Which is the best side to visit Victoria Falls, Zambia or
Ask a Zimbo and you're going to get an impassioned list of
reasons and a plea to forget the politics and "get back on
board". Ask a Zambian and you'll get a tirade of good
defences for doing it from the Zambian side.
Up until a decade ago nobody disputed the fact that Zim was the
better of the two sides. So what changed? Well lousy politics threw
Zimbabwe and her people off the stage when perhaps the few rotten
apples should really have been thrown to the crocs instead!
Truth is that the Zambians capitalised on Zim's rotten politics
and developed their tourism product whilst the politicians went
crazy but the real facts haven't changed…Zimbabwe remains the
Here's why the Zimbabwean side is better
Some geographic perspective
Victoria Falls Bridge separates Zimbabwe from Zambia. Victoria
Falls is the town on the Zimbabwean side, Livingstone is Zambia's
equivalent. Geographically the Victoria Falls chasm spans the
Zambezi River from Devil's Cataract in Zimbabwe to the Eastern
Cataract on the Zambian shoreline. Three quarters of the actual
falls occur on the Zimbabwean side directly opposite the Rainforest
with its network of paths and 16 viewpoints only accessed from Zim.
This is where you'll get your best ground-level view at any time of
When the Zambezi River's at its lowest in October and November
the Eastern Cataract flows lightly, if at all. In addition, the
Zambian authorities regularly draw water off the Zambezi for
hydro-electric power which completely stems the flow over the
Eastern Cataract. The resultant view from Zambia is a large rock
face whilst the Main Falls and Devil's Cataract are still flowing
at strength opposite Zim's rainforest and viewpoints.
Victoria Falls town itself is fairly compact and quite small.
It's less than a kilometre from the Victoria Falls Bridge to the
centre of town, the main hotels and the residential area.
Livingstone on the other hand is 10km from the Bridge itself with
only two hotels near the falls and the rest spread around
Livingstone or further upstream the river.
Value for money
Development has been fairly expansive and less controlled on the
Livingstone side of the river with a fair number of new hotels and
lodges having sprung up in the last decade. Demand's been
good, government duties and local prices reflect this. The
Zimbabwean side has always had greater variety and capacity than
Livingstone and with National Parks taking responsibility for the
shoreline from the town boundary to Kazangula 80km upstream there's
been limited scope for further development on the Zimbabwean
side. Zim is more compact, more convenient and better priced
as a rule.
Things to do in in Victoria Falls and Livingstone
All of the regular activities in the Vic Falls area are
available from both Zimbabwe and Zambia with the exception of the
microlight, the Livingstone Island tours and access to the Devil's
Pool which are only available from Livingstone.
Game viewing activities and the horseback trails are better in
Zimbabwe simply because there's easier access to larger wildlife
areas be that in the National Parks or private concessions.
The one view of the falls that can't be seen from Zimbabwe is
the full length of the falls in the sunset - naturally that has to
be seen from the east. Conversely the best sunrise view is
from the Zimbabwean bank, looking east.
Inbound flights, transfers and visa fees are "much of a
muchness" when comparing the two sides of the falls but overall the
better value for money still rests on the Zimbabwean bank.
If you'd simply prefer to visit the Zambian shoreline - you'll
have a great experience nonetheless.