The only thing I wanted to do in Zambia was to swim in the Devil’s Pool, situated on the very edge of the world’s largest waterfalls, Victoria Falls.
Victoria Falls ‘The Smoke That Thunders’ is the largest waterfall in the world that sits on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also happens to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
To get there, my current travel buddy Will and I flew an easy flight from Nelspruit in South Africa to Livingstone in Zambia. We paid about $10 USD for a van to take us to the Zambia/Zimbabwe border where we paid our visa fees in an oven-like immigration office packed with hordes of tourists from private tour companies. Eventually, we were granted access into Zimbabwe where we stayed in a hostel for a few nights.
We knew that on the edge of the waterfall, there was a natural pool that was completely safe to swim in without falling off the edge. However, we weren’t aware that the pool was on the Zambia side of Victoria’s Falls!
Do your research folks!
I’m all for spontaneous travel, but a little research is necessary in order to save you from boneheaded, avoidable costs. We had to pay another visa fee to get across to Zambia, just to visit Devil’s Pool. If we’d planned properly, we would have gotten our multiple-entry visa from the start, instead of a single entry. Oops.
On top of that, we were lucky that we arrived in the right season (any other time, the waterfall is too vicious, particularly during the rainy seasons).
We were lucky that there were two spaces available on such short notice (we didn’t bother to book in advance, although we should have). There is only one company that does the tour to the falls, so spaces are quite limited.
AND we were even luckier that although we were part of a larger group of about ten people, Will and I got to separate from our group to go into the falls freely for some time before our group rejoined us.
Devil’s Pool sits right on the edge of Victoria Falls, but is walled and barricaded from thousands of years of erosion which formed this death-defying pool. Completely natural and definitely something you can’t do in many places in the world. Oddly enough, I felt safe; even while peering over the edge into the thunderous smoke.
Normally, it’s a bit of a rush to go into the pool because of how sought after it is. There are dozens of groups each day waiting for the experience. We were fortunate with the opportunity to take our time before the rest of the group joined us.
We learned that the Zambia side is known for the famous pool, while the Zimbabwe side is notable for the views of Victoria Falls in its entirety. After experiencing the Zambia side a bit more (including an awesome breakfast), we went back across the border to enter the national park in the Zimbabwe side. As of this post, the cost to enter the park for international visitors is $30 USD.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t interested in going into the park because I was absolutely content with the up close and personal views from the Zambia side. Will was keen on it. I went out of guilt. I’ll probably never come back here, so just do it! I’m glad I did. The sights were out of this world!
The park was enormous and there were many individual viewpoints along the cliff’s edge to see the waterfalls in all of its glory.
Victoria Falls is doable in one day. Spend the morning on the Zambia side at Devil’s Pool and then the rest of the day up to the golden hours of sunset on the Zimbabwe side for the views. I highly recommend a visit!
But remember this important information…
- Devil’s Pool can only be accessed from the Zambia side.
- Devil’s Pool is only possible to experience during the drier months from about mid-August to mid-January.
- Book a tour in advance for peace of mind. A tour is the only way to access the pool and there is only one company that has the rights to do so. Most hotels and hostels can help you with this.
- Proper views of Victoria Falls are only possible on the Zimbabwe side. It costs $30 USD for international guests. They do take credit cards.
- Plan your visas accordingly to avoid paying more than you have to. Depending on where you’re flying in/out and where your accommodation is, it might be wise to invest in a double-entry or multiple-entry. Sometimes, a special day entry is possible as well.
- Everything on the Zimbabwe side is priced in US dollars. Make sure you have some if you plan to take taxis.
There is much more to do there besides just visiting the falls. There’s a popular bungee jump overlooking the falls as well as a world-renowned white water rafting among other tours and getaways. We were short on time and didn’t get to do either, unfortunately.
You live and you learn!
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