Victoria Falls: How Do I Get There?

Above the wafting mist of the falls
Since there many ways of getting to Victoria Falls (something that's exacerbated by the fact we're talking about two different countries sharing this waterfall), we'll have to limit our discussion to our own experiences. Thus, we'll delve into this topic from the perspective of a foreign visitor since that was our situation.

We'll start with the Zambia side first since that was the base of our stay.

In Zambia, we flew into the airport near Livingstone, Zambia after connecting in Johannesburg, South Africa. That connecting flight took us about 2 hours. From there, you either catch a taxi into town or to your hotel unless the hotel you've booked with has complementary shuttles. In our situation, the owner of the accommodation we stayed at was also the welcoming committee for us. He promptly picked us up and took us to the accommodation.

Another possibility (if you've been exploring Zambia or you're from the region) is to take a bus, taxi, or escorted tour from Lusaka to Livingstone. This isn't as common of an option because I'd imagine the majority of visitors just see Victoria Falls. But even with that said, of the rest of the visitors who actually continue on in Zambia or have already explored other parts of the country, we've been told that most of them have either visited or about to visit South Luangwa or Lower Zambezi National Parks (both of which involve connections or stays in Lusaka). Whatever the case, I'm sure it's far more time consuming though far cheaper than air.

If you're not staying in the resorts closer to the falls (like Zambezi Sun or Royal Livingstone), chances are you'll have to hire a taxi to go the 11km from Livingstone to the park's entrance. That was what we did, and we learned that we had to do some bartering with a degree of patience (though there are several taxis that go back and forth). We did see a few brave souls ride bikes from Livingstone to the falls, but this isn't common (and we've heard muggings have occurred in the past). We didn't see anyone besides locals walking the whole distance though.

One caution about baggage requirements (we got burned by this). There was a 20kg weight limit with our checked bags (at least with South African Airways on the leg between Jo'burg and Vic Falls). Given that we had flown from Australia as part of a much longer trip and that we were going to continue touring other countries in Africa, we easily exceeded this weight limit (this paid the equivalent of around $50USD or so per bag). You may want to keep that in mind and pack accordingly to avoid the excess fees and extra time/hassle waiting in line.

In Zimbabwe, I believe they do have flights that go from Johannesburg, South Africa to the town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (roughly 2-2.5 hours, I think from looking at the flight boards). We can't say a whole lot more beyond that since we didn't exercise this option. However, the town of Victoria Falls was built with tourism in mind and it's only a 2km walk to the park entrance on the Zim side. Thus, transport would certainly be less of a headache than for the Zam side.

I'm sure if you're in Zimbabwe, there are ground transport options to get to Victoria Falls town from the airport.

Finally, if you want to explore the falls from both sides (Zim and Zam sides), we managed to cross the border (i.e. across the Livingstone Memorial Bridge) by foot. We thought this was most hassle-free way so we didn't concern ourselves with taxis since the walking merely took on the order of 15 minutes. The big headache with this border crossing was our fear of muggings and the constant peddling of locals selling wares or beggars who can't afford to even buy bread with their nearly useless Zimbabwean Dollars. Hopefully since our visit, things have improved and this border crossing is much more relaxing than our visit.

If you're based in Zambia, unless they changed the Visa costs since our May 2008 visit, you'll need a pricey multiple-entry Visa for Zambia (so you can leave and come back). But if you're based in Zimbabwe, you'll need a multiple-entry Visa for Zimbabwe (again, so you can leave and come back).

The major headache with these Visas (especially in Zambia as of our May 2008 visit) had to do with Visa costs. We were told that it used to be free with some pre-arrangement with the hotel you're staying at, but not anymore! For more on that, see the Planning and Preparing for Your Trip section. The Zimbabwe Visa costs were far more reasonable by comparison.

Naturally, getting to Johannesburg is nontrivial (especially for people like us who come from nearly the exact opposite side of the world). You'll have to check with your travel agent, tour operator, or on-line resources to see what you have to do to get from home to the Johannesburg hub. If you're from Africa, there maybe other places besides Johannesburg that can fly directly to either Livingstone, Zambia or Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.




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