The world's largest waterfall and its surrounding game reserves are just two of the many attractions which draw people to a Victoria Falls holiday. This iconic destination has also earned its reputation as the adrenalin capital of Africa; it has one of the highest – and definitely the most spectacular – bungee jumps in the world along with a long list of adrenaline-charged activities including abseiling, bridge-swinging, tandem parachuting and white-water rafting.
But if your idea of fun doesn’t involve seeing your life flash before your eyes, then the good news is that there are also plenty of truly unique Victoria Falls activities which are just as exciting but with a slightly lower scream factor.
THE FLIGHT OF ANGELS
The best way to get to grips with the sheer size of Victoria Falls is to take to the sky in a helicopter or for the slightly more adventurous, a micro-light. Keep an eye out for plump pods of hippos in the Zambezi and elephants gathered at the river's edge as you skirt the column of rainbow-lit spray above the falls and zig-zagging Batoka Gorge. It's a massive experience and the only real way to fit everything in when trying to capture the Falls in a single photograph.
CRUISING THE ZAMBEZI RIVER
The Zambezi River flows at a leisurely pace above the falls and the ever-popular sunset river cruises are as relaxing as the raging rapids below are thrilling. Sit back with a chilled drink in one hand and binoculars in the other - there's always wildlife to look out for - but if you're looking for something a more adventurous, take to the river in a 2-person canoe on a guided expedition.
SWIMMING IN THE DEVIL’S POOL
Admittedly, this activity does come with a big dose of adrenalin, not to mention unrivalled bragging rights. The incredulous looks of your friends when they see photos of you on a precipice surrounded by thundering water tumbling into a 100-metre chasm may indicate their thought that you’ve lost the plot but the Devil’s Pool is not as dangerous as it appears in photographs – a natural rock ledge reduces the current and keeps swimmers safe as they splash about.
It is only safe to swim in Devil’s Pool during the dry winter season when water levels are comparatively low, so bear this in mind when deciding on the best time to visit Victoria Falls.
FINE DINING ON A STEAM TRAIN
In today’s world of steakhouses and casual dining, one doesn’t often get the chance to dress for dinner, let alone to look forward to an evening of fine food and wine as candlelight glints off hand-cut crystal and polished silverware. The Royal Livingstone Express train takes this fine dining experience to a whole new level with two wood-panelled dining cars, a lounge car with deep leather armchairs and an open observation carriage, all pulled by a steam locomotive. As you chug through villages and into the Mosi-o-Tunya National Park, you snack on hors d’oeuvres, sip champagne, and look forward to your 3-course dinner prepared by the chefs from the 5-star Royal Livingstone Hotel.
DINNER, DRUMMING AND A FUN NIGHT OUT
If you’re going to ‘The Boma, Place of Eating’ (on the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls) you can leave your heels and jewellery back at the hotel; the dress code here is a chitenje (brightly coloured cotton wrap) and a dab or two of face paint. The food includes a buffet barbecue offering familiar chicken and beef dishes plus a wide range of more unusual options such as warthog, kudu and smoked crocodile. While you eat, Ndebele singers and dancers put on a show, a sangoma (traditional healer) throws the bones to tell guests fortunes, and before you know it you’ll be banging on your own drum and joining in the fun.
PLANNING YOUR HOLIDAY
When planning your holiday, put yourself in the right place and give yourself enough time to experience the incredible variety of activities Victoria Falls has to offer. A few of our favourite places to stay include:
The Elephant Camp: combine the drama of Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls with a safari at this tented camp, overlooking a waterhole in a private game concession.
Victoria Falls Hotel: stroll to Victoria Falls from the comfort of this charming, historic hotel, the undisputed 'Grand Old Lady' of this great destination.
The Royal Livingstone: across on the Zambian side, this elegant hotel is also within easy walking distance of the falls and its riverside deck is the perfect place to toast the sunset.
The River Club: this top-end, owner-run lodge sits 18km upstream from Victoria Falls and has superb chalets overlooking the Zambezi - a perfect retreat.
Or take a look at our selection of recommended tours and safaris all of which include a stay in Victoria Falls.