The mighty Victoria Falls are formed by the meandering rapids of the Zambezi River that is mostly in Zimbabwe but a part of which snakes through Zambia. The Falls themselves straddle both countries. So the burning question on everyone’s lips is about Zimbabwe and Zambia: which side is better? We’ve taken an in-depth look at the pros and cons of both sides.
Firstly, it’s important to know that both countries are able to see the frontal and profile views of the waterfall. It’s just that the western side of the cataract is Zimbabwean while the eastern side of the cataract is Zambian.
Viewing the Falls from the Zimbabwean side:
75% of the falls can be seen from the Zimbabwe side. The town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe is usually the preferred base to stay and explore the area. After all, the town is only 2km away from the park (walking distance) and was built with tourists in mind. The Zimbabwe side also seems to have the lion’s share of the frontal viewpoints of falls. A network of paths allows you to see more of the Falls from virtually every angle, and give a better perspective of its full power and width. On the Zimbabwean side, even at the height of the dry season (October to December) the falls never dry out, so you can be assured of an impressive water flow throughout the year. Accommodation and activity rates also tend to be slightly lower on than on the Zimbabwean side due to lower government taxes and entry levies.
Viewing the Falls from the Zambian side:
25% of the falls can be seen from the Zambian side – the eastern cataract – and there is a reasonable network of paths and several viewpoints. However, this section dries up completely in the dry months (October to December) leaving just a plain rock face. Livingstone Island, where David Livingstone famously first set eyes on the Falls, can only be visited from the Zambian side. Microlight flights and the Devils Pool swim can also only be done from this side too. However, the town of Livingstone is 11km away. The distance can pose a bit of a problem for people who did not book hotel transfers. Sometimes the waiting time for taxis can be quite long, and walking 11 km one way is not recommended for everyone.
So in conclusion, when it comes to choosing the best side it really depends on what you want to experience. If you want to walk in David Livingstone’s footsteps on Livingstone Island or jump into one of the world’s most epic “infinity” pools, the Devil’s Pool then the Zambian side is for you. If you want the convenience of being walking distance from the Falls and a guarantee of seeing them in full flow then consider the Zimbabwean side.
It is, of course, possible to see the Falls from either side as a border crossing is just a matter of paying for a visa and getting a stamp in your passport, allowing you to experience the best of both worlds.