Victoria Falls Visiting Victoria Falls and when is the best time?

Anthony Gregory Africa Safari Guide
Wildfoot Travel’s Anthony Gregory is a life-long travel enthusiast with unrivalled experience working as a safari guide and travelling extensively throughout Africa.
Here he answers a common but all-important question we are often asked by newcomers to Africa, ‘what is the best time to visit Victoria Falls’?

As the largest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is a must-see for any visitor to Africa, and is a great start or end point for many of our tours to Botswana and surrounds. With its size and flow affected by the seasons though, it’s a good idea to plan your visit to see it at its most spectacular or to experience certain activities.

There are three main seasons to visit the falls, when the water will be at different levels based on the rain:

March to May – High water

Following the heavy rains that occur from January through to March, the falls are usually full and you’ll see the world’s largest sheet of falling water flowing at full capacity. At this time, the spray is so thick that you can barely see anything through the haze as you get close to the falls, so photographs are difficult to take without a waterproof camera. You’ll also end up soaking wet without a raincoat, umbrellas are useless as the spray comes upwards!

Even though the views aren’t great up close, the thunderous roars and sensory overload from the experience are something to behold! This is also a great time to take a helicopter ride over the falls and get an aerial view of its full magnificence, with the spray from the falls rising to over 400 metres. Be aware that some activities such as white water rafting and swimming in the Devil’s Pool are too dangerous to do at this time of year though, when the water is at its highest and fastest.

Temperatures during this time reach around 30oC in the day, dropping to around 14oC, and rain and thunderstorms are common.

January, February and June to September – Mid to High water

Most visitors would agree that the best time for viewing the falls is during these months, though there can be considerable variance between during and after the rains.

Parts of the cliff face are exposed during the mid-water period, and you can see all the way to the bottom with a decent amount of spray and thundering to make for an impressive experience. July is the best time for seeing the ‘moonbows’ (full moon rainbows) and getting a photo of these is high on most visitors lists.

If a safari is part of your trip, June to September is the ideal time as temperatures drop, the bush thins, and wildlife concentrates around permanent water sources. With the Chobe and Hwange right next door, there’s no reason not to take advantage of a quick trip into the bush!

Temperatures during January/February are around 30oC, with high humidity and lots of rain and thunderstorms. This is also when malaria is at its peak so be aware of this. From June to September, the temperatures are a pleasant 20-25oC in the day, dropping to 5-10oC in the evening so make sure you bring warm clothes!

October to December – Low water

From the end of September onwards, the water flow over the falls drops considerably, and only the Zimbabwe side still has water, as the Zambian side diverts theirs for hydro-electric power, which leaves it dry during the low water season. On the Zimbabwe side, water still flows year-round over the main falls and the Devil’s Cataract, the lowest of the five falls.

In October, it’s possible to walk the full length of the waterfall trail without getting wet at all – a big difference from the rest of the year. This makes it a good time for photography, as the lack of spray and ability to see the whole falls means some picturesque shots can be taken from up close without fear of ruining your camera.

November is the start of the green season, when the first spring rains start, though these don’t make any difference to the falls until a few months later, when the water has worked its way down from the Angolan foothills to collect in the massive gorges that feed into the falls.

For activities, November is the best time for white-water rafting as the rapids are very fast when they’re at their lowest. Walking down to the gorge is safer as well, as you’re not at risk of being buffeted away by the water, and the knife-edge walks on the Zambian side aren’t so precarious.

Temperatures in October are the highest of the year with the mercury rising well above 32oC, and as the humidity starts to increase, this makes for an uncomfortable climate. From November onwards, the rains start to arrive which bring welcome relief but are also unpredictable to prepare for.

Zimbabwe or Zambia?

As the falls sit right on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, you’ll also need to decide which side to see it from as both sides give different views and perspectives of Mosi-oa-Tunya  or ‘The Smoke That Thunders’.

It’s generally accepted that Zimbabwe has the better view of the falls as a whole regardless of season, but the Zambian side enables you to get closer to the falls.

In the dry season, Zambia has the famous ‘Devil’s Pool’ where you can swim at the top of the falls during low water, and are able to look over the falls if you’re brave enough! The times that you can swim though aren’t always the best times for the view, as the pool is safest when there’s little water.

Alternatively, getting visas for both countries isn’t difficult, so you can see both sides if you have the time to spare, it’s definitely worth it! Both sides have airports and local towns (Victoria Falls Town in Zimbabwe and Livingstone in Zambia).

Conclusion

The Falls are an incredible sight regardless of the time of year you visit, and you’ll never leave disappointed. We’d generally recommend visiting at a time when you’re likely to experience too much rather than too little water, but that depends on what you’d like to see there. The activities vary depending on low and high water, and if you’re there as part of a wildlife trip, then the best time is June to August when you can take advantage of the falls close proximity to the Chobe and other nearby game reserves. You’ll still have plenty of water going over the falls, an enjoyable climate, and great game viewing.

Ultimately, the best time to visit the falls is as soon as possible!

 

 

Natalie In Patagonia Top Ten Bucket List Trips For 2018

Natalie's Top Ten Bucket List Trips For 2018
Wildfoot travel expert Natalie Natalie Greenhalgh has always been passionate about travelling. Seeking out new places and new travel experiences is something she has done all her life. Always lining up the next life-goal or travel-target. So who better to ask to put together her top ten bucket-list adventures for 2018? Here’s Natalie’s top ten. How many of these adventures would you add to your bucket list?

We all do it, every year we make a list of new year’s resolutions that often tend to be about bettering one’s self. And we can’t think of a better way of doing this than to travel. So book your time off, pack your bags and set off for a new destination! It’s a great big world out there, so here are some highlights that we at Wildfoot Travel would highly recommend.

Beautiful Patagonia

Hike Hidden Pathways in Patagonia

Celebrating 200 years of independence this year, Chile is unlike any other place on earth. Isolated from the rest of the world with the vast Pacific Ocean to the west, the Atacama Desert to the North, the soaring Andes to the East and the wilds of Patagonia to the South, these extreme environments make for a remarkable country. In my opinion, Patagonia is the most beautiful spot on the planet…an otherworldly dreamland of majestic mountains, deep blue glaciers and fairy-tale woodlands, a trek in this remote wilderness will stay with you for life.

When? Chile’s summer months of December to March are warmest and best for trekking. Visit in October and November for Wildflowers.

Diving in the Galapagos

Go Goggle-eyed in the Galapagos

As a wildlife destination, the Galapagos offers a once in a lifetime experience, where adventurous travellers can get extremely close to exotic animals and aquatic life. These isolated islands are home to the marine and land-based animals that have enthralled biologists and nature lovers since Darwin’s day, and the fearless and friendly animals that roam this untouched natural world are in abundance.
Easily one of the best snorkelling spots in the World, there is over 15,000 square miles of protected, marine reserve waters. Unlike Scuba Diving, no special training is required for snorkelling, so if you can swim and breathe through a snorkel, you’re set! I will never forget watching green turtles paddle in front of me as two sea lions were demanding my attention as they circled me then swam up and looked me in the eye. Marine iguanas are warning in the sun, Galápagos penguins dive in, and hammerhead and white-tipped sharks lurk in the depths.

When? Unlike most wildlife destinations, there’s no wrong time to visit & go snorkelling in the Galapagos Islands. There are two distinct seasons in the Galapagos. The dry and cooler season runs from June to November while the wet and warmer season lasts from December through the end of May.

Penguins on South Georgia Island


Sit among King Penguins in South Georgia

When you land on South Georgia, a spectacularly beautiful and remote sub-Antarctic island, you will be amazed at the sight of 300,000 king penguins crowding the beach. These beautiful birds are recognisable by their orange throats and jet black heads. As they stand shoulder to shoulder on this tiny island, you certainly feel like a guest in their home! But they are very welcoming hosts and are often happy to come a little closer and say hello. And it’s not all about penguins, if you want to spend time with the greatest density of wildlife on the planet, you can expect to see seals, petrels, albatrosses, prions and much more.

When? The short expedition season runs from November-March when the sea ice breaks up to allow passage. November offers the chance of also seeing elephant seals on South Georgia, whilst December and January have warmer temperatures and welcome penguin chicks at this time of year.

 

walking safari in Zambia

Walk amongst the wild things in Zambia

The concept of walking safaris was born here, in South Luangwa National Park. One of the best wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and well-known for its World class guides, it is home to some of the highest concentrations of animals in Africa. Don’t be daunted by the prospect of walking, exploring the area on foot makes you really appreciate the bush as you become a part of the landscape. You may stumble upon a baby elephant learning to use its trunk, watch a wallowing hippo or two or stay as still as humanly possible as a Lion watches you through the grass. But you also take the time to learn about the plants, seeds and insects and how they all work so brilliantly together in this fascinating system. So if you’re after a safari that doesn’t just tick off the big 5, walk amongst the animals that call this place home and see how it all fits together, you will not be disappointed.

When? Some camps in Zambia are only open in the dry-season between June and October. As the heat increases towards the end of August, there is a greater concentration of game.

northern lights in scandanaviaBe in awe of the Aurora Borealis whilst Whale watching

Walking out of a bar in Reykjavik, I looked up and caught a glimpse of the northern lights. Despite the light pollution, I could faintly see the beautiful light show that was happening right above me. I stood in awe for a few seconds before the magical lights disappeared, and I made a promise to myself to make a trip one day specifically to see this sight “properly”. There are many places to see this natural phenomenon, but why not combine this with another wonderous experience…whale watching. Take a winter trip aboard a traditional two masted schooner and sail in arctic waters, looking for orcas and humpback whales, which follow the herring shoals at this time of year. Whales by day, northern lights by night…what could be better?

When? Darkness is the key, and nowhere is darker than Scandinavia in winter! Best seen in the Northern Hemisphere between October – March, the closer to the Arctic circle the better.

Peek at Jaguar’s in the Pantanal

Think of a wildlife destination in Brazil and most people would suggest the Amazon. But the Pantanal is Brazil’s less-famous great wilderness…and the best place in the world to spot the elusive Jaguar. Because the Amazon is so dense, often people can be disappointed with what little wildlife they see, but the Pantanal is like the jungle without the trees – wildlife can be easily spotted.  This vast wetland is also home to giant otters, huge caiman, capybara, anteaters, almost 700 hundred bird species and much more. Exploring this wilderness by boat or on foot, you will have the opportunity of seeing very rare and iconic wildlife up-close.

When?  Seasonally flooded in the wet season between December – May, the Pantanal is best visited in winter with September and October usually seen as the best months to visit for Jaguar spotting.

Feel free in the faraway Falklands

With some of the World’s wildest and remote landscapes, the Falkland Islands are a wonderous place and incredibly bio-diverse. A little bit of Britain at the end of the world, the real citizens here are the animals. With 5 penguin species (Kings, Rockhopper, Magellanic, Macaroni and Gentoo), dolphins, whales, sea lions, leopard seals, elephant seals and not to mention over 200 species of birds…if you are after a wildlife trip with a difference, the Falkland’s will not disappoint. Stanley, the capital of East Falkland Island is often at the start of your adventure, with Volunteer point not to be missed…home to the largest colony of King Penguins on all of the islands. Then take a short plane hop to Sea Lion Island, Darwin, Pebble Island, Carcass and West Point Island, each island offering a unique and unforgettable experience.

When? OctoberMarch is generally considered the best time to visit, with the start of the warmer weather bringing new life and later on in the season, the better time for whale watching.

The Icebergs in Greenland's Disko Bay

Dance amongst the Icebergs in Disko Bay, Greenland

Ok, so you might not dance but this is Disko Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site thanks to its outstanding natural beauty. Greenland is the worlds largest island, with the worlds largest national park, and on the West Coast you will find Illullisat, a harbour town on Disko Bay whose name translates literally to “icebergs”, and you will see why. Disko bay is packed full of beautiful icebergs of all shapes and sizes rising majestically from the sea. And this is just one tiny highlight of this huge island that has so much to offer.

When? Most people visit in summer (May – September) when temperatures can reach a balmy 10 degrees Celsius! Enjoy the midnight sun at this time too, with most areas lit up around the clock from June – July.

See the sunrise over Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia

The climb up this 85m sand dune (in sand no less) will leave you short as breath as you reach the top. Short of breath for the climb you have just experienced but also short of breath when you see the beauty of the sunrise over Sossusvlei. As I watched the sun come up and change the colours of the landscape, the orange of the sunrise combined with the rust-red of the Dunes was so intense and I remember feeling lost in that moment, whilst nature showed just how beautiful she can be. Just one highlight of my trip to Namibia, this is one of my favourite countries as it has everything to offer, fantastic wildlife and national parks, preserved ancient cultures, dramatic landscapes and lovely little seaside towns.

When? A year-round destination, Namibia has over 300 days of sunshine per year! Wildlife can be easier to view in the drier months between May to November.
sloth hanging from a tree in the rain forest of costa rica

Go coco for Costa Rica

As a country, Costa Rica has so much to offer, especially for wildlife enthusiasts! Costa Rica covers 0.03 percent of the earth’s surface, but it contains nearly 6 percent of the world’s biodiversity.  Around 25% of the country’s land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world. Sloths, Whales, Turtles, Monkeys, Tapirs and hundreds of bird species…it is packed full of wildlife! If you’re after a bit of adrenalin, try white-water rafting, ziplining and canyoning…just a few of the activities on offer. And with coastlines on both the Pacific and Caribbean, there are many beach spots to relax after a busy trip around this wonderful country.

When? The driest and sunniest time of year to go is between January to April with January and February being the busiest time to go. Temperatures and rainfall can very though with Rainforests, Cloud Forests, mountains and 2 coastlines all battling it out!

Find out more about any of our trips here

Natalie Top Ten Bucket List Trips For 2018

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Book an epic African adventure with Wildfoot Travel

As leading wildlife travel specialists, Wildfoot Travel can help you plan the perfect informative, yet fun journey around sourthern Africa. Let’s take a look at some of the most iconic African destinations.

Botswana is home to the Okavango Delta, the Selinda Reserve, the Chobe National Park and the Makgadikadi Salt Pans. Popular activities in Botswana include watching meerkats at the Makgadikgadi Pans, taking a helicopter ride over the Delta, sleeping under a blanket of stars in the Kalahari Desert and watching elephants at Chobe National Park.

Namibia is another one of Africa’s best-known and most fascinating destinations. Activities that you may be interested in during a trip to Namibia can include flying over the Skeleton Coast, quad-biking at Swakopmund, seeing the cheetahs and leopards at the Africat Sanctuary, kayaking with cape fur seals at Walvis Bay or looking for desert-adapted wildlife at Damaraland. Taking a balloon ride is another popular activity – fly over Sossusvlei Dunes to enjoy a true once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In Zambia, you can head out on a canoe on the Lower Zambezi, watch the fruit bats at Kasanka National Park, take a bungee jump at Victoria Falls, go on a sunset cruise or dabble in a bit of tiger fishing on the Zambezi River, look for leopards at South Luangwa NP or watch rare birds in Bangweulu Wetlands.

Africa is synonymous with epic, life-changing experiences. It is home to some of the world’s most interesting and iconic wildlife, as well as some of its most stunning scenery. Here at Wildfoot Travel, we want to help you if you are interested in exploring Africa in style and require a first-class service to help you make the most of your endeavours.

Our team possesses expert knowledge of Namibia, Zambia and Botswana, and is eager to use this knowledge to help you plan a magical trip to the continent and experience it in all of its glory. Why not get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can help you to plan a bespoke trip to Africa and witness some of the world’s most outstanding scenery and wildlife up close?

Contact Wildfoot Travel to discuss your ideal African adventure with us.