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.
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.
- 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.
Wild Horizons is introducing with immediate effect daily scheduled tours of the Victoria Falls; guided in both Spanish and French. These tours take place on the Zimbabwean side of the Falls. They aim to help our many foreign language guests to experience the mighty Victoria Falls and learn about it in their native tongue.
The Spanish and French language tours of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe are conducted daily throughout the year on a scheduled basis. En route, clients may be taken past the ‘Big Tree’, an impressive baobab, where they may stop and take photos. Clients will be accompanied through the Rainforest by one of our qualified Foreign Language Guides who will give a detailed history of the Falls as well as detailing the flora, fauna, bird & wildlife and other points of interest.
Guides are happy to assist clients with photographs whilst visiting. Raincoats are provided when needed.
The Victoria Falls – Now In Its 150 Millionth Fantastic Year – Reaches Its Zenith In About May each year. It’s a truly awe-inspiring experience. The sight, the sound, the smell; the humbling feeling that here indeed is Nature’s Supreme Masterpiece. No photograph can begin to depict the reality… and nothing prepares you for your first sight.
- DEPART: Daily
- COSTS: No additional cost normal Tour of Falls rates apply
- DURATION: 2 hours
- DEPARTURE: 08h00 to 08h30 from hotels and B&B’s in Victoria Falls Town
- MINIMUM 1 MAXIMUM 20 pax per tour
- LANGUAGE: French or Spanish
- PLEASE NOTE: * Child Policies are available upon request
Zimbabwe’s hospitality & culture are legendary and sadly something many visitors miss experiencing. Adventure activities and wildlife watching are complimented greatly by meeting the country’s people and experiencing their culture.
There are opportunities to give back to those less fortunate in Zimbabwe. A humbling and eye-opening experience that gives you the opportunity to make a real difference while also encouraging a feeling of appreciation in those of us who have the time and money available to go on holiday. Whether you pay for an experience such as a village visit, choose to make a donation to a charity or simply spend time in one of Zimbabwe’s craft or food markets ensure you are also taking the time to stop and talk to Zimbabweans and find out about their lives, you won’t regret it.
- Cultural tourism in Zimbabwe is generally a very inexpensive option with costs often simply covering the expenses
- The proceeds from Cultural Tourism have a direct positive effect on the communities visited.
- These activities are fantastic learning experiences for both young and old making them a great option for families. During any of these, your children will likely get to meet and interact with local children while learning about their culture.
Some options on offer in Victoria Falls include:
A rural village tour: You get to visit rural homes, watch fields being tended and possibly get the chance to help in some of the day-to-day chores. Guests are able to gain an insight into Zimbabwean rural life and to see how vastly different it is from life in town- most rural Zimbabweans still practise subsistence farming, few have access to electricity or running water and life is at a far slower pace.
A township tour: The majority of people in Victoria Falls live in the Chinotimba township, which has a population of approximately 60 000 people. During this tour, guests will have an opportunity to observe township-life – from the oldest houses to the taverns, the local market and churches. During a visit to the Chinotimba Primary School clients are introduced to the school headmaster – he or someone assigned, will take the guests on a tour of the school.
A home hosted meal: The concept is a simple one; your host cooks and shares a traditional meal with you, at his or her place… I did this and you can read about my experience on a home hosted dinner here. It was a delightful evening and an experience I would recommend to anyone visiting Zimbabwe. The experience is so genuine. You have an interaction that is deceptively simple, yet somehow meaningful; the sharing of a meal.
The ‘Pay it forward Experience’ This is an experience where guests can really give back to the community, and enjoy a fun, challenging exploration of the markets and town of Victoria Falls. You choose an organization you would like to support from a list and are then given a “wish list” from the chosen charity. You then go on a mission to source the items before delivering them to your chosen charity and meeting the people benefiting from your donation.
* On these experiences guests are welcome to bring along second-hand clothing and footwear, stationery such as exercise books, crayons, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, erasers etc as a donation should they wish to. These items can be invaluable in rural or disadvantaged schools and communities.
A High-wire Activity is an adrenaline rush and a must do when visiting Victoria Falls.
There is a range of activities from the family friendly and exciting Canopy Tour to the extreme gorge swing for those who are more adventurous. Wherever you fall on the adrenaline scale try something new and you won’t regret the memories you make.
There are 4 levels of Activity:
The Canopy Tour: The gentlest of the high-wire activities. This exciting and scenic activity offers amazing views of the turbulent rapids, the Victoria Falls Bridge and the spray of the Falls. This unique experience is suitable for families or groups who will be able to enjoy the activity together. Adventure seekers of all ages can partake. Observe the riverine forest from a variety of vantage points – from above, below and within the canopy itself. Experience forest bird-life, which can include the Black Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Knysna and Purple-crested Turaco (Lourie).
Flying Fox: You get clipped into a harness that is attached to a pulley which then glides along an almost horizontal cable across the gorge, 125m above the canyon floor. This gives you the sensation of flying. It looks tame in comparison to the Zip Line and Gorge swing, but this is still a thrilling experience.
The Zip Line: This is similar to the Flying Fox but here the cable is not horizontal it is at a steep angle so once you let go you accelerate down-hill at speeds of over 100km/h. It is extremely exhilarating and can be done singly or in tandem. It is twice the distance as the flying fox.
Gorge Swing: Leave your stomach behind, this is only for the totally insane. Your harness is attached to a rope, the rope is attached to the middle of a cable that runs across the full width of the gorge.
Once you are all set, you stand on a platform on the edge of a sheer 120m cliff, say a quick prayer and jump off – how crazy is that? You jump off and free-fall for about 70m straight towards the river below, then as the rope becomes taut you start to swing away from the ravine you were hurtling towards, fractions of a second ago. You then swing in a gentle arc giving you time to appreciate both the beauty of the scenery and the adrenaline rush.
Victoria Falls is a great family friendly destination. However with a full gamut of activity options it can be overwhelming to plan your trip. To make it easier we have rounded up some of the best activities for families. Of course, every family is different; if you have any questions or need advice feel free to contact us, we are happy to help.
Although it can seem like Victoria Falls only offers adrenaline based activities there is actually far more to do and see here- and some pretty exciting options are safe and friendly for even young children. The town also offers a convenient ‘home base’ from which many exciting activities are easily accessible whilst you have comfort and convenience.
A Cultural Tour is a great way to expose your children to different cultures and ways of life whilst still having fun. You can choose from many different options- such as a rural village tour, a township tour or a home-hosted meal. In any of these your children will likely get to meet and interact with local children while learning about their culture. Check out some cultural tours here or you can read about my experience on a home hosted dinner here.
The Boma Experience is a fantastic night out for children and adults alike. With a huge buffet that includes local delicacies and Western fare everyone will find something they like. And the evening will be filled with entertainment from traditional dancers to a local story teller and a fortune teller. After dinner, you can join in the drumming lesson- something your children will love.
A Zambezi Sunset Boat Cruise is a must do and a fantastic family activity. Cruises last on average 2 hours which is just right- not too long for kids. The boat will leave the jetty and meander through upstream through islands, while you enjoy the views and potential bird and wildlife along the banks. Most vessels serve snacks and beverages. Have your camera ready to capture one of the most amazing sunsets in Africa.
Tip: Ensure that you book the right cruise for you- some larger boats have a party atmosphere, others are smaller with an emphasis on relaxation. We recommend The Zambezi Royal. There is no minimum age on this cruise and children pay 50%.
There are also some activities you may not have expected would make the ‘family friendly list’ but I recommend many of the highwire activities for a safe thrill. My favourite for families is The Canopy Tour which lasts between 2 to 2 and a half hours. Depending on their age and size children can be harnessed in with their parents or go alone. The Tour consists of 9 different slides, varying in length and 1 cable bridge. Friendly and experienced staff will give a detailed safety briefing before the canopy tour and there are two guides on each tour so you will feel comfortable before you depart. It offers amazing views of the turbulent rapids, the Victoria Falls Bridge and spray of the Falls.
Of course, while you are here you will want to visit the Victoria Falls! Victoria Falls itself is a fantastic activity for older children in particular (10+). The safety precautions around the edge of the Falls are limited; older children will appreciate the beauty of the Falls whilst being able to also stay away from the canyon edge. For children small enough to be carried you should also be fine although be prepared to walk for a distance.
- Can be a long walk for very small kids so be prepared with a stroller or baby carrier.
- Safety precautions are scant along the edge so it’s important to keep you children close if they are young or to arrange for a half day of babysitting whilst you view the Falls.
Text by Sarah Kerr