Mosi-o-tunya: The smoke, that thunders! Also known as Victoria Falls… But in November in the end of the dry season, it can be extremely dry. Hence, you might discover the fall hasn’t that much water falling and not much smoke and thunder…
But there’s plenty of interesting history, activities and more…
A NATURAL WONDER
Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a UNESCO world heritage natural site! Victoria Falls – or Mosi-o-tunya a as it more rightly called – is the world longest waterfall with 1.6 km wide and 128 meters high. It is part of the Zambezi river and marks the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Along the falls is small rainforest-like area, since even in the very dry season, there is mist hanging in the air. There are baboons and monkeys – especially around the toilets – and we also saw bushbucks. Also look out for snakes, but they are more afraid of you…
WHEN TO VISIT VICTORIA FALLS
November is a great time to visit Zimbabwe due to the weather and the safari, but it also has some downside as you can see from the images. At least if you want to visit the world famous fall.
I know, it’s almost sad. Yes, it was definitely dry season in November, and I was a little disappointed, since a large part of the fall was not really a waterfall, but more a canyon. Not what I had imagines when we planned the trip. Maybe it was unusually dry, but I hadn’t even considered the possibility.
On the other hand, we had heard several travellers’ accounts of it being almost impossible to see because of the mist. I can imagine since we could hardly could see the fall of Gullfoss in Iceland due to the massive amount of water, when we visited. So I guess, it’s always and never a good time.
It was mainly The Devil’s Cataract and the beginning of the main falls that had water. It was still impressive though…
The peak is around mid-April, but travellers say that when it is at it’s highest, you almost can’t see anything for all the mist. You can see rainbows and sometimes when it’s full moon a lunar rainbow – a moonbow! The natural infinity pool (The Devils Pool) people always are photographed in is on the Zimbabwean side. I was not taking my 8 year old there…
There are some adventurous activities to do by the falls.
I took a zipline across the river just below the falls. You can see in the image above the two wires going across. The platform is on the left. It was just me and another guy, and we were pretty nervous even though I have tried it before. But once, you take off it’s really not bad.
My son took a video, and its horrible. No GoPro here! Your relatives can panic from the Wild Horizons Lookout Café. There are many other activities near the falls, like bungee jump from the bridge – check your hostel or the offices in town. We also went on a Zambezi cruise, but that will be a different post.
DR. LIVINGSTONE, I PRESUME
When in Africa – it’s British? Dr. David Livingstone was in 1855 transported in a canoe to the falls, where he “discovered” the roaring cascades and named them after Queen Victoria. There is a statue of him marking this event.
You can stay at the famous Victoria Falls Hotel built by the British in 1904. It was originally conceived as accommodation for workers on the Cape-to-Cairo railway. It was the infamous Cecil Rhodes, who was involved. Rhodes was insistent, that the bridge should be built in a place, that the spray from the falls would fall on the passing trains, which is why the site was chosen just a little below the Boiling Pot – very close to the falls.
The best view is from Stanley’s Terrace. It’s extremely expensive, so we just had a drink. The hotel didn’t accept credit cards for our drinks (?), so we had to sit there counting our cents among the über-rich….
EAT & SLEEP IN VICTORIA FALLS
Victoria Falls is a small town, but due to the immense number of tourists (and surely even more now), there’s a lot more to choose form than in the rest of Zimbabwe.
In Victoria Falls, there are many places to stay and many more hotels than any where else in Zimbabwe. There are hotels and hostel in all ranges, and even if I could have afforded it, I was glad we didn’t stay at Victoria Falls Hotel. I was luxurious, but something was just off with the very British upper-class vibe and people in high heels in the middle of Africa.
We opted for a chalet at Victoria Falls Rest Camp & Lodges. It was very close to the falls, they helped me with the zip line and the pool and restaurant was great. The pool was also visited by Zimbabweans which made it a little crowded. The biggest problem was that the hut was sooo warm, that I almost didn’t sleep, and had to get up and shower during the night.
HOW TO GET TO THE FALLS
You can take the bus from Harare to the Zimbabwean city of Vic Falls, and it takes about 12 hours, but it’s very comfortable. It just the amount of time it takes to hear “Out of Africa” by Danish author Karen Blixen on audio book. We took the luxury bus Pathfinder, and it stopped very close to every hotel and hostel. (Update: heard the Pathfinder buses have changes schedules)
You can also visit the falls from the Zambian side. But we stayed in Zim. Me, my husband and our 8 year old son were visiting friends in the capital Harare, and we used it as an opportunity for a month long backpacking trip through Zimbabwe.