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Victoria Falls Overview
Please be advised that effective May 01, 2010 the National Parks and Wildlife Management has reviewed their rates as follows:
Rainforest entrance $30pp for Internationals
Rainforest entrance $20pp for all SADC passport holders
Sunset Cruise $10pp
Helicopter Flights $8pp
The park fees for the following experiences will not change:
White Water Rafting $10pp
This is a statutory requirement and as you all know the fees are paid directly to the Department of National Parks & Wildlife Management. Activity rates remain the same what will change is the component of the National Park fees in the pricing structure.
Note that due to these changes, clients will now have to pay us directly for the surcharges as of 01 May as top up from what is on the current rate sheets. The Following will be affected, since the prices include the Parks fees:
Guided Tour of the Falls $10pp surcharge for internationals
Guided Tour of the Falls $5pp surcharge for SADC
Sunset cruise $5pp surcharge
The Victoria Falls has two main 'viewing seasons' and depending on the time of year, you may fall anywhere in between these two. The peak flood season takes place during March and April and is ideal if you'd like to see the falls in their full glory. Masses of water cascade down into the river below creating a magnificent cloud of spray around the area. During the height of the flood season, this cloud can be seen from 80km away! As a result, the full magnitude of the falls cannot be viewed in its entirety from afoot. We therefore recommend you take a helicopter ride or, if you're really brave a microlite flight for breathtaking aerial views.
As we approach the dry season between November and December, the amount of water that passes over the falls decreases until only small rivers of water can be seen, but as a result the view from below becomes increasingly impressive. One can really begin to appreciate the scope and magnificence of the falls during this period.
The best time to visit Zambia depends on the reason for your visit. Popular activities include game viewing, bird watching, water sports and viewing the magnificent Victoria Falls.
The ideal time for game viewing is between August and October. Be prepared to face temperatures of up to 32 degrees by the end of October though, especially at low altitudes (most national parks fall in these areas). If you prefer cooler, greener surrounds; we recommend the months of May to August.
During the very wet rainy season of December to April the abundant vegetation in game parks make it difficult to spot wild life. For this reason most of the parks are closed. Those that do however stay open tend to offer very attractive rates, but note that many of the rural roads become extremely muddy during this period, making it quite difficult to travel.
Birdwatchers will be happy to know that Zambia's birdlife can be viewed all year round. The breeding season for most of the migrant birds in the southern hemisphere falls between September and mid April, with the best sightings from November to December.
During August to December the Zambezi is at its lowest levels, making for ideal rafting conditions. During high water activities are limited.
Zimbabwe's and Zambia's seasons fall on very similar months, give or take a month. Zimbabwe's winter lasts a month or so longer (May to September/October vs. Zambia's May to August), while its rainy season starts and ends a month earlier than Zambia's (November to March vs. Zambia's December to April).
Travel and Wild life
The Zimbabwean winter months are much more pleasant than the hot summer months, making them ideal for travelling and game viewing. But don't be deceived - the winter nights can become surprisingly cold (temperatures can drop below freezing). Make sure to pack a jersey or jumper for early mornings and evenings. The days are ideal for game viewing as the animals tend to congregate near water holes and are therefore more easily observed.
For river rafters and other water sport enthusiasts, the best time of year falls between August and December when the levels of the mighty Zambezi River are low.
During the South African school holidays (mid-April to mid-May and mid-July to mid-September) the tourist sites and national parks are quite crowded. December and early January are slightly better (Namibian school holidays) but the best time is in June when the weather is also pleasantly cool.
Vic Falls temperatures in summer usually reach a maximum of 34°C and during winter they decrease to around 7°C. During summer the heavy cloud of spray creates a constant wet environment , and waterproof coats/rain macs and waterproof shoes or all weather sandals are a must.
Zimbabwe / Zambia
Winter: May to September/October Summer: October to April Rainy Season: November to March Winter May to August Summer: September to April Rainy Season: December to April
Although Zimbabwe is entirely situated in the tropics, its high altitude causes much milder conditions than one would expect.
Its dry winter season (May to September/October) is pleasantly temperate with warm sunny days and cool, clear nights. This is the best time of year to view wildlife as the animals stay within close proximity of the watering holes and are therefore easy to locate. Day temperatures average around 20°C, while nights can be much colder , dropping to as low as 5'C. However, freezing temperatures are not uncommon on the plateau.
Zimbabwe's summer lasts from October to April when temperatures can rise up to 30°C, with nights at a moderate 14 degrees. The rainy season runs from November to March and is often characterised by afternoon thunder showers. These come as a great relief and usually fall in brief but heavy surges. Rainfall ranges from 630mm in Kariba (Zimbabwe's driest region) to 2000mm in the Eastern Highlands where it rains all year round. The Zambezi Valley and Lowveld regions are hotter and more humid than the rest of the country and may also receive rain during winter months.
Zimbabwe doesn't really have distinguishable springs and autumns, although the mopane trees found on the highveld change colour throughout the winter months, ranging from orange to yellow to red.
Similar to Zimbabwe, Zambia lies in the tropics but has a moderate climate as a result of its altitude. This however, does not mean that it can't become unbearably hot, especially in the valleys and low lying areas. The highlands experience cooler conditions. Generally speaking, Zambia is hot all year round. The three distinct seasons can be described as the cool dry season from May to August; the hot dry season from September to November and the hot rainy season from December to April.
The summer rainfall varies from region to region but is heaviest in the Northern provinces where averages of 1250mm per year are common. This decreases towards Lusaka (750mm) and hits a low in the south and south western regions (500mm). The beginning of the rainy season is characterised by heavy tropical storms. Very little rainfall is experienced during the rest of the year.
During winter the central plateau may experience light frosts.
Average temperatures for the whole country range between 25ºC and 35°C in summer and 6ºC to 24ºC in winter, while Lusaka's temperatures are slightly less extreme, ranging between 9°C and 23°C in winter and 18ºC and 31ºC in summer.
Clothing that will suit the climate include lightweight, tropical outfits and rainwear (when visiting in summer). Although it never gets extremely cold (compared to the climates of Europe), a couple of jerseys or warm coats are recommended for winter months.
US$ are widely accepted and in some instances the only acceptable currency.
To avoid theft, scams and fraud, make sure to only exchange your money at licensed bureau de changes and banks which are available in the major towns and cities. When planning to visit the rural areas, ensure you obtain a supply of the local currency before your departure.
The unit of currency in Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwean Dollar (Z$), which is divided into 100 Cents. Notes come in denominations of five, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars. Coins are available in 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and ZW$1 and ZW$2.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is understood to be considering introducing new Z $5 000, Z$10 000 and Z$20 000 notes to replace its "bearer's cheques" because of widespread abuse of the cheques, ZimOnline has learnt. (Millions of cheap counterfeit cheques have been circulating the banking system).
Zimbabwe is going through a time of great economic turmoil, which often leads to really cheap prices for foreign visitors. This does not however mean that you should let your guard down, as it is very easy to be overcharged for simple products and services. The best way to avoid getting taken for a ride, is to exchange your foreign currency for the local Z$ upon arrival and then to only pay for local goods in Z$. If you do however decide to pay in foreign currency, make sure to ask for the most recent exchange rate.
It is custom to tip taxi drivers and international-class hotel and restaurant staff 10% of the bill. Some places automatically include this fee in their service charge.
At the informal establishments (street markets and stalls), you'll be able to negotiate a better price for most items. Swapping is also quite popular and the local vendors will welcome the odd pen, set of batteries or personal item in exchange for their arts and crafts.
The unit of currency in Zambia is the Zambian kwacha (K, Zk or kw), which is divided into 100 Ngwee. The currency has denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10 000, 20 000 and 50 000 kwacha notes. Coins used to be available in 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 Ngwee and K1 but have since become redundant as a result of the past devaluation of the currency.
The same goes for K20 notes as most markets and shops will only accept k500 and above.
All the adventure and tourism operators quote their prices in US Dollars but accept the local currency at the daily exchange rate.
As in Zimbabwe, 10% of your bill for taxi drivers and restaurant staff is custom.
For professional guides, drivers (safari trips) and lodge or camp staff it is usually appropriate to tip between US$3 and US$5 per day. Exceptional service sometimes calls for more, but you may use your own discretion. Many lodges have a staff tip box located in their reception area which ensures that all tips are divided equally between porters, waiters and other staff. Exceptional service from a particular member of staff can be rewarded with a personal tip.
Both Zimbabwe and Zambia have limited medical facilities. Most large towns have public hospitals, clinics and doctors but the further one moves from the urban surroundings, the poorer the services become.
Visitors are responsible for their own medical requirements and are advised to take out comprehensive medical insurance before embarking on their visit. Such insurance should include casualty evacuation to South Africa in case of political unrest.
Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola are the only locations where adequate medical services are available. There are also a few small clinics in Lusaka which are less adequate than the above facilities but still in a better state than the general hospitals. Rural clinics should be avoided, wherever possible.
The overall standard of the private hospitals in Lusaka are satisfactory although their facilities are limited. Private doctors, chemists/pharmacies and other medical practitioners are also available in Lusaka. Wherever possible, we recommend that you make use of their services instead of seeking assistance outside of the city.
Some rural areas have mission hospitals which provide a fair service, usually superior to that of government hospitals.
Private Hospitals, offering good quality medical services are available in Harare and Bulawayo. Although these hospitals operate with limited facilities, they offer reasonably good medical services. Most of the larger towns, including Harare and Bulawayo have private doctors, chemists/pharmacies, and other medical practitioners for all your medical requirements.
Both Zambia and Zimbabwe are classified as Malaria regions. Most areas in Zambia are vulnerable, while Zimbabwe's Lowveld areas (South East), low-elevation areas along the Limpopo River and in the Zambezi River Valley along the entire Northern Zimbabwe/Zambia border.
We highly recommend that visitors take the necessary precautions when visiting these areas. In addition to taking anti-malaria tablets (Prophylactics) which can be obtained from your local pharmacist/chemist or doctor, visitors should wear ample amounts of insect repellent, especially during the evenings or when planning to walk through tall grass. Various repellents are available from Zambian and Zimbabwean supermarkets and can be applied directly to the skin. Long-sleeved clothing and socks are also recommended at night. Most hotels and resorts have mosquito nets in their rooms which provide relief.
Visitors should start taking their Prophylactics at least 24 hours before entering the country. Make sure to inform your doctor or pharmacist of the exact areas you plan to visit, as different areas have different types of malaria parasite. You will also need to continue taking the pills for at least six weeks after your departure from the malaria regions to ensure you don't develop symptoms.
HIV/AIDS is very prevalent in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Visitors are strongly discouraged to engage in any high-risk sexual or drug-related activities.
While condoms are available from pharmacies/chemists and some supermarkets, their effectiveness can sometimes be a bit questionable. Visitors are therefore encouraged to check them thoroughly before use, or alternatively to purchase a supply before leaving for their destination.
All visitors to the Victoria Falls need to have been vaccinated against yellow fever and require an International Certificate of Vaccination as proof.
Visitors to northern and western Zambia require an International Certificate of Vaccination against yellow fever. Those who pass over a yellow fever and cholera region also need to produce a valid certificate of immunisation.
Visitors planning to enter Zimbabwe from a yellow fever or cholera infected area (further north in Africa, including Zambia) will be required to show proof of vaccination against these diseases in the form of a valid International Certificate of Vaccination.
We recommend that visitors keep their certificates close at hand at all times, as proof of vaccination is sometimes required. If you like, you can staple it in to the front of your passport. The following vaccines may be recommended although not compulsory for your travel to Zimbabwe and Zambia: Hepatitis A and B; Rabies; Typhoid; Meningitis; booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults.
We advise you to discuss your itinerary with your doctor to establish which vaccines will be required.
Swimming in Zambia and Zimbabwe's rivers and dams is not advisable as some of them have been known to carry bilharzia. However, water sport fanatics needn't be too worried as regular towelling off, as soon as one leaves the water, reduces the risk.
River Cruises (Breakfast, Lunch, Sundown and Ornithologist's cruises available)
Canoeing (upper and lower Zambezi)
Victoria Falls Bridge
The world's highest free-standing bungee jump
The Zambezi Swing (For about $100, this South African group lets you abseil, rap jump, do a zip line, and -- the highlight -- a gorge swing. While Bungi Jumping is over in a few minutes, these guys let you play all day).
Hot air ballooning
Abseiling, high-wiring, rap-jumping and gorge-swinging
A variety of crafts and curios are available at the Mukuni Victoria Falls Craft Village.
Look out for elaborate animal carvings in wood, stone, or green malachite. Masks, drums, marimbas, jewellery, spoons, walking sticks, book ends, and other authentic African items.
Compare items before purchasing as quality differs from vendor to vendor. Bartering is welcome and vendors will usually part with their work for items such as shoes, batteries, t-shirts etc. If you are courageous enough to try brave the Bungee Jump, the mighty Zambezi on a raft or any of the various other extreme activities - make sure to buy the t-shirt. This will serve as your "badge of honour" to show off to your friends back home.
Good quality baskets can be found at the Livingstone Museum.
Look out for articles made from Zimbabwe Copper and semiprecious gemstone jewellery.
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