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Victoria Falls Safari Club, Zimbabwe: Luxury near the smoke that thunders

Please only travel when it’s safe to do so.

A warthog family lives on the grounds. 

And wild elephants drink at the water hole in front of the lodge’s Buffalo Bar.

But we were focused on what was inside our room at the Victoria Falls Safari Club in Zimbabwe.

Morning coffee at the Victoria Falls Safari Club
Ahhh, coffee on the balcony at the Victoria Falls Safari Club

Checking in at the Victoria Falls Safari Club

We discovered an in-room Nespresso machine, basket of complimentary sunscreen and mosquito lotion, and pillow menu.

Free WiFi, air conditioning and blackout drapes.

A minibar with complimentary wine and beer.

And best of all – a hair dryer!

Despite the civilized luxuries, the warthogs roaming the grounds reminded us that we were still on the wildest continent on earth!

Spoiler alert! Contents of this Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, hotel review

Lodges in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – New KAZA visa makes it easy to visit the falls from both Zambia and Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls Safari Club – An exclusive hotel within the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

The suites

Things to do in Victoria Falls

Fun facts about Victoria Falls 

How the hotel gives back to the community

Victoria Falls Safari Club
Crocodiles live in the lagoon just outside this Victoria Falls hotel in Zimbabwe

What, the hair dryer doesn’t excite you?

It would if you’re coming from a walking safari in the Zambian bush.

No matter how fabulous and luxurious our Zambia safari was, the bush camps we stayed in were totally off-the-grid (solar-powered with only radio contact to the base camp).

And so we relished the luxury of checking in afterward at the Victoria Falls Safari Club.

Relaxing in the pool

Beware of the crocodiles!” read the sign just beyond our balcony.

But inside this lovely Victoria Falls 5-star hotel, all was civilized – and we soaked it all up for three welcome nights.

Recommended reading: Our ultimate Africa Guide and Safari Planner is packed with info on Africa trip itineraries, best safari countries and more!

Lodges in Victoria Falls

Many visitors on safari in Zambia, Botswana and/or South Africa plan an overnight stop at the world-famous Victoria Falls – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World.”

The falls lie on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The falls were raging when we visited!

Hotels in Victoria Falls, Zambia:

Traditionally, visitors have stayed on the Zambia side in Livingstone.

On a previous visit to the African continent, we bedded down at The Royal Livingstone – a delightful colonial-style resort where you can walk to the falls.

Lodges in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe:

Victoria Falls Safari Club
The Victoria Falls Safari Club offers luxurious accommodations on the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls

But now that Zimbabwe is opening up to tourism again, safari-goers also have the option of staying in lodges in Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side.

New KAZA visa:

A new visa makes this easier too.

A single 30-day visa – the KAZA visa (or KAZA Univisa) – was introduced in December, 2016. It allows visitors to travel to both Zambia and Zimbabwe (and back and forth between the two countries) for $50 USD.

So this visit, with our passports stamped with this visa, we stayed on the Zimbabwe side of the falls at the Victoria Falls Safari Club.

Victoria Falls Safari Club, Zimbabwe

The viewing deck at the Victoria Falls Safari Club
The viewing deck at the Victoria Falls Safari Club

The 20-room Victoria Falls Safari Club, which opened in 2012, is found on the same grounds as the older and larger Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.

That lodge has been voted the best resort hotel in Zimbabwe for the last 20 consecutive years by the Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents.

You can use all the facilities of the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, like its candlelit Makuwa Kuwa restaurant for dinner. (Perhaps kudu stew with date salsa or bacon-wrapped crocodile tail?)

Victoria Falls Safari Club
This lovely viewing deck is where we enjoyed afternoon tea

But the Club is more exclusive and you get a more personalized stay.

For example, you can enjoy complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea and sunset cocktails and canapés on the Club’s viewing deck, where elephants and giraffes can be spied drinking from a nearby water hole.

What’s for afternoon tea? Always a nice selection of little cakes and sandwiches

Victoria Falls Safari Club suites

And the rooms?

Well, they’re not really rooms, they’re so much bigger – referred to as suites (which they are).

Spacious, bright and light, the suites have sisal rugs on tile floors. Multi-colored paintings of African ladies in traditional costume decorate the walls.

Big sliding glass doors open onto large balconies (but we were warned not to leave the doors open as baboons could enter).

We were happy campers in our spacious Victoria Falls safari suite

They’re extremely comfortable – among the best accommodation in Victoria Falls.

Service is excellent, because you have access to a concierge and reception desk just for guests in the Club’s 20 rooms.

Things to do in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

View the falls!

Of course, the main reason why people go to Victoria Falls is to visit the amazing curtain of water almost a mile wide that crashes down from a height of over 300 feet.

The best time to see the falls is probably from July to September

6 Fun facts on Victoria falls:

1) Victoria Falls are also known as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” or “The Smoke That Thunders.”

2) Scottish missionary and explorer, David Livingstone, was the first European to “discover” or see the falls (on November 16, 1855).

3) The falls are the largest sheet of falling water in the world (one-and-a-half times wider and twice the height of Niagara Falls).

4) Victoria Falls is almost a mile wide and crashes down more than 300 feet.

5) There are 19 viewing points – 15 on the Zimbabwe side and 4 on the Zambia side.

6) In his diary, Livingstone said of the falls: “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.”

Vulture Culture:

Less dramatic perhaps, but equally interesting in its own way, is the “Vulture Culture” experience at the Lodge.

The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge feeds hundreds and hundreds of wild vultures daily; you learn more about these creatures, then watch them fly in and rip into meat carcasses.

Why you might ask, do vultures need to be fed?

Read next: Learn the secret behind vulture feeding at Victoria Falls

Supporting the community…

Both the Club and the Lodge are operated by Africa Albida Tourism, a Zimbabwean-based hospitality group of hotels, lodges and restaurants in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in southern Africa. 

We were interested to know that Africa Albida Tourism is lauded for its environmental efforts and supports the local community in a number of ways.

8 Ways Africa Albida Tourism gives back

1) They donate to Environment Africa, which determines where the local need is most urgent. For example, they recently made a large donation of bedding and mosquito netting to rural villages.

2) When the Safari Lodge was built in 1994, an environmental architect was consulted to reduce the environmental impact. No mature trees were cut and all trees removed during construction were transplanted to the surrounding Zambezi National Park – a move unheard of at the time.

3) Africa Albida is a member of Pack for a Purpose, a non-profit organization which encourages travelers to fill left-over space in their suitcase with pens, deflated soccer balls, medical supplies and the like for the local community.

4) The Safari Lodge helped form the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit, which now employs about 17 scouts. The unit has removed more than 22,000 wires snares, saved the lives of nearly 200 animals and arrested some 700 hardened poachers. The lodge pays the salaries for six scouts and contributes supplies for their work.

5) Africa Albida Tourism provided accommodation, generators and other support for American doctors, surgeons and nurses who set up a temporary eye clinic for local patients.

6) Along with other Victoria Falls town members, the Safari Lodge contributed to the construction of an electric fence around the town’s garbage dump, as three elephants had died from eating all the plastic there.

7) Two now-elderly local wood carvers had been arrested and re-arrested many times for cutting down trees in the national park for their carvings. So several years ago, the Safari Lodge gave the carvers sustainable wood and a place to sell their giraffes and other carvings (at the Boma restaurant). The elderly gents are still seen at the Boma every night with their wares for sale.

8) The Lodge is a member of the international Green Tourism organization. (Green Tourism is the world’s largest sustainable certification program; it’s certified over 2,000 hotels and tour operators.) Both the Club and the Lodge offer natural insect repellents in the rooms and use eco-friendly cleaners.

More information

See the website for  the Victoria Falls Safari Club, Zimbabwe


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Photo credits: 2, 5, 9 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining images Victoria Falls Safari Club


About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the owners and founders of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, luxury hotel reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

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Anda

Sunday 29th of July 2018

Ah, Janice, what a treat! I'd love to visit Victoria Falls even if I were to stay in a more modest hotel. I would be curious to know how do these falls compare to Iguazú Falls.

Janice and George

Sunday 29th of July 2018

Years ago, we also visited the Iguazu Falls on the Argentina/Brazil border and stayed there for a couple of nights (on the Brazil side). Those falls were spectacular too! How do you compare? So hard... Both are some of nature's most awe-inspiring sights...

Robert Stirling

Thursday 12th of April 2018

So we can live together, see the sights and do good things. What an attractive place to stay!

Janice and George

Thursday 12th of April 2018

Yes, you can feel good staying at the Victoria Falls Safari Club, in more ways than one :-).