After spending an amazing 3 days on the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls, it was time to head over to Zambia to see what their side had to offer. Both countries share Victoria Falls, similar to Iguazu being shared by Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. The iconic views of Victoria Falls are actually from the Zimbabwean side looking over at Zambia, but Devil’s Pool is on the Zambian side so I had to go see it.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Livingstone, Zambia
Victoria Falls is shared between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Both countries have a piece of the falls and most activities that can be done on the Zimbabwe side can also be done on the Zambia side (white water rafting, helicopter, etc). The town near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Zambia’s equivalent is Livingstone. I had signed up for the Devils Pool excursion which has long been on my list and this excursion is exclusive to Zambia so I figured I’d spend a few nights in Livingstone since I had to come to this side anyway.
Zambia allows “one day” visas specifically for people that want to do an excursion only available on the Zambian side or just to get a different perspective of the falls. These visas are 20$ and last for 24 hours. These are not applicable if you are staying in Zimbabwe and have a flight out of Livingstone. The full visa of $50 is required for this.
Crossing the Zimbabwe-Zambia Border
Crossing the border is most easily done by foot. The Zimbabwe side of the border is close to town (15 min walk), and as we get our exit stamps out of Zimbabwe, it’s a 20 minute walk to the Zambia customs. The walk is quite pleasant as we get to walk on the Vic Falls/Zambezi River bridge, also home to the Victoria Falls bungy jump happens.
Sadly, there was no one jumping while we crossed. Having already jumped Bloukrans, the epic spot along the Garden Route of South Africa, I didn’t feel the need to jump here. Plus Bloukrans is twice the height and half the price of Victoria Falls, with views to match!
As we pass the bridge, heading towards Zambian customs, we are immediately greeted by taxi drivers and swarms of baboons all around us. It’s 10$ or 50 Kwacha to get from the border to Livingstone Town.
While Victoria Falls is a pure tourist Town, Livingstone feels more like a normal Town that just happens to have a few tourists visiting the falls. The town itself is actually pretty nice, even though there is nothing to do here besides visiting the falls 10km back towards to the border.
I ended up staying at the Fawlty Towers Backpackers Lodge in Livingstone. For a private room, I paid just over $50 which seemed reasonable for the area. Livingstone and Victoria Falls are not cheap places and any accommodation nearby to the waterfalls will run you in the many hundred dollars range a night.
Devils Pool & Livingstone Island Tour
Ah, finally. The Devils pool is an excursion that can only be done from the Zambia side of the falls. In my opinion, this was the best thing we did the entire time we were here. If we could have only chosen one activity, this would have been it.
The tour is advertised as the Livingstone Island tour, and puts you at the exact spot of the falls that David Livingstone first gazed upon them. Going to Livingstone Island is only possible when the water levels are right (Jun-Feb).
The bonus activity however, is the Devil’s Pool (Late Aug-Dec), or the Angel’s Armchair (Jun-Aug). There are four time slots a day. 7:30am, 9:00 am breakfast sessions for $90. A lunch time visit for 150$, and high tea at 3:00 PM for 120$. We decided on the breakfast as it was the cheapest.
Of all the money I feel like I threw into a black hole while being in Vic Falls, this was the best money I spent. Devils pool is a pool at the very edge of the falls surrounded by rock walls that prevent people from falling over. It only opens up during the low water season from mid Aug to late Dec. In 2014, the pool opened for business Aug 28.
We meet at the Royal Livingstone hotel, a 5* super luxury hotel on the water with some spectacular views. A speedboat picks us up and a 5 minute ferry ride to Livingstone Island follows. We are greeted by drinks as we arrive are taken to the view point from where David Livingstone first viewed the falls. It’s a great viewpoint and I take some pictures but I’m mainly here for the Devils pool.
We’re a group of 8 this morning (larger than I hoped). Getting to Devils pool itself is not the easiest of things and requires a bit of swimming. The swimming can be a bit scary since you have to swim against a current that is taking you to the edge of the waterfall. Many people actually forego the Devils pool swim and just come for a visit to the island but what’s the fun in that?
The guides are very good here and they know exactly where to go in the water. It can be incredibly frightening as getting to the pool involves some light swimming in the current filled river but just follow the guides and everything will be fine.
Reaching the Devil’s Pool
Eventually, we reached the pool. I had seen so many pictures of this place already but it was even more amazing to finally be here in person. It’s incredible. The view is not only beautiful but I can really feel the power of the falls thundering around me.
As I get in the pool, I was expecting a calm pool but there is current pushing me towards the edge, to which I panic until I hit the rocks and realize I’d have to climb onto this rock wall and throw myself off to kill myself. The guides take pictures of the group and then one of the crazy guides stands right on the edge of the pool offering to take pictures of anyone that’s willing to lean over the edge with their feet held by the other guide. Of course I agree with this and the pictures I got from this alone are worth the $90 I spent. The older people were too scared to do this which is okay with me. More time for me!
Sadly, I was hoping to get a picture of me jumping into the pool with no one else in it as if I was jumping to my death but sadly that is no longer allowed. Nevertheless, I was completely satisfied with the experience.
We swim back to the comfort of land, and we’re seated for breakfast. I was expecting some fruit and toast but to my surprise, they came out with an egg and bacon biscuit sandwich, the best breakfast I had all trip. Just a nice cherry on top of the whole experience. After breakfast, we head back to the boat that takes us back to the Royal Livingstone where our tour concludes. All in all, about 1.5 hours.
Booking the Devil’s Pool Tour
Tours can be booked with Shearwater and as of 2018, the prices have gone up to $105 for breakfast, $165 for lunch, and $140 for high tea. It’s still well worth the price in my opinion. Tours can also be booked as day trips from the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls. You’ll need to make your own way to the Zambian side and find your own transportation to the Livingstone hotel which is not difficult. Nevertheless, keep in mind all the visa fees you’ll have to pay to enter Zambia, and then to re-enter Zimbabwe. This is not a cheap method but it is possible if you’re intent on visiting the Devil’s Pool!
Sunset drinks at the Livingstone Hotel
There are many 5* hotels on the livingstone side with rooms going for $500+ a night and the Royal Livingstone is one of them. Having already come here to go on our Devils Pool excursion, we learned that this was the place to be for Sundowners.
We were not mistaken. We came here around 4pm to enjoy some drinks and watch the sunset from their patio deck. Don’t worry, dishing out half a thousands dollars for a nights stay is not a requirement.
We bought a few drinks (overpriced) and enjoyed arguably one of the best sunsets I’ve seen in Africa to date. To make it even better, sometimes the odd hippo would rear pop up just slightly to look at its fans before submerging back to the depths.
We also ate breakfast at the Livingstone Hotel. It was very expensive (about $50 a person), but the buffet spread was incredible! We ended up eating so much, and the staff made us to go boxes because they thought we were going on a day tour somewhere. I wasn’t hungry until dinner where I ended up eating the to go box!
Highly recommend visiting this beautiful resort if staying on the Livingstone side of Victoria Falls!
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