Our Whirlwind Tour of Zambia (and Zimbabwe): Victoria Falls

As you probably know, my parents joined us for part of our Africa adventures. Victoria Falls was on my dad’s bucket list, so we managed to squeeze it into our itinerary. We only spent two nights in Zambia…and we managed to fit in a visit to Zimbabwe while we were there! Here’s how we managed to do that, plus some details behind our visit to Zambia and Victoria Falls.

But first, some geography…

Where We Stayed

Because we had limited time, staying in Livingstone was our best option. Both the airport and the falls are very close to the town, making it very convenient for our short stay.

We stayed at the Protea Hotel in Livingstone on Marriott points. I’d definitely recommend this hotel – it’s conveniently located, serves a pretty great breakfast, and has friendly staff. The activities coordinator (I think that’s what they called the concierge) was incredibly helpful. He called our taxis, gave us lots of information, and helped us book our tours.

Visa

Right now, you can visit Zambia and Zimbabwe for the same price as only visiting Zambia. Phrased differently, you can hop on over to Zimbabwe for free! Why would you want to do that? Well, Zambia and Zimbabwe share Victoria Falls, so if you want to see the falls in all their glory and entirety, you’ll need to enter both countries. We couldn’t say no to this opportunity.

The visa for both Zambia and Zimbabwe, a.k.a. the univisa, costs $50 and you can purchase it at the airport with a credit card (pretty slick!).

Pro-tip: even if you’re not sure you’ll want to go to the Zimbabwe side, I’d suggest buying the multi-visa anyway. It costs the same and it will keep your options open! The only reason to buy the Zambia only visa is if you plan on staying in Zambia between 31-90 days. The multi-visa is only good for up to 30 days.

Cash

Zambia was very unique in that they accepted multiple types of currency, including USD and Rand. While it’s better to use their local currency (Zambian kwacha), you can use USD in a pinch.

Getting Around

Taxis are the main method of getting around. A taxi from the airport to our hotel in Livingstone cost $20.

You can take a taxi from Livingstone to Victoria Falls. If you want to go to the Zimbabwe side of the falls, you can ask your hotel to help you find a taxi driver who can take you there. Ours even helped us through immigration.

  • Taxi from Livingstone to Zimbabwe side of falls: $20
  • Taxi from Livingstone to Zambia side of falls: $10
  • Taxi from Livingstone to Mukuni Park curio market: $10 round trip (your driver will probably wait for you while you shop if you ask; make sure to tip him!)

Seeing the Falls

We went in February, which turns out to be the heart of the rainy season. Getting absolutely soaked by the falls only added to the thrill of seeing the falls in person!

I’ll write a separate post about what it’s like seeing the falls from both sides, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Zambezi River Sunset Cruise

I knew we wanted to do a sunset cruise on the Zambezi, but I didn’t realize there were so many tour companies to choose from! We decided to go with the Lion King. The cruise was $70/person through our hotel (could’ve gotten a bit cheaper rate online). For two hours, we cruised down the Zambezi, scouting for wildlife and getting our money’s worth from the open bar and some warm and cold snacks. I must say, our boat was by far the prettiest one on the river!

Mukuni Park Curio Market

Throughout our travels, I’ve been to many markets, and this one seemed especially overwhelming. My parents and I were basically the only customers there and everyone was fighting for our attention. If you’re traveling to other places in Africa, I’d suggest shopping elsewhere to get better prices and perhaps a calmer experience. That being said, we did manage to get some great “curios” (knick-knacks) to give as gifts, such as jewelry, bowls and wallets.

Where We Ate

The Golden Leaf – Indian restaurant. It was walking distance from our hotel, and man, was it delicious! Pete and I are pretty obsessed with Indian food and we’ve had our share of it over our travels, so I can confidently say that this place was outstanding.

My dad’s face says it all

What We Missed

Devil’s pool – it wasn’t the season. If you want to hop in the falls and get an adrenaline-rush experience, you’ll have to go during the dry season – October or November.

We considered doing Angel’s pool, a similar experience to Devil’s pool that’s open in the wet season, but at the starting price of $100/person, it was out of our price range.

Adventure activities. We didn’t do any of these adrenaline-fueling activities, like bungee jumping, canyon swinging, or zip-lining. Honestly, I don’t feel like I missed out on anything, but I think Pete was itching to bungee again.

Is Victoria Falls on your bucket list? Have any questions about visiting Livingstone, Zambia?

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