January 23

Victoria Falls: Which Side is Better? Zimbabwe vs Zambia


January 23, 2022

When it comes to visiting Victoria Falls, which side is better? This is a very common question we get from our guests. And it’s a valid one! As the Victoria Falls flow as a natural border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, deciding where to stay will determine the type of experience you will have. So, how do you choose between the two countries? Well, lucky for you, we’ve seen it from both sides! Here’s what to expect when visiting the two destinations to help you decide which one’s best for you. 

Aerial view of the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls

A dreamy water playpark of adventure awaits 

Explore Africa's Adventure Capital

In 1855, Scottish explorer David Livingstone first laid eyes on what is now known to be the largest sheet of falling water in the world. And he was mesmerised. He later referred to the Falls as "the most wonderful sight [he had] seen in Africa". 

And today, at 108m high, 1708m wide, and with an average flow of around 33,000 cubic feet per second, it's still a miraculous sight to behold! Can't picture it? Well, just imagine nearly double the Niagara Falls! And it has the stamp of approval from the world, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. 

Aerial photo of Victoria Falls gushing down

The incredible view of Victoria Falls from a helicopter

The Smoke that Thunders

Victoria Falls is known locally as "Mosi-oa-Tunya", which translates to "the Smoke that Thunders". And one glimpse at this thundering volume of water with mist billowing like a massive mystical cloud around it, and the reason behind this name will become clear as day.  

As David Livingstone put it:

"No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight." 

Well, we might not have angel wings, but we can tell you that it certainly does feel unreal when you gaze upon the Victoria Falls' majesty! 

So now, all that's left is to decide where to base yourself to admire its grandeur.

Aerial view from helicopter of Victoria Falls and the bridge

A helicopter flight is the best way to appreciate the Falls

Victoria Falls: Which Side is Better?

We're not going to beat around the bush here! The reality is that we love both of these countries. However, what they offer differs from one another, and where you decide to go really depends on your preferences.

Here's the lowdown to make it easier for you to decide.

What to Expect from Seeing Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe's Side 

Roughly two-thirds of Victoria Falls is visible from the Zimbabwean side. Therefore, you have plenty of viewpoints that are easily accessible and great year-round, some even within walking distance from the various luxury accommodation options. So, if you're here to take the best photograph of the Falls, then this side is probably best for you!

Or, if you're an adrenaline junkie who loves watersports and throwing yourself off cliffs, then Zimbabwe is for you. Those who thrive in a bustling destination with plenty of activities like shopping, dining out and bar hopping will love this side.

Man looking out at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe offers incredible lookout points from which to admire Victoria Falls

Highlights in Zimbabwe in a Nutshell 

  • The most iconic vantage point of the famous Victoria Falls.
  • Considered the best destination for watersports and other adrenaline-fueled activities. 
  • If you enjoy being in the lively hub of a town, Victoria Falls Town will delight you with plenty of markets, restaurants and a vibey nightlife.
  • Zimbabwe offers year-round views of Victoria Falls. 
  • Home to a full five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Other than Victoria Falls, these include Mana Pools, Khami Ruins, Matobo National Park, and Great Zimbabwe.
  • Well-known for its big cat and elephant safari sightings. 
  • The Victoria Falls National Park also offers the perfect first-hand exploration experience, with cinematic footpaths. to follow through the rainforest.

Our Favourite Places to Stay in Zimbabwe

We've slept in these beds and know the staff by their names! Here are some of the accommodations where we recommend staying in Zimbabwe for the best experience.

1. Matesti Victoria Falls

Matetsi Victoria Falls offers the ultimate luxury safari experience complemented by the warm hospitality Zimbabwe is known for. The Luxury Suites, Luxury Family Suite and Private Villa, dot the Zambezi River banks, treating guests to interrupted, tranquil views.

There are many ways to explore the Zambezi River, from canoeing to boat cruises. And on land, you can enjoy both day and night game drives. Matetsi is known for its guided walking tours of the Falls, allowing guests an in-depth exploration of the local rainforest. 

For those who aren't afraid of heights, a helicopter flight over the Falls, or the 'Flight of the Angels', offers the ultimate view of Victoria Falls. You can also take a trip to Victoria Falls Town, where activities include river-rafting, zip-lining, bungee-jumping, to name just a few.

Perfect for: Honeymooners, anniversaries, or groups and families travelling together.

Swimming pool with stunning views at Matetsi River Lodge

Swimming pool with stunning views, Photo credit: Matetsi River Lodge

2. Victoria Falls River Lodge

The first private game lodge built in the Zambezi National Park, Victoria Falls River Lodge, is on the mighty Zambezi River banks. Located mere minutes upstream from the Falls, it's even close enough for you to see the spray from the Falls itself!

The 13 Luxury Tents have own river views, private plunge pools, and exclusive luxury. However, if you want an even more exclusive and private experience, 6 Luxury Island Suites are a quick boat ride away. Connect by raised wooden walkways, these suites are probably the most remote and romantic place you can find on earth.

Perfect for:  Honeymooners, anniversaries, or anyone looking for quick access to the Falls.

3. The Victoria Falls Hotel

One of the world's classic five-star hotels and a proud member of Leading Hotels of the World, The Victoria Falls Hotel dates back to 1904. And in 2013, it was exquisitely redecorated. Today, it's known as an icon of luxury in Africa.

Besides the rich history, what makes this hotel special is that you have private access to the Falls! Just take a quick 10-minute stroll, and you're there.

Perfect for: Those who want easy access to the Falls and a classic luxury hotel experience.

Lush garden of the Victoria Falls Hotel - one of the best lodges in Victoria Falls

Welcome to the grand dame of Vic Falls, Photo credit: Victoria Falls Hotel

What to Expect from Seeing Victoria Falls from Zambia's Side

Zambia is an underrated destination and not as frequently visited by tourists as its neighbours. But this is part of its charm! Personally, we love Zambia because it offers a more off-the-beaten-track experience. If uncrowded spaces and leisurely sundowner cruises sound right up your alley, you should consider this side.

Cruise on the Zambezi River with Royal Chundy

Serene sunsets on the Zambezi River is the best way to end your day, Image credit: Royal Chundu

However, that's not to say that Zambia does not offer plenty of adventure too! Home to Devil's Pool, you can swim right up to the edge of the Falls. Needless to say, it's a heart-stopping, jaw-dropping kind of experience! On this side, you will also find the famous Livingstone Island.

The country is known for walking safaris, which gives you a unique perspective of the wild. Some of the lodges are located on the banks of the Zambezi River, giving you access to some exciting adrenaline-pumping activities.

Man and woman in Devil's Pool, Zambia

Devil’s Pool is a daredevil’s swimming pool

Highlights in Zambia in a Nutshell 

  • Nature's infinity pool (not for the faint-hearted!) called Devil's Pool is on this side (seasonal).
  • Take a boat trip to Livingstone Island (seasonal).
  • On this side, you can go on safari in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and many other parks.
  • Zambia is known as the 'birthplace of the walking safari.'
  • Considered more of an 'off-the-beaten-track' destination as it has fewer visitors than its neighbouring countries.
  • Famous for lion, leopard, and African wild dog sightings.
  • Offers some of the best safari experiences minus the crowds.

Our Favourite Places to Stay in Zambia 

From river lodges to boutique hotels, the accommodation options in Zambia suits everyone from newlywed couple to families.

1. Thorntree River Lodge

You will find Thorntree River Lodge on Zambia's glorious Zambezi River banks. And because it's in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, you have easy access to Victoria Falls.

The lodge offers accommodation in Tented Rooms and Family Units and is the perfect base to explore the various activities on offer. These include helicopter rides, bungee jumping, rainforest walks, visiting nearby villages, and rhino tracking. Children of all ages are welcome at the lodge.

Perfect for: Families as they have a Ngwana Kids Club to keep the little ones occupied. 

The deck set on the waters surrounding Thorntree River Lodge

What could be more relaxing than this, image credit: Thorntree River Lodge

2. Stanley and Livingstone

Stanley and Livingstone is Victoria Falls' first boutique hotel, built on a private game reserve mere minutes from Victoria Falls. This is the ideal accommodation if you want to combine your Victoria Falls experience with a safari, as the reserve is home to many show-stealing wildlife and an array of birdlife.

There are several room categories to choose from, including a Honeymoon Suite, Twin Suites, Double Suites, and inter-leading Suites. 

Perfect for: Honeymooners or those looking for a tranquil hideout that's still close to the Falls.

Exterior of the Stanley and Livingstone Hotel

Piece of peaceful paradise, image credit: Stanley and Livingstone

3. Royal Chundu

This slice of Zambian heaven was voted as the 4th Best Resort in Africa and 9th Best Resort in the World in the Condé Nast Traveller's 2018 Readers' Choice Awards.

Royal Chundu is also Zambia's first and only Relais & Châteaux property, encompassing two lodges, namely River Lodge and Island Lodge. With 10 Suites overlooking the Zambezi River and within a short 20km from the Victoria Falls, it's the ideal base to explore the Falls from the Zambian side.

Perfect for: The discerning traveller and romantic getaways.

Luxury on the Zambezi

Luxury on the Zambezi, Image Credit: Royal Chundu

So Nice, You Should See it Twice!

Well, there you have it. Since both sides of Victoria Falls offer such unique, unparalleled experiences, the choice remains entirely up to the individual traveller. However, the reality is that you'll want to see it from both sides!

Our Travel Experts can easily give you the best of both worlds by combining the two destinations or arranging for day trips between the two countries. So, whether you decide to stay in Zimbabwe or Zambia, you can still enjoy the activities on both sides! 

Contact our Travel Experts, and they will take all your requirements and interests into account to book your dream African tour. It's time for Africa!

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About the author 

Tania de Kock

Tania has always been an avid reader, which ultimately led to her life-long dream of becoming a best-selling author. She loves travelling, super spicy food, South African wine, and cats! When she's not reading with a glass of wine, you can find her at the nearest beach or camping, running or hiking in the mountains.

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