The Victoria Falls is possibly the most awe-inspiring and humbling natural wonder on planet earth. Standing in the rainforest faced with the great thundering boom of the ancient Zambezi waters plunging more than 100 metres into fathomless gorge will leave you silent, grinning, tearful and overjoyed to be soaked by the cleansing waters. Whether you visit from the Zambian or Zimbabwean sides, the Victoria Falls is a soulful journey into primal Africa – with Iconic Africa, your visit is combined with superlative luxury, service and adventure.
Origins of a natural wonder
The 2500km Zambezi River is the fourth largest in Africa. It rises as a gentle stream in northern Zambia, crosses briefly into eastern Angola, gathering momentum before turning south by south-east as it forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and it is here that the a giant fissure in the stable basalt plateau has created the world’s largest waterfall – Mosi-oa-Tunya – the smoke that thunders. From the base of the chasm, the hitherto meandering river is forced through a series of epic gorges – some barely 100m wide – that turn the Zambezi into a raging, boiling torrent.
The volume of water plunging over the cliffs reaches a peak in April and bottoms in November. There is, however, no best or worst time to visit – the views, adventures and wonder of the river are of constantly epic proportions regardless of the time of year.
The historic town of Victoria Falls boasts a museum to an age of pioneering adventure when the lines for steam trains were being laid into terra incognita to the north. The town boasts the rainforest –a unique island of verdant green nourished by the spray of the falls. The rainforest offers multiple spectacular views of the cascading waters as they plummet into the gorge – from the safety of the forest or out in the open, facing the spray as it washes away the stress.
On the Zimbabwean side, Iconic Africa recommends that you stay at one of following two places.
The Victoria Falls Hotel
The Victoria Falls Hotel offers a sense of Edwardian charm and history that oozes from the halls, furniture, gardens and the art gracing the corridors. This charm combined with the wildness of Africa, uncompromising Zimbabwean hospitality and every possible creature comfort makes the Victoria Falls Hotel an exceptional destination.
The Elephant Camp
The Elephant camp is a plush yet understated gem of the Victoria Falls area. Just ten kilometres downstream, it offers seclusion from the business of the town in the tranquil surrounds of a private wildlife concession perched on the edge of the abyssal Zambezi gorge.
On the Zambian side, the Knife-edge bridge takes you as close to the reverberating cascade as you can be without leaping into it. Facing the barrage gives you a sense of complete insignificance but utter inspiration at the same time.
On the Zambian side, Iconic Africa recommends that you stay at one of the following three superb destinations.
Royal Chundu is outstanding seclusion and serenity upstream from the falls. Here the Zambezi is wide and languid and the luxury of Royal Chundu will make you absorb this. The lodge is removed from the bustle of the falls but superbly located for safaris, river adventures and opulent relaxation.
Royal Livingstone Hotel
The Royal Livingstone Hotel is the closest Zambian destination to the falls. The opulent hotel is set in beautifully manicured gardens with terraces, decks and a pool overlooking the Zambezi as it approaches the top of the falls. The wild adventures and magnificent sites of the area are all close at hand but the Royal Livingstone still manages to maintain complete serenity.
Tongabezi Safari Lodge
Tongabezi is just upstream of Victoria Falls where the Zambezi, wide and unhurried, supports an astonishing array of bird and mammal life. Ben and Vanessa Parker own and run this magnificent eco-friendly lodge that has vast space for families and complete luxury and seclusion for romantics.
The sights, sounds and adventures of the Victoria Falls and surrounding areas are a sensory overload and it is almost impossible to appreciate all that this incredible place has to offer in only one visit.
Before you do anything else, you need to subject yourself to the mercy and magnificence of the falls. In Zimbabwe this is a humbling stroll through the rainforest and in Zambia an awe-inspiring crossing of the knife-edge bridge. Here the power and splendour of the falls and the healing of the spray will make your soul smile.
For the dare-devils and adrenaline junkies, white water rafting in the churning rapids of the Zambezi below the falls will leave you white-knuckled and grinning with exhilaration. If this doesn’t sate your need for daring thrills, you can fling yourself off the Victoria Falls Bridge on the end of a bungee rope, swing across the gorge on 95m of rope or fly across on a zip line at terrifying speed.
For nature lovers there are wonderful safari options including day trips to Chobe National Park just across the Botswana border, trips into the Mosa-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia and the Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe. Whatever destination you choose – on the banks of the river, in one of the private bush concessions or in Victoria Falls town itself, you will find an endless procession of fascinating wilderness and jaw-dropping vistas.
A sunset cruise, from the Zimbabwean or Zambian banks, on the languorous Zambezi above the falls is the perfect way to end any day. It is here that the calm of the African wild will give you pause for reflection while the energy of the river soothes your spirit and the enormous African sky changes from impossible blue to depth-less indigo sprayed with a billion stars.
Travelling to Victoria Falls
There are daily scheduled flights into Victoira Falls Airport from Johannesburg and Harare on a variety of reliable airlines. There are also four flights a week from Windhoek. From the airport, Iconic Africa will arrange a comfortable air-conditioned road transfer to your destination.
There are regular flights to Livingstone International Airport from Johannesburg on three airlines. If you are coming in from a safari in the Kruger area of South Africa, there is a direct flight from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport to Livingstone. From this small efficient airport you will travel in air-conditioned comfort to the destination of your choice either with one of Iconic Africa’s partners of with your lodge.
The 7 natural wonders of the world
The Victoria Falls is a humbling and inspirational experience of the sort that you will reflect on for the rest of your days. The grandeur of the falls, the adventure of the Zambezi, the sublime luxury of your stay and the sense of wild history will fill your soul. One of Iconic Africa’s experts is standing by to help you design the ultimate Victoria Falls holiday.