Seeing the magnificent Victoria Falls

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
9
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
2
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
4
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
3
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
9
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
62 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Africa
country
Zimbabwe
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 50
Time of year visited
January
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
182nd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 60% SUMMARY RATING: Great experience

Summary

Known in Swahili as “The Smoke that Thunders”, Victoria Falls is magnificent in just the sheer scale and noise that it generates.  Whilst not the largest waterfall by volume (that title goes to Inga Falls in the Congo), it is the largest sheet of falling water in the world, hence the thunderous noise, its title as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, and will no doubt be on your itinerary if in this part of Africa

highlights

#1 Hearing the "Smoke that Thunders" get louder and louder as you move closer to the mist

#2 Seeing the water booming over the edge of one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World

#3 Enjoying the magnificent grounds and views from the Victoria Falls Hotel, ideally whilst having afternoon tea on the Stanley Terrace

#4 Getting involved in the various activities all around the falls - whitewater rafting, quad biking or, in this case, the bridge swing

Travel Tips

Whilst it was a few years since I last visited, 5 tips for a great experience:

  1. Zimbabwe or Zambia – ideally just do both.  As a summary, Zimbabwe has the better views and probably the better accommodation / tourist infrastructure (Victoria Falls is basically built for tourists), whereas Zambia gives you the opportunity to get far closer to the falls and stand by the Devil’s Pool right on the edge.  I’d suggest go with Zimbabwe if had to chose and, if slightly concerned about all the headlines of Zimbabwe as a country, don’t be – this part of the country is very safe
  2. I wish I’d done some of the activities – don’t get me wrong, the views of the falls are fantastic and there are so many viewing points for variety.  But, it would have been awesome to whitewater raft down the Zambezi or quad bike around the surrounding area (which would have given this experience a far higher score)
  3. Visit the Victoria Falls Hotel – the grounds are magnificent with views of the spray from the falls nearby and the perfectly manicured lawns all around, it gives you that feel of what you imagined the splendor of colonial Africa to be.  Its expensive though at around US$450 a night, so my tip is to go there for food, late afternoon drinks or, even better, High Tea between 3pm – 6pm on the Stanley Terrace which is a bit of an institution, and far cheaper
  4. It’s very big! – it’s less like, for example, a Niagara Falls where you can see the entirety of the falls.  Instead, there are various spots to be able to see across the falls and, because of the curves in the falls and the mist, none that seems to let you see all the whole sight in its magnificence.  Will need a scenic flight for that
  5. Time of year to visit – we had a great time in January, but I must admit that the mist from the falls did block the views at time, and 100% drench us by the end!  July – October seems to be the optimal time for the views without so much mist.  This is also the best time to be able to swim in the Devil’s Pool on the Zambian side

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone