‘Zimbabwe or Zambia?’ is the question on everybody’s mind once having decided to travel to the iconic Victoria Falls. The largest waterfall in the world is on the Zambezi River, which creates part of the border between two Southern African countries – Zimbabwe and Zambia. Named ‘the Smoke that Thunders’ by the native tribes, the sharp drop of water falls in a thunderous crash, creating a rainbow of light. The breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts travellers from all over the world; each wanting to know whether Zimbabwe or Zambia will give them the best view of the Victoria Falls and an all-round better holiday experience.
Each country has its advantages, and one’s decision to go to Zimbabwe or Zambia will depend on the time of year one is travelling, and what else one plans to do on holiday. Whether one wants to do something that is only offered in either Zimbabwe or Zambia will also affect one’s decision. The waterfall offers many exciting activities on or near the river, and the most popular of these are offered on both sides of the border. The landscapes and game viewing is spectacular on both sides, and the wildlife varies little between the countries.
Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
- The majority of the Victoria Falls lies within Zimbabwe, with about 75 – 80 percent of the Falls is on the Zimbabwean side.
- A flourishing rainforest surrounds the Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side, with many paths trailing through the forest and giving travellers the ability to see the Falls from many viewpoints.
- Better priced accommodation and activities than in Zambia.
- More hotels and lodging options within walking distance of the Falls.
- Eight main national parks, including that of the Victoria Falls National Park.
- Victoria Falls town is in Zimbabwe.
- Political strife of the past decade has affected tourism in the area, although the problems affecting tourism have been largely stabilised. The region around the Falls, particularly, is regarded as a safe area.
Victoria Falls Zambia
- Although only 20 – 25 percent of the Victoria Falls lie on the Zambian side, from here one may have the unique viewpoint of looking directly down the water drop.
- The Devil’s Pool, which allows extreme adventurers to float on the edge of the Zambezi before the waterfall curtain drops over the edge, is on the Zambian side. Nothing like this is on offer in Zimbabwe, although the Devil’s Pool is only open during the dry season, when the risk of going over the Falls is lowered by the slow-running river.
- Exhilarating microlight flights only offered in Zambia. The open-air aircraft gives an unparalleled birds-eye view of the Falls.
- Only two hotels are close to the Falls, although they are known for their luxurious splendor; the Royal Livingstone Hotel and the Zambezi Sun.
- The popular Livingstone Island.
- Accommodation and activity costs are higher than those in Zimbabwe.
- During October and November of the dry season, the water flow of the eastern cataract in Zambia slows down significantly, and dries up completely in parts, so that the only view is one of a giant rock.
The ideal way to see the Victoria Falls is from both countries, and day-pass visas are available for purchase to allow travellers staying in either Zimbabwe or Zambia to cross the border for the day. For tourists who have a limited number of days and have to make a choice between Zimbabwe or Zambia, the recommended country is Zimbabwe. While both countries offer awe-inspiring views of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe certainly has more angles to view it from, as well as more budget-friendly options.