Having been to the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls several times, on our most recent visit to Livingstone, we decided to enjoy their beauty from a Zimbabwean perspective. The Falls are at low water between August and December, so the best way to experience the majestic phenomenon is from Zimbabwe.
The border crossing involved just a quick trip to immigration for passport stamps; (a useful tip: have a pen handy to fill in the mandatory exit form on leaving Zambia – pens are like gold dust in African immigration offices.) The walk across the historic Victoria Falls Bridge is a lovely way to reach Zimbabwe and we marvelled at the numerous locals who passed us, valiantly pushing bicycles loaded to the hilt with all kinds of groceries bought from Zimbabwe.
The bridge is bisected by a train track which can be crossed for a view of the impressive Batoka Gorge on one side and the mighty Falls on the other. Midway is the renowned Vic Falls bungee jump, where you can hurl yourself 111m from this famous iron bridge down to the raging waters of the Zambezi below.
Zimbabwe immigration was a breeze and minutes later we arrived at the Victoria Falls Visitor Centre (VFVC). Having paid an entrance fee (southern Africans get a discounted price), we were delighted to find a pleasant café / restaurant giving respite from the heat. (October is called ‘suicide month’ for good reason here). As well as the café, the impressive VFVC has a curio shop, refreshment booth and a wonderful display of the history of the Falls or the ‘Mosi oa Tunya’ as it is known locally.
The Zambezi flows from the Zambian side into the gorge below and the rainforest walk is a wonderful way to view the river as it transforms into the world’s biggest curtain of water. It’s well sign-posted and maintained, with spectacular viewing points along the way, each of which cries out for yet another picture of what is truly a ‘wonder of the world’.
Our progress towards the cascading mass of water in the centre of the gorge was enhanced by the fine mist rising from the swirling torrents below, providing the coolest of natural sprinklers – ‘the smoke that thunders’. The climax of the walk is not for the feint-hearted; if you dare, you can go to the very edge of the gorge and peer into the rushing waters of the Zambezi below. There are no safety barriers and at high water, the rocks to climb are wet and very slippery.
After the rainforest walk and the snapping of far too many pictures, we took the short-cut back to the VFVC where, once again, the refreshments on offer were a must. Small game are part and parcel of the experience, as the walk is part of the Victoria Falls National Park. We saw a bushbuck in the forest, a well-fed warthog lingering by the restaurant and the ever-present vervet monkeys darting around for the scraps of delighted tourists.
Highlights: Devil’s Cataract, the magnificent statue of Dr David Livingstone, Devil’s Pool (which we had done the day before) from a different perspective; and being refreshed by ‘the smoke that thunders’.
Entering Zambia – be visa smart
The KAZA UNIVISA costs $50 and is a multiple entry visa valid for 30 days if you remain in either Zambia or Zimbabwe. BUT, it also covers day trips to Botswana via the Kazungula border. This means that a day trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana is also possible from Tongabezi. The Kazungula border crossing is about 45 km from Tongabezi.
TheKAZA UNIVISA is available at these airports: Lusaka (Kenneth Kaunda International); Harare International; Livingstone (Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International); Victoria Falls International; at the Victoria Falls border and the Kazungula border. You can also get it online (e-Visa) if your port of entry is Lusaka, Livingstone, the Victoria Falls border or the Kazungula border (Zambian side).
Reliv video of our walk on the Zimbabwe Side
For those who enjoy a bit of Tech fun have a look at the reliv video of our walk around the Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side.
Please click on the following link to see the interactive map: