Mosi oa Tunya: The Smoke That Thunders
Awe inspiring nature at Victoria Falls
Visiting Victoria Falls, Zambia was my first really awe inspiring travel moment. While the best view of Victoria Falls is from above, I will never forget my first glimpse of them. I had been volunteering in Mazabuka and this was our one trip before heading back to Ireland.
We visited in June so the water was high. This meant that walking across the knife edge bridge felt like being in the Falls. We went at sunset, got soaked and saw triple rainbows. It was an amazing experience.
I will never forget that first moment where I caught a glimpse of the Falls through the trees. What struck me more than that was the sound of water roaring in the silence of the park at sunset. After that moment I vowed to find as many places I could that took my breath away. I’ve had many, but none that replace that first moment of pure awe.
This year we visited in July around midday. The park was busy and the baboons aggressive. We ended up getting so stressed out by the baboons that we barely looked at the Falls. It was still cool but just wasn’t the same experience as before. We weren’t trying to recreate 3 years ago but we knew there must be a way to experience that ‘wow’ feeling again.
Visiting Zimbabwe for another point of view.
It turned out to be just one of those days. We got to immigration and realised the visa for Irish citizens cost $55, not $30 as we thought. We almost got turned away until we managed to come to an agreement involving us paying way too much for a 3 minute taxi to an atm in Victoria Falls town. While the baboons were unexpected, this could have been avoided with some more forward planning.
Here are some things I wish I had known before visiting Victoria Falls:
Choose your side for the best view of Victoria Falls.
Everyone has a preference but to me they are totally different experiences. You can research it before you go but the summary of what you will find is this- if you want to get a picture of the Falls as a whole and appreciate their size, go to Zimbabwe. If you want to get as close as possible, go to Zambia. If you have the time and the money, do both 🙂
Victoria Falls Bridge- A Well Kept Secret
Separate to the Knife Edge Bridge in Victoria Falls National Park on the Zambian side, the Victoria Falls Bridge is in no man’s land, between Zambia and Zimbabwe. We were told a gate pass to the bridge would be $30 but ended up not being charged. I’m not sure if this was a stroke of luck or perhaps something we were exempt from (Irish passport holders don’t need a visa for Zambia). The bridge offers another viewpoint to the Falls, particularly if you can catch the Livingstone Express pulling in at sunset.
Visa requirements can affect your best view of Victoria Falls.
At the time of our visit, Irish passport holders did not need a visa for Zambia. This means you can exit and reenter the country without paying any fees. If you are from a country that requires a visa, make sure you get a multiple entry visa if you plan on visiting Zimbabwe. The same goes in reverse. (Note: Irish passport holders do need a visa for Zimbabwe. It costs $55 at the moment but of course is subject to change.)
While Zimbabwe was spectacular, I got some of the best views of Victoria Falls by doing activities on the Zambian side. We saw the full length of the falls from a microlight plane. We even got right to the edge of the falls when we had breakfast on Livingstone Island. Everyone will tell you the activities are more expensive on the Zambian side, but when you add in the cost of the visa it might balance out.
Preparing for your visit: what to bring.
You will get wet at most times of the year so bring a rain jacket or you can rent one there inexpensively.
Entrance on both sides is $30. You can pay with card but power cuts are frequent so bring cash to be safe.
Don’t bring any food! Seriously, you will get attacked by a baboon. Avoid even bringing a bag if you can. If you must bring one make sure it’s a cross body strap.
Wear decent footwear. The surface on the Zambian side is particularly slippy and uneven. But wear something you don’t mind getting wet.
Lastly, bring your camera. Once you find the best view of the falls you will get amazing photos. Make sure you bring a plastic bag or something waterproof to put your camera/ phone inside.
Victoria Falls truly is a wonder of the world.
It is one of those places that will stop you in your tracks, take your breath away, lift your spirits and remind you why you travel in the first place.
Any questions, send me a message. I am more that happy to help! 🙂