If you only have time to visit one region of Africa, make it Victoria Falls, the adrenaline-activity hub. Victoria Falls, which straddles the Zimbabwe/Zambia border, encourages visitors to test their bravery rafting the continent’s wildest commercially run river, or flinging themselves off a bridge attached only by a bungee cord. These activities are set against a backdrop of one of the seven natural wonders of the world, which means if you just want to hang out and admire the majesty of the falls, you can do that too.
From canoeing down the Zambezi to getting a history lesson on David Livingstone, here are 12 reasons to visit Victoria Falls.
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
Have a jaw-dropping experience
If you’ve been to Niagara Falls, you’re in for a huge surprise when you go to Victoria Falls. At over twice the height and several times longer than Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls easily bests its North American foe at a whopping 355 feet (105 meters) high and 5,604 feet (1,708 meters) wide.
Take on some of the craziest rapids in the world
If you only have the time (or cash) for one adrenaline rush, go with the full-day rafting trip on the Zambezi just below the falls. This is one of the world’s most gnarly stretches of commercially run rapids. From put-in to take-out, the trip down Batoka Gorge provides an almost non-stop rip down 19 named Class IV and V rapids during low water (January to March) and nine during high water (April to December). The Zambezi River’s flow is totally dependent on rainfall. During high water, companies must skip the first 10 rapids as they are just not safe to navigate.
If whitewater rafting is too much for you, relaxing canoe trips are available on the river above the falls. It’s a great way to see wildlife on the banks of the river without getting too close.
Try other adrenaline activities
Other adrenaline activities include bungee jumping or swinging off the 330-foot bridge straddling the Zambezi River. Although it is not the highest bridge bungee jump in the world — that title belongs to a bridge in South Africa — it is arguably the world’s most scenic. For something slightly less intense, ride the zipline across the gorge.
Visit the both sides of the falls
The view of the falls from the Zimbabwe side is better than the Zambia side, although on the Zambian side you can get closer to the top and bottom of the falls. But, for the panoramic picture-book images you need to be in Zimbabwe.
See the falls during a full moon
If you can time your visit with a full moon, all the better. This is a truly special time to view the falls. During full moon nights the park stays open after dark and if you are lucky you can see a lunar rainbow across the falls.
Explore the falls in half a day for cheap
Give yourself a good half a day to explore Victoria Falls Rainforest Park. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, “the smoke that thunders” is worth every penny of the $30 admission fee charged to international visitors.
Learn about the history of the falls
Upon entering the national park you’ll be treated to a history lesson displayed in colored placards by the gate. You’ll learn some local trivia, such as the fact that only David Livingstone’s heart is buried in Zambia, where he died. The rest of his body was laid to rest in the U.K.
Eat like a local
Have dinner one night at the Boma Restaurant on the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge grounds, about a mile from the town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The fixed-price entry fee includes an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring traditional Zimbabwean dishes and all sorts of game meat. You’ll also get a cultural experience with dance performances, fortune telling between courses and lessons in traditional drumming.
Get local handicrafts at a craft store
Victoria Falls is a great place to stock up on the handicrafts Zimbabwe is famous for. Head to the Elephant Walk Shopping & Artist Village, created as a collective by artisans interested in promoting local art. Here you’ll find numerous boutiques and galleries selling some of the best quality Zimbabwean and African handicrafts around.
See the falls at its full potential
If you want to see Victoria Falls at its full potential, visit from December through May, after the rainy season has caused the river to swell. You’re also almost guaranteed to get wet from the spray during this time, if that’s your thing.
Treat yourself to an upscale hotel stay
Victoria Falls isn’t all about the falls — the towns that surround it are comfy destinations unto themselves, with several luxury hotels available to stay in. On the Zimbabwe side there’s the Victoria Falls Hotel (above), or The Stanley and Livingstone, just 10 minutes from the falls. On the Zambia side there’s the Royal Livingstone, The Avani Victoria Falls, and numerous others.
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