One of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls, Victoria Falls is a definite highlight on any Southern Africa itinerary! Imagine the Zambezi River in full flood: over 500 million litres of water tumbling over the falls every minute, throwing up enough spray to sustain a ‘rainforest’ of trees, ferns and flowering plants.
There’s nothing quite like walking from bright African sunshine into this dripping forest, the paths leading to viewpoints incredibly close to these thundering falls. But after you’ve stood on the precipice and been soaked by the spray, taken to the skies and cruised the Zambezi River – where next? Which other destinations live up to Victoria Falls and its heart-pounding activities?
Sitting at the heart of the Southern Africa safari experience, Victoria Falls is well connected with international airports on both sides of the falls (in Livingstone and just south of Victoria Falls Town) and can be paired with just about anywhere. But for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday itinerary, here are my top suggestions for how to follow on from Victoria Falls in style.
A herd of elephant seen on a sunset cruise on the Chobe River (photo: Chobe Game Lodge).
Game Drives and River Cruises in Chobe National Park
It takes between an hour and an hour and a half to get from Victoria Falls to Chobe National Park, and that includes dealing with border formalities when crossing into next-door Botswana. For this reason many visitors opt for a daytrip from Victoria Falls which generally involves a river cruise, lunch at Chobe Game Lodge, and a couple of hours on a game drive.
If you’ve got the time, however, it’s well worth spending a few days exploring this wildlife-packed reserve. Home to the greatest concentration of elephant found anywhere in Africa, Chobe is a phenomenal big game destination particularly in the dry season when herds gather at the water’s edge. Choose between river safaris, game drives and sunset cruises on and around the Chobe River or stay in one of the lodges in the Savute, a wild region of the park known for good predator sightings including lion, leopard, packs of hyena and even the endangered wild dog.
The one-week Discover Livingstone & Botswana safari starts at the elegant Royal Livingstone Hotel on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls, then it’s on to the Chobe Chilwero just outside Chobe National Park, and finally award-winning Chief’s Camp in the Moremi region of the Okavango Delta.
Enjoy a lazy morning's game viewing from the comfort of your bed on board the luxurious Zambezi Queen.
Life on the River, Aboard The Zambezi Queen
A unique way to explore the Chobe River is aboard the Zambezi Queen. Decorated in contemporary African style with neutral tones offset by bold animal prints, the luxurious Zambezi Queen feels more like a floating boutique hotel than a houseboat. This 14-room boat is limited to 28 guests creating an intimate and wonderfully social atmosphere with sunset drinks on the outside deck and delicious meals served around a communal table.
During the day your guide takes you out in a small, manoeuvrable boat which drifts up close to wildlife at the water’s edge (no need for binoculars) and you might even see elephant swimming across the river – an unforgettable sight! Other activities offered include game drives in Chobe National Park, a mokoro trip to a local village and catch-and-release fishing for bream and tiger fish.
The Zambezi Queen lies 80 kilometres from Victoria Falls on the Namibian side of the Chobe River, so prepare for many a stamp in your passport as you nip into and out of Botswana on your way to the boat.
African River Dreams combines a stay at Royal Chundu, a wonderfully romantic lodge close to Victoria Falls, with either two or three nights on the Chobe River aboard the Zambezi Queen.
A guided walking safari through Zambia's wild South Luangwa (photo: Puku Ridge Camp).
Big Game Viewing in Zambia’s Wild South Luangwa
If you’re staying on the Zambian side of the falls (or even if you’re not), you’d do well to consider a few days in the South Luangwa. Long the destination for safari enthusiasts and those in the know, Zambia’s wild and remote Luangwa Valley offers an authentic safari experience with plenty of big game sightings – and regular flights from Livingstone to Mfuwe make it easy to add on to a Victoria Falls holiday.
Explore the South Luangwa on morning and afternoon game drives, and come back with your camera memory card filled with photos of lion, elephant, giraffe, hippo and (if you’re lucky) leopard. Along with game drives, most lodges offer walking safaris – this is after all the birthplace of walking safaris, and still one of the best places in Africa to spot big game whilst on foot.
The Luxury Zambia Safari starts at Sussi & Chuma’s wonderful treehouses upstream of Victoria Falls, then it’s big game viewing and a delightful tented safari camp in the South Luangwa, followed by a few peaceful days in magnificent surroundings in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi Valley.
Take a look around the beautiful Mother City in this fun video: "You Don't Need a Holiday You Need Cape Town".
A Classic Combination: Cape Town, Kruger Park and Victoria Falls
This must be one of Southern Africa’s best-loved holiday combinations: start in the beautiful city of Cape Town with its beaches, Table Mountain and the nearby Cape Winelands; then it’s on to the private reserves or concessions of the Kruger Park for classic Big 5 game viewing and luxurious lodge accommodation; and finally the mighty Victoria Falls and its many activities.
Three very different experiences in one got-it-all itinerary! And along with all the natural attractions – beaches and big game, winelands and waterfalls – you have the option of staying at some of the best accommodation on the continent. The areas link up nicely too, although you might need to spend a night in Johannesburg between you safari and Victoria Falls but there are some well-worth-a-visit hotels in the City of Gold: think stylish suites, fine dining and fantastic spa treatments.
Explore Cape Town, Kruger & Vic Falls lets you do just that whilst staying in unadulterated luxury at the One&Only Cape Town, Singita Sabi Sands and Royal Chundu at Victoria Falls (a personal favourite). Or to see even more, the Cape Town to Victoria Falls Luxury Safari also includes the gourmet delights of the Cape Winelands, the beach-lined Garden Route and the waterways of the Okavango Delta.
The leather-armchair comfort of Rovos Rail's observation carriage - which has an extremely well stocked bar at one end and a wonderful open-air balcony at the other.
Travel To / From Victoria Falls on the World’s Most Luxurious Train
Forget flying, if you really want to travel in style then how about a journey aboard the world’s most luxurious train, Rovos Rail. Stepping aboard Rovos you’re transported to a more glamorous place, or should be time, of dress-for-dinner elegance and hours to simply savour your four-course meal, chat to other guests in the comfortable observation carriage, and watch the world flicker past the windows of your cleverly designed and surprisingly spacious suite.
Start with a few days in Cape Town, then catch Rovos Rail up to the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls or journey from Cape Town as far as Pretoria on the train - which includes a particularly beautiful stretch of scenery through the Hex River Valley - then fly the rest of the way. Although you’ll find that leaving Rovos Rail is not easy; there really is no better way to travel: the fine food, superb wine, impeccable service and leisurely conversations, all framed against the wide open spaces of South Africa.
Read about one of our Southern Africa Travel consultant’s magical Rovos Rail journey from Pretoria to Cape Town.
A leopard seen on a game drive at Singita Sabi Sands, in the Kruger Park.