Victoria Falls Seasons, Zimbabwe – When Scottish explorer, Dr David Livingstone first laid eyes on the Falls in 1855, little did he know that it would be confirmed as the world’s largest waterfall, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world, and a World Heritage Site.
Little has changed since people discovered Mosi-oa-Tunya thousands of years ago – what you see now is the same astonishing view that awed Livingstone and everyone else lucky enough to see the Falls.
Victoria Falls Seasons:
- High-water season is from about February to July – expect the most spectacular views of the Falls and prepare to get a little wet.
- Low-water season is from about August to January – this is the best time for white-water rafting and swimming in Devils Pool.
- Safari high or peak season is from about June to October – a good time to combine a safari with a visit to Vic Falls. Bear in mind that the later you visit, the drier the Falls will be. The ‘sweet spot’ for a good safari and great views is generally about July and August, which is also a very popular time to visit. Reservations should be secured well in advance.
During high-water season, more than 17 million cubic feet (481 386 cubic metres) of water fall over the edge every single minute – that’s almost 200 times more than an Olympic swimming pool or 12 000 pools in an hour!
When to Go: Best Time to Visit Victoria Falls
It might be the largest waterfall on earth and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world, but it’s also the mild winters and hot summers that make Victoria Falls a popular year-round destination.
- Best time to visit for best views: March to August.
- Best time to combine your Falls visit with a safari in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana or South Africa: July to September over peak safari season.
- Non-ideal time to visit only the Falls: October to November – Zambia side is usually completely dried up and it is very hot.
Like almost everything else in Africa, the spectacle at the Falls is entirely dependent on rainfall. When you choose to travel will have a massive impact on your experience at Vic Falls. It is a wonderful destination to visit year-round, but if there are specific sights and activities that you’d like to include in your Falls itinerary, keep these travel seasons in mind:
Rain may vary from year to year. Always ask your Africa Safari Expert about current and projected water levels for when you want to travel to avoid disappointment.
The rule of thumb is: any activity on the water is best when water levels are at their lowest, otherwise the current is too strong. Any activity on land or in the air is best when water levels are higher, so you can enjoy the most dramatic views.
Summer: November to April
- Average daytime temperature: 30°C / 86°F
Expect dramatic and short afternoon thunderstorms, hot and humid weather conditions, and spectacular sunsets. The Zambezi River is usually low during December, rising steadily as the rain water starts to arrive from the Angolan highlands. The rainy Green Season revitalises Southern Africa between December and April.
Winter: July to August
- Average daytime temperature: 25-28°C / 77-82°F
The moderate winter months in Southern Africa are sunny and dry, and a great time to combine your tour to Victoria Falls with a wildlife safari in the superb national parks of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana or South Africa.
TIP: October is the hottest month of the year in Vic Falls (around 34°C / 93°F), and one of the very best months for safari. The animals don’t stray far from the little remaining water, but the Falls are at their very lowest and the Zambian side will the completely dry. Be sure to choose which is most important to you – game viewing or the Falls – if you’re travelling around this time.
Between February and July, the mighty Zambezi River is in full flood and the Falls are at its most thunderous – usually peaking between March and April. Dazzling clouds of mist can float 1 312ft (400m) above the Falls! Expect to get drenched by spray at most of the vantage points on the Zim and Zambia sides.
- The Zambezi River is fed by water that flows down from wetlands in northern Zambia on the border with the Angolan Highlands. As the early summer rains arrive in about November, so the current gains momentum and the water surges. This reaches a pinnacle between about February and May, when the Falls are at their heaviest.
- The height of the spray and width of the Falls will be at their maximum: both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides will be at their fullest, and the noise can be deafening.
- If you choose to visit when the area is at its hottest and wettest, from about November to March, consult your doctor about adequate anti-malaria precautions.
- High-water levels mean the current is too fast for water-based activities like swimming in Devil’s Pool or rafting. This means that seeing the Falls in full flood is not the time to go if you want to partake in these activities.
TIP: You can rent or buy a poncho or an umbrella at the Falls.
Best time for:
- Enjoying spectacular views
- Seeing the lunar rainbows of Vic Falls
The Falls’ lunar rainbows or ‘moonbows’ are rare atmospheric phenomena that occur when the bright glow of a perfect full moon reflects and refracts off the mist created by the waterfall. Niagara Falls also used to produce colourful lunar rainbows, but sadly the light pollution in the area has eliminated these beautiful occurrences.
The Zambezi’s water levels are low from August to January, and at its lowest from October until the rains start again.
- By mid-year, the current is slowing and the spray is not as high as the rains stop for winter.
- The water levels of the Falls visible on the Zambian side differ radically throughout the year – if you’re visiting at the end of the dry season in October, you’ll be left wondering what all the fuss is about as you gaze upon a mere trickle or even bare rock.
- Low-water season runs from about September or October to about January when levels drop over the dry winter. This overlaps with peak safari season, which runs from about August to October until spring rains arrive in about November.
Best time for:
- Excellent visibility of the Falls from Zim and Zambia sides – lower water levels mean less spray and mist. But during the end of the low-water season, you might be staring at bare rocks and a trickle of water over on the Zambian side.
- White-water rafting as the current is too strong for non-professionals at other times of the year.
- Zambezi River boat cruises – more animals come to drink as water dries up elsewhere
- A day-trip to Livingstone Island to swim in Devil’s Pool (again, the current is too powerful at other times of year).