The infamous Mapogo Lions of the Sabi Sands have become legends in their own right due to their impressive dominance of the area for 6 years, but also because of the violent and shocking way that they gained control of their territory and held it over the following years.
Did you know that the famous waterfall has a little town tucked away close by, with the same name? In Lozi ( the local dialect ) the falls are called “The Smoke that Thunders” and thousands of people flock to admire the magnificent waterfall every year. It’s 1,708 metres wide and 108 metres high, creating a majestic sight to behold.
If you’ve travelled to Zimbabwe to admire the waterfall, and you’re staying over at one of the fantastic Victoria Falls hotels, there’s a lot of other activities to indulge in after you’ve seen (and felt) the thunderous waters. We’ve gathered the Top 10 Things to Do at Victoria Falls for you.
#1 Zambezi River White Water Rafting
Not only can you stand and admire the Victoria Falls, you can also ride the “waves” created by it. Below the falls the Zambezi River offers you top-notch white water rafting opportunities. It’s some of the best in the world. There are 24 thrilling rapids to conquer. Right after the falls lies an intense stretch of the river with a channel of high volume water. A truly unforgettable experience!
Average cost: US$ 120 p/p
#2 Bungee Jumping
If you don’t like the idea of the water slapping you in the face on a raft, why not get your adrenaline shot from jumping off the Victoria Falls bridge? It is 111 metres high, guaranteed to give you the thrill of a lifetime.
Average Cost: US$ 160 p/p
Suggested Companies: Shearwater Bungee
#3 Swim in Devil’s Pool
Another option if you like being adventurous, but still prefer to stay on the safe side of thrill seeking. The rocky bathing pool is on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls and offers an extremely unique swimming opportunity. With the assistance of a local guide you can scoot to the edge of the pool to stand in awe of the 108m drop. But beware, the water is quite icy.
Average Cost: US$ 110 – 175 p/p
Suggested Companies: Victoria Falls Guide (official tour guide provider of Devil’s Pool swims)
#4 A Guided Tour of Victoria Falls
The waterfall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can explore on your own, but a guided tour can give you the inside scoop on interesting little-known facts, delving into the history of the Falls. There are various viewpoints along the way to admire the waterfall from different angles.
Average Cost: US$ 23 p/p (excl. US$30 National Parks fee)
#5 Tiger Fishing on the Zambezi River
Tiger Fish are feisty little buggers, ranking among the top fighting fish in the world. Sit next to the Zambezi River, soaking up the serene surroundings, awaiting a bite, and then get ready to work hard to haul out one of these mighty fish. In the fast-flowing waters of the Zambezi, they can grow to weigh up to 10kg, with the smallest ones weighing around 2kg.
Average Cost: US$ 145 p/p
Suggested Companies: compare packages on Tiger Fishing Zambezi
#6 A Sunset Cruise
Watching the sun sink below the horizon from the leisure of a riverboat is a once in a life time experience. With the thunderous falls in the background, you can enjoy the constant flow of the river pushing you along while you soak up the vibe.
Average Cost: US$ 55 – 85
#7 Historical Tour of the Victoria Falls Bridge
Challenge your tolerance for heights to learn more about the great architectural feat bridging the gap between the two sides of the river. The tour includes walking along the catwalks below the bridge, which were used in the construction process. The informative presentation will leave you with a greater appreciation of the formidable bridge.
Average Cost: US$ 65
#8 High Tea at Victoria Falls Hotel
A visit to the Victoria Falls Hotel will transport you back to colonial times. Sip tea and pretend you are one of the early explorers of the country. You don’t have to stay at the hotel to indulge in the tea drinking ceremony. It’s not every day that your cup of tea is accompanied by a view of one of the most magnificent waterfalls in the world. Keep an eye out for the rainbows forming in the spray. The High Tea is hosted from 3 to 5PM.
Average Cost: dependent on menu selection
Suggested Companies: Victoria Falls Hotel
#9 Flight of Angels
Another great safe thrill-seeking option. Experience the Victoria Falls from a completely different angle, soaring about the roaring waters. David Livingstone coined the saying after writing about the area, “a sight so wonderful that Angels must have gazed down on it in flight”. The helicopters used for the aerial exploration have a special structure that offers each passenger unhindered views of the formidable falls. There are 15- and 30-minute flights available throughout the day.
Average Cost: US$ 150 – 290 (excl. US$15 National Park Fees)
#10 Local Village Tour
When you are visiting a foreign country, it’s great to immerge yourself in its culture. The area around the Victoria Falls is rich with fascinating history, stories date back to over 700 years. The local guides will give you a glimpse into the daily lives of the people who call this area home. Try the local cuisine and learn more about the traditions of the communities staying close to the waterfall.
Average Cost: US$ 50
If you are pausing at the O.R Tambo International Airport during your travels, you don’t have to stay stuck at the airport. The Gautrain is a great way to travel to the city from the airport. The airport is situated 25km (15.53 mi) from the city centre. This great train service can help you to travel quicker into the city, without worrying about traffic.
We’ve got a few ideas for you to consider during your layover, depending on how much time you have available between your flights.
Using the Gautrain to Travel into the City
You will need to buy a travel card, costing R16, to use the train. You can top up your card at the various stations. The Gautrain station is situated at the top of the airport, above the International Arrivals hall. To use the train to Sandton, it will cost you R158, to the Rosebank and Park stations it costs R170.
During peak hours (Monday to Friday from 06:00 to 08:30, and 15:30 and 18:00) the train departs every 10 minutes. During off-peak times it departs every 20 minutes. On weekends and public holidays the train departs every 30 minutes
Visit www.gautrain.co.za for more information.
Luggage Storage at the O.R Tambo International Airport
While you are exploring the city, you don’t want to be lugging your baggage along. If you are switching airlines, rather book your luggage in at A-Teck and collect before your departure. Their rates are R70 for up to 5 hours, R80 for 5 to 12 hours, and R90 for 12 to 24 hours.
The Gautrain is your best option for travelling quickly, without worrying about getting stuck in the city traffic. If you are adventurous and don’t mind rushing a bit, you can use it to go explore one of the Johannesburg malls. There are two options for you, the Sandton City mall (travel time with the train, 29 minutes, one way) or the Rosebank mall (travel time with the train, 35 minutes, one way)
At the Sandton City mall you can get a great selfie with the 20 foot tall bronze Nelson Mandela statue in the Nelson Mandela Square. It’s a 10 minute walk from the Gautrain station to the mall. The Rosebank mall is located closer to the Gautrain station. There is a Starbucks located 10 minutes’ walk from southern exit of the station.
Travel time from the airport: 48 minutes (one way)
Tour prices: from R80 to R100
This gives you a bit more leeway with your travel time in and out of the city. You can visit Constitution Hill from the Gautrain Park Station. It’s a 20 minute walk, or you can take an Uber. View the South African Constitutional Court and the old military fort which was also a prison. A few of the famous prisoners that spend time here include Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi. There are guided tours of the Old Fort, courthouse, Women’s Jail, and Number Four. You can also do a self-guided tour using the app. This is a great place to learn more about the challenging political history of South Africa.
Travel time from the airport: 1 hour 13 minutes (one way)
Entrance Fees: R55 (kids) | R90 (adults)
Another great activity in the city, is the Johannesburg Zoo. You will be travelling with the train and the bus to reach it, with a 20 minutes’ walk from the bus stop. Alternatively, you can Uber from the Rosebank Gautrain station, which will take you 10 minutes. This option will shorten your travel time with about half an hour. The zoo was founded in 1904 and covers 55 hectares of land.
Travel time from the airport: 56 minutes (one way)
We all know shopping and restaurant hopping always takes longer than expected, so with a bit more time at your disposal, a trip to Maboneng is the perfect activity for your layover in Johannesburg. This gentrified neighbourhood buzzes with art and culture inspiration. It will give you a great feel for the Joburg city life. Pop in at the curio shops to buy the ultimate African souvenir. Grab some local cuisine at Pata Pata or mix it up at Mama Mexicana. Finish it off with a rooftop cocktail at Living Room for epic panoramic views of the city.
Travel time from the airport: 57 minutes (one way)
Experience a different side of the city, with a more laidback suburbia feel at 44 Stanley. From the Park Gautrain Station, you will be taking the bus, and then walking about 10 minutes to reach it. Alternatively you can Uber from the Park station, which will take about 15 minutes. It’s a mixture of downtown urbanism and subtle sophistication. There’s a wide variety of restaurants to choose from including chic coffee shops, fine dining, and fancy fast food. The restaurants are complemented by various bespoke stores from stylish clothes, to quirky gifts and books. All of these are tucked away in little courtyard nooks, with olive trees as well as a central fountain feature.
Travel time from the airport: 35 minutes (one way)
The City Sightseeing Johannesburg tour starts at the Rosebank mall. After you’ve travelled with the Gautrain to the Rosebank station, you can join the tour from @ The Zone. You can also buy bus tickets at the airport to save time. This is a great way to soak up the city vibe, from the comfort of the famous red double-decker tour bus, seen in various major cities across the world. There are two tour routes to choose from, the Green Suburbs Loop or the Red City Tour Loop. If you have enough time, you could do both. Stops include Zoo Lake, the Military Museum, Constitution Hill, Apartheid Museum, SAB World of Beer, and more. You can also opt to do a township tour of Soweto.
If you prefer to rather dictate your own tour through the city, you can contact Explore Sideways. They specialise in special curated immersive tours. You can choose to book their Johannesburg Bucket List tour, or request your own customized tour. The Bucket List tour includes a walking tour of the artsy Maboneng Precinct, plus a visit to HAZARD Gallery and The Cosmopolitan to view inspiring contemporary African art. Next more shopping and lunch at the trendy 44 Stanley, before heading over to Victoria Yards, a uniquely integrated urban complex. And the tour ends with the Keyes Art Mile of Rosebank with famous galleries such as Everard Read, Circa, SMAC, Gallery MOMA and more.
If you’ve fallen in love with the bushveld after an African safari experience, why not consider a career in the safari industry? This growing tourism field offers exciting opportunities for those with a passion for nature. Combine that with a personality which easily connects with people, and you are set for an exciting career in the African wild!
Many people have questions about the difference between a National Park,, a private game reserve and private concessions when they are planning their first African safari experience.