The big question when visiting the Falls is whether to visit Zimbabwe or Zambia. There’s always a lot of discussion about whether to stay on the Zimbabwean or Zambian side of Victoria Falls. As the Falls lies on the boarder of the two countries, you can definitely view the Falls from both sides. Zimbabwe has historically been considered the best country to view the Falls, due to 75% of the Falls lying on the Zimbabwean side, however over the last decade or so political turmoil in Zimbabwe has allowed Zambia to establish itself as the more favourable destination. However here are some things to keep in mind when deciding between Zimbabwe and Zambia:
The position of the Falls
75% of the Falls lie on the Zimbabwean side, including the National Park which offers a walk of the Falls, with 16 different viewpoints, allowing you to see the Falls from every angle. Zambia only has a 25% view of the Falls – the Eastern Cataract. However, this section can still be seen on the Zimbabwe side of the Falls.
Victoria Falls offers a true rainforest, 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 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.
The Zimbabwean side of the falls never dry up. Even in the height of dry season (October to November), the Main Falls and the Devils Cataract will still have an impressive flow of water. However, 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
Prices for accommodation and activities are lower in Zimbabwe than Zambia, due to lower government taxes and levis. Most activities can be done from either side of the Falls, with the exception of the Livingstone Island tour and the Devils Pool, which is located in Zambia. Game viewing opportunities are better in Zimbabwe.
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 10km away from the Falls, and is more inconvenient to access when visiting the 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.
In my opinion…
I would recommend staying on the Zimbabwean side of the Falls, and purchasing a univisa in order to visit both countries freely. I think that the location of the town of Victoria Falls can not be beaten. 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. Walking through the rainforest and along the Falls path 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 $50US 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.