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When I arrived in Livingstone, I had no idea what I was in for. I came to see Victoria Falls and ended up having one of the most adrenaline-fueled weeks of my life. From river rafting through the world’s best rapids, to swimming on top of Victoria Falls in the devil’s pool, there is no shortage of adventurous activities to try.
In this post, I’ve rounded up the best things to do in Victoria Falls.
Where is Victoria Falls?
Victoria Falls is shared by two countries. Zimbabwe to the north and Zambia (Livingstone) on the south. Both sides have their perks, but this article will be talking about the best things to do in Livingstone, Zambia.
If you plan to visit both countries, it’s best to get a KAZA Visa which allows you multiple entries to both countries for 30 days, rather then having to pay for two separate visas. You can also visit nearby Chobe National Park in Botswana as a day trip on this visa.
The Best Things to do in Livingstone, Zambia
Swim in the Devil’s Pool
Swimming ON TOP of one of the world’s most epic waterfalls? Yes, it’s possible! And it’s not as scary as it seems. Ok, it’s a little scary, but I promise you it’s actually safe. This is one of the most unique tours you can do in Victoria Falls and is a huge bucket list item to check off.
The tour starts with a 10-minute boat ride where you will be transported to Livingstone Island, the place where David Livingstone first saw Victoria Falls. Can you imagine being the first person to stumble upon this? Insane!
Once you reach the island, the guide takes you on a short walk where you can get some pretty epic views of the falls. There are lockers on the island to store your belongings once you reach the point where you have to swim. It’s just a short swim across a body of water to reach the Devil’s pool. There are two guides with the group the entire time. One of the guides will also take everyone’s phone (if you want) and bring it in a waterproof bag so they can take photos of you at the Devil’s pool!
The max group size for Devil’s pool is six people, and you spend about 15 minutes at the pool. I was the last group of the morning times, so we weren’t rushed to get out by another group coming. If you can manage to get this time slot, I recommend it. Devil’s pool is touristy, but I loved my experience. How often can you say you swam on top of one of the world’s largest waterfalls?!
I felt safe the entire time. I thought the current would be a lot stronger, but there is a section of the pool (where we swam) with barely any, so you can easily look over to the falls without feeling like you’re going be pushed over. It’s also not that deep, with plenty of space to rest your arms.
The price of the tour depends on what time of day you go. There are three different times/prices:
- Breakfast – $115
- Afternoon Tea – $145
- Lunch – $175
The experience and time at the pool are the same for all the tours, so you are virtually just paying the difference for the food. The meals served on Livingstone island are actually delicious, but I would just go for breakfast and save that money for more Victoria Falls tours.
This is one of the most popular tours in Victoria Falls, so I highly recommend booking it early to avoid disappointment.
Swim Under Victoria Falls
Another exciting tour you can go on is swimming under Victoria Falls! This tour is only available during the dry season when the water is low, for safety reasons. Unfortunately during the time I was there, the falls were actually so dry that the tour got canceled. It looks like a fun time though, and swimming is definitely the best way to cool off when the weather is so hot during the dry season.
Take a Cruise on the Zambezi River
One of the most relaxing Livingstone activities is a river cruise down the Zambezi river, where you can see some of the amazing wildlife in Africa.
I took a sunset river cruise with Livingstone Adventures where we boarded on the beautiful African Queen 70ft Catamaran. The cruise costs $75 but comes with unlimited drinks and some tasty snacks. It takes about two hours.
Along the way, we spotted elephants, buffalo, birds, and crocodiles. Coming back, we saw elephants swimming across the river which was so cool!
It’s a sunset cruise, and African sunsets never fail to deliver an amazing performance. If you are looking for a relaxing activity to end the day in Livingstone, I recommend this tour. Many companies also offer a complimentary river cruise if you book another tour with them.
Take a Helicopter Tour over Victoria falls
Taking a Helicopter Ride over Victoria Falls with Livingstone Adventures was the highlight of my week. I had my eyes glued to the window the entire 22-minute flights and just wanted it to go on forever.
Not only do you get the most incredible birds-eye view of Victoria Falls below, but the helicopter ride actually takes you low-flying through the nearby gorges. It was so much fun!
Falls aside, the views of the surrounding landscape are just unreal. Seeing the incredible landscape and water flow into the falls is incredibly beautiful. It was also somewhat of a safari. We spotted elephants, giraffes, and buffalo from the helicopter! It was so much fun, I think I may be addicted to helicopter rides now.
Go on a walking safari to see White Rhinos
White rhinos were the only one of the big 5 animals I didn’t see on my safari in South Luangwa National Park as they don’t have them there. So when I found out that you could see white rhinos on a walking safari in Livingstone, I hopped on the chance!
The white rhinos live in Mosi-oa-Tunya national park, which is just a 20-minute drive from Livingstone. The park isn’t nearly as famous as other parks in Africa such as Kruger National Park, but the small herd of white rhinos there definitely makes it worth visiting. There are 10 rhinos there which are guarded 24/7 due to threats of poaching. Because they are constantly guarded, you are almost guaranteed to see them.
If you don’t have your own car to visit the park you can either book this tour through a company, or hire a taxi to take you. The price will depend on this. I saw it listed as $65 through a tour company, but I know people who were offered to go privately for $20. A taxi driver I knew drove me to the park and told me I had to pay the guards $45 to see the rhinos. Did I get scammed? Probably. But, I don’t really care. I got to stand next to white rhinos. I happily paid for it.
Go White Water Rafting down the Zambezi River
The Zambezi River is world-renowned as one of the world’s best white water river rafting destinations. After having done the full-day tour, I completely agree. This blows any other white water rafting I’ve done out of the water. Literally. We fell out of the water so many times.
This activity is NOT for the faint-hearted. The rapids are absolutely insane, and you will flip over. Probably multiple times! There are 21 rapids in total, each given hilarious names such as “Devil’s Toilet Bowl” and “The Gnashing Jaws Of Death” – reassuring, right?
I booked the rafting tour through Livingstone Adventures and we were guided by Bundu Rafting. The guides were professional and skilled at getting us through the rapids. Although it was scary at points, I felt like we were in good hands with the guides, who do this every day.
Even though the moments of going through the rapids are very intense, the rest of the experience is relatively calm. We spent most of the time floating down the river gently, and could actually get out and swim at multiple points. This was such a nice experience, and so refreshing in the hot weather.
I went rafting in October when the water was low, which is the perfect time to go as all 21 rapids are accessible. While the water is high, only rapids 14-21 are accessible. You can either book a half-day (rapids 1-13) or a full-day rafting trip. During the full-day tour, snacks are provided halfway through. If you love rafting, there are also opportunities to go on multi-day rafting trips.
If you enjoy river rafting, definitely go on a tour down the Zambezi river. It doesn’t get better than this!
Walk to Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls is shared by both Zambia and Zimbabwe and there is a bridge that connects the two by Victoria Falls National Park. You can walk across it to go to either country but you will need to go through immigration. At the time I was visiting my passport was almost completely full and I knew Zimbabwe wouldn’t let me in based on this (almost all African countries require a full blank page for their visas).
However, as I was walking around the park I met a local guy who asked me if I wanted to visit the bridge another way. Of course, this seemed sketchy but curiosity got the best of me. I ended up climbing through a small hole in a fence and then as we got to the bridge immigration immediately asked me to see my passport. Panic!
Fortunately, in typical corrupt Africa fashion, the local guy and immigration guards have some sort of deal to bring tourists across the bridge (of course, you can’t actually go into Zimbabwe). So with a little bribe, everything was good again. I’m obsessed with borders, so it was cool to walk in between the two countries.
If you’re looking for some adrenaline-packed adventure, check out Zambezi Eco Adventures who offer a Gorge Swing, Abseiling, and Zip Lines over the Batoka Gorge. All the activities take place in the same area, so you can try them all or pick and choose what you want to do. They also have a 100% safety record, so you’re in good hands!
If you really want that stomach sinking adrenaline, then the canyon gorge swing is for you. Full disclosure, I was too afraid to try this. But I did witness a much braver older gentleman do the swing, and it looked like a lot of fun. You can either do this solo or as a tandem. It was featured on the amazing race!
This was my first time going abseiling, and it was a blast! The guides will set you up with the equipment at the top of the gorge and then one guide will descend first to show you how it’s done. He will wait for you at the bottom of the gorge, so you have people at the top and bottom to help guide you down. Someone is also holding the rope for you at the top, so should something happen they can stop you from falling.
I thought this was going to be a lot more terrifying but I really enjoyed it! Getting to descend down the canyon slowly is such a unique way to experience the beauty of Batoka gorge. You can go as slow as you want, but the entire experience should take just a few minutes. Once at the bottom, you will have to walk back up through the gorge to the top. Good exercise!
Zip-line over the gorge? Yes, please! This a great way to feel like you’re flying. The guides strap you in so you’re either sitting down on the zip-line or facing down towards the ground. Facing down is more fun because you can put your arms up and feel like you’re flying, which you can’t always do on a zip-line. I ended up doing the zip-line three times across in different positions, and the guides happily took photos.
Zambezi Eco Adventures also have something called a “flying fox” which is similar to a zip-line, except the line is on a slight descent so you go much faster and fly towards the bottom of the canyon. Unfortunately, they were doing some maintenance on the line while I was there so I couldn’t try it, but it looks like it would be fun.
Best time to visit Victoria Falls
The best time to visit Victoria Falls really depends on the activities you want to do. If you want to see Victoria Falls at its highest volume, then you should visit between February to May. If you want to partake in low water activities like full-day rafting and devils pool, then the best time to visit Victoria Falls is between August to January.
Just note that if you are visiting during the dry season, especially in October, the falls will be almost completely dried up. However, this is when I visited and still had an amazing week with so many adventurous tours to try in Victoria Falls.
Where to stay in Livingstone, Zambia
Budget: There are a few hostels in Livingstone but Jollyboys Backpackers is hands down the best. I was actually staying at another hostel but checked out early because it had no atmosphere. Hostels in Africa can be weird, but Jollyboys has all the elements that make up a good one. Good crowd, cheap drinks, on-site restaurant, and a nice pool to cool off in. They have dorm rooms as well as privates which are in cute huts.
Mid-range: Fawlty Towers is actually a hostel but they have affordable private rooms with AC you can rent as well. They have a nice pool, common area, and an on-site restaurant. Another mid-range option that I’ve heard good things about is Ngoma Zanga Lodge.
Luxury: If you want a really luxurious experience, then stay at the Royal Livingstone Hotel. We came here for a drink to watch the sunset, and this place is SWANK. There are zebras and giraffes just roaming around the hotel. Not to mention it’s right on the bank of the river, so you can often see other wildlife such as elephants swimming nearby. It’s basically a 24/7 safari. The facilities felt very luxurious, and the cocktails are delicious!
If you’re looking for adventure, then Victoria Falls is the perfect place to visit. With so many different Victoria Falls tours to try, you could easily spend a week there.
Traveling in Africa afterward? Check out these posts!
- What it’s like to Volunteer on a Conservation Project in Malawi
- 10 Amazing Ways to Volunteer with Wildlife