One of the things I really wanted to see on my recent trip to Africa was Victoria Falls. Now you might think that would be fairly easy to accomplish. Just organise your itinerary around a visit to the waterfalls. However, on so many trips I’ve never actually reached several of the places I wanted to visit. Usually because I get distracted by new, amazing sights I hear about on the way and I run out of time.
Fortunately I was travelling at the time with two girls I’d met in Windhoek and they also desperately wanted to see Victoria Falls. So we looked at how many days we all had available and decided on the best day to visit. Kasane, just inside the Botswana border, seemed like the best place to reach it from. The only question was which side would be better – Zambia or Zimbabwe?
Which side is better
From a little research it looked like Zambia has the better activities (such as microlight flights and the amazing Devil’s Pool), but from Zimbabwe we would have a better view of the actual falls.
How to get there
We also had to look at how to get there. The cost of taking our rental car over the border for what would be a few hours was too expensive. If you’re going to be staying for a few days, or even travelling further into Zimbabwe, then I recommend paying the cost. But for less than half a day we decided to investigate shuttle options.
There are several ways to get to the falls, depending on how creative you want to get. We even checked out the possibility of driving to the border and taking a taxi to the falls before returning later in the day. However, the taxis sounded remote at the border and we didn’t want to be losing time. So in the end we tried to find a company in Kasane who could take us. Fortunately the cheapest agency were based in a car park just outside our accommodation at Chobe Safari Lodge. At just 350 Botswana Pula (around £25) for an outward and return journey, it seemed like a deal too good to turn down. All we had to pay now was the visa and park entry.
I was lucky that I’d thought to bring plenty of dollars to Africa with me. Although this was the only visa I paid for it was worth it, even though I had to pay more than my friends as a UK citizen to enter Zimbabwe. Whilst Céline and Louise (from Belgium and France respectively) were only charged $35 I had to pay $55! Also, be wary that at the border the officials don’t seem to have any change. Convenient.
Once in Zimbabwe it was just an hour or so drive to the falls. We were all very excited to see one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World (which is not as clear a list as I thought it would be). It was something we all “definitely” wanted to see, and we weren’t disappointed. I’d already seen Iguazu Falls in South America and this was equally incredible.
When to visit
At the time of year we visited (October) there wasn’t as much water as between February and May. But there was less spray meaning we could actually see more of the spectacular scenery. We still got a little wet, at one point in particular it felt like it was raining, which was gratefully accepted on such a hot day. We also found a sprinkler in a park and spent some time dousing ourselves in that. To many strange looks from the other tourists.
We walked all the way along the path facing the falls until we reached the Zambian border and had to turn back. It is possible to enter both countries and see it from both sides, but that means paying for both visas as well as the return one back into Zimbabwe. If you can only enter one side of Victoria Falls I’d suggest Zimbabwe for the view, although the Devil’s Pool does look incredible! There is actually a bungee jump from the bridge between the two countries. Imagine doing a jump at a border.
On the way back we saw many visiting schoolchildren from various parts of the country. One teacher told us he had been on this trip four times and it never disappoints. Along the path we passed one long line of children all wanting high fives as we went by them.
How long to spend there
We had to wait a few hours for our lift back after overestimating when we’d want to return. In general, four hours is a long enough time to spend there and see everything. The falls are a stunning sight and how often can you say you’ve visited one of the Seven Wonders of the World?