February 26

When is The Best Time to Visit Victoria Falls?

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February 26, 2024

Africa's landscapes look different throughout the year, and the world's largest waterfall is no exception. Therefore, knowing when is the best time to visit Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or Zambia is important to ensure you make the most of your visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. We break down each season with their many highlights to guide you. 

Tour of Victoria Falls

The best time to visit Victoria Falls depends on what you want to do, Image Credit: Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma

The Best Time to Visit Victoria Falls per Season 

Also known locally as "Mosi-oa-Tunya", meaning "The Smoke That Thunders", Victoria Falls is a year-round destination, with each season bringing its own unique flavour. The main seasons are broken up into high water season, low water season, summer, winter, and peak safari season, with some seasons overlapping. 

The best time to visit Victoria Falls if you want to see it at its most impressive is between February and May, as the summer rains have turned it into a cascading spectacle, visible and audible from far away. 

When deciding when to visit Victoria Falls, you have to keep in mind that some activities, like swimming in Devil's Pool, visiting Livingstone Island, and white water rafting, are seasonal as they're only possible when the water levels are lower. And although there's the best time for most activities, you should not discount those in-between seasons that are not as popular as they can offer a "sweet spot" of great benefits like better availability, lower rates, and a less crowded experience. 

To help guide you, here's an overview of each season and what to expect. However, if you book your tailored luxury Victoria Falls safari with us, our Travel Experts will recommend the best time to visit Victoria Falls for what you want to do and see.

February to July: High Water Season 

At this time of year, "The Smoke That Thunders" really comes to life as Victoria Falls is at its fullest. Therefore, it's considered the best time to visit Victoria Falls if you want to see it in all its grandeur. When you visit Victoria Falls National Park (Zimbabwean side), you can admire it from 16 different viewpoints. Just know that you could get soaked by the mist (your guide will give you a rain jacket), but that just adds another layer of fun to the experience! 

The Zambezi River feeding this grand waterfall is also in full flood, so boat safaris will be a highlight of your trip, as well as game viewing at some of the best game reserves in Zimbabwe and Zambia. We highly recommend you go on both a sunrise and sunset river cruise on the Zambezi River, as each offers unique experiences. 

You can expect fairly temperate weather, with cool mornings that warm up as the day progresses and cooling down again in the evenings. Please note that from around February, water rafting, as well as access to Devil's Pool and Livingstone Island, are closed for the high water season. You can read more about what it's like to visit during the high water season in my blog about my recent stay at Old Drift Lodge here

Highlights

  • Victoria Falls is at its fullest, giving you the full experience of its grandeur – you will get soaked! 
  • It's the best time for helicopter flights to enjoy a bird's-eye view
  • Sunrise and sunset boat safaris are fantastic during this time 

Ideal for

Seeing Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River in full flood.

Victoria Falls in all its glory

When I visited Victoria Falls in the high water season, Image Credit: Katharina Mandy

August to January: Low Water Season 

This is the best time to admire Victoria Falls from up close, as the mist is lower, so you'll still feel it but won't get drenched. You can also see the geological formations usually hidden under the gushing water.

The low water season is also the perfect time to experience why Victoria Falls is nicknamed "Africa's Adventure Capital". This is the time to enjoy those seasonal activities  – white water rafting, swimming in Devil's Pool, and visiting Livingstone Island! White rafting is best from November to December as the Zambezi River is at its lowest. 

This is also a great time to enjoy bungee jumping, zip-lining and gorge swinging (although they're year-round activities) as the weather is not so hot. Migratory birds also start arriving in the area around November, making it a great time for birdwatching.

Highlights 

  • White water rafting, as this activity is only possible when the water levels are lower
  • Swimming in Devil’s Pool on the Zambian’s side (if you’re staying in Zimbabwe, you can take a day trip across)
  • Visiting Livingstone Island, as it opens again due to the lower water levels

Ideal for

Adrenaline seekers looking for the most exhilarating activities.

A group on the edge of Devil's Pool

A group on the edge of Devil's Pool, Image Credit: Livingstone Island

October to April: Wet Summer Season

Feeling hot, hot, hot! If you visit Victoria Falls during summer, you can expect warm, humid conditions (around 30°C during the day), as well as some afternoon thunderstorms. However, these storms help cool down the weather and result in stunning sunsets.

If you love lazing by the pool, the summer season is for you. Just be sure to pack extra sunblock! However, if you're not a fan of heat and humidity, we don't recommend visiting in October and November, as these are the hottest months in Victoria Falls. Some safari destinations like Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe also close during the wet summer season, with many camps being inaccessible during this time. 

The Zambezi River is known for its freshwater sport fishing, in particular, the tigerfish and tilapia. Although it's a year-round activity, tiger fishing is best during summer at the Lower Zambezi National Park. Also, bird lovers will enjoy spotting the many resident and migrant species all around.

Highlights 

  • Summer is considered the best season for birding, as resident and migrant species are prevalent
  • You'll love the sunrise and sunset boat cruises on the Zambezi River with colourful skies
  • Tiger fishing on the Lower Zambezi River is at its best

Ideal for

Making use of your riverside plunge pool, bird-watching and tigerfishing.

Woman in infinity pool overlooking the Zambezi River

It's pool day every day when you visit Victoria Falls in summer, Image Credit: Victoria Falls River Lodge

May to October: Dry Winter Season 

As the dry winter season creeps in and the temperatures drop a bit, this is considered to be the perfect time to experience Victoria Falls if you're not a fan of the heat. But winter in Victoria Falls is not what you're probably used to, with rather temperate, conditions and long, sunny days of around 20°C. 

Winter is also considered the best time for safaris in Zimbabwe and Zambia because the bush is sparse, and wildlife gathers around scattered waterholes and riverbanks.

If you're lucky, you can see a remarkable sight, namely Victoria Falls' mysterious lunar rainbow, also called the moonbow. The best time to visit Victoria Falls to see this moonbow is from June to August. However, please note that it depends on various factors like clear skies, a full moon, not too much spray from Victoria Falls, and more.

Highlights

  • Expect great game viewing at the many surrounding national parks and in neighbouring Botswana
  • You could see the incredible lunar rainbow between June and August 
  • White water rafting and swimming in the famous Devil's Pools – water levels dependent

Ideal for

Seeing the lunar rainbow and for the best wildlife viewing. 

lunar rainbow victoria falls

The lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls is a special treat to see

June to October: Peak Safari Season

The peak safari season coincides with winter and the low water season. Therefore, the best time to visit Victoria Falls if you want to combine the thrill of Victoria Falls with the excitement of a safari is from June to October

As this is the drier season, the vegetation is more sparse, making it an excellent time for game viewing. You can often see large herds of elephants and buffalo coming to the riverbanks to drink, as well as plenty of wildlife gathering around scattered waterholes.

Zimbabwe and Zambia are both home to world-renowned game reserves. In Zimbabwe, Mana Pools National Park is a must, with four oxbow pools attracting a myriad of wildlife. We also recommend a Big 5 safari in Hwange National Park, one of our continent's biggest conservation areas. On the other hand, Zambia's South Luangwa National Park is best for a walking safari, whereas Kafue National Park is the second-biggest national park in the world. There are plenty of other safari destinations our Travel Experts can recommend to you, too.

Highlights

  • Enjoy Big 5 game drives, boat safaris, canoe safaris, walking safaris, horseback safaris, and more
  • As this is the low water season, white water rafting is at its best (usually between July and September)
  • Follow in Dr David Livingstone's footsteps as you tour Livingstone Island (Zambian side)

Ideal for 

The best game viewing and white-water rafting opportunities. 

Golden sunset with zebras in Victoria Falls

Golden hour on safari makes for great photographs, Image Credit: Tania de Kock

So, When is The Best Time to Visit Victoria Falls?

The best time to visit Victoria Falls is from May to October, but really depends on what you want to do, as it offers so many activities year-round.

We frequently visit Victoria Falls and have experienced it throughout all its seasons. And as the world's most awarded safari company, we know our continent better than anyone else, using our first-hand experience to tailor personalised luxury safaris. 

So, if you're ready to see not only Victoria Falls but our continent's many, many other wonders in person, reach out to our Travel Experts, and let's start planning! 

Enjoy dreamy sunset cruises on the river

Enjoy dreamy sunset cruises on the Zambezi River, Image Credit: Victoria Falls River Lodge

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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.

  • We are looking to take a trip to Africa with white water rafting in Victoria falls and a fabulous safari.
    10 day trip total… September or October 2024. Two of us. From Savannah GA

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