Victoria Falls (the Wonder) is one of the major highlights of visiting Southern Africa. The common question is which town to base yourself for exploring the Falls – Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) or Livingstone (Zambia).
Both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides both offer breathtaking views of Victoria Falls. During high water season (December – March) both sides offer great visibility but the Zambian side will offer the most dramatic views. In the dry season (April – November) Zimbabwe may offer the better views with the Zambian side being merely a trickle.
In terms of the townships, Victoria Falls is just a short stroll away from the Wonder whereas Livingstone is a 10 minute drive.
There is no shortage of accommodation either side of the Zambezi with options to suit any budget. Victoria Falls offers the ever popular Shoestring Backpackers where you can mingle with travelers and locals alike after a hard day of exploring. The Victoria Falls Hotel offers something unique for those with a higher budget offering great views of the Railway Bridge and rooms suitable enough to satisfy the Queen Mother.
Livingstone offers accommodation options along the river as well as budget options such as Jolly Boys and Livingstone Backpackers in the township. Waterfront is the riverside choice for overland tour companies offering camping, shared, and mid-priced options. For those looking for a taste of Colonial Southern Africa and with a larger budget, The Royal Livingstone is a luxurious choice as Zebras cross the lawns while you sip cocktails along the Zambezi.
Both towns have an underrated food scene with options to suit all appetites. Victoria Falls has many African Inspired options with In Da Belly offering a menu of Warthog and Impala while if visiting the Boma for a buffet of African classics you can expect a night of traditional entertainment.
Livingstone offers more Western Cuisine with Olga’s Italian Corner, the Carribean inspired Cafe Zambezi, and Golden Leaf providing headline acts. A unique Livingstone experience is the Elephant Cafe where you can enjoy a high tea amongst elephants. An iconic experience is dinner aboard the Royal Livingstone Express steam train.
There is no shortage of river options on both sides with the bungee jump, rafting, sunset cruises, game drives, and helicopter rides just naming a few. Victoria Falls is quite modern in facility offering family friendly activities along with traditional cultural activities.
Livingstone is the perfect base for exploring one of Africa’s most underrated National Parks in Chobe, Botswana. Just a 40 minute drive away from Livingstone you can sleep amongst the Lions and view Africa’s largest congregation of Elephants.
In summary, there is very little separating the two towns with both offering a multitude of options for all types of travelers. Victoria Falls is the ideal base for an easy stroll over to the Falls whereas Livingstone offers a more unique African twist and still has the remnants of colonialism.
Our suggestion, give time for both!