In discovering Victoria Falls for the first time, David Livingstone famously said that it must have been gazed upon by angels, and you’d be hard-pressed to disagree whether you do your gazing from Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park on the Zambian side of the falls or from Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe. Still, why miss seeing a single centimetre of this stunning natural wonder when it’s alarmingly easy to visit both sides in a day! This is a very brief guide to crossing the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls from both national parks, based on our visit in January 2018. As we stayed on the Zambian side, the post is written in that order, but it would work identically in the reverse if you are based in Zimbabwe.
Step 1 // Get a double visa for Zambia and Zimbabwe
When arriving at the airport and passing through immigration, regardless of whether you arrive in Zim or Zam, make sure to ask for a double visa that will allow you entry into both countries. To be sure you are issued the correct visa, just confirm with the officer that you’ll be able to cross over the border for a day trip and then return, as that might officially count as a second entry into the country. When we went through Zambian immigration in January 2018, the cost for the double visa was $50USD (payable in clean, post-2006 USD notes) for both Australian and American citizens, but $80USD for British citizens. The visa is a sticker that goes into your passport and occupies an entire page, so also make sure that you have plenty of room (most countries require a minimum of 2 blank pages anyway, so this shouldn’t be a hiccup).
Step 2 // Visit Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia
For $5-10USD, you can get a taxi from accommodation pretty much anywhere in Livingstone to the national park on the Zambian side where you can first see the falls. Entry is $20USD (cash or card) and doesn’t need to be booked or anything, just allow yourself a couple of hours to roam around the network of paths and viewpoints to see the falls from every possible angle.
Step 3 // Walk across the border into Zimbabwe
Even taking a taxi from town or elsewhere, you’ll find yourself dropped only a hundred metres beyond the national park, from which it’s a dead-straight walk to reach the iconic bridge over the Zambezi where you can watch brave bungy jumpers taking the plunge. Just after this bridge, you’ll come to the Zambian border post where you should be able to quickly get an exit stamp. Continuing another few minutes on foot, you’ll see a sign clearly demarcating the Zimbabwean border in front of a building. Passing through to the left, queue up in the line for those who don’t need a visa (unless you didn’t get one at the airport, in which case it’s totally possible to get one here, it just won’t be discounted as a double visa and may involve a bit more waiting). Once at the window, they’ll have a quick look at your passport and visa, give you an entry stamp, and then send you on your way. On foot, you still pass through the customs area, but, without big bags or a car, the officer will just check your stamp and then wave you on into Zimbabwe. Not long after, the ticket office for Victoria Falls National Park will be on your right-hand side. All up, the walk shouldn’t be longer than 20-25 minutes from national park to national park.
Step 4 // Visit Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe
Entry into the national park is $30USD (cash or card) and then you are free to wander around the paths to the numbered viewpoints overlooking the falls. In many places, there are no railings or fencing, so it’s possible to get great unobstructed photos of Victoria Falls in all her splendour. You could explore most of the park in about 2 hours, unless you want to just sit and relax for a while in front of the falling water, which is pretty mesmerising.
Step 5 // Cross the border back into Zambia
Once you’ve seen enough of the Falls (can you ever really see enough?!), simply retrace your steps to the Zimbabwean border crossing, pass again to the left side of the building (the opposite side from where you entered), and queue up for an exit stamp. Before reaching the bridge, get stamped back into Zambia at the border post and then continue on to a taxi rank just a hundred metres up the road to find your ride home.