KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Location: Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River in Southern Africa along the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. We visited the Zimbabwe side of the falls as this is where the national park is located.
Language: The country of Zimbabwe has 16 official languages but English is the main language used in education and judiciary systems.
Currency: Zimbabwean Dollar. There has been major instability with the local currency and the country flip flops between the Zimbabwean dollar and the US dollar. When we traveled to Zimbabwe, the US dollar was currently in use. In fact, people were “selling” high value local currency as souvenirs since the currency was basically worthless at the time. Other accepted currencies included the Euro, South African Rand, Bristish Pound and Japanese Yen.
*You will not find an ATM in Zimbabwe. It is necessary to have cash on hand before you arrive in the country.
Visa: A visa is required for entry into both Zimbabwe and Zambia. You simply pay a fee at customs at the airport. When we visited, the fee was $30 per person.
When to go: Seasons are defined by the dry and rainy seasons. Dry season runs September to January and rainy season from February to May, normally peaking in April. We visited in June and the water levels were still very high making the falls pretty spectacular.
Airports: If you are visiting the Zimbabwe side of the falls, you will fly into the Victoria Falls airport. If you are visiting the Zambia side, the Livingstone airport will be the most convenient.
WHAT WE DID
Victoria Falls was the last stop on our trip to Africa. We spent two nights on the Zimbabwe side of the falls at the Ilala Lodge Hotel within walking distance to the national park entrance. Our flight departed Johannesburg early morning for a short flight to the Victoria Falls airport. We had majority of the afternoon to get settled into our hotel before departing on our sunset cruise down the Zambezi River.
Our sunset cruise departed around four in the afternoon and lasted for around three hours. Our boat only had one other party aboard and we happened to know them as they were on safari with us earlier in the week! We cruised up and down the river spotting crocodiles and hippos in the water and along the banks while sipping complimentary cocktails and munching on delicious appetizers. The sunset was absolutely stunning on the river! Wonderful experience!
Upon returning to our hotel, we ordered room service and called it an early night as we were scheduled to depart very early for a day trip to Botswana the next morning. Botswana has one of the largest concentrations of elephants in Africa in Chobe National Park and offers unique safari options on the water. Our tour partnered with Chobe Safari Lodge for dining and day safaris.
Unfortunately, I had a touch of food poisoning during the night from dinner. After speaking with the hotel manager the next morning, we determined it was one of the vegetables served with my meal. Sadly, this is a common occurance when traveling especially for me. Your body is not accustomed to the batericas in foods and this was not the first nor the last time we would be sick to our stomachs on our travels. Peru and Morocco would bring more of the same! However, we have become better at preventing and dealing with stomach aliments. We both take probotics daily and carry a prescription for cipro when traveling. We also make sure to also pack over the counter medicines including tums, advil, pepto-bismol and imodium.
We did not do much on our one full day in Zimbabwe given how poorly I was feeling. Our hotel was very attentive, bring ginger ale and crackers to our room and refunding our food expenses. By mid-afternoon, I was starting to turn a corner so we walked to the historic Victoria Falls Hotel to tour the grounds and have dinner. One of the oldest hotels in Africa, it is like stepping back in time! The grounds offer stunning views of the Victoria Falls Bridge and gorges below while the hotel gives a nod to colonial times without skimping on modern luxuries.
Our late afternoon flight gave us most of the day to tour Victoria Falls National Park. The views of the falls were stunning! We wore a raincoat and carried an umbrella as the mist from the falls was more like a down pour given how high the water levels were and the amount of water pouring over the side of the falls! We loved learning about the discovery and exploration of the falls by David Livingstone.
For those who are brave enough, you can visit the “Devil’s Pool,” a naturally formed pool at the edge of the falls and enjoy an exhilarating swim. The Devil’s Pool is only accessable during the dry season between August and January when water levels are low.
Wanting to check out Victoria Falls bridge before we departed, we decided to walk over from the falls which turned into quite the close encounter! The herd of elephants we had spotted from a distance earlier in the day was now much closer to the walking path. Kai stopped to take a picture and the flash or camera noise spooked one of the elephants as it began to charge us! I was still feeling under the weather and Kai was literally behind me pushing me to run faster. At this point, I was trying not to sh*t my pants for multiple reasons! Thankfully, the elephant quickly lost interest in us and went about his grazing on the trees. Chase over but not forgotten! We did score an epic picture, just not sure the years it scared off our life was worth it!
We safely made it to the bustling Victoria Falls bridge which was hectic with border crossing traffic and more wildlife. The bridge serves as the border crossing between Zimbabwe and Zambia so each passing truck had to pass through border control while dodging the baboons and warthogs roaming freely in the road. In the middle of the bridge, there is more for the adrenaline junkie with a bungee jumping station. We enjoyed watching the action from the safety of the sidewalk before returning to our hotel.
Our time was brief in Victoria Falls, but to see the falls first hand was worth a stop!