Shoestrings Backpackers

SHOESTRINGS : WHAT TO DO

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There's much more to do around Victoria Falls town than 'just' seeing the waterfall or white-water rafting - here's a guide to some of the 'other' stuff, most of it free, some of it with a small price tag.

Zambezi Drive

Drive, cycle or even walk along the Zambezi River above the Victoria Falls. This loop road runs out of town to the Big Tree, a local landmark and tree of historical note, and downstream along the river to the top of the Falls (please note that you are not supposed to walk on the rocks by the Falls). The walk along the river is scenic at any time of year, and wildlife abounds, from butterflies to birds, antelope to elephant.

Take a taxi, hire a bike (available from Shoestrings, see Getting Around) or walk with a local guide – but be aware you will be walking in a National Park with many dangerous animals that frequent the river – elephant and buffalo are often seen in the bush along this section of river - keep your distance and don't be tempted to go too close for photos! See our notes on Dangerous animals. Crocodile and hippo occur along the river - so no swimming!

Do not be tempted to go off the road into the bush without a guide, and don't try to sneak around the corner of the Falls Park to see to the Falls - National Park Officers are quick to catch people if they can - and your choice will be a fine or a short period in jail!

Please remember you are in a National Park, take all your litter away with you and respect the natural environment and wildlife.



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Views along Zambezi Drive - watch out for elephant!

Gorge Lookout

After you've explored the Zambezi above the Falls, and seen the Falls themselves, check out the gorges downstream. Located along the second gorge between the Bridge and the Hotel, the Gorge Lookout is the adrenalin activity centre for Wild Horizons, offering gorge swings, zip lines and a canopy tour, or just enjoy a cold drink and the view from the edge of the gorge. A short gorge-side walk offers dramatic views. Small bar with cold drinks.

You can walk down to the Lookout from the Victoria Falls Hotel or Kingdom Hotel as a detour on your way to the Falls.



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The Gorge Lookout

The Victoria Falls Bridge

Situated between the border posts of Zimbabwe and Zambia, you can get a free Bridge pass (you will need your passport) from the Zimbabwe border post to access the bridge (keep your pass on you - you'll need it to get back into Zim!).

The Victoria Falls Bridge was constructed and opened in 1905 and from the Bridge you can view a section of the Falls and gorges below, watch or undertake a Bridge Bungee or enjoy the view from the Bridge Café, located on the Zambian side of the Bridge. There is a small historical Bridge Museum, which is free to visit, with information and displays on the construction of the bridge, and you can also pay for an informative guided historical tour.

Visiting the bridge does not affect your visa.



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The Victoria Falls Bridge

Victoria Falls Hotel

Explore the corridors and enjoy the view from the veranda which overlooks the gorges just below the Victoria Falls, the Victoria Falls Bridge, and the rising spray from the Falls themselves. The Hotel started life as a tin and iron building to house railway engineers and bridge construction workers and has grown into one of the most famous hotels in the world. Its corridors house a varied collection of historic photographs and images, and the view of the spray and Bridge from the veranda is especially dramatic at sunrise, late afternoon and sunset. For the full-on colonial decadence feeling try out afternoon high tea, a time-honoured custom for travellers from all over the world.

The Jungle Junction Restaurant is famed for its evening buffet, and The Livingstone Room Restaurant regularly receives accolades as among the best in the world.

Within the grounds of the Hotel you will find the Stone Dynamics sculpture garden, with a fine selection of Zimbabwean stone artwork, and inside the Hotel itself is the Larry Norton Gallery. Larry is a local artist with a global reputation, and his large canvases of the Falls are well worth seeing.



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The Victoria Falls Hotel

Elephants Walk Shopping & Artists Village

Elephant’s Walk Shopping and Artist Village is home to some of the best specialty art and craft shops and studios Victoria Falls has to offer. Meet local artists and craftsmen at work, creating uniquely Zimbabwean pieces, visit the Ndau Collection jewellery studio, or drop in on the taxidermist before wandering through the organic herb garden, learning about traditional herbal healing.

The Prime Art Gallery has some of the best examples of artwork by Zimbabwean artists, with spectacular paintings of wildlife and everyday African life. Other specialist shops offer leather goods, textiles and other crafts.

At the Jafuta Heritage Centre you will find a comprehensive collection of Zimbabwean artefacts, displays and information focusing on local peoples, historical records of the region and a small library of historical books. Entry is free and well worth a visit.

The Africa Cafe provides refreshments and a cool place to take a break. Don't forget to visit the curio markets outside the complex if you want to barter and trade for curios.

Next door to Elephants Walk is Soper's Curios, one of the longest running businesses in town, originally established in 1910.

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Elephant’s Walk Shopping and Artist Village

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

Visit this spectacular five-star lodge for sundowners at their Buffalo Bar, overlooking the Zambezi National Park and complete with its own private waterhole, which regularly attracts elephant, buffalo and various antelope species. Vulture feeding daily at noon in front of the main lodge is a spectacle to be seen.

Prices are on the expensive side but you get the quality and service to match - it's a five star Lodge! - and the overall experience is well worth it (plus you can't do too much damage to your wallet with just a refreshing Mazoe orange and ice!).

The Makuwa Kuwa Restaurant has a reputation as one of the best in town and it is a great location for an evening meal, overlooking the floodlit waterhole and with a chance of seeing various wild animals.

A free shuttle bus operates hourly to and from town until 9.00pm (pickup and drop off at various key spots in town, including outside the Wild Horizon's booking centre just round the corner from Shoestrings).



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Victoria Falls Safari Lodge views

Elephant Hills Golf Course

If you are a golfer then why not take a round at this famous course (18 holes for $40, club hire $12, half price for 9 holes). The golf course abounds with wildlife, antelope graze the greens and well watered fairways and there are many birds to discover in the trees and ponds. The course was designed by world famous South African golfer Gary Player and originally opened in 1974.

Even if you are not a golfer this is a great place to enjoy a walk within the safety of the course - there are three different nature trails around the course - although lion have also occasionally been seen from the fairways so always keep an eye out!

The Elephant Hills Hotel operates a free shuttle bus to and from town - departing the Hotel on the hour and town on the half hour.



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Victoria Falls Safari Lodge views

Crocodile Farm

A short distance upstream (by bike or car), is the Victoria Falls Croc Farm - one of the town's largest employers. The farm breeds crocodiles from the egg to adult. The eggs hatch in about December or January so if you are here in those months you can even help a baby croc hatch. Feeding times are an impressive sight. There is also a curio shop which offers high quality items made from crocodile skin and other leather products.

Established in the 1950s in response to the declining crocodile populations on the Zambezi, due to uncontrolled hunting, superstition and fear. The government granted a license for 2500 eggs to be collected from the Zambezi every year for commercial purposes. In return the farm is obliged to return 125 three-year old crocs back to the river to keep the natural population sustainable. Nile Crocodiles in the wild have a very high mortality rate. The system has worked well in both preserving the wild population, providing a good source of employment and income. Added to which it is a great tourist attraction (entry fee payable).

Chinotimba Tours

Victoria Falls town evolved predominantly as a tourist town, but there is much more to the town than the high street and tourism shops. Look behind the scenes by exploring Chinotimba, where many locals and tourism workers live. Explore the markets and meeting places.

Looking for a local guide to show you around? Ask our friendly artists, musicians and performers - they will be happy to point you in the right direction or show you around. Guided cultural tours also available through local tourism operators, all wrapped up as a bit more of an 'experience' and with a price tag.

Bicycle Tours

We have our very own bike hire service from Shoestrings, a great way to explore the town and surrounds, especially in the cooler early mornings. Tour Zambezi Drive, explore Chinotimba or visit the Croc Farm. You can also arrange a local guide to show you around.

View from the Rainbow

The Rainbow Hotel, located just a short walk around the corner from Shoestrings (and worth checking out at the beginning or end of your Zambezi Drive/Big Tree walkabout), offers a free view of the Falls from their roof - just ask at the gate or reception and the staff will point you in the right direction. Their rooftop viewing area overlooks the river valley, with the Zambezi just visible through the trees and the spray rising from the Falls (best seen at high water and at either sunrise or sunset). The Hotel also has a great swimming pool and poolside bar.


Contact

Looking for activity or safari options in and around Victoria Falls? Contact us by email for information and our recommendations.