May 24-28, 2023
Before you go on to read our post, please take it with a grain of salt. We were probably here at not a great time of year to view the falls in all their glory. We thought originally it would be a great time to see them, as the rainy season is just now over and there would be lots of water volume over the falls. The downside is, though, that all that water volume creates tons of mist that comes up from the canyon basically obscuring any view of the falls. It's much better to come in late September or October at the end of the dry season.
The falls are best viewed from the Zimbabwean side. We stayed at the N1 Hotel which was basically the only hotel in our price range that had rooms with air-con. The rooms were recently redone, but the bathroom did have a little bit of a funky smell (not too bad, though). They also have campsites and dorm-style rooms and a pool on the grounds. We actually ran into a group of pre-teens who were on a field hockey tournament so chatted with their chaperones at breakfast a bit (they won their game that day). Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, as a town isn't much. There are a bunch of resort-like hotels in the area, and some cheaper accommodations scattered about the town. The N1 was nicely located a short walk to the falls entrance and within walking distance of a few restaurants.
In fact, the food that we had was a pleasant surprise. We had very good ostrich at The Lookout Cafe, a surprisingly non game-y springbok shank at Cassia, and great spicy tacos Africa style and craft beer at The River Brewing Company.
On our way to the falls, we actually spotted from the path an elephant about 100 meters away. When the locals say it's not safe to walk at night, they don't mean because of crime, they mean because of animals like the elephant. The cost to enter the falls on the Zimbabwean side is $50 per person.
The falls straddle the Zimbabwe/Zambia border, so you can also stay in Livingstone, Zambia. Our flight to Kenya left from Livingstone, so we booked a night on that side, figuring we'd take a day to see what we could see from that side of the river and booked a night using Marriott Bonvoy points at the Protea Livingstone.... or so we thought.
We checked out of the N1, took one cab to the Zimbabwean side of the border for $5, we went through passport control and then had to take another cab across the bridge to the Zambian side for another $5. That driver dropped us off there and we cleared Zambian passport control and then had to get another taxi driver (this one was $10). We arrived at the Protea Livingstone, and they couldn't find our reservation. Uh oh! They finally did find it... for the next night. We had gotten our schedule wrong and checked out of the N1 a day early. Originally we had scheduled to have our arrival day, one day to explore the falls from the Zimbabwe side, one day to do something fun, and then one day to explore on the Zambian side. We guess because we were so disappointed in the falls overall that we just forgot that we had that extra "fun" day... oops!
In any case, we added another night using Bonvoy points for the Protea hotel and all we're out for our mistake are the points and the night at the N1 we didn't use (we didn't want to traipse back across the border again). This was our first real fail in a year, and it wasn't hard to recover from. We're using the time to get caught up on life tasks and other things. And we've had some pretty good meals on this side as well. We're going to skip seeing the falls from this side... if the other side was better, we don't think it'd be worth it.