The best time to visit the spectacular Victoria Falls is from February to May, directly after the region’s summer rains, when you’ll see the world’s largest sheet of falling water flowing at its greatest volume. The green season usually kicks off in about November with the first spring rains but it takes time for the water that has fallen in the Angolan Highlands to wend its way down to a series of massive gorges. It takes a few months for the Falls to almost literally gather steam after a dry winter in mid-year. Visiting Vic Falls can be a sensory overload: the noise, heat and moisture come to together in an unforgettable natural show-stopper.
The Victoria Falls are roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls, and the thunderous roar can be heard for miles around. The sheer force of the water drives a column of spray far into the air, drenching the edge of the Falls in a fine mist and giving rise to its traditional name, Mosi-oa-Tunya or ‘The Smoke That Thunders’.
The tricky thing about visiting Victoria Falls is that the most impressive spray doesn’t coincide with peak safari season in nearby Chobe in Botswana or Hwange in Zimbabwe. Some activities, like swimming in the Devil’s Pool and certain sections of white-water rapids, are also far too dangerous to undertake when the water is at its highest and fastest.
That means that February to May is not the best time to make the most of the Fall’s close proximity to its near neighbour, Botswana, one of Africa’s legendary Big 5 safari destinations unless you don’t mind travelling in green season. The best time for a Victoria Falls holiday combined with a Chobe river safari is the dry winter period from June to August. Expect great game viewing, warm days and cool nights, little to no rain and plenty of water still thundering over the precipice.
We don’t recommend visiting the Falls at the end of the dry winter period - October through November - when the water level is lowest and the weather is very hot and humid. Low water levels guarantee you’ll have panoramic views (no misty spray) on both sides of the Falls, but the Zambian side (about one quarter of its width) may have dried up completely and all you’ll see is bare rock face. Water flow on the Zimbabwean side is permanent but ebbs in volume with the seasons.