The epic Victoria Falls in Southern Africa lies between two countries, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For anyone visiting for the first time it can be a little confusing to decide which side of the falls to stay on.
While Victoria Falls can definitely be viewed from both countries, there are a few other things that you should consider such as the season you’re visiting, the position of the falls, location of the falls from the main towns in each country and more.
Zimbabwe has historically been considered the best country to view Victoria Falls, due to 75% of the falls lying on the Zimbabwean side of the border. However over the last decade or so political turmoil in Zimbabwe has allowed Zambia to establish itself as the more favourable destination for visitors, promoting itself as a safer country with less political conflict.
Here’s everything you need to know to decide which side of Victoria Falls you would prefer to stay on.
How much of Victoria Falls lies in each country
While Victoria Falls sits in between the two countries, 75% of the falls lies on the Zimbabwean side, including the main National Park which offers a walk of around the falls, with 16 different view points, allowing you to see the falls from every angle.
Zambia on the other hand, only has a 25% view of the falls known as the Eastern Cataract. However, this section can still be seen on the Zimbabwe side of the falls as well.
The Rainforest Experience
Victoria Falls offers a true rainforest that surrounds the waterfall and on the Zimbabwean side of the Falls you are completely immersed in the rainforest.
It rains 24 hours, 365 days a year, due to the constant falling spray from the falls. There is no true rainforest on the Zambian side of the Falls, as there are times of the year when the water flow is very low or has completely stopped.
Seasons at Victoria Falls
No matter what time of the year it is, the Zimbabwean side of the falls never dry up. Even in the height of dry season between October and November, the main sections of the waterfalls and the Devils Cataract will still have an impressive flow of water.
In Zambia on the other hand, at the height of the dry season the Zambian section of the falls dries up completely, so you’re only viewing the rock face of the cliffs.
Prices & Activities at Victoria Falls
While most activities can be done from both sides of the falls including tours, safaris and adventures activities, prices for accommodation and activities are lower in Zimbabwe than Zambia, due to lower government taxes and levis.
The only activities that are solely on the Zambia side of the falls are the Livingstone Island tour and swimming in the Devils Pool. However, you can hop on a tour of both of them from the Zimbabwe side of the border that takes care of all your travel arrangements.
If you’re planning on taking a safari while you’re in the area, game viewing opportunities are better in Zimbabwe.
Location of the falls
The town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is situated less than one kilometre from the falls, allowing many of the hotels and lodges to be within walking distance of the Falls, with an easily accessible town.
In Zambia there are two hotels close to the entrance to Victoria Falls, which both offer their own gate into the Falls with free entry. However, the town of Livingstone is situated about 10 kilometres away from the Falls, and is more inconvenient to access when visiting the Falls.
Safety around Victoria Falls
Whilst Zimbabwe has had a lot of negative exposure in the last decade, it is not something that is felt in the town of Victoria Falls.
It is a completely safe tourist destination, as seen by the millions of people that venture to Victoria Falls every year.
So where should you stay to visit Victoria Falls?
We chose to stay on the Zimbabwe side of the falls, and purchased a univisa in order to visit both countries freely. The location of the town of Victoria Falls can not be beaten though. You can easily walk from your hotel to the falls if you want, and viewing of the falls is absolutely better from the Zimbabwean side, with so much more to explore and experience. Walking through the rainforest and along the falls footpaths is something that can’t be beaten, and is only offered on the Zimbabwean side.
However, by purchasing a univisa there are no limitations of what activities you can do – and visiting Livingstone Island and the Devils Pool is a must when visiting Victoria Falls. Univisas can be purchased at the airport, for $50 USD and allows you to cross between Zimbabwe and Zambia freely for 30 days, as well as partake in day trips to Botswana. It’s definitely a good investment to make the most out of your trip to Victoria Falls.