Victoria Falls, Which Side is Better?
Zambia or Zimbabwe? As the falls straddle the border between these countries, this is a decision a lot of travelers have to make. They are known as the largest falls in the world and so some people may only be able to choose one side for their vacation. So in this article, I’ll give you some information about both sides with benefits of each and hopefully help you make a decision. Also, at the end of this post, I’ll tell you which side I think is best.
Victoria Falls Zambia Side
One the Zambia side of Victoria Falls, you have the town of Livingstone. This is where you will want to stay if visiting the Zambia side of the falls. Compared to the Zimbabwe side, Livingstone is quite a large town and as opposed to the Zimbabwe side, it doesn’t cater to tourists as much. Also, to get from Livingstone to the falls, you have to take a taxi as it’s a good ways from the falls themselves. Even if you stay somewhere like The Riverfront in Livingstone, you will still need to take a shuttle bus from there to the falls.
Activities on Zambia Side
The Zambian side of the falls doesn’t lack in activities compared to the Zimbabwe side. You have just as many options for adventure. You can choose from white water rafting, to bungee jumping, scenic flights, bridge slide and swing, and it’s on the Zambia side where you have the Devil’s pool which has become famous for being a pool where you can swim right up to the edge of the falls without risk of going over. However, that is only available in certain seasons. In the evenings, you can take sunset cruises on the Zambezi and relax.
So as you can see, the Zambia side has plenty for you to do, without having to cross the border. Even if you decide to save some money and not do any of the activities above, you can still spend the day visiting the falls at the Park and admiring it’s beauty.
Let’s go into the viewing possibilities on the Zambia side for Victoria Falls. In total, there are 13 viewpoints from which to admire the falls. These viewpoints are amazing and provide you with nice sweeping views of the falls. In particular, this side has the knife’s edge bridge which like it’s name is narrow and crosses a deep canyon. It’s here, that you should be ready to get very wet if visiting just after the rainy season.
Also, another interesting viewpoint to go to, is called Boiling Pot. This hike takes around 45 minutes down into the canyon to the river below where you can see the water swirl in a big circle and looks like it’s name “Boiling Pot.”
Entry costs to the Zambian side are $20USD for international visitors, so is a bit cheaper than the Zimbabwe side which I’ll talk about later in this post.
Livingstone Zambia Accommodations
Accommodations on the Zambian side are plentiful and you have a lot of options depending on your budget, however, unlike the Zimbabwean side, most of these accommodations are in Livingstone and so a good distance from the falls themselves.
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If you have the money, you can stay in the Royal Livingstone or the AVANI resort and be a lot closer to the falls. If you are on a budget though, there are many hostels in the town of Livingstone for around $25-35 a night and some even provide free shuttles a few times a day to the falls. For this, I’d recommend the Jollyboys Backpackers.
I would personally recommend The Victoria Falls Waterfront in Livingstone. It’s a campsite and has some rooms and is right on the Zambezi river. The campsite has places to set up your own tents, and also have semi glamping tents, where everything is already set up for you. They have really nice facilities, provide tours, and offer great food options. Another great things about the Waterfront is that it’s quiet and peaceful. Without many other accommodations around it, you can get a good night’s sleep
Victoria Falls Zimbabwe Side
Victoria Falls Town
On the Zimbabwe side, you have the town of Victoria Falls where you can stay. This town is right beside the park and the falls, so when compared with Livingstone, is much better in terms of accessibility to the falls.
This town is geared much more to tourists and visitors, so you have a lot more options when it comes to eating and drinking and things to do. This has both positives and negatives. The town itself tends to have more noise depending on where you stay, but at the same time with there being so many restaurants around, the options for food are much better.
From most places in town, you can walk to the park and falls which will save you some money that you would’ve spent on taxis on the Zambian side.
Activities on Zimbabwe Side
Activities on the Zimbabwe side pretty much match the same activities that you can do on the Zambia side. From bungee jumping to whitewater rafting and scenic flights, you can do all these on this side as well. While you don’t have Devil’s Pool on this side, there is an option during certain times of the year to visit Angel’s pool which provides you with a similar experience.
On the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls, you have a lot more viewpoints from which to admire the falls. In fact, I would say that the infrastructure in general on the Zimbabwe side is better than that on the Zambia side. With the Zambia side, you only get to see a portion of the falls, while from the Zimbabwe side, you will get to see a much more significant part of the falls. Especially during dry season, the Zambia side almost dries up, so it’s better to see it from Zimbabwe during that season.
With 16 viewpoints, you have many options to view the falls. In particular the viewpoints around Main Falls and Horseshoe falls are phenomenal and really help you gauge just how powerful the falls are. Depending on the season, prepare to get really wet when visiting the falls from this side. Especially the area around Horseshoe falls and Danger Point, I got really really wet.
On both sides though, at certain times of the day, you can see many many rainbows. The most spectacular rainbows I saw, were from near Danger Point mid-afternoon.
Entry into the park is $30USD.
Victoria Falls Zimbabwe Accommodations
Like Zambia, the Zimbabwe side of Victoria falls has a wide range of accommodations for you. Benefit of being on this side is that you are within walking distance to the falls from most of these accommodations. Also, like the Zambia side, you have the range of options from 5 star luxury to hostels.
For luxury, your best bets would be to stay at the Illala Lodge Hotel.
For something a bit less luxury, the Shearwater Explorers Village gets great reviews and won’t destroy your budget.
Conclusion: Zambia or Zimbabwe
So with Victoria Falls, which side is better? You may not like my conclusion, but I would say that if you are taking the time to come to this part of the world, then I would try to visit both sides. Yes, I’m not taking sides and won’t say one side is better than the other.
When I visited, I went to both sides and both sides had their own charms. Each had amazing locations that made it special. So yes, if you are going to visit both sides, you do need to plan and budget accordingly. However, you can do it without breaking the bank too.
One good way to do this, is to get the KAZA visa. This is a visa you can get at select land borders and airports in Zambia and Zimbabwe, which for $50USD will get you into both countries for 30 days and also allow a day trip into Botswana. It’s available to a large list of countries including the US, Canada, and the UK.
I highly recommend the KAZA visa as it will make going between the countries a lot easier and you won’t need to spend a lot of time at immigration filling out paper work. In fact, the bridge between the two countries at Victoria Falls can get quite busy during the day and if you don’t have the KAZA Visa, you may wait for a long time there.
So there you have it. Visit both sides. Experience all the viewpoints and even do a few activities while you are there. Its all worth it!
A Few Tips about Victoria Falls
- Entry into the parks is single entry. Once you step outside the park grounds, you would have to pay for entry again. Sadly, there are no multiple entry options available. So plan well for your stay and know what times you want to spend at the park.
- Plan to get wet. If you have a camera, make sure you have something to protect it. They do sell cheap ponchos inside the park if you forget to bring one.
- Beware of the Baboons. Typically, they won’t bother you, but if you have any food on you, they may try to take it. Don’t tease them and they should leave you alone.
Hope you found this post informative. If you have any questions about visiting the falls, please let us know in the comments below!