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  • 18 Jul, 2024

The Best Side to See Victoria Falls: Zimbabwe vs Zambia

The Best Side to See Victoria Falls: Zimbabwe vs Zambia

Debate which side offers the better experience: Zimbabwe or Zambia? Consider more scenic views from Zimbabwe, but cheaper & less crowded Zambia side.

Victoria Falls, also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders), located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. The waterfall is over 1 km wide and drops over 100 meters, creating a thunderous roar that can be heard from miles away as the Zambezi River plunges down a cliff into a deep gorge. But which side offers the best views and experiences: the Zimbabwe or the Zambia side? Both countries have stunning vantage points, unique attractions, and different appealing qualities. Here are the pros and cons of seeing Victoria Falls from each side.

Table of contents [Show]

Geography and Location

The Victoria Falls are located on the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls are roughly in the middle of the border, so they can be accessed from both countries. However, the majority of the falls are on the Zimbabwean side, which means that the Zimbabwean side offers better views of the falls. From the Zimbabwean side, visitors can see the full width of the falls, as well as the main waterfall, known as the Devil's Cataract. The Zambian side has a smaller section of the falls, known as the Eastern Cataract, which is still impressive but doesn't offer the same panoramic views.

Accessibility

Both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides of Victoria Falls are easily accessible, with good road and air connections to nearby towns and cities. The town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is located just a few kilometers from the falls and is a popular base for visitors. The town of Livingstone in Zambia is also close to the falls, with a range of accommodation options for visitors.

In terms of accessibility to the falls themselves, the Zimbabwean side offers a wide range of viewing points from different angles. Visitors can walk along the edge of the falls on a series of walkways that provide stunning views of the falls and the gorge below. There are also several lookout points that offer different perspectives on the falls. On the other side, the Zambian side offers more opportunities for an up-close and personal views of the falls as visitors can get really close to the falls although the views are more limited and there are fewer opportunities to walk along the edge of the falls. On the Zambian side, you can trail on the knife bridge which is very close to the falls or you can trail to the bottom of the falls where you can see the falls from a bottom angle as well as a view of the Victoria Falls bridge from the bottom.

Activities and Attractions

Both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides of Victoria Falls offer a range of activities and attractions for visitors. On the Zimbabwean side, visitors can take a guided tour of the falls, which includes a walk along the edge of the falls and several lookout points. There are also adventure activities available, such as bungee jumping, white-water rafting, and helicopter flights over the falls.

On the Zambian side, visitors can take a guided tour of the falls as well, but the focus is more on the natural environment and wildlife in the area. There are also adventure activities available, such as bungee jumping, zip-lining, and microlight flights over the falls.

Culture and History

Both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides of Victoria Falls have a rich cultural and historical heritage. The falls are considered sacred by the local people, who have lived in the area for centuries. On the Zimbabwean side, visitors can learn about the local culture and history at the Victoria Falls Cultural Centre, which features exhibits on the history and traditions of the local people. There are also opportunities to visit nearby villages and meet with local communities.

On the Zambian side, visitors can learn about the history of the falls at the Livingstone Museum, which features exhibits on local history, culture, and wildlife. The museum also has a collection of David Livingstone's personal belongings, as he was the first European to discover the falls in 1855.

Costs

The cost of visiting Victoria Falls will depend on a number of factors, such as your nationality, the time of year, and the activities you choose to do. Generally speaking, the cost of visiting the falls is comparable on both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides. As of my knowledge cutoff of September 2021, the entrance fee for Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe was $30 USD for international visitors and $20 USD for regional visitors, while the entrance fee for the falls on the Zambian side was $20 USD for international visitors and $10 USD for regional visitors.

Accommodation and Food

Both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides of Victoria Falls offer a range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. The town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is the more developed of the two towns, with a wider range of accommodation and dining options. However, Livingstone in Zambia is also well-developed, with a range of accommodation options and restaurants.

The food on both sides of the falls is generally good, with a mix of local and international cuisine available. The Zimbabwean side has a more developed culinary scene, with a variety of restaurants serving local and international cuisine. The Zambian side also has a good selection of restaurants, but with a stronger focus on local cuisine.

Zimbabwe Side Advantages

-The best overall view. The Zimbabwe side has more dramatic views of the actual waterfall and the full breadth of the falls. The Devil's Cataract viewpoint offers a head-on look at the sheer drop of Mosi-oa-Tunya.

-More guided activities. Zimbabwe offers more organized tours and activities like bungee jumping, helicopter rides, river rafting, gorge swings, and sunset cruises.

-The original Victoria Falls town. The town of Victoria Falls was established on the Zimbabwe side and has a historic colonial charm with wide streets, hotels, and restaurants.

-Easier access. The Zimbabwe side has a larger international airport and more accommodation options making accessibility and logistics simpler.

Zambia Side Advantages

-Less crowded. The Zambia side tends to be less busy with fewer tourists, especially during peak season. This means shorter lines and a more relaxed experience.

-Cheaper. Entrance fees, hotels, tours, and transportation costs tend to be lower on the Zambia side. This makes it a more affordable option for travelers.

-Cooler and greener. The climate is slightly cooler on the Zambia side due to its position downstream and the increased vegetation surrounding the falls.

-Livingstone. The town of Livingstone on the Zambia side has its own charm with historic buildings, gardens, and national parks nearby.

-Train ride views. If you take the royal express train from Livingstone to Victoria Falls, you'll enjoy views of the bush and the Zambezi River along the way.

 

Overall, the Zimbabwe side has more panoramic perspectives of the actual falls while the Zambia side offers a more ecological experience with a slower pace. But the differences in experience between the two sides really come down to personal preference and budget. You could even see Victoria Falls from both Zimbabwe and Zambia on the same trip to get the best of both worlds.

To make the most of your visit, try and spend at least a full day on each side. Start your Zimbabwe day with the Devil's Cataract viewpoint to see the falls at their most dramatic. Then take a sunset cruise or helicopter ride for another perspective. On the Zambia side, make time for a walk along the rainforest boardwalks, a trip to the Victoria Falls bridge, and evening boma dinner to experience local food and culture.

So in short, there isn't really a "best" side to see Victoria Falls. Both countries offer stunning perspectives and experiences that complement each other. Seeing Victoria Falls from both Zimbabwe and Zambia gives you a more comprehensive view of this natural wonder, so you really can't go wrong. The main factors that determine the "best side for you" come down to budget, interests, and how much time you have. With some strategic planning, a memorable Victoria Falls adventure awaits you no matter which side - or both sides - you choose to visit.


Conclusion

In conclusion, both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides of Victoria Falls offer unique and unforgettable experiences. The Zimbabwean side offers better views of the falls and more opportunities for viewing points, as well as a wider range of accommodation and dining options. The Zambian side offers a more intimate and immersive experience, with a focus on the natural environment and wildlife in the area. Ultimately, the best side to see Victoria Falls will depend on your personal preferences and priorities. Whether you choose to visit the Zimbabwean or Zambian side, you're sure to be awed by the power and beauty of this magnificent natural wonder.