Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls

The most expensive tourist town in Africa (so far).  Lovely people, terrible prices, and some strange Canadians!

How do you improve on ‘largest waterfall in the world’? You add rainbows.


Not super fun, especially if you’re a Canadian (I’m not, hehe in your face Canadians).  Be ready to pay $45 for a double entry visa, necessary if you plan to visit Zambia or Botswana.  You do not need a lot of cash, despite what you’ll read from out of date reviews, but it’s nice to have a backup and money for tips.  Politely ask to use your credit card, and you’ll get to hold on to those cold hard Benjamin’s.

For that matter, a tip I read and tried out was pretty helpful – open up each conversation with ‘good [morning] how are you’ and a smile, people seem to respond very well to basic greetings and good manners here!

Travel from the airport to your hotel is where you’ll first realize how expensive this place is about to get. If you were used to uber in South Africa, that’s too bad – no uber here.  Expect to pay $14/pp for a shuttle to your hotel in USD.  A taxi is $30.  Prices are all fixed, even if you make a local contact, you’ll probably still be quoted the same prices, I was at least.   

The only creature that gets away with anything in Zimbabwe. They know who’s boss.

First strange Canadian sidebar – ok Canadians, we know you did something to anger Zimbabwe’s 93 year old dictator, because you have to pay almost double to enter the country, and you have to pay for a single entry visa each way, so we understand you may be in a slightly foul mood on the airport shuttle – BUT it’s not the fault of the guys operating the airport shuttle, and when you say things like ‘there’s going to be a lawsuit’ we, and probably the Zimbabwians, will laugh at you after you get out. Maybe you should try some basic research on the Visa requirements for your country of origin before you arrive at the airport. Soory aboot that!

Victoria Falls park

Do it.  It’ll cost you $30/pp just to enter.  You can once again use visa.  If you go in the morning, it’ll be nice and you’ll see monkeys running around too.  Take a lunch break at the rainforest cafe and get a juice, they’re good.  If you stay around for the afternoon you can also see the rainbows.

From my perspective, that’s a lot of waterfalls

Walking around in the evening may feel a bit dodge- there are some aggressive salespeople selling $50B Zimbabwe dollar notes, and overpriced carvings.  A firm no wont get them to stop.  Best sales pitch was “Hey! It’s Hot. Get a Hat”

For me a polite greeting (Say ‘howzit’ and they’ll think you’re at least South African), and a firm thank you but no, thanks but no, thank you No. Please, no thank you, will eventually get the guys to give up.  Just expect them to hassle you, and you’ll be prepared and ok.  Obviously keep your valuables hidden in your backpack zipped up if you have one.  You don’t want to seem ‘worth it’ and keep in mind you probably have more to lose than the people stuck here.

Tourist Activities

Victoria falls hotels seem to have an interesting and pretty effective marking effort going – it’s not quite a scam, but it seems kind of close to one.  There’s a ton of marketing at every hotel and by companies like Shearwater to get you to sign up to overpriced tourist activities.  Basically if you’re already in Victoria Falls, you’re trapped into expensive overpriced transport and activities.  Trying to piece something together yourself isn’t going to happen any cheaper. Sorry!  

Day trips to Botswana: Big Game Picture Hunting

Bring: a safari hat, sunscreen, a long sleeved shirt and pants.  Also 2L water pp. It gets hot!

So pay the tourist tax and book the day trip to Botswana – you’ll ideally go on a river cruise in the morning, have a buffet lunch, then enjoy a game drive in the evening.  Don’t be surprised if your trip gets switched around and you go on a game drive in the middle of the day, and spend the best hours for either activity waiting around at the border.  Even with that, you’ll still probably think it was a good experience.   

Expect that your game drive will have up to 9 people (3 rows of 3 seats) to share the space with.  Bathroom breaks are possible at the border/lodge (~8am), then at lunch (~1:30pm) then back at the border (~5-6pm), so plan ahead for the sake of the people you’re sharing the day with!  Some people might want to see you get eaten by a lion while taking a shit, but they’ll prefer to to keep the extra 10 mins of game drive rather than awkwardly waiting for you! 

Why the focus on bathroom breaks?  Ok strange Canadian Sidebar #2: our suspicions of this strange Canadian began at the border crossing out of Zimbabwe with the standard question of ‘where do you live’ from the border officer.  Instead of saying ‘Ottawa Canada’, this guys says ‘you can put Zim I move around a lot’.  First off Canada-guy ‘Zim’ isn’t an address, and nobody is buying your white ass with a Canadian passport is from Zimbabwe story.  Show the man respect and say you’re here visiting from Ottowa Canada, and here’s your Canadian single entry visa you had to pay 75 bucks for each time you enter.    

Yeah that wasn’t the bathroom story – it gets better.  We’ve been cruising around for maybe an hour since the border crossing with restroom and our Canadian, we’ll call him ‘Phillip’ says ‘stop, I need to ease myself’.  Since no one knows what the hell that means, he says again “I need to ease myself”.  Our guide ignored him for about 10 minutes, before we come back to a big tree.  Phillip: “I NEED TO EASE MYSELF, can you please stop”. Just say you need to take a piss or a toilet stop, you’re an ambassador for your whole country man!  Speaking of, if you’re going to wear some raggedy-ass yet expensive hipster shoes in Africa, then dangle bare feet out of the vehicle, we’re going to cheer for the critter that takes a swipe at you.  Keep your damn shoes on rather than make us drive back to pick up the water bottle you drop out of the car because you can’t put your shoes back on, you donkey of the day, you’re a real jackass!

Phillip’s additional gems were repeating the above ‘ease myself’ process a couple of hours later with our guide saying ‘you can go in 4 minutes, I’m not stopping’, and refusing to put on his seatbelt and falling out of his seat onto me, despite our guide providing fair warning and saying ‘strap in and hold on’ while cruising down some steep 4×4 trails.  I don’t care if you’re ‘soory’, Phillip you’re a grown man and you don’t need to rebel against common sense anymore.  Also no one cares about your incorrect animal sightings like ‘that’s a large herd of elephants’, when looking at cape buffalo, nor do we care for you trying to stump our guide with questions you could easily google like ‘what’s the gestation period of a hippopotamus’, you asshole.  Oh yeah, Phillip also smugly declared ‘I’m in health’ when saying what he does.  We don’t believe you are a doctor for one tenth of one second Phillip. I could go on, but there’s a guide for who not to be in Africa.  Don’t be a Phillip.

The river cruise was pretty awesome for us.  Here’s where you want that safari hat, sunscreen, a long sleeved shirt and pants – it can get pretty brutally sunburningly hot at the front of the boat.  We got uncomfortably close to some deadly hippo submarines, good fun!  About 2 hours of close ups to Elephants, hippos, Cape buffalo, crocodiles, giraffe, baboons, bird life, water antelope, water buck, and even a rare sighting of the endangered Sabie Antenlope coming down to the water.

Pictures tell the story – here’s a few to enjoy!


In conclusion, Victoria Falls is an expensive tourist town, with a well oiled machine for making you think you’re in a shitty part of Vegas as far as quality and prices.  I’d suggest staying somewhere else like Kasane, Botswana or Livingstone, Zambia and making a day trip to see the falls.

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