What’s in a name?
The Victoria Falls is owned by both Zambia and Zimbabwe. The names can be confusing so to clarify all the misconception here goes with the terminology:
- The name of the actual Falls is the Victoria Falls known also in the local dialect as the Mosi oa Tunya (meaning the smoke that thunders)
- Victoria Falls is also the name of the town on the Zimbabwe side of the Falls
- The town on the Zambian side of the Falls is Livingstone named after the explorer who ‘discovered’ the Falls for white folk, Dr David Livingstone
- Livingstone named the Falls after the Queen of his time, Victoria, who incidentally never visited the Falls
When is the best time to visit to visit Victoria Falls?
- The Falls have a “high water” season and a “low water” season. These terms refer to the volume of water going over the Falls. Contrary to popular misconception high water is not during the rainy season but afterwards. This is because the catchment area of the Zambezi is many miles away from the Falls in Angola and Western Zambia and takes a couple of months to filter down to the Falls.
- The time of peak flow is April - May. If the rainfall has been particularly good it is sometimes not even possible to see the rock formations of the Falls during these months because of the sheer volume of water coming over the Falls.
- Low water season is generally from August to January with December and January being the lowest months. The lower the water, the better the rafting. So if you are coming to Victoria Falls to do the best rafting in Africa, plan it for low water season.
- Is Victoria Falls dry? This is something that has made the media. The answer is a categoric NO. The Zim side has never dried up. Ever. The Zambian side has a different topography and can be "dry" or "drier" in low water months Oct - Nov. (see more below - which side of Victoria Falls is best)
Climate in Victoria Falls:
- Summers at the Falls are hot. Summer is also when rains occur. It very rarely rains day in day out for days at a time, the rain usually comes in the late afternoon and then it's over with. Temperatures in summer can range from 26 Deg C to late 30 Deg C. It is generally much hotter before the rains come which makes October and sometimes even November pretty steamy.
- May to early August is cool and dry. Days are rain free and warm whilst the evenings can be a little chilly and may require a jacket and long pants.
Victoria Falls Quick Facts:
- Feb to May: View the Falls at its fullest
- June to July: View the Falls full, but clearer
- Aug to Sep: Falls starts to drop
- Oct to Nov: The Falls at its lowest
- Dec to Jan: The Falls start to increase
- Aug to Jan: White water rafting
- Jul to Dec: Swim in Devils Pool
- Oct: Hottest month
- Dec to Mar: Rainfall
- Jun to Jul: Coolest months (no rain in winter & around 25 degrees celsius)
Why would I want to visit Victoria Falls?
- Quite simply, the Victoria Falls are breath taking. In peak flow months a million litres of water per minute are flowing over the edge creating a mist and rainbow that will take your breath away. Both Zambia and Zimbabwe have been mindful of preserving the natural integrity of the gift they keep for future generations. Unlike Niagara Falls the Victoria Falls is not littered with high rise man made structures that deface the natural beauty of the area. The rainforest on both sides has been kept simple and natural.
- The area is a mecca for the adventurous. If you enjoy adrenalin pumping through your veins the adventure activities on offer won’t disappoint. Choose from white water rafting, bungy jumps, gorge swings, abseiling, flying fox, jet boating and microlight flights. Less adventurous guests should consider elephant back safaris, helicopter flights, and river cruises.
Which side of Victoria Falls is best? Zimbabwe or Zambia?
As a company which is in love with Victoria Falls it is very difficult for us to say which side is better. Here is some explanation as what makes them different:
- The Zimbabwean side views two thirds of the Victoria Falls and the water is a permanent feature, with fluctuations of water levels depending on the season and the amount of rain that fell during the rainy season. So at any time of the year guests can pretty much view falling water over the Falls from the Zim side - even in low water months, or in years where there has been rainfall that is lower than usual.
- The water flow on the Zambian side is not as impressive in low water months (late August/ September) . In fact, depending on rainfall in the catchment areas, it can be dry with just a trickle of water going over the black basalt rock - which is an impressive sight in itself just maybe not the Vic Falls YOU want to witness.
- That said the Zambian side offers a more up close and personal viewing experience. The walk over Knifes Edge Bridge is exhilerating, with the pumping Falls right up close. Outside of the dry months, you will get wet, so protect your valuables and wear a rain jacket if you dont want soaked clothes.
- Maybe you want to do both sides of Victoria Falls in one day? It’s a great outing but depending on your nationality you will need to get a visa to cross borders. Check with us before you go.