls — and avoid ongoing packing and unpacking throughout the trip.
You can enter Victoria Falls from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Devil’s Pool is on the Zambia side on Livingstone Island.
Victoria Falls City & Other Things to Do
To get to Victoria Falls via the Zambia side, we flew into Livingstone, where David from Bushtracks (in partnership with our hotel) drove us about ten minutes to the Royal Livingstone Hotel. This hotel was a ten minute drive to Victoria Falls.
The Victoria Falls city (Livingstone), isn’t a big urban city. However, it does offer a lot to do.
In addition to the Devil’s Pool and the adventure activities at Victoria Falls, we suggest the following experiences which we booked through our hotel:
The Rhino Walk: drive to a conservation site for rhinos, walk into their territory and admire wild rhinos from a safe distance.
The Lion Drive: Notice I said drive and not lion walk. Lion Walks and Lion Encounters in Africa can be very controversial with centers that abuse and exploit exotic animals to cash up on the cubs. Through our hotel and Bushtracks, we booked a drive through a conservation center with lions and admired them at a safe respectful distance.
Local Village Tour: Another expedition with Bushtracks and the Royal Livingstone, we drove about ten minutes away from town into a native village, where a person from the town shows you around the village and how people live — however, the people from the village continue to live their every day life and aren’t there just to talk or perform for tourists.
As “human zoos” are another controversial topic in tourism, I’d like to vouch for this experience as a great way to experience a local village. If you’d like to give back to the local culture, the best way to do this is by making purchases from the local craftsmen. They have BEAUTIFUL work. My friend and I each budgeted $100 for art and could have easily spent so much more.
Did someone say safari? En route to the rhino walk.
When in doubt, say yes to a safari! Any and each safari is different and makes for the best experiences at Victoria Falls.
One of our best experiences at Victoria Falls was observing rhinos in their natural habitat.
Lion drive at a conservation center.
How Many Days in Victoria Falls
Depending on your overall trip itinerary, you can spend 48 hours or two weeks at Victoria Falls. Because of our luggage and the tiring transit from Los Angeles to Dubai to Johannesburg to Livingstone, it made the most sense for us to spend a week at the Royal Livingstone and do day trips to Botswana and Zimbabwe from Victoria Falls. This cuts down on the stress and risk of unpacking and repacking every two days.
Because the destination has more than Victoria Falls and Devil’s Pool (i.e. chasing zebras and giraffes at a close distance), I’d do more than the 24 hours. But if that’s the only thing on your bucket list, you easily see it in a long weekend.
Victoria Falls Accommodation
There are two hotels that I experience at Victoria Falls.
The Royal Livingstone Hotel (about ten minute walk from the falls, animals roaming around, royal high tea feel — great for honeymooners, solo travelers and families with older children).
The AVANII Hotel (about five minute walk from Victoria Falls, combines business and leisure, larger suites and has a focus on activities for kids).
My best friend at the Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls
We stayed at the Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls, an Anantara Hotel through our media partner — Minor Hotels and Resorts. The staff, the food, the animals made our stay at the property one of our BEST experiences at Victoria Falls.
I confidently chose to work with the brand and property because it is a prime example of smart luxury.
Royal Livingstone Highlights:
– Pool overlooking the river
– Genuine, kind staff (we felt like family!)
– Sundeck for cocktails looking at the Devil’s Pool
– Beautiful trees and other wildlife
– Each room has a private veranda
– Classic white and neutral tones in decor
As I mentioned before, if you cannot arrange to stay at the hotel, I highly recommend booking a dining experience (during the day) to frolic about the property and meet a zebra or two.
Royal Livingstone Hotel at Victoria Falls
AVANII Hotel Highlights:
– Large suites for families with kids
– Suites start as low as $200 a night (prices vary across season)
– East African inspired art and aesthetic (bright colors, many patterns)
– Beautiful trees and other wildlife
– BOMA fire pit celebrations
– Meeting rooms for business travel
– Activities & playground for small children
Inside an AVANII Hotel Victoria Falls suite
Zebras Grazing, AVANII Hotel Victoria Falls Accommodation
Victoria Falls Safety
We felt SO much safer in Livingstone and Victoria Falls than we have in other parts of the world. The biggest concerns to your safety will be the harsh sun and regional mosquitos. I address health and safety concerns in the TravelBreak African Safari Packing List for Women and Men.
What to pack for Victoria Falls
If you’re headed to an African safari, read the full African Safari Packing List for Women and Men:
In this post:
- General African Safari Checklist & Planning Tips
- Must Haves for African Safari (which sunblock, insect repellent, shoes, hat etc)
- African Safari Clothing Tips
- Safari Outfit Ideas
- Travel Essentials: Toiletries (Which toiletries you should pack and which your hotel will likely provide)
- Travel Essentials Electronics
- General International Travel Packing Tips