Day 8 - Victoria Falls - A swim in the Falls
Updated: Jul 24
I woke to the sound of mosquitoes buzzing around my head. Even though there was a mosquito net all around us. I wasn’t sure if the net was to keep them in or out sometimes.
After a buffet breakfast, we got changed into our swimwear and packed a change of clothes for this mornings tour.
We all meet in reception at 7:45am and walked about 15 minutes down the road to the Kingdom Hotel where today's tour company was picking us up, as they don’t do direct hotel pickups.
As soon as we arrived, we paid our driver directly, boarded our minibus and drive about 5 secs to the border where we all got off the bus and had to pass through border security as we where leaving Zimbabwe. This is where we left our 5 sec bus driver as he couldn’t drive over the border with us, we would be meeting another driver on the other side.
The line to leave Zimbabwe wasn’t very long and only took us a few minutes to pass through the checkpoint. Once we were all through we meet our tour guide/minibus driver and driver over the bridge which connects Zimbabwe and Zambia. Once on the other side, there was another border checkpoint as we were now entering Zambia. The guide was kind enough to process this all for us as we waiting in the minibus.
Once all checks had been completed, we drive around 10-15 minutes up the road to where we meet the tour company for this mornings adventure.
All signing our lives away
After signing waiver forms, checked over by our own legal person Lucy, we boarded two speedboats and headed down river for 7 minutes and arrived at Livingstone Island, which sits on the edge of the Zambia side of Victoria Falls.
Into the croc and hippo infested water we go.
In November of 1855 Scottish explorer, Dr David Livingstone travelled down the Zambezi River to see for himself the spot that the indigenous people called Mosi oa Tunya, or The Smoke that Thunders. Members of the local Makolo tribe transported Livingstone to the Falls in canoes so that his first sighting of the largest waterfall in the world was from an island right at the heart of the falling water. Livingstone was so affected by the sight that he descriptions in his notes, “It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” he went on to rename the Falls after his British queen, Victoria, but today the World Heritage List also recognises the original name, Mosi oa Tunya. The island from which Dr Livingstone first witnessed the Falls is the very same island we are visiting today. A local heritage site, nothing on the island is permanent except for the David Livingstone Memorial Plaque.
Once on the island, we all put our bags into a large secure lockbox and walked down to the Dr David Livingstone Memorial Plaque, which ordinarily would be full of water. Due to the ongoing drought, it was almost completely dry.
The view was very dry from the Dr David Livingston Memorial Plaque. Image courtesy of Lachlan
After a quick photos, we headed over to the Devil’s Pool. First, we put all our dry clothes onto a tarp to ensure nothing gets wet while we head into the falls, the tarp remains on the shore and awaits your return. Our group wore swimmers and water shoes (recommended), but others wore shirts as well. As long as you can swim in it.
Once ready we formed a single line and started to enter to Zambezi River and swim across to the rock platform above the Devil’s Pool. The water was very refreshing. The water current wasn't all the strong, but you are required to be a relatively good swimmer to do this activity.
The swim in the Zambezi River was fresh. Image courtesy of Lachlan
One at a time we carefully climb into the pool below and let the rushing water push us to a ledge on the edge of the Falls. We sat carefully on the narrow ledge between the pool and the deep chasm behind us. The water isn’t very strong where we sat.
We all posed for a group and individual photos with the cascading water around us.
Our stunning group photo at the edge of Victoria Falls. Say "Suck it in". Image courtesy of Lachlan
Laying on the edge of Victoria Falls as the Zambezi River flows around me. Image courtesy of Lachlan
Advice: You may be wondering who is taking all these photos? The tour company allows one camera per group. They will take hundreds of photos for you. You’re camera doesn’t need to be waterproof as they do not take your camera swimming.
After we had finished our photos in the pool, we headed back to Livingston Island to dry off and have some breakfast.
Before we left Livingston Island for the Devil's Pool we were asked if we wanted porridge or croissant for breakfast, so they could prepare it for our return. Due to the high rotation of tourist they don’t want you to be waiting around long after your swimming experience.
We all sat around a large group table and enjoyed our croissant, with bacon relish, tomato and lettuce before being asked to move on as our time was up. We all changed out of our wet swimwear before getting into the riverboat and heading back upstream to our waiting minibus. If you are wondering if there are change spaces and toilets on the Island, the answer is yes. But I would recommend only taking what you need for the trip to the Island as all of your bags and shoes and places into a metal lockbox, 1 per group, so pack light.
Once we were back into the minibus we headed back to the Zimbabwe and Zambia border. A quick passport check in Zambia before driving down to the border. It was at this time our driver asked if we would like to walk across the border. We took him up on the opportunity. We all got out and walked the long canyon bridge which bridges the canyon between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It’s on this bridge that many adventurous people will bungee jump from, none of us are that adventurous.
The view from the Border bridge back to Victoria Falls.
You are now entering Zimbabwe.
After crossing the bridge, we then had to wait in the long queue to get through the Zimbabwe border checkpoint. The sun was extreme. We probably waiting 45 minutes to pass through. Once we had all gotten our passports stamped, we walked through the border where we meet our driver again. Since our transfer was not back to our hotel, we asked to be dropped off at the entry to the Victoria Falls National Park. We spent the afternoon walking through its many paths and seeing the beautiful natural wonder.
The lush rainforest of Victoria Falls.
The river is very low.
Looking across to where we swam in the morning.
To enter the park it is $30 per person per entry. It is a tourist destination so there are a lot of people. If you wish to take photos that capture the Falls rainbows, I would suggest heading long towards lookout 12 or 13, shown on the map below. The Falls are very misty so expect to get a little wet.
Map courtesy of Your African Safari
Due to the extremely hot day, we hang around the Falls for about an hour before heading back to the hotel to rest after our adventurous morning swimming and prepare for our experience tonight of traditional dancing and drum playing.
We all squeezed into taxis and headed back to the hotel. It was early afternoon so many people hung around the pool or rested in their rooms to stay cool.
We meet in reception at 6pm to await our transfer to tonight's dinner. We started to worry at 6:30pm when our transfer still hadn’t arrived, and the dinner was due to start at 7pm. I guess 6:45pm is 6pm African time.
Prepare to get your dancing shoes on
The Boma Dinner and Drum Show is located a short distance out of town. On arrive you could see there were many minibuses and coaches full of people going to dinner. Once you arrive, you get presented with a traditional robe to get you in the mood. The style of dinner is a full buffet with a wide variety of traditional meals and game meats. They also provide entertainment throughout the night with dances, fortune teller, Mopane Worm experience a must-do.
Try the Mopane Warm
Then at the end of the night, there is traditional music for all to take part in drum playing and dancing. The Boma Dinner and Drum Show is a completed must-see and do experience when in Victoria Falls.
In traditional robe awaiting some drum play.
Traditional song and dance with a lot of fun thrown in.
Tonight was a late night as we arrived back to the hotel at 10pm. Tomorrow morning will be an early start followed by the long travel but to Australia.
Thanks to -
Accommodation: Cresta Sprayview
Activity: Livingston Island and Devil's Pool
Activity: Victoria Falls National Park
Activity: The Boma Dinner and Drum Show