You are going to see one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls – the Smoke that Thunders! But wait… you are going during the dry season. Does that mean you will not be able to see any water flowing down the gorges? Does that mean you will not see the Smoke that Thunders? Is going to see Victoria Falls during the dry season even worth it? We have your questions answered because we too had the same ones. When we were researching Victoria Falls during the dry season, we found very little information online and we did not like being unprepared. Hopefully, by the end of our article, you will feel prepared. If you still have questions, ask us! We are happy to help!
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When is Dry Season at Victoria Falls?
The dry season begins in June and continues through August. It is said that these months are a great time to visit Victoria Falls because water levels are low enough to actually enjoy the view of the falls instead of being sprayed by the mist the entire time. In addition, it is easy to create a multi-destination itinerary from Victoria Falls to Botswana. Game viewing in Botswana’s Chobe National Park is quite good during dry season at Victoria Falls.
As the weeks go by, Victoria Falls slowly begins to dry up. Therefore, by the end of dry season, Victoria Falls is severely dry. The Zambian side is almost completely dry, only a trickle of water in some areas, while the Zimbabwe side is almost full, but not nearly as high as its fully glory. The end of dry season begins in September and ends in November. During this time, Victoria Falls are at their lowest level of the entire year. Temperatures peak over 104°F/40 °C and though the Victoria Falls water levels are low, this is actually the best time for fantastic game viewing on a safari.
Zambia or Zimbabwe Side?
It is the million dollar question when it comes to which side has the best view of Victoria Falls. During Victoria Falls full glory, we would honestly recommend to just see it on both sides. However, during the end of dry season, we highly recommend you see Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe Side. When we were at Victoria Falls the first week of October (2017), almost the entire side of Zambia (about one quarter of Victoria Falls width) was dried up.
Despite Victoria Falls being dried up on the Zambian side, it was still magnificent to see the rock face and depth of the gorge. It is truly remarkable to see what nature is capable of – to know that Victoria Falls fills the gorge during its peak time is incredible. We did enjoy spending time with the local baboons, seeing the David Livingstone statue and walking across the Narrow Bridge to see Danger Point.
The Zimbabwe side is truly beautiful. Start at the far west and work your way to the middle, where the falls are at its fullest. Devils Cataract is the first waterfall on the west side of Victoria Falls and is quite stunning. We even felt a slight mist when we admired Devils Cataract. It is predicted that in another thousand of years, the Victoria Falls will split again around Devils Cataract to create the eighth gorge.
Another great reason to visit Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side, the rainforest. The Victoria Falls Rainforest is an area of dense woodland vegetation that is nourished year round from the constant spray of Victoria Falls. Even during the dry season, the rainforest is green, vibrant and full of color. As we walked through the rainforest we could feel the mist from the falls and it felt like we were in another country because of its vast vegetation and beauty – it is truly unbelievable. Guests should be cautious when walking through the rainforest because the pathway does get slippery. You should also keep your electronic devices safe, as it could get damaged from the amount of mist.
As we walked closer to the Main Falls, we were able to see the Smoke that Thunders. Yes, during the end of the dry season, you can still see the Smoke that Thunders! Zimbabwe had the perfect viewing area for the Main Falls – it was directly centered and the falls felt so close to us. We stood there in awe at one of Earth’s natural beauty. Even with its low water levels, Victoria Falls was magnificent.
Why Visit Victoria Falls During the Dry Season?
We have already explained that you can most certainly enjoy Victoria Falls beauty on the Zimbabwe side. You can see the Main Falls and Devils Cataract, enjoy the rainforest and still feel the mist and see the Smoke that Thunders. So why else would you want to visit Victoria Falls during the end of the dry season? Three main reasons: Devils Pool, white water rafting and amazing game views on safari drives.
Devils Pool is a naturally formed pool on the edge of Victoria Falls. It is created when the Zambezi River has low water levels, which allows a rock barrier to be surfaced and forms a circular movement of water with minimal current. It sounds scary and it is definitely thrilling, but completely safe! This is in our opinion, the BEST reason to visit Victoria Falls during the end of dry season. The Devil’s Pool is usually open between mid August and mid January – depending on Zambezi’s water levels. Guests get to literally sit on the edge of Victoria Falls. When we were up on the edge it was an electrifying and sensational experience – we were seriously hanging off the rocks of Victoria Falls watching the water crash down just a few feet next to us! We could not get enough of the adrenaline coursing through our veins and we highly recommend you enjoy this experience. (To read our full experience, click here).
White Water Rafting
If we had all the time and money in the world, we would have loved to experience white water rafting at Victoria Falls. It is known as one of the best white water rafting experiences in the entire world with Grade 5 high volume rapids going down a total distance of 70km (43 miles)! The rapids are so daring that they have been named, Stairway to Heaven, The Terminator, The Washing Machine, Judgement Day, Devils Toilet Bowl and Oblivion – shall we say more?
The Best Game Viewing on Safari Drives
One of the most popular and closest game reserves is Chobe National Park in Botswana. This full day safari is on both land and water giving guests a variety of amazing game views. They are known for having the Big Four – lion, leopard, elephant and cape buffalo. They are also known for having one of Africa’s largest elephant population with at least 120,000 inside the park. During our game drive we saw elephants playing at a waterhole, elephants encountering a pride of lion, hippos playing in the Chobe River and a herd of cape buffalo on a wide plain. It was an incredible game viewing experience and as they say, one of the best!
So is it Worth Going to Victoria Falls During Dry Season?
YES! We loved our time at Victoria Falls even though it was not at its full beauty because we were still able to see the Smoke that Thunders and experience Devils Pool. Do we want to come back and see Victoria Falls during its peak season? Yes, we think it would be amazing to see Victoria Falls at its full glory. It is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, where you can experience it in so many ways, so we definitely believe it is worth seeing during the dry season and peak season.
- Always bring your passport
- We recommend you purchase a KAZA UNIVISA
- It costs $50 and allows tourists to obtain one visa to visit both Zambia and Zimbabwe multiple times. The visa is valid up to 30 days as long as the holder remains within Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also covers those who visit Botswana for day-trips through Kazungula Borders. These are very popular and tend to become unavailable, so check this site, beforehand.
- If you cannot obtain a KAZA UNIVISA, buy a Zambia multi entry visa for $80 and a Zimbabwe double entry for $45. If you are positive you will only enter one of the countries once, then only purchase a single entry for the desired country.
- Bring a light rain jacket, we did get a little wet from the mist.
- Bring comfortable shoes.
- Bring a waterproof case for your camera and phone.
Christina and Adam