Victoria Falls (Zambia) – How to DIY from Livingstone
Victoria Falls is one of the world’s seven natural wonders, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and straddles across 2 countries, Zambia and Zimbabwe. There are 2 sides to it, the Zambia and Zimbabwe side.
The Falls are 1.7 km wide with a vertical drop of 100 metres. The spray of the Falls can be clearly seen from a distance of 30km the locals call it “Mosi-oa-Tunya” means “The smoke that thunders”. It is a super cool name if you ask me, would want to name my kid something like that in the future.
We stayed at Livingstone in Zambia and made going to Victoria Falls a day trip instead. You can read my post on how to get to the Zimbabwe side from Livingstone. Some of the relevant information there is replicated here.
Although there are many other activities to do on the Zambia side of Victoria Falls, we were not interested in them. There was kayaking, swimming, white water rafting, abseiling, bungee jumping, but most people go to the Devil’s Pool. The Devil’s Pool is seen as the “ultimate infinity pool”, because you are literally at the cliff’s edge at the side of the fall. However, it is quite costly as the tour is around US$ 105, although it includes some small perks, it is just an instagram/photo booth experience for the wow factor. Not my kind of thing. This post is focused on just exploring the Victoria Falls Zambia side from Livingstone.
*Do note that this trip was done in Dec 2017 so some things might have changed (but i highly doubt it!)*
Livingstone is quite a small city and the main thing for there is basically the Victoria Falls. It is quite a safe city, even though there are not many street lights at night but it felt pretty alright to walk through the city centre at night. The exchange rates in the city do not differ that much and you can go to a proper one without fear of being scammed.
The airport process was very straight forward and easy. We went through the customs within 15 minutes. We had yellow fever vaccinations anyway due to our extensive travelling so we did not need to worry about it.
Livingstone just has one main street which runs through the city center. However, Livingstone’s main street runs on a slope, so it can be quite tiring to walk through. Most of the relevant shops for the tourists are centered along this main street.
They also have certain plaza centers where there is a small mall or prominent supermarket in the center and other food and shops around. We always hunt for supermarkets in the African region, and Shoprite was one of our best friends in Livingstone.
There was not much food choices in Livingstone. I tried to ask the backpackers for recommendation but it didn’t churn up any fantastic places. I guess the Singaporean foodie in me was too demanding. Honestly, Livingstone is not a food haven so don’t expect too much. Also the people like convenient fried food, and sugared drinks, it can be oily and really unhealthy at times.
We wanted to eat at Zambezi Cafe but it was closed for renovations. We headed to Spar the supermarket but it was closed also. Another recommended place was Zam Mex but when we walked over there, it was closed permanently!
In the end, we just ended up eating at Food Palace near the main street, which had decent priced and a wide variety of local food.
You can try “Nshima” which is a local dish that is like rice grain bread, just pure carbs. We got it together with fish and the sauce provieded was a sweet and sour sauce. Usually, I finish all my food but the Nshima was so heavy that I could only eat one piece. I thought it would be like an African Bao (bun), but it was so heavy and filling. I guess it really is their everyday man’s food.
Another place I would recommend is Munali Cafe, but it is mainly for bread and coffee.
We stayed at this backpackers called Fawlty Backpackers. It was a pretty decent place. We booked the basic rooms and they were not exceptional but that was all we needed.
The great thing about the accommodation was that we had a pick up from the airport by Fawlty backpackers.
We were afraid of it being really hot but surprisingly it was okay at night. There were mosquito nets around the beds which meant that lots of mosquitoes around.
It can’t be helped but it was a pity because there was a beautiful garden and pool outside but it wasn’t that nice to chill around especially at night due to the mosquitoes. However, they had a nice area around the reception for beer and to hang around while waiting for transport or to escape the heat.
It was also quite centrally located near supermarkets and there were food choices around the area. The taxi service from the backpackers was not the cheapest but it was reasonable and reliable.
Zambia Visa: https://www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm/nationals-who-dont-require-visa/
Pricing for Zambia Visa: https://www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm/for-residents/pricing-page/
Single Entry: US$ 50
Double Entry: US$ 80
Luckily for us Singaporeans, we did not need to get any visa. 50 USD is extremely costly for just a 1-2 day visit!
Taxi to Zambia Victoria Falls (1 way) from Fawlty: 60 ZK (Zambian Kwacha)
Taxi back to Livingstone City Centre (1 way): 60 ZK
Cost is per taxi, so it will be cheaper if you have more people.
Zambia Victoria Falls Entrance Fees: 20 USD per pax
When to go?
The best times for the full flow of the waterfalls is during February – June. However, it also means that you will experience the full spray of the waterfalls, which basically obstructs any view of the waterfalls ironically.
October – November are the dry seasons, where you might end up only seeing rocks (Eastern Cataract) on the Zambia side of Victoria Falls.
If you are interested in the Devil’s Pool, the best time to visit is estimated around August – January (the dry seasons). They usually avoid the wet seasons as the water flow is too high.
We went in December, so I guess it wasn’t the full flow, but it wasn’t totally dry. It allowed us to take pictures though! You can see from the pictures below later.
Map & Directions
From Livingstone, it is quite straight forward. If you have read my post on the how to get to the Zimbabwe side of the Victoria Falls, it is essentially the same but without the border crossing. The entrance to Zambia Victoria Falls is situated extremely close to the Zambia Border Post/Immigration Office before the Victoria Falls Bridge. You can easily get taxis from the accommodation or on the street. The most important thing is to bargain, 60K for 1 way or 20K for a shared taxi per way is the maximum.
Your transport or taxi will drop you off at the Curio Market of Victoria Falls. From there, just follow the signs on the left and walk past the market along the road to the ticket office and entrance to get your ticket.
Victoria Falls Zambia
General Tourists/SADC Visitors: US$ 20
Well, Zambia is one of the places that does discriminatory pricing for tourists. I actually support such a system, but my heart always aches when I see the disparity. For locals, it only cost US$ 2, so it is 10 times the difference.
*All children between 6 and 16 years old pay 50% of the adult fee, and children under 6 enter free of charge
* These fees are for a single entry, if you exit you have to pay again. Your day ticket does not cover your night entry fee
In general, they are open from 6am to 6pm.
Map & Directions
I found this picture from this website: https://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/victoria-falls-entrance.html
The map gives a good gauge of how to walk. Or you can refer to the Victoria Falls Site Map which I took a picture of when I was there.
Similar to Zimbabwe side, there are 2 main paths. However, for Zimbabwe it was more straight forward. For Zambia side, one main path leads you to the Knife’s Edge and Danger Point, where you are basically looking across to the Zimbabwe side. The other path is towards Boiling Pot or the “Photo Graphic Trail”, where it gives you a view of the Victoria Falls Bridge. Both routes do not connect at the end so you would need to backtrack.
For us, we to the Photo Graphic Trail first, skipped Boiling Pot and headed towards Knife Edge Bridge. The spray along the walk to Knife’s Edge is a lot stronger than in Zimbabwe, so prepare to be slightly drenched!
At the start, we saw people kayaking or white water rafting. It looked pretty cool but extremely scary if you asked me. The water looked really rapid from the top. Perhaps it was because you could trace it from the top of the falls.
The view of the river is also pretty impressive. From what I’ve read, it was a process of 100,000 years, a result of “the repeated cutting back of the line of the Falls and the successive formation and abandonment of seven previous broad waterfalls”. The river itself has carved a “tortuous route through the soft areas within the basalt rock, forming a deep gorge in a tight zigzag course for kilometres.”
Victoria Falls Bridge can also be seen from afar, the very bridge we used to cross to get to Zimbabwe. If you hike down the “Boiling Pot”, you will reach slightly under the Victoria Falls Bridge near the water.
The clear difference between Victoria Falls Zambia as compared to Zimbabwe, is the organization of the area. Clearly more money has been put into maintaining and organising this part of the Victoria Falls. I would speculate it is due to Zambia being economically stronger, as well as the fact they don’t have much of the natural view of Victoria Falls so they would need to put in more effort to attract the tourists.
A nicely paved route meanders through the forest before reaching Knife’s Edge Bridge. The “fences” this time is a proper wooden fence, at least of a reasonable height. There were much more signages to point the way, as well as informative signs (In English!) at each viewpoint or main site.
There were also monkeys along the route. Beware of them! A family of monkeys blocked our path and the females looked really aggressive so we waited awhile before avoiding them. Monkeys are pretty common in Zambia side of the Victoria Falls.
Knife’s Edge Bridge
Having seen Zimbabwe Victoria Falls, I wasn’t as amazed or blown away by the Zambia side. The main path was the Knife’s Edge Bridge. It was enjoyable to walk along a nicely paved way with the waterfalls spray. Personally, I prefer the open and raw nature of Zimbabwe side as compared to this more organized and curated way.
Eastern Cataract/Main Gorge
While walking along the path and across the Knife’s Edge Bridge, we could see the waterfalls over the Eastern Cataract and the Main Gorge. It was a different experience as compared to Zimbabwe side because you can feel the spray of the waterfall while walking across. The waterfalls were not as impressive, but what was fun was the ability to see people atop the waterfall (Devil’s Pool) as well as on the other side of the waterfalls (Zimbabwe).
As we went early morning, it wasn’t that crowded. However, tourists will be funnelled to the Knife’s Edge Bridge due to the way it is structured. Luckily for us, we started early and left before the crowd congregated at the bridge.
There was a pretty nice spot to relax, on the way to the Devil’s Pool. A swim was extremely tempting. In fact, there were some tourists who literally just took off their clothes (leaving their underwear or shorts) and jumped in. It looked like the perfect lunch spot.
Tired of the scorching sun and waterfalls by then, we did not even head down the Boiling Pot as we wanted to try to catch the bus to Botswana. The exit was the same way we came from so we left and headed to have lunch at Livingstone (Zam Mex but it was closed so we ended up walking around). To read more about the rest of our day, you can read the blog post about crossing the Kazungula Border to Botswana!
How much time is needed?
As there are many different activities to do, it would be good to start early or have 1 day of Zambia Victoria Falls.
We chose to do it in the morning because we had to leave for Botswana afterwards. If your itinerary happens to be like us, then just start as early as possible and leave by 11 (where the crowd will gather). 2 hours is more than enough to just explore and enjoy the views of Victoria Falls if you are not looking at any of the activities.
From my post, you can clearly see my preference for Zambia or Zimbabwe Victoria Falls!
As our trip was quite short to Victoria Falls, there were many other aspects of it not covered. After searching the internet, these are some websites which I feel are quite useful and more extensive than what I have in my post which will help others who are looking for other activities in VIctoria Falls Zambia side!