The smoke that thunders: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

A visit to the World's largest waterfall.
‘Mosi-oa-Tunya‘ was the original name given to Victoria Falls, the world’s most monumentus waterfall. It translates to ‘The Smoke That Thunders’ and I can confidently say that this is as accurate as a description can get.

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On the morning of our visit, we wake and open our doors to a cooling and continuos spray of water. Confused, we look for the source… there are no lawn sprinklers in sight and the sky is bright and clear. It takes a moment for us to realize that amazingly, even though we’re located around 5 miles away, the Falls’ forceful current is sending water all the way to us.

We’re staying in what is easily one of my favorite Airbnb finds. Named ‘The Elephant House‘ by its owners – a young South African family – the house (which consists of a bedroom and bathroom) adjoins to the main house but still manages to offer a perfect amount of privacy. Its deep wood furniture and printed fabrics wouldn’t look out of place in Tarzan’s tree house and the large lush green garden that surrounds it almost make it feel like that’s exactly where we are.

When starting our day it’s around 8 am.We head to the Victoria Falls Bridge, what we think is the main viewpoint, passing a security checkpoint on the way to confirm that we’re just visiting the Falls and not crossing over to neighboring Zambia.

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The Falls is located on the Zambezi River, sitting on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and while it isn’t the world’s tallest, nor the widest, it’s height and width combined make it the worlds largest. Our visit is taking place in April, which is a wet season and as we edge closer, the spraying water gets increasingly intense and the thundering sound of crashing water heightens. While we struggling to push through, local women dressed in bright Ankara prints walk past us with ease, balancing large piles of goods on their heads.

We get to the bridge and the view is amazing. It provides a view of one of the Falls’ impressive gorges and is also activities like bungee jumping, bungee swinging, and zip-lining take place. We choose the last (least frightening and cheapest) option and, after being hooked up the equipment, zoom across the gaping gorge to an audience of local street vendors and other tourists.

When we return to our accommodation at around mid-day, our host is astonished that we managed to stay so dry during our visit, this soon makes us realize that we hadn’t in fact seen the Falls from the optimal spot. We discover that to really get up close to it, we need to buy an entrance ticket to the Victoria Falls National Park.

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When we arrive at the park, the vendors located outside insist that we rent raincoats for 3USD, we confidently decline, feeling certain that this is just a rouse to hustle us out of money, but soon learn that their persistence was highly justified.

By the time we finish our visit we’re soaking wet, our vision is blurred and my hair is a mess. The volume of spraying water is so high there would be no difference in our state if we had actually jumped in, nonetheless, we’re blown away by how phenomenal the Falls are. The park’s viewing points let you get as close as any sane person would want to be to anything this powerful, really showing off how magical Victoria Falls is.

Before we leave I take one last photo, knowing that I better make the most of my soaking wet camera before it dies, and just when I thought the views couldn’t get any more impressive – a rainbow appears.


How we traveled: Using a company named Pathfinder, we boarded a coach from Harare at 6 am which took us on a 4-hour ride to Bulawayo, from here we rode for another 4 hours on a coach to Victoria Falls. This wasn’t a terrible experience but I found myself to be quite irritable in the last few hours. Another option would be to fly directly to Victoria Falls airport.

What we did: We visited the Victoria Falls Bridge which is free, took a tandem zipline across the gorge for 65USD and visited the Victoria Falls National Park for which entry was 20USD.

Where we ate: From what we could see, there are very few food options. We were on a budget and opted for fast-food but also visited the Lookout Cafe that offers slightly pricier food but has an amazing view of the Falls.

Where we stayed: We stayed in an AirBnB named The Elephant House.

Tips & Tricks: Buy/rent a raincoat!

2 Comments

  • This sounds so awesome! I hope to visit one day although that will involve me doing a lot of flying and careful budgeting 🙂 Thanks for sharing your adventure in such detail

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you do get to go there for yourself one day! It will be well worth the flying and budgeting 🙂

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