Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)
Not to be confused with Victoria Falls, the attraction, Victoria Falls, the town, is located in the western portion of Zimbabwe, across the border from Livingstone, Zambia, and near Botswana. This popular tourist destination offers both adventure seekers and sightseers plenty of opportunities.
Getting in and out
- British Airways and South African Airways all offer daily flights between Johannesburg (JNB) and Victoria Falls Airport (VFA). Air Zim also offers flights between Victoria Falls Airport and other destinations within Zimbabwe.
- The roads within Zimbabwe are relatively good. The most direct way to Victoria Falls overland is from Bulawayo.
- It's possible to drive in through Livingstone. Crossing an international border with a vehicle, however, will incur a tax.
- If travelling from Namibia or Botswana the best road is from Kasane in Botswana using the Kazungula border post. Distance to Vic Falls is 70 kilometers.
- There is a direct train route, running every night [Note: fuel shortages puportedly have reduced runs], between Vic Falls and Bulawayo. Considering the exchange rate, the cost for a first class ticket is negligible -- about 21 cents. (Second-class tickets are available, as well, but why bother?) This is a memorable way to travel -- the cars were built in the '50's in England -- although sleeping on the train does not lend itself to a deep, restful sleep. On the other hand, arriving in Bulawayo in the morning, with the day ahead of you, is a real treat. (A tip to make the ride more pleasant: buy a bottle of wine in the local grocery store and enjoy it as you view the coutryside.)
Some of the hotels in Vic Falls are not really in Vic Falls. For these places, you will need to have private transportation or to call a cab. Cabs are plentiful, and can be affordable if you bargain. Most accommodation have their own transfer services.
However, if you are in the swanky hotels downtown -- or even some of the budget accommodation options just outside the downtown area -- walking should be manageable.
- Be careful walking around at night, however, especially if you've been drinking.
You come here to see Victoria Falls.
Perhaps you have seen postcards, holiday snaps, or film footage of the seventh wonder of the world, Victoria Falls. But have you actually been fortunate enough to stand beside the ‘smoke that thunders’? Watching and listening as the roar of 546 million cubic meters of water, minute by minute, plunge down into a 100-metre deep gorge below.
Also, do not miss the Zambezi River, which is beautiful above the falls. Best seen on a cruise, especially at sunset.
For a memorable afternoon tea pop in to the Victoria Falls Hotel for a 3 tiered sandwich platter and cup of chai - if you ask nicely you can pay in Zim dollars. A first class hotel still seemingly untouched by the country's woes.
White-water rafting day trips sell for about $100. The price includes a full day of shooting some of the best rapids in the world (including some Class V rapids!); lunch, eaten on the water and all the beer you can chug after the climb out.
- Visit the grand Victoria Falls Hotel for high tea. For about $30, you get tea, scones, and a magnificent view of the Falls.
- From wherever you stay you can easily arrange for a safari (prices vary), a sunset cruise (around $45), or a helicopter ride (for about $115 plus $5 National Park fee, well worth the price) over the falls.
- The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has a no knock-out casino on site.
- For something different try an elephant ride, or a horse-back safari offered by a variety of tour operators in town.
There is substantial opportunity to shop in Victoria Falls, and it's possible to find a good deal. The downtown area offers dozens of tourist shops from which you may select jewelry, t-shirts, curios, books, postcards, artwork, etc. Closer to the Falls, the shops become increasingly expensive. (For fun, see if you can find the shop with the pictures of Senator and Chelsea Clinton, from their visit.)
There are several curio markets set up near the entrance to the park. The hawkers sell everything from carvings to fabrics to pottery to jewelry to . . . "Looking is free," as you will learn, and that's a good thing -- there's lots to see. The salespeople can be aggressive; don't be afraid to say no.
Traders in the Shona sculpture markets are prepared to trade - hats, t-shirts, pens, batteries are in demand. But think twice before you reduce people to the level of beggars! Just negotiate what you think is a fair price.
The downtown area features dozens of coffee shops, sandwich shops, and fast food options. For a few US Dollars, you can feed an entire family.
All of the hotels have restaurants, and it is common to sample a new one each night. One place not to miss for a sundowner: The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge offers a la carte dinner, The Boma offers a buffet 'eat as much as you can' buffet dinner with authentic African dancing.
There is a Pic-n-Pay grocery store in town, too. Although it's a bit run-down, it is highly adequate, and you can get more than enough food, snacks, camping supplies, etc. there.
Vic Falls is not known anymore for its tremendous night-life. There are a few small bars near the downtown area, but they are not well-lit. It might be fun to stop in, but be careful.
Alternatively, all the hotels feature huge, well-stocked bars. However, the prices will be higher, and you might not feel like you're in Africa anymore.
- Amadeus Garden, 538 Reynard Road Victoria Falls, . Owner managed B&B just two kilometers from the Falls. Clean, un-cluttered en-suite rooms, pool and nice garden.
Note that price ranges quoted are in US dollar, quoting in Zimbabwe dollar currently makes no sense due to the excessively high inflation rate and ongoing devaluation of their currency.
There are many types of accommodation in Victoria Falls. You can certainly find what you are looking for. Some of the accommodation options are not really in Vic Falls -- they're a few kilometers out -- so be careful, if booking in advance.
- Victoria Falls Backpackers offers a view of the falls at budget prices.
- Reynard Cottages, owned by a Zimbabwean, provides simple rooms at affordable prices.
- Villa Victoria offers singles, doubles, and it is only 1 km from the Falls.
- Lorrie's B&Bowned by a Zimbabwean, run by single mom and her sidekick "George." Most rooms are ensuite and meals are quite affordable. Most rooms are about U$50 a night depending on season. Lovely pool and gardens with nice "sports bar" on site.184.108.40.206 14:59, 3 August 2008 (EDT)email@example.com Template:USA
- Amadeus Garden owner managed B&B two kilometers from the waterfall. Comprising eleven en-suite rooms, pool and garden to relax. Rates per person sharing around $ 55-night incl breakfast depending on season.
- Teak Lodge located within easy access to the magestic Victoria Falls, offers the best value for money where bed and breakfast accommodation is concerned. Prices at between $30 and $50/night, coupled with impeccable service and completely furnished in teak wood, staying in Victoria Falls can never be any more fulfilling.
- The Sprayview Hotel is only 2 km from the Falls for under US$100/night.
- Savanna Lodge offers dorms and private rooms for under US$30/night.
- Ilala Lodge offers quiet elegance close in to town and the Falls. Adjoins national park. Colonial veranda for dining
- Victoria Falls Hotel, where the Queen Mother stayed when she visited, is one of the most romantic places in Africa.
- Victoria Falls Safari Lodge , located very close to the Falls, offers safari-themed elegance, a great casino, and an excellent (and reasonably-priced) buffet dinner.
Due to the decline of the Zim Dollar, black-market money-changers have become ubiquitous in this tourist mecca, even offering to change money in front of police. While they often provide a better exchange rate than the state-sponsored money-changers, even savvy tourists should beware. Otherwise, you might be walking the streets with carefully-trimmed newspaper.
This page was last edited at 20:23, on 20 August 2008 by Wikitravel user Morph. Based on work by David, Nick Roux, Philipp Schäufele, Andre Serna and Felix Gottwald, Wikitravel user(s) Huttite, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.