Our trip to this amazing country was nothing short of breathtaking. Our main reason for including Zimbabwe in our itinerary was to see Victoria Falls but it turned out that this Natural Wonder of the World was not the only beauty in store for us. Although the falls seem to be the main drawcard to this area, there are many other experiences you can explore within a short distance from the falls.
We only had two nights and two days in the area of Victoria Falls but with a clear wish-list and the correct planning, it was the perfect length of time to see everything we wanted to see.
We arrived into Zimbabwe late one morning so that gave us an entire afternoon to use to our advantage. We also had all our private connections prearranged between airports and accommodation which minimised time loss searching for the best transport (and not getting ripped off!) or waiting on other passengers. It also meant we were taken directly to our hotels without other stops along the way, so we could capitalise on our time in each destination.
NOTE: In terms of currency, Zimbabwe predominantly deals in American dollars.
SOUTH AFRICAN RAND IS NOT ACCEPTED EVERYWHERE SO DON’T RELY ON THIS. Travel visas are generally issued on arrival so it is best if you can have American dollars in cash for the necessary amount. The cost of visas seems to change occasionally for different nationalities so it is best to check online prior to travel.
Our accommodation in Victoria Falls was certainly of honeymoon standard and definitely in keeping with the ‘trip of a lifetime’ theme! We stayed in the Ilala Lodge and can say without reservation that this is in our top three of any hotels we have stayed in around the world.
The rooms themselves were incredible; fully air-conditioned, mesh netting draped the four-poster bed, an elaborately stocked bar fridge, a Nespresso coffee machine, freshly baked treats replenished nightly and a bottle of champagne chilling on arrival. The rooms also had large, private balconies where we could take full advantage of bordering the National Park and being in such close proximity to Victoria Falls. In the afternoons, it was often possible to watch the local wildlife, such as warthog, running about on the lawns. A breathtaking sight at dusk and dawn was also that of the spray from the Falls themselves, bellowing up into the atmosphere. Sitting on our balcony sipping coffee watching the plumes of spray and listening to the water fall is a memory that will stick with me forever.
Top restaurant tip:
The Palm Restaurant within the Ilala Lodge was so amazing that we didn’t even consider leaving the resort for any of our meals while in Zimbabwe. The authentic, African vibe of the restaurant you feel during the day is transformed at night to a magical ambience as you can sit under the stars to enjoy the true magnitude of this environment.
Breakfast was included in our room price and it was without a doubt, one to write home about. There was a very generous buffet style arrangement of house made muesli, cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurt, freshly made juices, a huge selection of teas and endless coffees of your choice as well as a very tempting selection of pastries made fresh each morning. Along with all of this, there were hot food options that were made to order (no fear of hard poached eggs here!) Nothing was too difficult for the staff as they were very happy to cater to my fussy needs and happily mixed and matched options from the menu each morning.
We ate from the lunch/bar menu twice while at the hotel. On our first night, we decided we didn’t need a huge dinner after the snacks we had on the river cruise, so we sat at the pool side bar and ordered from the bar menu. We both opted for burgers, me the veggie option and my husband the beef. We were both amazed by the flavour – so much so that I even went for the same Falafel patty the following night when we sat in the restaurant. The beef burger was succulent and extremely flavoursome, and both were served on homemade toasted buns which is a huge ‘thumbs up’ in the burger world!
If you are after an authentic food experience, then you can’t go past the Palm restaurant. Options such as springbok, warthog, kudu, ostrich and crocodile even tempted a non-red meat eater like myself. To start, we had the Springbok samosa and the crumbed brie cheese. For mains, I had the Falafel served with grilled vegetables, salsa and tzatziki (there was a full section on the menu for vegetarians!), and Richie had Pork Meats Warthog – not something you can opt for every day! We even went for dessert too which is something we rarely do and even though we were already full, we couldn’t resist. We shared the chocolate tart and a delicious crumble. They both looked like works of art…but that didn’t stop us digging in and practically licking the plates clean!
Top things to see/do:
Zambezi Sunset cruise– We did this activity the day we arrived at the destination and it was the perfect way to familiarise ourselves with the astounding surroundings as well as make the most of our limited time in Zimbabwe. This was a very relaxing cruise along the Zambezi River and was our first encounter with some animals in their natural habitats. We saw a pod of hippos ducking and diving in the water as we cruised past sipping our drink of choice and nibbling on tasty tapas. As the sun set, our drinks never ran empty and we were entertained along the way by our guide with fascinating information about the local flora and fauna.
Our cruise operator was Ra-Ikane River Cruise – we would certainly recommend them.
Victoria Falls– There are two main ways to experience the falls and we recommend you do both.
We started by doing the walking tour. Our top tip here is that you take only what you need for the walk (it doesn’t take too long so no need for drinks/snacks etc). We took our phones for photos and had them in a zip lock bag as there is no avoiding the spray of the falls when the water level is high. You also have the option of walking across Victoria Falls Bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Although the bridge itself is considered ‘no-man’s land’, you still need your passport to access it (and no, you don’t get a stamp when you do this unfortunately).
Although we hadn’t booked the helicopter ride in advance of our trip, we knew we had to do it after our walking tour. Experiencing the falls on foot and hearing the roar of the water was so breath-taking, that we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to view this Natural Wonder of the World from every possible angle. We booked the helicopter ride as soon as we returned to our hotel and were up in the air that very afternoon. We opted for the 12/15-minute flight and it was enough time to get snap happy and take in the incredible views.
Tip: We booked through Chikopokopo Helicopters – we were very happy with their service and they gave us an extended flight time (more than 5 extra minutes) as we spotted some giraffes, elephants and zebras while we were up in the air and the pilot wanted to give us a better view of these!
Open curio markets – Located just behind our hotel, we stumbled across an open market filled with incredible handmade wares. Most of the stall holders displayed wooden articles, anything from table settings and salad bowls to large hand carved animals. Some were even busy creating new pieces which was amazing to watch and gave an insight into this amazing craftsmanship.
The stall holders were quite adamant to grab our attention as we strolled by, which can get a little annoying, but if you are in the mood to haggle and want a one-of-a-kind souvenir, then this is certainly the place to shop.
Tip:It is important to be aware of any regulations that may be in place in your country of origin if you wish to bring the wooden items home, as customs in some countries can be very strict with such products.
Tip:If you are considering sending any purchases home via courier, it would be wise to price postage prior to purchase as this may be quite expense.
We hope you find this information helpful if planning a trip to Africa or perhaps, it may inspire you to include Zimbabwe on an upcoming holiday to this amazing part of the world.
Thank you for taking the time to read our post and we would love for you to check out our upcoming posts on the other stops we made on this trip.
If you would like to see where we will be sharing about next, pop over to our Instagram page for sneak peeks throughout the week. Our Instagram
We hope to see you again soon.
Richard and Michelle.