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The Best Time to Visit Victoria Falls

The BestTime to Visit Victoria Falls.

When it comes to travel, there is no one size fits all way to explore the world. Some people disappear into mountain ranges with just a backpack and book for company, while others choose to lose themselves in bustling towns filled with foreign languages and unfamiliar faces. Some will chase sunsets on tropical beaches while others retreat to snow-capped cabins with crackling fireplaces. We are often asked when the best time to visit Victoria Falls is, and the answer varies for every unique traveller. Each month offers something different, and every season unravels new panels of colour, the presence of different forms of life and a different, yet ever enthralling, rainforest experience. This means that you’ll have to visit us more than once, and preferably at different times of the year, to truly get a sense of your favourite season in Victoria Falls.

We love that every month of the year transforms the beautiful town and landscapes, revealing a new set of adventures for the different types of travellers. In burnt orange or glossy green, Victoria Falls wears each season exquisitely and we have compiled a calendar to tell you the best of each month.

View of Victoria Falls throughout the year.

January

Weather:

It’s the height of summer during January and it’s at this time that you can expect hot days, often resulting in spectacular thunderstorms. The smell of rain on dry earth signals the beginning of the summer months.

In the rainforest:

Victoria Falls becomes more intense with increased river flow. Visitors are awestruck by the Smoke That Thunders and plumes of mist swell above the rainforest.

Wilderness and wildlife:

The land comes alive in variegated greens from the lush grasses to leafy treetops that provide a delicious feast for tall browsers such as elephants and giraffes. There is a lot of birding activity in January as many nestlings are raised, but the wildlife is dispersed as there are many water sources throughout the bush from the rainfall, so it is not the best time for game viewing.

Activities:

The white water rafting generally changes to the high water run in January. Find out more about the difference between high and low water rafting here.

February

February is the month of love and with stunning, secluded luxury lodges, spectacular sunsets and the intrinsic feeling of connectedness that comes from time spent in nature, Victoria Falls is the ideal place to spend this romantic month. Old Drift Lodge and The Elephant Camp are stunning lodges in the heart of the wilderness with tranquil spas, outdoor fireplaces, and beautiful views. Romantic highlights at Old Drift Lodge include a private dinner on the jetty and a sunset beach picnic on the banks of the Zambezi. At The Elephant Camp, cocktails and Canapes on the edge of the Batoka Gorge bring drama and excitement to the evening, followed by a private dinner on the suspended deck.

Weather:

The rainy season is characterised by hot and humid weather with dramatic bursts of thunderstorms.

In the rainforest:

The waterfall is a thunderous roar with the Smoke that Thunders rising higher in the sky. Many rainforest flowers start to bloom and the grass is at its most luscious and nutritious.

Wilderness and wildlife:

There is thick vegetation growth in the National Parks and animals such as zebra look exquisite against the vivid green backdrop. African ebony trees come into fruit and the waterbuck breeding season begins. The National Park is dotted with many nursing herds.

Activities:

The high water rafting run continues. This is a great time for the Flight of Angels as the wilderness is a beautiful mosaic in every shade of green and the waterfall flows so furiously.

March

Weather:

The days are sunny and the nights are warm as the rainy season comes to an end.

In the rainforest:

Although the rainy season comes to an end the Victoria Falls is reaching peak flow as the river levels are so high. The mist can be very dense in the rainforest.

Wilderness and wildlife:

The summer rains mostly fall between November to February each year, however, the bush remains alive with flowering plants as the progression towards Autumn begins. It is not uncommon to see many beautiful blooms attracting antelopes that take advantage of the plentiful food sources. Kudu and buffalo breeding peaks and the migrant birds begin to depart. The grasslands are in seed and Baobab trees hang heavily under the weight of their Cream of Tartar pods.

Activities:

The rafting season usually closes in March due to the high volume of water rushing through the gorge.

April

Weather:

April is a wonderful time with warm, sunny days and crisp evenings. The beginning of Autumn’s chill starts to creep in so evenings spent around the campfire are magical.

In the rainforest:

The water from our catchment area in Zambia arrives and the Victoria Falls reaches its highest flow with an average of 500 million litres of water flowing over the edge every minute! The highest ever recorded was 700 million litres in 1958, but this year we expect to come close! On the 23rd of April, the Zambezi River flow was 4,086m3/s at the Big Tree River station. To put that into context, last year on the same date the flow was 1,034m3/s. The Victoria Falls will undoubtedly be incredibly breathtaking, and it is incredibly unfortunate that so few people will see it due to the travel restrictions. However, we will be posting regular video clips and photographs onto our Facebook and Instagram pages so you can appreciate the majesty of Victoria Falls from wherever you may be.

Wilderness and wildlife:

During this time, the landscape is still wonderfully lush owing to summer rains. April is also the month of the impala rut and many interesting sightings of these animals interacting, fighting and mating with each other are possible.

Activities:

The rafting is closed but this is a fantastic time for a meal at the Lookout Café, where the mist from the Falls can be seen curling through the black basalt gorge. You can still chase that adrenaline rush on the gorge swing, zip line and flying fox which are located next to the Café.

May

Weather:

May marks the advent of autumn with warm days and a slight chill creeping into the evening air.

In the rainforest:

The Zambezi continues to flow strongly despite the start of the dry season, creating incredible experiences within the rainforest.

Wilderness and wildlife:

Deciduous trees begin to lose their leaves leave a crunchy golden carpet on the rugged terrain within the National Park. This is the white-backed vulture and wild dog breeding season.

Activities:

This is a fantastic time to visit Victoria Falls as the mist is not so dense that it obscures photographic opportunities.

June

Weather:

Autumn gives way to winter and we experience warm days and chilly nights. Winter skies are clearest during May, June and July so this is a wonderful time for stargazing.

In the rainforest:

The water levels begin to drop slightly but the flow over the Victoria Falls is still very impressive.

Wilderness and wildlife:

Raptor courtship displays become more evident and the game starts to become concentrated near the river and watering holes and the grass cover recedes.

Activities:

Consider staying at Imbabala Safari Lodge as game driving and fishing is great during May. The rafting season begins in May/June with the low water run.

July/August

Weather:

The height of the dry season coincides with mid-Winter and the days are hot but you will need to bring something warm for the evenings.

In the rainforest:

The Eastern cataract in Zambia often becomes exposed due to low water levels of the Zambezi so to get the full impact of the Victoria Falls it is better to view the waterfall from the Zimbabwean side.

Wilderness and wildlife:

Mopane leaves begin to take on their distinctive winter hue of burnt orange and there is an increase in the elephant population on the Zambian side of the river which is the winter feeding ground for elephant from northern Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Activities:

This is a wonderful time for sunset cruises as the clear evening skies create beautiful stains of colour. There is also a chance that you will see elephant swimming from Zimbabwe to Zambian banks.

September

Weather:

As the season shifts into Spring the days become hotter and the nights warmer.

In the rainforest:

The Victoria Falls is best viewed from the Zimbabwean side. Right at the end of the rainforest is a rocky outcrop where you can sit and admire the geological details of the Gorge.

Wilderness and wildlife:

The bush remains golden brown, with dusty sunsets owing to the long winter. The spring rain has not yet arrived, however, the first glimpses of green shoots and leaves start to appear. Migrant birds start to arrive from Europe and elsewhere in Africa while the weavers begin breeding. The knob thorn acacia trees begin flowering in with the change of the season.

October, November and December

Weather:

October is the hottest month of the year with occasional bursts of storms that break up the heat. It is important to have lots of sunscreen and to bring a water bottle with you to fill up and stay hydrated during the day. The rains sometimes arrive in November but they could come later. It gets more humid towards December as the rainy season build up after the hot spell.

In the rainforest:

The Eastern cataract is largely exposed but this is just 400 meters of the 1,7 km waterfall and the other viewing points such as Main Falls and Devils Cataract continues to flow beautifully. The Eastern Cataract is slightly higher than the other sections which is why this short strip reveals the rockface behind the curtain of water.

Wilderness and wildlife:

This is an excellent time for game viewing as the wildlife congregates around the river and water sources. The Marulas flower and long-tail cassias display beautiful yellow flowers. Nature’s choir arrives in full force. Frogs of all sorts ring out beautiful melodies that harmonise with the sounds of crickets chirping. Along with frogs, summertime brings great tortoise and butterfly sightings. It’s also at this time that you can experience long fiery sunsets and windless evenings.

Activities:

October, November and December are excellent months for white water rafting and a swim in the famous Devil’s Pool above the waterfall.

What is your favourite season in Victoria Falls? We would love to hear your thoughts and personal preferences!

The Victoria Falls

Wild Horizons Lookout Cafe – Update

Wild Horizons Lookout Cafe – Update (24 April 2019)

When flames engulfed and devastated the Wild Horizons Lookout Café, it was a searing loss for the town of Victoria Falls. While we have been working tirelessly on the reconstruction of this iconic restaurant, due to circumstances beyond our control, the process has encountered numerous hindrances along the way. For this reason, we have regretfully had to postpone the opening date to 1 December 2019.

 

Herewith please find a brief description of the new café as well as important quick facts:-
Perched on the rim of the Batoka Gorge, Wild Horizons Lookout Café is a fusion of spectacular views and exquisite food. The African Contemporary styled restaurant is designed to emphasise its unique panoramic view of the Victoria Falls Bridge and Batoka Gorges, which form part of the spectacular backdrop. Recycled and eco friendly material has been used throughout the rebuild of The Lookout ensuring it is infused with the Wild Horizons conservation ethos. With a mouthwatering menu, a lively selection of cocktails, and the best view in Victoria Falls, the dining experience promises to be a sensory overload.

AMBIENCE: Casual, Child-Friendly, Classic, Meal with a View
CUISINE: African / Local, Contemporary, International
FACILITIES: We only accept Visa and Mastercard, Bar, Licensed, Parking, Vegetarian, Wheelchair Access
WIFI: Free
SEATING: Outside terrace x 60; Indoor x 140; Lower deck (cocktail and canapé area) x 60
OPENING HOURS: Open daily from 08h00 to 22h00 (freshly baked muffins available daily from 08h00).
BREAKFAST: No breakfast during the week unless prebooked.
Saturday & Sunday 08h00 – 10h00
LUNCH: 10h00 to 16h00
SNACK MENU: 16h00 – 18h30
DINNER: 18h30 – 22h00 (last food orders at 21h00)

Aerial view of the rebuilt Lookout Cafe

Mi Casa – Victoria Falls Carnival 2017

Five Minutes with Mi Casa – Victoria Falls Carnival 2017

From the 29th of December until well into the early hours of the 31st, the atmosphere in Victoria Falls is electric, as though the very air with breathe is quivering with the excitement Carnival goers feel. Music vibrates through crowds of dancing bodies, the bar teems with thrilled partiers, and the entire sky is awash with colors as stage lights flood the night. Amist the craziness the carnival is famous for, Mi Casa could not look more comfortable. Dr. Duda, J’Something, and Mo-T have a platinum selling debut album, 3 South African Music Awards (SAMAs) and thousands of fans and followers, yet this dynamic trio could not be more humble and down to earth. As I pushed through the throngs of euphoric people and made my way towards the backstage area, my heart thumped as the questions I had prepared raced through my mind like a flurry of birds. However, when I reached the group, their humble, positive and introspective energy washed away any nerves that still jittered through my veins. Mi Casa did not behave as three big shot celebrities that people can’t interact with- their wit and good nature holds a mirror up to the quintessential feel good music that they produce. The name of their group is another reflection of their appreciation of their fans and the media who they believe are key in getting them to where they are today. Mi Casa su casa means my house is your house, and J-Something explains that they want their listeners to feel that this group is your group as much as it is theirs- my house is your house, my music is yours too.

The chemistry between J-Something, Mo-T and Dr Duda is as evident off stage as it is on. They bounce off each other, laugh and tease the way a trio of friends who have grown up together would. When asked what their first thought was when driving into Victoria Falls, they answered “Beautiful” in unison. I had always imagined that they had been an incredibly talented group of friends growing up, but their union was actually a musical twist of fate. One evening, Dr Duda was djaying an event in  Sandton when Mo-T’s brother called him to come and play with the DJ. J-Something joined the two on stage and the rest is history. Dreams were realised, lives were transformed and life long friends were made. With Mo-T’s jazz background, Dr. Duda’s gospel background and J-Something’s soulful background, the world was introduced to a fusion of music that everyone wants to sing along to and has to dance along to.

When Mi Casa took to the stage, people were not just watching the performance, they were involved in it. Each song sent the crowd further into a frenzy, and even the few that were not familiar with the group were losing their minds to the sounds pouring through the speakers. As each new track began, I was determined that it was my new favorite song. That is, until the next one. When they played Your Body and Jika, it felt as though a flash mob had erupted on the dance floor. Thousands of feet pounded onto the soft grass while hands were flung into the air and bodies danced to the music. They could have played their set on repeat for the entire carnival, and I doubt a single person would have left the dance floor.

So, there are two things to add to your bucket list now- watch MiCasa perform live, and come to the Victoria Falls Carnival. It is the best way to guarantee an incredible New Year. Happy 2018 everyone!

Written by Jess White

Elephant Encounter

Wild Horizons Elephant Encounter – Walk With Giants.

Walking with the Elephants Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
The human spirit craves places that have not been re-arranged by the hand of man. When you explore these places alongside an elephant, you will realize that every natural beauty you can imagine already exists. The Elephant Encounter is more than an interaction; it is a complete submission to the wilderness. The experience will take you into an African paradise. In this space, society is made up of wildlife, tress are homes, dust is decoration and the every path is the one less travelled by. WILD HORIZONS ELEPHANT SANCTUARY & ORPHANAGE

Your journey begins in an open design thatch Boma that overlooks the tranquil Masuwe River. The Boma blends in seamlessly with the environment and against the backdrop of a blue sky, guests will learn about the conception and philosophies of the Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary and Orphanage. The caretakers, who have journeyed physically and metaphorically with the elephant, will share the stories of the herd, and address the threats facing elephant populations in an interesting and informative presentation. The sanctuary’s roots are buried in the principle of conservation- the guides will tell you and the earth will show you the splendor that we strive to protect.

However, your greatest teachers on the day will be the elephant themselves. Every acre of the sanctuary feels their commanding presence. Uninhibited but their size, they roam the landscape more comfortably than our angular human bodies do, never glancing down but always knowing where to place their next step. Elephants are the only animals who manage to splash and play in the water, without diluting the wisdom in their eyes as they do. They shower themselves in dust and water, wearing each element with grace. Their flapping ears direct the wind, their long trunks disrobe the branches, and their powerful legs disrupt the dust, every casual movement make mesmerizing to those who witness it.

When guests have filled their cameras with pictures and their minds with memories, they will make their way back to the Boma for a selection of hot and cold canapés and sundowners (including local beers, wines, soft drinks, water, coffee & tea). Grateful for the experience but sad that it has ended; guests will then be transferred back to their respective hotels.

Elephant Camp Lodge - Elephant sanctuary and orphange

Find out more about this activity

Jameson Vic Falls Carnival 2016

Victoria Falls, a quaint town home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, was transformed into festival central over the New Year period. The atmosphere hummed with excitement, music from multiple genres filled the air and the streets teamed with brightly dressed party goers. Land Rovers wound across the busy roads, packed with adrenaline seekers as they made their way between the rafting excursions, gorge swings, helicopter rides, and various pool parties dotted around the town.

The 3-day event came to life on the edge of the mighty Zambezi River. Beneath the surface of the glistening ripples live countless fish, crocodile and hippo. Birds dip and dive among the indigenous green trees that proudly overlook this impressive body of water. It is the ideal location to mark the start of the three-day extravaganza. There is no better way to spend an afternoon than lazing by the banks of a slow flowing river, listening to the gentle background music of talented DJ’s, with a refreshing drink at hand. The moon eventually took its place in the sky, and in small groups, people returned to town and pay a visit to the vibey Shoestrings Backpackers Lodge and Mvu bar, where the festivities continued into the early hours of the following morning.

On day two the Jameson Vic Falls Carnival raced on at full steam ahead with the popular party train, which took off on the 30th. Hundreds of people made their way to what can only be described as Grand Celebration Station. Waving their luminous purple wrist bands in the air above their heads, people leapt aboard the ride of a lifetime. Hogwarts Express pales in comparison to the party train, which was equipped with bars, music and hundreds of enthusiastic passengers. The train made its way to Jafuta, where a stage and strobe lights awaited the train. The high-pitched whistle of the train could barely drown the sound of the powerful music pouring from the speakers at the front. The smell of frying burger wafted across the eastern end of the party, while the sound of ice clattering into cooler boxes sounded at the west, where people were served their drinks in the light of the setting sun. Local DJ’s transported the crowd on a musical journey that only ended once the final train was ready to make its final departure home at 1 o’clock in the morning.

It is hard to believe that this was just the warm-up so the main event.

Like children to the Pied Pipers tune, so the carnival troopers danced their way onto the field where the NYE party unfolded. Feet pounded the earth from dusk until dawn as music from Locnville, Sketchy Bongo, GoodLuck and many more artists engulfed the crowd. The various food stalls also got a fair amount of attention as the night wore on and the munchies kicked in. People were lured off the dance floor by the delicious aroma of frying burger patties, and returned revitalised and ready to party on. The lights emanating from the stage gave the carnival an almost surreal feel. The vibrant colours washed over the dancefloor and swirled across the stage, reaching high into the navy blue sky towards the millions of stars that watched the carnival below. During the countdown into the new year, a soft mist drifted down, refreshing the party so that they could carry on dancing into the eagerly anticipated new year.

The Jameson Vic Falls Carnival is as unique and special as the town in which it takes place. The earth’s natural beauty flourishes here and can be seen everywhere, whether you are strolling through the rainforest, hurtling through the rapids or plunging into African air at the edge of a bungee cord. There is a marriage between cultural diversity and musical talent that leaves listeners with new found musical taste. Everyone you meet at the carnival is excited, friendly and ready for an adventure. The elation doesn’t end from the moment you step into Victoria Falls, to the moment you say your wistful goodbyes to her. Wild Horizons are proud to be Co-sponsors of the Jameson Vic Falls  Carnival.

Victoria Falls Canopy Tour and High Wire Activities!

We met our guides Michael and Bright at The Lookout Café. The venue is spectacular and the views give you a tantalizing taste of what’s to come. Our guides kitted us each with full body harness, pulley and safety helmet and there was plenty of laughter about the flattering fit of the harnesses!

We then walked a short distance to the first slide on the Victoria Falls Canopy Tour and our guides demonstrated how to slide on the cables and the safety procedures.

The Victoria Falls Canopy Tour offers everyone an exhilarating opportunity to soar through the rain forest in the Batoka Gorge with spectacular views of the mighty Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls Bridge. It is an unforgettable adventure as you slide from one platform to the next along a series of steel cables set amongst magnificent natural surroundings.

You are in another world from the moment you step off the first platform and slide through the tree-tops… there’s simply nothing to prepare you for the magnificence of the view across the gorge you glimpse as you first whizz across it. As you continue on the tour it appears that each slide offers something more and you can feel the groups’ confidence build.

At first some of us were very unsure and there was much nervous giggling but by the third slide whoops of sheer delight were reverberating through the gorge. We soon realize that with the combination of the safety line and the knowledge and expertise of Michael and Bright who are calm, confident and encouraging, we were totally safe.

SAFETY:

All groups are escorted by a lead guide and safety guide at all times. The guides are friendly, professional and reassuring. Your safety is paramount and Wild Horizons have strict procedures in place to ensure that you are constantly connected to either the cable or the platform.

The scenery high up within the forest canopy is spectacular. We enjoyed spotting birdlife amongst the surrounding trees and canyon walls and were lucky enough to have a Verreaux’s eagle soaring above us and periodically landing in trees on the canyon wall to watch us inquisitively. I can only imagine he thought we were learning to fly! Each tour lasts between 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on how many people are in your group and the speed you choose to go. We had a much-needed cold drink as we walked out of the gorge still smiling from the adventure.

Next up was the Flying Fox. We were re-harnessed so that we were suspended from our backs. The Flying Fox consists of a cable over the width of the gorge and with the harness facing down you literally ‘fly’ through the air over the turmoil of the Zambezi below. With our confidence soaring from the Canopy Tour we all stepped off into the abyss. The view is unbelievable!

Similarly to the Canopy Tours escalation of excitement and adrenaline, so the order we did the other activities in scaled up in order of excitement. Accordingly we moved on to the Zip Line- this is an activity we chose to do in tandem. Our harnesses were re-adjusted and we were seated for the activity. The platform it leaves from offers an exciting view of what you are about to embark upon- a very steep descent that has you travelling at up to 105 km an hour whilst travelling across the gorge with the Zambezi below.

My friend perfectly described the feeling of hurtling downwards and across the gorge as a ‘rush of joy’!

The final and most adrenalin inducing activity is the Gorge Swing. Not for the faint of heart this includes a whopping 70 metre free-fall before you are ‘caught’ by the harness and begin swinging across the gorge. This is an incredible experience as you swing in a huge arc with the Zambezi churning below you. It’s impossible not to appreciate the feeling of hanging over the mighty Zambezi by a cord!

And suddenly we were done! Buoyed up by adrenaline and the indescribable feeling of feeling more alive we headed back to the Lookout Café for a celebratory beer. We were all thrilled at the end of a great day and the shared memories we had created.

TIPS:

  • Wear comfortable clothing and closed-toe footwear. Open sandals are not suitable as they will simply fall off. Wear shorts or long pants and not a skirt as you will be in a harness. Running shoes are perfect and strap-on sandals will do.
  • Take an easy to use camera with a strap that can attach around your neck or to your hand. There are plenty of great photo opportunities!
  • The Canopy Tour experience is an excellent corporate and team building event.
  • There is a safe box at The Lookout Café where you can leave your belongings and any valuables- however I suggest packing lightly.