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Victoria Falls activities: Watch an exciting vulture feeding!

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Victoria Falls activities: Watch an exciting vulture feeding!

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Who knew vultures are under threat and need to be fed! Well, they do at Victoria Falls in Africa. And the vulture feeding experience is one of the best Victoria Falls activities. (Bonus: It’s free.)

(Victoria Falls, by the way, is the humongous waterfall between Zambia and Zimbabwe that many people visit when on an African safari.)

So set aside your preconceived notions about vultures – ooh, icky and gross-looking creatures – and learn why vulture feeding at Victoria Falls is a good and necessary thing, and fascinating and fun to watch too!

vulture feeding at Victoria Falls
This guy looks more fierce than ugly, don’t you think? (Credit: Victoria Falls Safari Lodge)

Why vultures are endangered

Vulture populations are dropping like a stone. In fact, the scavenger birds are on their way to becoming extinct in Africa.

Yet they’re critical to keeping the eco-system clean. By clearing away dead carcasses, they help to spread diseases like rabies, TB and anthrax.

Unfortunately, man has become their major enemy in Africa.

Poachers who kill and cut the tusks off elephants then inject them with poison, so vultures who feed on the elephant carcasses die – otherwise clouds of live vultures alert rangers and signal the poachers’ location.

Vultures are also killed by local tribes people for traditional medicines. And they’re electrocuted by accidentally flying into power lines.

Interested in really beautiful birds? Check out these photos of the birds of Costa Rica!

Victoria Falls activities – vulture feeding

The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is doing something to help the vultures.

For the past 18 years, the hotel has been feeding them, and guests and visitors to the area are invited to come and watch the show (called the “Vulture Culture” experience) for free.

Victoria Falls activities - vulture feeding
You can safely watch the vulture feeding at Victoria Falls from the comfort of a shady hide

In front of the lodge’s Buffalo Bar, down a dirt pathway through dry scrub, there’s a “hide” – a viewing deck with concrete benches on which to sit, covered by a canopy of branches for shade.

You first get a briefing on the plight of the endangered birds and their ecological importance.

vulture feeding is one of the activities in victoria falls
Our brave man tosses out carcasses for the vultures to eat

Then the vulture guide hauls out a gunny sack with heads, feet and leftovers of beef, chickens, warthogs – whatever the chef doesn’t use in the lodge’s kitchen – to a red dirt patch, where he  tosses out the carcass bits before quickly running away.

The vultures, which for the previous hour have been flying in from miles around and gathering on nearby trees, suddenly swoop in.

vulture feeding at Victoria Falls
One of the best activities in Victoria Falls is to watch the free vulture feeding.

It’s quite a sight to watch them tearing into the bloody pieces!

You can hear the whoosh whoosh of their big wings flapping (they have wing spans of three feet) as they push and jostle one another to get at the food. The ugly red-headed birds are hooded vultures, while the others are mainly white-backed vultures.

The feeding we watched attracted more than 200 vultures (typical). And it was all over quite quickly – within 10 minutes or so…

vulture feeding is one of the activities in victoria falls
This baby hooded vulture is admittedly ugly (Credit: Kevin, Kdsphotos)

Lunch at the Buffalo Bar

By then, we were actually hungry ourselves. And so we headed to the Buffalo Bar, which must be one of the coolest bars in the world.

It’s basically a fancily-done-up, two-level, wooden viewing platform covered with a thatched roof, with buffalo wood carvings decorating the bar area.

The Buffalo Bar is hands-down one of the best bars we’ve sipped cocktails in

And it offers staggering views of the bush plain below.

It overlooks a large watering hole, where during lunch, we saw a herd of a dozen elephants, babies included, drinking and giving themselves dust baths with their trunks (by spraying dust over their backs).

The hard question was: Should we order the famous buffalo burgers?

The buffalo burgers are hugely popular in the Buffalo Bar (Credit: Victoria Falls Safari Lodge)

We went for mojitos and the local “Zambezi” beer and shared instead a plate of two African pies (one beef, the other chicken-and-mushroom), made fresh by the hotel’s pastry chef each day, along with fresh-cut fries. Yummy!

We were also entertained by a couple of baboons that jumped in and onto the bar, snatching an orange and other fruit before scampering off. (We can’t resist watching monkeys, be it in Bali, Africa or anywhere else we travel.)

It was a pleasant way to finish off our “Vulture Culture” experience!

When you’re planning what to do in Victoria Falls, viewing the waterfalls, of course, trumps all other Victoria Falls tours. But this free vulture feeding (followed by lunch at the Buffalo Bar) is well worth the time.

Vulture feeding Victoria Falls tour

The “Vulture Culture” experience occurs promptly at 1:00 pm at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, in front of the Buffalo Bar. Plan to be there about 15 minutes beforehand.

Admission is free for this Victoria Falls tour.

See here for more information.

Other things to do in Victoria Falls

Fancy a helicopter flight over Victoria Falls? It’s also one of the popular activities in Victoria Falls.

Ultimate Africa guide

How to choose where to go on safari? What’s the best way to hike up Table Mountain in Cape Town? Where to stay in Victoria Falls?

Get the full scoop on planning a luxury trip to Africa, complete with fabulous itineraries, in our free:
Africa Travel Guide & Safari Planner


Photo credits: 3, 4, 5 and 7 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase


We stayed as media guests at the Victoria Falls Safari Club, a boutique 20-room hotel sharing the same grounds as the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. We’re always free to write what we want – the good, the bad and the ugly…


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Robin Brown

Wednesday 7th of February 2018

Hi There Janice and George - thanks for the informative article - when you say "Yet they’re critical to keeping the eco-system clean. By clearing away dead carcasses, they help to spread diseases like rabies, TB and anthrax." It does sound like a negative. Should this not read that they reduce the spread of diseases?

Janice and George

Thursday 8th of February 2018

Yes, you are more right :-). Vultures should be viewed in a positive (not a negative) light. Thanks for putting us on the straight and narrow :-).

Frank

Sunday 17th of December 2017

Ah, I miss Africa. Vultures, Buffalo and Victoria Falls (my favorite waterfalls in the world). When I was a kid we went on countless safaris in the region and always saw something different. A beautiful part of the world.

Janice and George

Sunday 17th of December 2017

Wow! You got around as a child. Now you get around as an adult! We never lived in Africa -- but we miss it too!

Victoria

Tuesday 28th of November 2017

Wow! Look at the detail!

I've seen a few vultures and hawks in the UK and Germany, but never like this. It looks a little scary and I would be enormously glad to be behind the wall observing, before having a brisk cocktail, and a nice lunch!

It reminds me of the vultures used by the Parsi people in India...!

Janice and George

Wednesday 29th of November 2017

We weren't quite sure what to expect when we went. The vulture guide sure dashed away quickly after tossing out the food! (So there's probably a risk he could get accidentally pecked or scratched if he got in the way). Visitors, of course, are safe :-). And, yes, the cocktail and lunch went down nicely afterward!

Irene Levine

Saturday 25th of November 2017

Bad enough to have natural predators, it's unfortunate that vultures have human ones, too! Great photography! I've never seen one quite so close up~

Janice and George

Sunday 26th of November 2017

Before we attended this "Vulture Culture" experience, we assumed vultures were creatures who had no problem surviving (like mosquitoes)! So many African animals are under threat -- elephants, rhinos, giraffes and now vultures...

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