In a timely reminder that nothing lasts forever, reports from Zimbabwe and Zambia are showing that Victoria Falls has staged an epic recovery and are now in full flow just a few months after widespread reporting that the waters were at a historically low levels due to seasonal drought. In December of last year, stories about the drought were accompanied by alarming pictures showing the bare rockface of the Falls, but by April 2020 the waters had returned and the Falls were back at their magnificent best.
Of course, in the intervening period events in the wider world have temprarily shut down international tourism, so at the moment only residents of the towns of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Livingstone in Zambia are able to enjoy this spectacular sight. But nothing last forever, and as Zimbabwe and Zambia have both been relatively unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic they are begining to ease their own internal lockdowns, and at the momenty the hope is that international tourists will be able to return to the Falls later in the year.
Hopefully the waters will still be close to their current spectaucular levels when international tourists do return, but even if the levels have dropped somewhat from their current highs there is plenty to attract visitors to the area.
Over the years the area around Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe/Zambia border has developed into one of Southern Africa’s leading adventure tourism destinations. Clearly the main attraction of the area is still a visit to visit the Falls themselves, and for most visitors this will take around half a day if they do this with a guide and visit both the Zimbabwean and Zambian side of the Falls. The evening cruises on the Zambezi are also immensely popular, and then after that we find a whole host of activities from microlight flights to white water rafting that are sure to provide spectacular memories for those brave enough to take them on.
1. Microlight flight over the Falls
Whilst the popular ‘Flight Of Angels’ helicopter flights offer wonderful views over Victoria Falls, a trip in a microlight offers a more exhilarating way to see the Falls from the air.
As with the helicopter flights, there are both 15 minute and 30 minute options available, however the fact that you are completely exposed to the elements in the microlight make this feel like a very different experience. The microlights fly lower and slower than the helicopters, meaning you feel the spray on your skin, and as they are slower moving the 15 minute flight will stay closer to the Falls for the majority of the flight. One thing to note is that you are not allowed to take your own camera on the flights due to safety and insurance issues, however there is a wing mounted camera that is operated by the pilot, and you can buy digital copies of these pictures at the end of your trip.
2. The Devil’s Pool
The Devil’s Pool in only accessible when the Falls are at their lowest, between late August and early January, and this natural wonder provides an unforgettable vantage point with spectacular views of the Falls. For those who think they might be washed away as soon as they enter the water, fear not, as there is a natural rock wall that stops any anyone from being swept over.
The Devil’s Pool can only be reached as part of an organised trip, and these depart from the Royal Livingstone Hotel, and start with a short boat ride towards Livingstone Island in the middle of the river right by the edge of the Falls. From here you will walk to a viewing point overlooking the Horseshoe Falls and the 108 meter drop of the Rainbow Falls, and then you are taken to an area where you can see the Main Falls from a completely different angle that that seen from the visitor center on the other side of the gorge.
With only a sheer drop and the rushing waters of the Zambezi around you, Devil’s Pool will showcase the unparalleled beauty and power of this natural wonder, giving you memories that will last a lifetime.
3. White water rafting on the Zambezi
Setting off at dawn with your fellow rafters, guests will all be taken up river for what will be one of the most incredible and exciting activities they’ll ever do. From the drop off point, it is a short hike down a valley to the river, walking along small paths and having to climb down in some areas, making everyone feel like a true explorer. When everyone is down, no time is wasted in getting onto the river and letting the fun begin. The guide will give you some instructions and tips about safety, and then with a roar from the team, the adventure begins.
You will hear the roar of the rapids before you see them, and you won’t be disappointed with what lies ahead. As the adrenaline kicks in, and the water crashes around you, remember to keep paddling, and then before you know it, you are through and in the calmer water… that is until you tackle the next one!
After conquering that final rapid, guests will be left feeling exhausted, but it won’t matter. With a huge smile on your face and a new group of friends besides, have a look back at what you have just done with a feeling of amazement and satisfaction.
4. Bungee jump from the Victoria Falls bridge
Whist there are bungee jumps all over the world, there will be very few betters place to try out this incredible activity than at Victoria Falls. With the Zambezi River below you, and the falls thundering constantly in the background, guests will have to go a long way to find anything more dramatic.
Waiting in the queue on the bridge, watching as each person is given the countdown and then jumping, can be daunting at first. As you get closer and closer, the mind is racing and there is so much adrenaline that you cannot keep your feet still, until finally its time. With your feet just over the edge and nothing in front except one of the best views of the river, all anyone hears is the countdown. With your heart racing and arms out either side, you conquer the fear and jump, and everyone always does. With the river rapidly approaching suddenly you start to slow down, before going up, and then falling again. In that moment, the elation and joy of what you have just accomplished takes over, knowing from then on, if I can do this, I can do anything!
5. Victoria Falls gorge swing
Whilst nearly everyone knows about the famous bungee jump, the gorge swing can sometimes pass under the radar, but don’t be fooled as it offers an adrenaline fix rivaling all of the activities at Vic Falls. When the guides have walked you through the safety procedures, a harness attached to the rope swing will be attached to the jumper. With the guide offering some steady encouragement the jumper can walk to the edge of the platform, before getting ready to make the most memorable jump of their lives.
Breaking free from the fear that was holding them in place, the feeling of free falling before swinging out over the raging waters below is something that is near impossible to describe, and it will take something very special to get a better rush of excitement anywhere.