Victoria Falls Safaris – Adventure Travel Guide for Victoria Falls Tours
However, the natives of the region where it is located in the southern part of Africa call it Mosi-oa-Tunya - The Smoke that Thunders. This native name is a tribute to the awe-inspiring majesty of what is said to be the world's largest natural waterfall, measuring 1708 meters (5604 ft) in width and 108 metres (354 ft) in height.
Visiting Victoria Falls (also abbreviated to Vic Falls) is as much of an experience of a lifetime today as it was when David Livingstone viewed the falls from the island that bears his name, which is located on the Zambia side of the crest of the falls. Indeed, because of the political stability of Zambia compared to the situation in Zimbabwe, the Zambia side has become the preferred tourist destination for accommodations as well as for viewing the falls and the wildlife and other natural attractions that surround it.
Livingstone, Zambia - The Gateway to Victoria Falls
At present, due to personal safety considerations, most tourists who visit on a holiday in Victoria Falls choose to make Livingstone, Zambia, their base. Its nearby airport welcomes flights from the Zambian capital of Lusaka as well as from Johannesburg, South Africa. Livingstone is a modern town with a rich colonial and pre-colonial history, and it welcomes tourists with an orderly, civilized atmosphere including a variety of hotels as well as shops, restaurants and shopping malls. It is one of the two border points on the Victoria Falls Bridge which connects Zambia to Zimbabwe, and tourists may purchase visas on the Zimbabwe side of the bridge before entering Zimbabwe from the Zambia side.
Livingstone is convenient to the famous Devil's Pool, a naturally formed and safe swimming pool which allows swimmers to swim at the edge of the falls thanks to a rock wall which stops swimmers from falling into the gorge between the falls and the natural pool. The pool is reached from Livingstone Island, which is on the Zambia side of the falls, and is recommended as an ideal place to view the falls as David Livingstone did in 1855.
The town is also the starting point for game drives through the national park which surrounds Victoria Falls, and these drives feature an opportunity to see elephants, buffalo, giraffe, and zebra as well as a variety of antelope species. Lions and leopards are seen in the park, but their appearances are rather rare.
Attractions on the Zambian Side of Victoria Falls
Besides the aforementioned Livingstone Island and Devil's Pool, the Zambian side of Victoria Falls is home to the Eastern Cataract and all of the gorges of Victoria Falls except the First Gorge. The Second Gorge is spanned by the Victoria Falls Bridge, and a steep footpath on the Zambian side of the falls leads to the Boiling Pot, a violently swirling deep pool that is the stuff of legend. This pool, which was formed by water entering the Second Gorge, is where objects which have swept over the falls are found swirling around until they come to a rest at the north-east end of the Second Gorge. Said objects even include an occasional hippopotamus, and have included the bodies of crocodile attack victims whose canoe capsized in 1910 over the falls.
The Knife Edge Bridge on the Zambian side allows tourists breathtaking views of the falls as well as a chance to experience the spray of the waterfall. It also includes views of the Boiling Pot and the point where the Zambezi River heads into the lowest gorge of the falls, the Batoka Gorge, which itself is located in Zambia.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe - A Faded Tourism Capital
Until 2000, when Robert Mugabe tightened his grasp on power in Zimbabwe in spite of losing a referendum on his rule, the town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe was the first choice for tourists who visited Victoria Falls. Today, tourists avoid Zimbabwe due to risk of political violence. In addition, credit card issuers presently do not process card payments in Zimbabwe, which makes paying for lodging and entertainment difficult for tourists who rely on their bank cards.
However, there have been no reported incidents affecting tourists who have visited and stayed in the town, and some tourists even choose it because it is less crowded than Livingstone, Zambia. Its airport is served by flights from Johannesburg and Pretoria as well as from Maun, Botswana making it ideal for tourists who combine an excursion to Victoria Falls with a trip to the Okavango Delta. It is also located near the Victoria Falls National Park, famous for its population of crocodiles as well as for typical African game.
Accommodations in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe include "The Grand Old Lady of the Falls," the historical Victoria Falls hotel with its colonial style and view of the Victoria Falls bridge. There are plenty of Victoria Falls hotels and Victoria Falls lodges to choose from.
Attractions on the Zimbabwe Side of Victoria Falls
The First Gorge, into which the Zambezi River falls to form Victoria Falls and which in turn is a conduit for water into the other gorges, is located entirely in Zimbabwe, as is Boaruka (or Cataract) Island, another recommended location for viewing the entirety of Victoria Falls.
Both sides of the falls offer adventure tourism packages such as white water rafting, as well as tourist activities such as river cruises and walks through parts of the national parks as well as to specific features and viewing points of the falls which are situated on either side of the border.
Whichever side you choose as your base, a visit to Victoria Falls is an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime. Keeping in mind that it is possible to cross back and forth between Zambia and Zimbabwe, you are able to experience the entirety of Victoria Falls regardless of which country you choose for lodging.