With a Local: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

This With a Local supplies insider tips on things to do and see while visiting Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

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The Zimbabwean town of Victoria Falls shares its name with the waterfall on the River Zambezi.

The waterfall was named after the nineteenth century British Queen by the explorer and missionary David Livingstone. A statue of Livingstone stands within the park overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s also known as Mosi-ao-Tunya, meaning ‘the smoke that thunders’.

One of the best ways to get an overview of Victoria Falls and the zigzagging gorges around the waterfall is to take the Flight of the Angel helicopter flight.

While I was in southern Africa I spent time in the company of Basil Mapfumo, a tour guide who lives in Victoria Falls. Basil has established the Best of Kaza Torchbearer Awards for tourism and hospitality, and kindly asked me to be a judge of the 2020 awards.

Basil’s knowledge of southern Africa impressed me. In this edition of With a Local, he provides insider perspectives of things to do and where to eat and drink in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

The Zambezi Tram runs between the town of Victoria Falls and the historic Victoria Falls Bridge.
The Zambezi Tram runs between the town of Victoria Falls and the historic Victoria Falls Bridge.

Why should people visit Victoria Falls?

The Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Due to its height and width, it’s one of the biggest water curtains in the world. I think it’s one of those places that has to be on everyone’s bucket list.

There’s also adventure activities and wildlife around the Victoria Falls. We have adventure activities, including skydiving and white water rafting. We also have bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge and a zip line crosses from Zambia into Zimbabwe.

A warthog near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
After a particularly good night out in Victoria Falls I woke feeling rougher than a warthog’s knee.

At Vic Falls we have an array of wild animals. Within the town itself we see a lot of warthogs coming through. We’re on the periphery the national park, where you can see elephants. Within the national park you can see buffalos, hippos and giraffes are abundant.

You can see hippos and crocodiles during the sunset boat cruise on the Zambezi near Victoria Falls. That’s spectacular. People can sit enjoying a drink as the sun sets and watch wild animals.

A hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) in the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls.
A hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) in the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls.

Where is your favourite place in Vic Falls?

It’s undoubtedly the Victoria Falls itself.

In summer, when it’s really hot — during August and September — it’s great to get soaked in the spray of the water that falls in the rainforest. The temperature there is always cooler and there’s different flora growing compared to the surrounding area. It’s very beautiful and amazing science.

In April, May and June when the force of the waterfall is at its peak I don’t like going there because it’s quite misty and wet there. I prefer to walk to the Victoria Falls Bridge and view the falls from the bridge, which is quite a distance from the spray.

The Victoria Falls as also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning 'the smoke that thunders'
The Victoria Falls as also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning ‘the smoke that thunders’.

Where would suggest for a meal in Victoria Falls?

My favourite place is the Shearwater Café in the Explorer’s Village. It suits everyone’s pockets and they serve a range of modern food, so I recommend it.

When I want a local dish I go to Mama Africa restaurant on Victoria Falls Road. That’s where we get traditional foods. I personally would order mopane worms, an edible caterpillar that’s collected from mopane trees and fried with sadza, a type of thick white mash made from maize, and vegetables.

A traditional boma dinner and drum show is fun too.

The arch of the Victoria Falls Bridge, on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, from which people take bungy jumps over the Zambezi River.
The arch of the Victoria Falls Bridge, on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, from which people take bungy jumps over the Zambezi River.

Where would you take someone for a drink in Vic Falls?

That would definitely be Zambezi House (Parkway Drive; tel. +263 213 284 1130). It’s a nice place with a restaurant. One of the house pizzas, Mr Ngwenya, is topped with crocodile tail.

If I’m staying in town I’d go to the Shoestrings Backpackers Lodge (West Drive 12), which has a bar and a garden.

A boat during a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls.
Also an option for evening drinks – a boat during a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls.

Where would you recommend if people have a day or two to spend near Victoria Falls?

I would recommend that people cross over to Chobe National Park in Botswana. The chances of seeing Africa’s Big Five (cape buffalo, elephants, leopards, lions and rhinoceroses) are quite good. People can take a morning game drive and a boat cruise to see animals. They can make a day visit or take an overnight package in Chobe. It’s about 70km from Victoria Falls. It’s an easy trip.

A juvenile male lion in Zimbabwe
A juvenile male lion.

Book accommodation in Victoria Falls

Check room availability in Victoria Falls via Booking.com (£):


Booking.com

Further information

For more information about things to do and see in and around Vic Falls visit the Victoria Falls Tourism and Zimbabwe Tourism websites. If you want to book Basil as a tour guide when you are in southern Africa, contact him on +263 7759 95985 or via the BestofKaza.com website.

Google map showing Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

If you enjoyed this With a Local: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and are planning on staying in or around the town, you may find this review of the Victoria Falls Hotel handy.

'You are now entering Zimbabwe' says a sign marking the Zambia-Zimbawe border on the Victoria Falls Bridge
Sign marking the Zambia-Zimbawe border on the Victoria Falls Bridge.

Illustrating photos are by Why Eye Photography. If you have a project that you’d like to have photographed, call 07947 587136 to discuss your requirements.

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