Victoria Falls Must See. Victoria Falls is one of those places that engenders such lofty expectations, yet is able to exceed them once you are finally able to witness its gargantuan magnificence. Victoria Falls sits at the corner of where Zimbabwe and Zambia meet. David Livingstone, the Scottish explorer, was the first “to discover” the falls in 1855.
David Livingstone overlooks the falls
While Livingstone named the falls in honor of Queen Victoria its true name is Mosi-oa-Tunya which translates to “The Smoke that Thunders”. This name aptly describes the experience of visiting the falls, a giant wall of grey-white mist is produced by the falls sometimes covering you in the equivalent of a downpour. And the sound. In some ways, visiting Victoria Falls is as much an auditory experience, with the giant volume of cascading water creating a thunderous cacophony you will hear.
Victoria Falls has some intense competition in the waterfall department, with its global siblings of Niagara Falls and Iguazu Falls. Each one makes its own claim to fame in an ongoing measuring contest. Victoria Falls is the winner in the height category at 351 feet (107 meters) and comes in second in width at 5,698 feet (1,737 meters). While I was impressed by the shear drop of the falls, I was more impressed by the seemingly never-ending width. On a side note, it is interesting that all three monster falls are shared by two countries; Iguazu Falls by Argentina and Brazil, Niagara Falls by Canada and USA, and Victoria Falls by Zimbabwe and Zambia. I have been to all three falls with each conveying its own magic, but Victoria Falls is truly a must see.
There are many different options in viewing and visiting Victoria Falls. I am going to share with you the three ways I was able to witness the must-see falls. Each option offers a truly different perspective.
Disclosure: I was a guest of G Adventures which provided me with this great experience. Check out the agenda of this great trip I took.
Viewing The Falls From Zimbabwe
You can view the falls from either Zambia or Zimbabwe. Each view offers a unique perspective. Zimbabwe offers a view of 75% of the falls, allowing you to better comprehend the grand scale, and especially the width of the falls. There are a series of paths which allow you multiple viewing points of the falls. Expect at times to get absolutely drenched as you amble down the paths. The mist created by the falls is the equivalent at time of a heavy rain. One end of the path ends with a view of the Victoria Bridge completed in 1905 which connects Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Depending on the season you visit, your experience will differ. The low season, meaning less volume of water pouring over the falls, is from August through December, resulting in a less obscured view of the falls. During the high season, the volume of water is incredible, kicking up a tremendous amount of mist. The large amount of mist at times is so encompassing it partially covers the view of the falls. Regardless of when you go, it is an amazing sight to see. In fact, best case scenario is to visit twice, once in low season and once in high season.
This is where David Livingstone first viewed the falls after a boat ride down the Zambezi River. The island, now called Livingstone Island, is literally a patch of land in the middle of the falls, dangling on the precipice. Your journey begins at the Royal Livingstone Hotel which sits on the bank of the Zambezi River. This luxurious hotel itself is worth a visit, with its patio on the edge of the river overlooking Livingstone Island in the distance. A great place to get a drink and take in the panorama.
The view of Livingstone Island in the distance with the mist rising up.
You need to be part of a scheduled tour to visit Livingstone Island. The tour departs from the Royal Livingstone Hotel located in Zambia and will bring you to the island after a brief boat ride. This is somewhat of an exclusive experience, with only 80 visitors allowed a day. When stepping onto the island you will be greeted with a welcome drink, but the real reason you are here is for the view.
Overlooking Angel Pool
As mentioned above, there is a low season and a high season. The low season is approximately from August through December, meaning the volume of water falling off the falls is less than high season. Livingstone Island is only accessible from late June to early March. Angel Pool is accessible from July to August and then from January through mid-February. Devils pool is typically accessible from late August to early January.
The ultimate selfie? To the right is a 300 feet plus drop
What is Angel and Devils Pool? On either side of the island is a shallow pool, which you are allowed to wade or swim into. In the pool, you are able to peer over the edge of the waterfall, and stare over 300 feet into the abyss. This is another true bucket experience. This is an incredible combination of sights and sounds with typically a rainbow thrown into the mix.
OK, this was simply awesome. I had been on a helicopter once before when I was just a kid. But this was simply spectacular. I shared Victoria Fall’s impressive stats when it comes to size, but to appreciate the true scale of this Natural Wonder of the World, you need to take it all in from above.
Around 4pm, I arrived at the heliport and after a briefing I slid into the cockpit, with my pilot Cornelius sitting on my right. I strapped myself in and put on my headsets. I prepped my camera. In moments, the helicopter lifted up and we started to glide in the direction of the falls. I noted Livingston Island in front of me. It was like a virtual reality game.
The ride was nearly perfect, except for two facts. It was way too short, under 15 minutes. I would have been happy with an hour above this landscape. And, this ride will set you back, somewhere between $150 and $200. Despite the brevity and the cost, I cannot encourage this experience enough.
The helicopter gained altitude and we made several elliptical passes around the falls. I took in the incredible scale of the falls and noted the mist erupting from the falls. The helicopter exited the area of the falls and we started to trace the Zambezi River.
I then was treated to a brief air safari. We flew over the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park with Cornelius aptly pointing out the wildlife below including giraffes, elephants and rhinos.
And like that, the ride came to an end. A true must-see.
Victoria Falls Must See