Zambia or Zimbabwe? Where to and when?
The Victoria Falls are amongst the biggest waterfalls in the world. The falls form the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Historically, Zimbabwe has been considered the place to see the falls from but in the last 20 years Zambia has caught up and developed a good infrastructure of its own. Both countries are now popular tourist destinations.
Since we only had one day for our Victoria Falls excursion we researched the pros and cons of each side to make up our minds as we couldn’t do both. I’d recommend seeing both if you’re staying for more than one day or/and aren’t as slow as we are – not very difficult given we like a good coffee or lunch break – and want to visit both sides in one day. Before I tell you what we ended up doing ourselves, I’ll let you make your mind with the pros and cons of each..
Here’s a summary of the points we researched and that helped us made up our decision:
- The Zambian side is generally not as busy as the Zimbabwean side.
- The walking path in Zimbabwe is longer and has more viewpoints, 16 in total. Zambia has only 3 viewpoints.
- 75% of the falls are in Zimbabwe, including the widest section: main falls. This leaves only 25% on the Zambian side, the so called Eastern Cataract.
- The Zambian side of the falls generally dries out in the peak of the dry season (September-November/December) while the Zimbabwean side always flows.
- While both countries have plenty of activities around Victoria Falls, (read more about them here) only Zambia has Devil’s Pool. The paragon of an infinity pool and of living life on the edge, Devil’s pool is a rock pool on the edge of the falls that you can swim in. Quite exciting but only open in the dry season to ensure people won’t get flushed away.
- In the rainy season (December to March) the spray on the Zimbabwean side is so thick it limits the view, while you can still oversee the falls on the Zambian side. Walking on the Zimbabwean side that time of the year equals getting into a tropical storm while you can enjoy Zambia any time of the year without getting soaked.
- Let’s talk money: The entrance fee on the Zambian side is $20 whereas the ticket in Zimbabwe costs you $30.
Sooo tadaaa, time for the (not so) big revelation:
We opted for Zimbabwe. Probably not that surprising. If you have the chance to see both countries do it, that’s the ultimate Victoria Falls experience! If you’re short on time though, that’s probably where you want to be.
Zimbabwe seems like the safer bet to get the most out of the falls. We went just after the rainy season when the water was at its peak and he spray was indeed very high and strong. Towards the end of the path we couldn’t see the falls anymore as they were hidden by the spray and we got soaking wet. Personally, I loved it! It was a welcome cool-down and seeing the approximately 740 million liters of water that fall over the edge every minute was splendid. By the time we had walked the 15 minutes needed to reach the Victoria Falls Hotel for lunch we were dry again, so it’s not much of a bother.
Have you crossed Victoria Falls off your bucket list yet or are you planning to go? Which side would you choose? Let me know what you think.
Before you leave…