#TravelTuesday: visit the Smoke that Thunders in Victoria Falls

Known as the Smoke That Thunders, Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Known as the Smoke That Thunders, Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Image: DeAgostini/Getty Images

Victoria Falls is arguably one of the smallest but most famous towns in Africa, named after the roaring waterfall that attracts tourists to the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Endowed with natural beauty, Vic Falls is also a happening little spot for nightlife and a fun stopover on your travels. Filled to the brim with holiday vibes, you’ll find yourself chilling and unwinding in what is one of Zimbabwe’s biggest tourist hubs.

When to travel

The best time to visit to see the Victoria Falls is from February to May, directly after the region’s summer rains. The green, rainy season usually kicks off in November but it may take some time for the waters to get flowing to their full force. If you visit during the dry season after May you might not experience the Falls in its full splendour.

Launched in 2012 and running ever since, the Vic Falls Carnival is a three-day extravaganza hosted over New Year’s in the town of Vic Falls. The three-day party always features some of Africa’s best DJs, sunset cruises and a party train. It’s an absolute must for festival-goers and carnival fun seekers.

The Rovos Rail Pride of Africa train is one of the World s Top 25 Trains.
The Rovos Rail Pride of Africa train is one of the World s Top 25 Trains.
Image: Leonard Zhukovsky/123RF

How to get there

If you plan on flying, you can do so straight to Victoria Falls. Air Zimbabwe has regular flights from Harare as does South African Airways from Johannesburg. If your budget allows, take a luxury train from South Africa where the travel is part of the trip. The Shongololo Express and Rovos Rail both offer train services to Vic Falls from their Pretoria station. Busses also travel between Vic Falls and Bulawayo where you can catch a connection to Harare or Johannesburg.

Highlights you shouldn’t miss

1. Traditionally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, translated as “The Smoke That Thunders”, the Victoria Falls is the main attraction in the town of Vic Falls. It is not coincidental that it’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The confluence of opposites is astounding: despite being overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the force of nature before you, you feel calm and at peace. Follow the walking trail of 15 viewpoints on the Zimbabwean side all the way to the Victoria Falls Bridge. On the walk back, you find yourself walking through a rain forest on your right and bush on your left – a startling contrast divided by a mere walkway. When the Falls are flowing at full force, you might consider acquiring a rain poncho on your way in unless you don’t mind a refreshing soak from the powerful mist that gathers from the water crashing down beneath.

The Boma in Vic Falls is filled to the brim with great food and fun entertainment.
The Boma in Vic Falls is filled to the brim with great food and fun entertainment.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

2. One of the most fun tourist traps I’ve fallen into is a dinner at Boma. The experience, although somewhat pricey, promises a scrumptious buffet-style dinner complete with appetisers of crocodile bites, mains of buffalo steak, eland meatballs and a snack mopane worms – complete with a certificate to prove you’ve eaten the delicacy. For those with a more refined palate, soups, salads, stews, breads – all sorts of deliciousness, including sublime desserts, wait to be dished up. The highlight of the night is drumming and dancing with the band. If you’re lucky, you may be serenaded by an a cappella group with the most soothing voices.

3. For a quick shop for art and souvenirs, the Elephant Walk shopping complex on the main road is home to some of the most talented artists in Vic Falls. Sculptures, paintings and handmade artefacts will have you picturing the perfect spot to proudly show them off in your home. If it’s a little pricey, head to the local arts and crafts market across the street for cloth, wood and stone sculptures and all sorts of jewellery and bead work. A word of warning: prepare to be accosted and don’t be afraid to haggle for a good price.

Image: Louise Gubb/CORBIS SABA/Corbis/Getty Images

4. If you’re parched after a day of natural wonders, head to The River Brewing Company, the biggest micro-brewery in Vic Falls. They offer patrons a collection of beers, from lagers to stouts and ales, all brewed from pure Zambezi water.

5. If beer is not your vibe, head over to The Three Monkeys just down the road for beautiful cocktails, wood-fired pizzas and some of the biggest burgers you’ll ever encounter.

6. If adventure is your middle name, you’re in for a treat: adventure sports are aplenty in Vic Falls. Bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge that connects Zimbabwe and Zambia or go on a rafting adventure on the Zambezi River. Be warned: these are grade 5 rapids so be prepared to get wet and work hard at staying in your inflatable boat.

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