Our experience of Zimbabwe is that it is touristy, but in a good convenient sort of way. The local people can speak clear English, it feels extremely safe to walk around at night, and the local currency is US dollars. This does make everything more expensive, but it feels worth it for a few days. We also picked up a Zambia visa since you can see the waterfalls on both sides. This side its a bit more rough, with aggressive hawkers and there own currency that you have to exchange for. You do need a visa that you can obtain from the airport to see both sides. We also learned from many of the other tourists that they also added a Botswana safari package to their trip, so if you do come please
From Johannesburg to Victoria Falls is a short 1 hour and 15 minute flight away. At the airport we were picked up by our hotel shuttle ($14 per person each way) Shearwater Explorer’s Village. On the way to the hotel our driver had a gave us a brochure of different Victoria Falls activities.
Since we only had a day and a half in town and made no prior arrangements, we booked our activities immediately. At Victoria Falls there are just a few travel companies and the prices are all pretty much about the same, so not much need to compare. We booked the sunset river cruise, helicopter ride, and Victoria Falls park tour through Shearwater Activities, this ended up being $250 each with the Victoria Falls park admission. This definitely made it our priciest city so far.
The Shearwater Explorer’s Village is centrally located and is just a short 10 minute walk to the falls and the town. We had an hour to relax before we were picked up for the sunset river cruise down the Zambezi river. Before boarding the open air boat, we were greeted by dancers from the Zulu tribe, dancing the warrior dance. This two hour boat trip includes unlimited drinks (including bar) and snacks. As we floated down the river we were able to see wild hippos, elephants and a crocodile.
The next morning we had our pre-booked 8am, 15 minute “Flight of Angels” helicopter tour. This was my first ever helicopter tour and I was extremely surprised at how steady the ride was. We flew over the 1700m vast curtain of water known locally as the “Mosi oa Tunya” (the smoke that thunders) aka Victoria Falls and along the Zambezi River and the Zambezi National Park.
At 10am we had our two hour guided Victoria Falls tour, which we could’ve done easily without a tour guide. If you need to choose from the two countries to see it from, I highly recommend from Zimbabwe side, 80% of the falls is located on the Zimbabwe side, while only 20% is on the Zambia side. We ended up almost immediately separating from the group the falls are very wide and needed more then 2 hours to comfortable take photos and soak it in. Speaking of “soaking” it in, you will get drenched, so waterproof ALL your belongings. We saw lots of people who just decided to come in a swimsuit and flip-flops. There are 16 view points moving from left to right and they get wetter as you go along. The walkway is nicely paved and it was nice to see the falls from the lush rainforest.
This time of year the waterfall is filled with water, making it hard to see the individual lines of the water and causing white outs of mist. This was a completely different experience then I had at other waterfalls and so I completely loved getting drenched, but if you decide to come definitely research what the water solution is like at that time. The high water levels also makes certain activities unavailable (Devil’s Pool, rafting, and sky diving), due to strong unsafe currents. Upon arriving we also learned of a phenomenon called a “moon-bow” a rainbow that happens on a full moon, we missed the full moon, but if you can arrange your trip at this time and watch it from the Stanley terrace at Victoria Falls Hotel (If its in your budget to stay there, do it!). We ended up staying in the park for 4 hours enjoying the waterfall viewpoints at a leisurely pace and taking lots of pictures.
After we finished with the Zimbabwe side we crossed the Victoria Falls Bridge, on the Zambia side we watched the bungee and zip liners. Then did a walk through of the small museum dedicated to the construction of the bridge. We walked to the gate of the Zambia falls and then decided to skip this additional view point, we were comfortably dry and the view looked similar to the one we saw.
We ended our evening at the historic Victoria Falls hotel, where you can see the bridge and falls from here. We had dinner on the terrace and watched the sunset.