Livingstone or Victoria Falls?
> Vicki Louise
THE incredible Victoria Falls is one of the must-visit destinations in Africa, but as it lies on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, it can be hard to decide which side you should make your base.
The Falls, one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, stretches over 1.7km and crosses the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. As a consequence, the two towns on either side of the border – Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Livingston in Zambia – have seen a surge in tourism and it can be difficult to decide where you should stay.
This write-up will, hopefully, make your decision of where to stay easier.
> LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA
Visa Arrangements & Cost
Single Entry: US$50
Double/Multiple Entry: US$80
Day-Tripper Visa: US$20
The tourist visas listed above can all be obtained on arrival at Livingston Airport and are valid for Australian, British, North American, Canadian and EU citizens. SADC citizens do not require visas.
Location: Approx 12.5km from Victoria Falls
Currency: Zambian Kwacha (1,000 Kwacha = US$0.20/£0.13/AU$0.18 approx.)
There are around 66 guesthouses/lodges in Livingston with approximately:
23 Backpackers/Guesthouses @ US$0-60 per night
25 Guesthouses/Hotels @ US$61-100 per night
15 Lodges @ US$101-200 per night
7 Luxury Lodges @ US$201-1,200 per night
Activities Specific to Zambia
Devils Pool & Angels Armchair, Microlight flight above the Falls, free walking trails next to Victoria Falls
Other Activities Available
Helicopter flights, white water rafting, bungee jumping, sunset cruise be
> VICTORIA FALLS, ZIMBABWE
Visa Arrangements & Cost
For USA & Australian Citizens:
Single Entry: US$30
Double Entry: US$45
For UK & Canadian Citizens:
Single Entry: US$55
Double Entry: US$70
The tourist visas listed above can all be obtained on arrival at Victoria Airport and there are no Day Tripper Visas available. Should you wish to enter Zimbabwe for a day, you will be required to purchase a single entry visa. SADC citizens do not need a visa.
Approx 3km from Victoria Falls
United States Dollar. Currency must be clean, not ripped or marked and dated after 2001.
There are around 20-25 guesthouses/lodges in the Victoria Falls area with approximately:
4 Backpackers/guesthouses @ US$0-60 per night
5 Guesthouses/hotels @ US$61-100 per night
5 Lodges @ US$101-200 per night
9 Luxury lodges @ US$201-1,100 per night
Activities Specific to Zimbabwe
Lion Encounter, Gorge Swing, Flying Fox, Zipline, Victoria Falls National Park
Other Activities Available
Helicopter flights, white water rafting, bungee jumping, sunset cruise
Crossing From Zimbabwe to Zambia
The crossing between Zimbabwe and Zambia is essentially a (very laid back) 1.6km walk across the Victoria Falls Bridge. It is then a 3km walk to Victoria Falls or a 12.5km walk/taxi to Livingstone.
If you are planning on doing activities that can only be found on one side of the falls, I would recommend purchasing a ‘double-entry’ visa on arrival in either Victoria Falls or Livingstone Airports and planning to complete those activities on the same day to avoid incurring additional visa charges.
On arrival at the border post you enter a single level building and provide your passport to the immigration officials. They will ask if you are exiting permanently or for the day and will check you have the authority to return (double entry visa). They will then stamp it with an exit stamp and provide you with a small slip of paper.
Upon exiting the building, walk towards the gates and give the piece of paper to the waiting guard who will check your passport before waving you through into no-man’s land.
No-man’s land stretches 1.6km, which can seem like a really long way when you are not entirely sure where you are going! (There are also taxi drivers there who will tout for your business. If you are going all the way to Livingstone, engaging one of these is not a bad idea). You will walk across the bridge and past a couple of guard posts before reaching another building, which is the Zambia border post. Enter the building. Hand over your passport to immigration and request to purchase a day tripper visa for US$20. (It is best to have a US$20 note dated post-2001). Enter Zambia.
This process can be reversed to enter Zimbabwe from Zambia, but can only be done between the hours of 6AM and 6PM.
> The Verdict
There are plenty of reasons to stay in either Livingstone or Victoria Falls and although the accommodation options are numerous in Livingstone (in comparison to Victoria Falls), if I was planning another trip, Victoria Falls town would be my preference.
It has a great small town feel, several well-priced restaurants and is walking distance to the Falls themselves. (
The distance between Livingstone and the Falls would mean additional taxi fares between the two).
Victoria Falls also have a wider range of activities on offer, meaning you can do everything on the Zimbabwe side and only have to enter Zambia for the Devil’s Pool, Free walks to the Falls and the Microlight Flight. (All of which can be done in a day).
Victoria Falls also has a great craft market where you can get some serious bargains on wooden and stone-carved souvenirs!
I hope I have helped in your decision making, and, regardless of where you choose to stay, you will have the BEST time because you will be in AFRICA. And Africa is Amazing.
(Vicki Louise is a travel blogger for maketimetoseetheworld.com)