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Victoria Falls - safety & accommodation

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JohnM

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I'd appreciate any up to date advice on visiting Victoria Falls. I'm flying in to VFA which I understand is in Zimbabwe.

Given the shambolic news from Zimbabwe, how bad is the situation in Victoria Falls town or is it relatively insulated by its tourist popularity?

Tips for airport transfers and ground travel in the local area and any recommendations for reasonably-priced accommodation convenient to the falls will also be appreciated.
 

d15.in.oz

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Nov 28, 2006
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Victoria Falls, in my opinion, are best viewed from the Zimbabwe side, that being said, if you are really worried about going to Zimbabwe you can get a good view of the action from Zambia (and actually swim in rock pools at the top of the falls during the dryer months). There is also a town/airport at Livingstone (LVI) that caters to tourists flying into the Falls via Zambia.

Nothing in Zimbabwe will be cheap, as you might expect it to be. Victoria Falls is one of the country’s last remaining foreign income earning enterprises, and is being milked for all it is worth. The hotels are all run down, it looks as if there hasn’t been any money for maintenance since the 70’s, or at least no new work since the CHOGM retreat in 1991. (That meeting’s hope for “democracy, democratic processes and institutions” is symbolised by the almost dead CHOGM Park near the centre of town.)

The town itself struggles on, buoyed by the tourist trade. The people are friendly and proud, and this is probably the last place in Zimbabwe there will be any civil unrest. It reminds me visually of the Pilbara or Kimberly regions of WA, and likewise there is red bull dust everywhere. Incredibly, and depending on the time of year, the mist/spray from the Falls actually reaches half way into town. As for food, you will be able to eat standard western fare (even though the country is suffering food shortages), and you will be sheltered from the realities of life in Zimbabwe by the tourist system.

Beware that requirements to enter the country change on a daily basis. So, if the Australian government has taken a more hard line stance over Zimbabwe, and you are entering on an Australian passport, you will receive more hassle and find that the price of a visa on arrival is double or triple that quoted before you left home. However they won’t be recalcitrant about the need for your currency, so once let into Zimbabwe, you will find many Australians at Victoria Falls, as it seems to be on many Aussies’ must do lists!

In terms of finding a place to stay try checking the reviews at Reviews of vacations, hotels, resorts, vacation and travel packages - TripAdvisor, and ensure that you bring enough foreign currency with you to pay the hotel bill in cash. (There are ATMs in the town, but the exchange rate offered is abysmal and other restrictions may apply. As long as you stay in touristy areas, eating and drinking at tourist places, you will be able to get by with US Dollars or Euros.) Additionally, pre-organise airport transfers directly through your hotel, petrol shortages are a problem in Zimbabwe, and knowing someone will turn up to give you a lift is important.

Victoria Falls is one of the most spectacular sights on Earth, and is well worth the trip!

(And just like travelling in some South East Asian countries, simply avoid discussing local politicians with the locals. Plus be aware that Australian government advisories may effect the validity of your travel insurance.)
 

Tiki

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It's been 10 years since I was there and I stayed in a tent in the campground which is conveniently located in the center of town. I walked everywhere, I don't recall having to hire transport for anything. I did go on lots of excursions like rafting down the Zambezi, an ultralight plane ride over the falls and a trip into Botswana's Chobe game park. You can also get to Hwange pretty easily. I was on a US passport at the time and no problems for visas. You also used to be able to cross to the Zambian side for a day trip with no visa. You would find more details on Lonely Planet's site for this kind of thing.
 
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