Victoria Falls is Better in the Dry Season

Zimbabwe - Zambia

It’s called the “Smoking” canyon – but there’s no fire, cigarettes, or ganja in sight … It’s just water.

But a-hell-of-a-lot of water!

Yes, a thundering cascade of H2o, better known as the Victoria Falls.

VIDEO: Devils’ Pool at Victoria Falls

NOTE ON THE VIDEO: Amid the thunder and smoke, a group enjoys Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls on the Zambian side. Often, youth tour groups come to the Falls to tick off bucket-lists such as bungee, rafting, elephant safaris, booze cruises, etc.

Is Victoria Falls worth seeing in the dry season?

Simply, YES.

DURING THE DRY SEASON: My impressionism of Victoria Falls on a fine afternoon as seen from Zimbabwe looking at Zambia.

While Angel Falls in Venezuela is the world’s highest waterfall and Iguassu in Brazil and Argentina are the widest – I’ve visited them both; yet, it’s Victoria that earns the super-heavyweight title: ‘The Largest Waterfalls in the World’.

victoria falls in the dry season - best time to visit

When is the best time to visit Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe? 

The dry season means you can see bare cliffs and the full extent and depth of the canyon.

Also, this is the only time that it’s safe to dip into Zambia’s Devil’s Pool on the opposite side.

However, the wet season offers the Falls in its wild rushing water-clouded best; yet the waves of ‘smoking’ waters often obscure the view.

During the dry season, parts of the gorge floor where water normally thunders down and obliterates this view with spray, but now dry and revealing. This cliff is over 100 meters high.

GEEK SPEAK: Having a 1708 meter width and height of 108 meters results in the world’s largest sheet of falling water, averaging a flow of 1088 m³/second!

So, even visiting the Falls at the beginning of the dry season, I can vouch for their intensity.

Yes, there’s still a lot of water.

Enough for a long shower with a loved one, for sure.

And for a cup of tea or two.

Facts about the Victoria Falls

Firstly, let’s set the record straight: Africans have lived around Victoria Falls for ever and indigenous names translate as “The Smoke That Thunders”.

On the Zimbabwean side today, it follows the colonial name: Victoria Falls.

Yet, on the Zambian side, the indigenous name ‘Mosi-o-Tunya‘ rules.

local tourists at victoria falls
Local tourists enjoying the view.

Africans have been aware of the Falls since the birth of humankind, I assume, yet Europeans were slower in their “discovery”.

You know the name David Livingstone – yes?

Well, he put these Falls on the map.

Livingston encountered the waterfalls on 17th November 1855 (on his journey from the upper Zambezi to the mouth of the river).

And while other explorers—including Arab traders—were aware of them before Livingstone, he named them after Great Britain’s queen.

victoria falls canyon zimbabwe
My first impression of the Victoria Falls, just beyond the path where a large David Livingstone statue looks out over the Zambezi and beginning of the Falls from the Zimbabwean side.

Travel tips for visiting the Victoria Falls

Getting to Victoria Falls is easy – and adventurous.

Go by an overnight train from Harare.

Otherwise, there are flights. 

Or better, get a hire car and include a journey to nearby Chobe National Park in neighboring Botswana (I hitched with a friend coming up from South Africa via Namibia on a road trip).

Once in Victoria Falls town, you have many accommodation options, and the walk from the town to the Falls is pleasant and easy.

zimbabwe girl and wildlife at victoria falls
Beyond rushing water … there are other sights within the Falls National Park. Humans … (this young girl and family were from Harare. And her mum said that her daughter loved to pose for photos). And then, there was the wildlife along the Falls track – birds, monkeys, warthogs … all quite tame and used to humans.

Tickets cost $40.

BUT they’re only good for one entry on the Zimbabwean side (in 2013).

So chose your timing, morning or afternoon.

OR you will pay again for any additional entries, including another inflated fee to visit during a full moon evening.

When I crossed the border to Zambia and went into the town of Livingstone, I decided not to visit the waterfalls on the Zambian side.


Well, I believe the view is not as encompassing or spectacular.

Also, it meant yet more steep ticket fees to enter their National Park and then extra fees for a compulsory tour guide to visit the Devil’s Pool (and I’m at the end of an Africa overland trip from Cairo to Cape Town, running low on cash, and so will keep that perspective for next time).

dry cliffs at victoria falls in the dry season _ best time to visit
The main waterfalls are not in this pic, which shows the end of the mighty crack and the Zambezi River looping thru the gorge and out. The far cliffs and the central peninsula are in Zambia.

Travels in Zimbabwe – 2013

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