Zambezi River Walk
Victoria Falls Adventures

There are several interesting walks to do on both sides of the Zambezi. The most highly recommended one is the Zambezi River Walk on the Zimbabwean side of the river.This walk is one of the hidden gems of the Victoria Falls region and one of the most unique walks in the whole of Africa - for in very few other places can one walk along a crocodile- and hippo-infested river, among potentially dangerous game such as elephant and buffalo - unguided!We rate this as one of the great African walks! It starts just outside the Victoria Falls National Park fence at the corner of Zambezi Drive, just above the Devil's Cataract. At this point, you are only a few dozen metres from the lip of Devil's Cataract and you get a real sense of the might and power of this vast transition as the sluggish Zambezi is transformed into a gravity-driven explosion of water.What is awe-inspiring is that you cannot actually see this event occur from this vantage point - the river is there, and then it is quite simply gone. It is, therefore, a must that, before you take the Zambezi River Walk, you have already seen the Falls from the rain forest side in order to ensure that you fully appreciate what is happening just steps away.

But, be forewarned - do not approach the water's edge at this point - one slip on the wet rock and you will be swept over Devil's Cataract into the churning cauldron 60m below.

The path meanders along the banks of the Zambezi beneath tall, riverine trees. There are several viewpoints from which you can look out over the river and experience being in the African landscape. The trail meanders along the banks for just a little over a kilometre before rejoining Zambezi Drive, a few hundred metres below the Big Tree.

©Lee Berger

There is plenty of game along the river and one is almost sure of seeing baboons, bushbuck and warthog along the banks, while there are usually pods of hippos in the river. Watch out for swimming elephants crossing from one side of the Zambezi to the other!

Another great walk is through Mosi-oa-Tunya Park on the Zambian side. Walking to Knifes Edge along the Narrow Bridge


Baboons are our closest relatives in the Victoria Falls area and the most advanced wild primates found in this environment. They have become extremely comfortable living around humans and often walk right into Victoria Falls village to forage in the dustbins.

They live in troops of approximately 30 individuals and can range up to 14km in a day's foraging. Males are dominant and often move from troop to troop while females remain within the natal group. Intimacy is ensured through mutual grooming.

Baboons often act as watchdogs for other animals because of their sharp sight. Although they are mostly vegetarian, they have been known to kill small animals like impala lambs for food.

The bird life is also spectacular with a variety of herons and darters around as well as trumpeter hornbills. If you are lucky, you will see the collared palm-thrush or a fish-eagle.
Here, Common Bee-eaters, often seen sitting in a row.

Zambezi River Birds

Reed Cormorant (Phalacrocorax africanus)
Common Zambezi resident feeding on fish and frogs, seen often on rocks with wings outstretched, drying itself and digesting its prey.

African Darter (Anhinga rufa)
Similar to the cormorant but with a straight, sharp bill, often seen swimming in the Zambezi with only its neck protruding from the water, hence its nickname, the"snake bird".

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Slender, long-necked white bird wades in shallow waters, stealthily hunting frogs and aquatic insects.

The plants vary from palms to waterberries, figs and baobabs as well as a rich variety of other riverine flora. Be wary of approaching the edge of the river - crocodiles are abundant in this part of the river - and always keep an eye out for dangerous animals on land such as hippos, elephants and buffalo. One of the wonderful things about this walk is that, if at any time you feel unsafe, Zambezi Drive is just a few dozen metres away, and you can leave the river path and continue walking on the tarred road.The walk usually finishes at the Big Tree where you can arrange to be met by your operator for a picnic or a pick-up. It is possible to carry on walking up the river for another few kilometres to the Zambezi Hotel. Most operators offer guides if you feel uncomfortable about walking on your own.

The Big Tree

This large baobab 100m away from the river, a few kilometres north of Victoria Falls town, was a historical landmark, meeting place and camp site for pioneers crossing the river to Old Drift settlement. Many people have carved their names into the tree, which is hundreds of years old. Even though it is undoubtedly a "big tree" - 16m around the trunk and about 20m high, there are many bigger and older specimens in the area. The baobab (Adansonia digitata) is southern Africa's most distinctive tree with its extremely stout, fleshy trunk and widely spreading crown. An African legend holds that a giant child of the gods once pulled the baobab out of the ground and then stuck it back upside down, which accounts for its root-like branches.

Left: 1997 by Prof. Lee Berger Right: 1884 by by Frank "Zambezi" Watson

Other Walks

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has a nature walk through its property on the edge of the Zambezi National Park. There are some wonderful walks in the park itself - a particularly good option is the half-walk, half-canoeing outing.

Nakavanga Game Reserve offers guided game walks.

Brett Hilton-Barber and Lee R. Berger. Copyright © 2010 Prime Origins.

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