Mosi-oa-Tunya ~ The Smoke That Thunders
When you think of Zambia you probably think of the famous Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world. Located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, it is truly a spectacular trip, and one that will certainly get you very wet!
If you’re visiting from Zambia, the town of Livingstone will be your base. There are a multitude of lodges to stay at, ranging from the ludicrously expensive Royal Livingstone whose presidential suite goes for ZK25,911 (US$1,146) a night! My eyes just popped out of my head! To the Jollyboys Backpackers, where you can stay in an 8 bed mixed dorm room for US$16 (ZK360) a night.
Jollyboys Backpackers – Livingstone
Personally, I know which one I would choose (because there’s only one option that lets you book one maybe even two flight tickets as well).
There are plenty of things to do at the actual falls, some hiking, stunning viewpoints, and plenty of opportunities for a fully clothed shower! There are numerous viewpoints to take pictures of the falls (but make sure you protect your cameras and phones from all that spray). Be sure also to take a view from behind the falls, there are spectacular rainbows, and the water moves so fast you really feel the rush of the falls. Talking of rainbows, if you want to see spectacular ones then make sure you get there early, it’s the best time to view them.
Knife Edge bridge should be next on your list. This bridge in dry season offers access to even more views of the falls. In rainy season I would suggest the bridge is not for the faint hearted, due to the considerable spray you are not really able to see anything, and you literally become drenched!
One of my favourite things to do at the falls was to hike down to the boiling pot, otherwise known as the Batoka Gorge. It is not only a beautifully lush walk down but the view at the bottom is incredible. It really is one churning pot of roaring water and a great experience.
The walk to Batoka Gorge
To view the falls, I think a trip over to Zimbabwe would be an ideal addition to just the Zambian side of the falls. Unfortunately, when I went due to COVID this was not possible without further expenses on tests. However, in normal circumstances, and if you just wish to visit Zimbabwe side of the falls for the day, you can get a single entry visa (US$30) on arrival at the border. Easy enough and I hear there are spectacular and different views of the falls. So if you’ve come all the way to the Victoria Falls I would advise adding this to your itinerary.
You can also explore the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park located a stone throw away from Livingstone (about 20-25 minute drive). In comparison to other national parks in Zambia it’s a little unimpressive, there are no predators in the park! The park is home to elephants, zebra, giraffe, buffalo and the famous white rhino, the only place in Zambia where you can still view the animals (though they were relocated from South Africa). There are many operators that offer the white rhino walking tours. In dry season you can spend time driving through the park by yourself in a self-drive safari. Depending on the length of your stay in Zambia (and I am imploring you to discover more than just Victoria Falls) I would advise doing a self-drive in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park as the roads are very easily accessible and go on a proper traditional game drive in one of the other national parks such as the South Luangwa or the Lower Zambezi (check out my other blogs on these two parks!)
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park
I don’t wish to be entirely controversial, but Victoria Falls didn’t blow me away. I call it Grand Canyon Syndrome! During a roadtrip around the West coast of America some ten years ago now, we were due to go to the Grand Canyon. The anticipation was high, it’s the bloody Grand Canyon after all. And having visited it I couldn’t help but being underwhelmed. I suppose that’s what you get having already visited places like Monument Valley and Zion. It was so vast that it was hard for the naked eye to comprehend. This is what I can say for Victoria Falls, it was epic but it was difficult to appreciate (from the vantage points) its vastness. I was in desperate need of a helicopter ride over the falls to truly understand (and sadly it’s a drone free zone). Having travelled to other parts of Zambia now, there are so many other waterfalls that I felt you could interact with more and that were equally as stunning.
Victoria Falls I am sorry, I still love you, and you are epically vast and beautiful!
Victoria Falls Ticket Prices
Foreigner: 400 kwacha ($20)
Zambian Citizen/Resident: 12 kwacha! ($0.60)
1 vehicle parking fee: 5 kwacha ($0.22)
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park Prices
Residents/SADC Nationals ($5)