Borders between countries can often be a rather dull affair. Perhaps a sign bids you welcome. Maybe there’s a fence or a check point. Not so at the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Here, the majestic Zambezi River and Victoria Falls dramatically cleave the countries in two, connected by a dramatic suspension bridge.
With a height of more than 100 metres and a span of almost two kilometres, Victoria Falls is considered the world’s largest waterfall in terms of size. The falls were actually named after Queen Victoria by Scottish missionary back in 1855. Local tribes had already named it Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means “The smoke that thunders”, in reference to the spray thrown up by the thunderous waters which can be seen from 30 miles away. The tribes were once afraid of the falls. These days they are a tourism lifeline to this part of the world, with smart hotels, cafés and restaurants springing up on both sides.
Built in 1904, Victoria Falls Hotel is a grand, Edwardian-style hotel overlooking the falls. With thatched roofs and elegant decor with rustic-chic touches, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge offers luxury amid the African nature. Their swimming pool offers expansive views over the Savannah. You can sip a cocktail while you watch animals drink from the waterhole in front of the hotel.
As the name suggests, The Lookout Cafe offers superb views across the gorge. Try one of their quirky cocktails, each named after the Zambezi River rapids, like the 3rd Ugly Sister, Morning Glory, Stairway to Heaven and Devil’s Toilet Bowl! For an elegant meal on the river, hop aboard a Ra-Ikane cruise – they set sail for breakfast, lunch and sunset. The Dinner and Drum Show at Boma Restaurant is a popular choice for visitors, and offers hearty Zimbabwean cuisine with entertainment from traditional storytellers, singers and dancers.
April is when the falls are at their peak, whereas in October and early November the levels can drop to the point where it’s possible to even walk through some parts of the falls.
You may think it’s best to visit the falls when they’re in full flow, but the Devil’s Pool poses an interesting conundrum for travellers. The driest months are the only times of the year when it’s possible to swim in this naturally occurring infinity pool. All it takes is a rocky walk and a leap of faith and before you know it you’re plunging into the water. Perched on the edge of the falls, you can feel the force of the mighty Zambezi surging past you as the waters crash 100 metres below. Fortunately the natural rock walls keep you out of harm’s way.
And to top it all off, if you visit Victoria Falls when the moon is full, giant bands of colour materialise out of the spray. Who even knew that lunar rainbows existed?
No wonder Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.