Zambia versus

Zimbabwe

The Falls can be visited and viewed from either side of the border. Here we discuss the pros and cons associated with both countries. Actually, though, there is no reason why you shouldn't view the Falls from both of these locations.

Apart from the different activities that are available in the actual Falls area, you also need to consider what else you might wish to do in the country concerned.

The times of year that you can really enjoy the Falls in full spate are actually rather more limited on the Zambian side than on the Zimbabwe side. However this is really just a matter of paying attention to this factor, and planning your visit for between, say, March and July. And, even if you have to visit outside this time window, you can still take a day trip into Zimbabwe to view the Falls from that side.

A big advantage of staying on the Zambia side, so far as viewing The Falls is concerned, is that there are two hotels located so close to The Falls that you can choose to pop down at any time of day to experience its varying character. There is also a wide variety of other accommodation, located both close to Livingstone Town, and also further upstream, providing much more opportunity to experience what is on offer in the area, but requiring a specific guided tour so far as The Falls themselves are concerned.

It does have to be admitted though that Zambia only provides a view of 25% of The Falls - the Eastern cataract. However it also offers the opportunity to visit Livingstone Island, and experience the Devil's Pool, not to mention the classic 'African Queen' sundowner cruise, and the 'Livingstone Express' railway trip. Another big factor is the opportunity to walk along the Knife Edge Bridge, virtually below the cascading curtain of water (albeit getting soaked in the process).

Livingstone airport is also rather more accessible than that of Victoria Falls Town. But the main factor in favour of Zambia is probably that you will be spending considerably more time in the rest of the country, on game viewing or walking safaris, which we do not advocate in Zimbabwe. Hence it is much more convenient to restrict your stay to this side of the river.

Our 'Activities' section describes the wide variety of other things that you can spend your time on here, besides visiting The Falls themselves, and we would encourage you to spend rather more time here than the couple of nights or so that most visitors commit themselves to.

Historically Zimbabwe used to be the major tourist destination in this part of Africa, and hence the prime location from which to view The Falls. This is, of course, no longer the case, following the political unrest that has overtaken this country, and in particular its tourism industry.

However the Zimbabwean side does have a lot to offer that is unique and there is certainly a case to be made for actually staying here, rather than merely popping across for a day trip.

Probably the main advantage of the Zimbabwean side is that the Falls never dry up here, even at the height of the dry season, and indeed 75% of the Falls themselves are located on this side, with numerous viewing points available from a network of paths. Unlike on the Zambia side, you can also experience a genuine rain forest here, guaranteed by the continuous spray generated by The Falls.

The Town of Victoria Falls is also situated much closer to The Falls than is that of Livingstone (although there are of course hotels located outside town, and close to The Falls on the Zambian side), which means that you have a wider choice of accommodation here from which to visit The Falls on foot. The Town is also much smaller than is Livingstone, and is much more comfortable to stroll through, and indeed to eat out in.

However it has to be said that good accommodation here is rather more limited, although the quality of what is available is extremely high. A further factor that is difficult to put one's finger on, is that the native Zimbabweans appear to exhibit a much more extrovert and interesting demeanour than do the Zambians. At least this is the impression that we ourselves have come away with.

A wide range of activities exists on this side, but the principal factor against staying here is that, unlike on the Zambian side, your stay is probably going to be restricted just to Victoria Falls Town: we do not recommend venturing further into Zimbabwe's interior as matters stand at the moment. Not all tour operators share this view, but we have to tell it as we see it. Zambia is far safer and a better experience.

But we will gladly organise a stay for you on either side of the river, either staying on both sides, or simply obtaining a day visa, thereby benefiting from seeing it from two different perspectives.