While it's the falls that lures travellers to the region, its awesome outdoor adventure scene is what makes them hang around. From world-class whitewater rafting, bungee jumping and high-adrenalin activities, to scenic flights and walking with rhinos, Victoria Falls is undoubtedly one of the world's premier adventure destinations.
Strap on a helmet, grab a rope and spend the day rappelling down the 54m sheer drop cliff face of Batoka Gorge from US$55.
Twitchers will want to bring binoculars to check out 470 species of bird that inhabit the region, including Schalow's turaco, Taita falcon, African finfoot and half-collared kingfisher. Spot them on foot in the parks or on a canoe trip along the Zambezi.
For those not interested in flinging themselves off a bridge (aka bungee jumping), walking along it offers a good alternative. Strapped in with a harness, the guided tours take the walkways running just beneath the Victoria Falls Bridge, and offer a good way to learn about this engineering marvel, as well as providing fantastic photo ops. It's US$65 per person. Don't forget your passport.
Bungee Jumping & Bridge Swing
One of the most famous bungee jumps in the world, the leap here is from atop of the iconic Victoria Falls bridge, plunging 111m into the Zambezi River. It's a long way down, but man it's a lot of fun. It costs US$160 per person.
Otherwise there's the bridge swing where you jump feet first, and free fall for four seconds; you’ll end up swinging, but not upside down. There are two main spots: one right off the Victoria Falls Bridge, and the other a bit further along the Batoka Gorge. Costs for single/tandem are US$160/240.
Combine bungee with a bridge swing and bridge slide, and it'll cost US$210.
Canoeing & Kayaking
If whitewater rafting isn't for you, there's more relaxed guided canoe trips along the Upper Zambezi River on two-person inflatable canoes. Options include half (US$110) or whole day (US$125 to US$155) trips, and overnight jaunts (US$250 to US$285) and longer trips are available.
There's even more relaxed three-hour guided sunset river float trips where you can kick back and let someone else do the paddling for US$100, including refreshments.
On the Zambian side, take on the Zambezi's raging rapids in an inflatable kayak on a full-day trip (US$155).
Crocodile Cage Diving
On the Zimbabwe side of the falls, bring along your bathers for a close encounter with a Nile croc, where you plunge within the safety of a cage into a croc-filled enclosure wearing a mask and breathing apparatus. It costs US$70
Spend an evening by a campfire drumming under the Southern African sky, which includes a traditional meal, for US$25 for an hour. On the Zimbabwe side you can visit a local's home for a meal for lunch (US$23) or dinner (US$25)
Grab a rod and cruise out to the Zambezi for the opportunity to reel in a mighty tiger fish, for around US$125 for a half day, and US$255 for a full day, which includes beer, fuel and transfers; lunch is provided for whole day trips.Get in touch with Angle Zambia for more info.
There's a good choice of guided walks in the area. One of the most popular treks is the trek down Batoka Gorge to the Boiling Pot (US$48) where you can get up close and personal with Victoria Falls. You can only do this from late August to December.
Indulge in a bit of wildlife spotting from horseback along the Zambezi. Rides for 2½ hours cost US$100, and full-day trips for experienced riders are US$155.
Power straight into whirlpools! This hair-raising trip costs US$120, and is combined with a cable-car ride down into the Batoka Gorge.
Discover the spectacular landscape surrounding Livingstone, Zambia, and the Batoka Gorge, spotting wildlife as you go on all-terrain quad bikes. Trips vary from ecotrail riding at Batoka Land to longer-range cultural trips in the African bush. Trips are one hour (US$95) or 2½ hours (US$165).
This is one of the best whitewater rafting destinations in the world, both for experienced rafters and newbies. Rafting can be done on either side of the Zambezi River, so it doesn't matter what side of the border you're on – you’ll find Grade 5 rapids. Expect very long rides with huge drops and big kicks; it's not for the faint-hearted.
The best time for rafting is between July and mid-February (low water season); peak season is around August to October. Day trips run between rapids 1 and 21 (to rapid 25 on the Zambian side), covering a distance of around 25km.
The river fills up between mid-February and July (high water season), when day trips move downstream from rapids 11 to 25, covering a distance of around 18km. Only half-day trips are offered during this time. The river will usually close for its ‘off season’ around April or May, depending on the rain pattern for the year.
Trips are cheaper on the Zimbabwe side, costing about US$120 (versus US$160 in Zambia), but Zambia has the benefit of the cable car (and a few additional rapids) as opposed to the steep climb out on the Zimbabwe side.
Overnight and multiday jaunts can also be arranged.
An add-on activity to rafting is riverboarding, which is basically lying on a boogie board and careering down the rapids. A package including rafting for a half/full day is US$170/190. Otherwise get in touch with Bundu Adventures about its hydrospeed surfing trips, where you can ride rapid number 2 on an Anvil board for US$70 for three hours.
River cruises along the Zambezi range from breakfast cruises to civilised jaunts on the grand African Queen and all-you-can-drink sunset booze cruises. Prices range from US$48 to US$85, excluding park fees. They're great for spotting wildlife, though some tourists get just as much enjoyment out of the bottomless drinks. Highly recommended.
Just when you thought the falls couldn't get any more spectacular, discover the 'flight of angels' helicopter ride that flies you right by the drama for the undisputed best views available. Rides aren't cheap, but they're worth it. Zambezi Helicopter Company and Bonisair in Zimbabwe, and United Air Charter and Batoka Sky in Zambia all offer flights. Flights cost from US$150 for 15 minutes over the falls, with longer trips available to take in the surrounding area.
On the Zambian side you can take a microlight flight with Batoka Sky, which offers another way to get fabulous aerial views.
Steam Train Journeys
To take in the romance of yesteryear, book yourself a ride on a historical steam train on the Bushtracks Express, a 1953 class 14A Garratt steam train that will take you over the iconic Victoria Falls bridge at sunset with gourmet canapés and unlimited drinks. It's US$125 (including transfers, alcohol and snacks), with departures on Tuesday and Friday either at 5pm or 5.30pm; check the website for the latest schedule. Even if you're not booked on a trip it's worth getting along to the station to watch the drama of its departure.
In Zambia the Royal Livingstone Express takes you on a 3½-hour ride including five-course dinner and drinks on a 1924 10th-class or 12th-class steam engine. The journey takes you to through Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park on plush leather couches, en route to the Victoria Falls Bridge for a sundowner. It's priced at $180 per person, including return transfers within Livingstone.
There are plenty of options for wildlife watching in the area, both in the national park in the immediate area, or further afield. There are also several private game reserves in the area.
In Zambia the game reserve section of Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is home to white rhino, and hence a popular spot to tick off that last member from the big five in the wild. You're able to track them on foot for US$80 per person (including park fees), but you can only do this as part of a walking tour. Get in touch with Livingstone Rhino Walks or Savannah Southern Safaris for bookings; note that you need to be over 12 years of age.
The Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe is much bigger in scale and has a greater diversity of wildlife (including a few cats) and some wonderful lodges and campsites along the Zambezi.
On both sides of the border river cruises (from US$48) along the Zambezi River are another popular way to see various wildlife including elephants, hippos and plenty of birdlife.
Another convenient option, only 15km from Victoria Falls town, is the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve. Set on a 4000-hectare private reserve here you can track the Big Five, including black rhino that have been translocated from Hwange National Park. A standard three-hour game drive costs US$100, or you can do a night drive and a bush dinner (US$137).
Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is the other option, with one of the largest number of elephants in the world, as well as good sightings of predators. A day trip will cost around US$220 (minimum four people), or otherwise it's a two-hour bus ride away.
You can travel further afield, with operators arranging day trips to Chobe National Park in Botswana for US$160 (excluding visas). It's only a one-hour drive from Victoria Falls, and includes a breakfast boat cruise, a game drive in Chobe National Park, lunch and transfer back to Victoria Falls by 5pm. Wildlife viewing is excellent: lions, elephants, wild dogs, cheetahs, buffaloes and plenty of antelopes.
Zipline, Flying Fox & Gorge Swings
Glide at 106km/h along a zipline (single/tandem US$69/111), or soar like a superhero from one country to another (from Zim to Zam) on the 'bridge slide' as you whiz over Batoka Gorge (single/tandem US$45/70). Other similar options are flying-fox rides (US$42).
A slightly less terrifying variation of the bungee jump is the gorge swing (US$95), where you take the plunge foot first before swinging across the gorge like a human pendulum.
Choosing an Operator
To get the best value out of your time here, look into packages that combine rafting with various adrenaline leaps, slides and swings. Most prices quoted exclude national park and visa fees, so confirm any extra costs at the time of booking.
Note you'll need to bring along your passport for all activities on the bridge, including walks, bungee jumping, and the scenic railway, among others.
A number of operators on both sides of the border offer activities such as walking and interacting with captive lions, a highly contentious subject and not recommendable given serious ethical concerns.
Costs are fairly standard across the board and activities can be booked through tour operators, guesthouses or hotels.
In Zimbabwe the main operators are: