Activities at Victoria Falls

21/07/2016 11:03

Written by Bradt Travel Guides

For all but the very luckiest of us, visiting Victoria Falls will be a once in a lifetime trip. After gasping at the sheer magnitude of the world's largest sheet of falling water (625 million litres per minute) and then taking some photos (and maybe even the odd selfie?), what can you do to make the most of your precious time? From sedate river cruises, to adrenalin-fuelled bungee jumps – here is our round up of the best activities in the vicinity of this Natural Wonder of the World.

White-water rafting

White-water rafting, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe by Wild Horizons© Wild Horizons

This was the area’s original adrenalin sport, and the section of river below the falls is one of the finest stretches of navigable rapids in the world. Rapids are graded on a scale of 1 (smooth water) to 6 (commercially unrunnable). Here the rapids are nearly all graded 4 or 5, about as difficult and dramatic as it gets. The great thing about rafting is that novices can enjoy the sport at these levels, in the hands of an experienced guide. Although Zambezi rapids are big, most are not technically difficult provided the guide positions the raft correctly. There are also long calm stretches in between, allowing plenty of time to recover from an unplanned swim or a flip. It’s while floating down these serene stretches that you witness the impossibly beautiful scenery as the river winds its way through the towering gorge. 

Upper Zambezi canoeing

Canoeing, the Zambezi, Zimbabwe by Wild Horizons© Wild Horizons

This is your chance to relax and pretend you are David Livingstone on your way to seeing the falls for the first time, for this stretch of river upstream of the falls is where he spent his days prior to his ‘discovery’. The Zimbabwe bank here is part of the Zambezi National Park.

Bungee-jumping or gorge swinging

Gorge swinging, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe by Wild Horizons© Wild Horizons

Bungee-jumping from Victoria Falls bridge needs no explanation other than to say that at 111m down to the river, this is one of the highest and most spectacular jumps in the world. The gorge swing Is a variant on the bungee-jump – you launch yourself off a cliff for a three-second 70m free-fall before your rope goes taut and you swing across the gorge like a giant pendulum, suspended from a cable strung across the canyon.

Canopy tour

Canopy Tour, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe by Wild Horizons© Wild Horizons

For those of us less keen to launch ourselves into mid air, how about the rather excellent and family-friendly alternative allowing us to enjoy spectacular views on a 2-hour journey along gentle rope bridges, trails and wire slides through the luxuriant canopy of this stunning gorge's hardwood forests. Trips are escorted, have a full safety briefing and cater for all ages.

Take to the skies

Aerial view of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe by Vadim Petrakov, Shutterstock© Vadim Petrakov, Shutterstock

There are two companies in Victoria Falls operating helicopter sightseeing trips over the waterfall and gorges as well as longer flights taking in the Zambezi National Park and the Falls – approximately 15 and 25 minutes respectively. If you are interested in the fascinating geology of the site, there’s no better way than an exhilarating aerial view.

Elephant-back safari

Elephant back safari, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Wild Horizons© Wild Horizons

Don’t believe everything you’ve been told about African elephants being untrainable, as several companies in the falls offer the chance to view wildlife from several metres up, on the back of one of these magnificent beasts. This is one of the most popular activities in the area and can be very rewarding, because – as with horse safaris – most game animals are more relaxed with humans mounted on these familiar animals, rather than on foot or even in a vehicle.

River cruises

Zambezi River Cruise, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe by Sarah Kerr, Wild Horizons© Sarah Kerr, Wild Horizons

Several operators offer cruises on the river above the falls throughout the day, and all include catering: champagne breakfast, lunch or sundowner cruises. Sunsets along the Zambezi can be glorious. You’ll almost certainly be serenaded, if that’s the right word, by grunting hippos, and there’s a good chance you’ll see elephants coming down to drink. It’s worth bringing binos and camera.

Dining with a view

Lookout Cafe, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe by Sarah Kerr, Wild Horizons© Sarah Kerr, Wild Horizons

And if all of this gets too much? How about dining at the Lookout Café where the food is excellent and the views are, quite simply, second to none. And relax!


Find out more about Victoria Falls in our guide to Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe the Bradt Guide by Paul Murray

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