Devils Pool Victoria Falls | The mighty Victoria Falls at the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia have been one of Africa’s major tourist magnets for one simple reason: Gazing down 100 meters from the top of the Vic Falls into the churning chasm below is a heartstopping experience. This waterfall gives you the largest sheet of water for any fall in the world – twice as tall as Niagara Falls and several times longer. And Devils Pool is the ultimate highlight, a death-defying feat that even the most casual of thrill seekers must add to their bucket lists.
After a slight dip in recent years due to turmoil in Zimbabwe, tourist numbers are back to normal, with many tour operators adding the Victoria Falls back to their itineraries. Be informed that because of cartelization and price fixing, you will pay high prices for accommodation and activities, even though tourist properties are not fully booked and guided tour operators are not running at full capacity.
When to visit Devils Pool?
The parks in Zambia and Zimbabwe are open year-round, but you’ll get a different experience depending on the season. In the rain season (December – March), the water volume will be high, and the falls will be more dramatic. On the other hand, it is precisely because the volume of water is so high that your viewing of the actual Vic Falls will be obscured by all the spray. And there will be limited access to Devils Pool. In the dry season, (April – October), the water volume will be lower. You’ll get a much clearer view of the entire rocky ledge beneath the falls, but the falls might be underwhelming. Your best bet to get a bit of both experiences will be November, the very end of the dry season.
Which side to visit?
Zambia or Zimbabwe or both? Consider two things: views and cost. Although the Zambian territory owns two thirds of the actual falls, this still limits your visibility from the Zambian side. Tourists can walk only a quarter of the distance of the falls’ face. They cannot get a perspective on the full width. But Zambia offers a walk down to below the falls! Such walk down is not possible on the Zimbabwean side. Pro Zambia: There is a footbridge that gives a unique experience, with a permanent torrential rain from the wet season. Our decision depended entirely on the access to Devils Pool – a natural rock pool on the waterfall’s ledge.
Devils Pool Victoria Falls
During the dry season, the Zambezi River drops quite substantially. From mid August to mid January, it is possible to walk along the rim at some parts of the Vic Falls. This can only be done from the Zambian side. And then there is the Devils Pool – the ultimate infinity pool. Kind of funny: although officially located in Zimbabwe, this most scenic highlight can only be reached from the Zambian side; without border control :D From Zimbabwe you can’t reach it. You will have to go via Livingstone Island in Zambia. So we planned our entire tour around this key information: All fingers pointed to Zambia somewhere between May and October.
It takes a rocky walk and a swim in the Zambezi to reach the Devils Pool – then the fearless ones leap into the pool and get pushed to the edge by the force of the river. A rock lip brings them to a halt as the waters of the Zambezi crash over the cliffs just a few feet away. For the rest of the year, anyone foolish enough to enter Devils Pool would be instantly swept to their deaths.
Crossing the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe
Travelers will have an assortment of visa charges involved in seeing both sides of the Vic Falls. Crossing the border from Zambia to Zimbabwe: you pay at least US$30. You want to return to the Zambian side: you pay another US$20 for a multiple entry Zambian visa. Need money? The nearby small city named ‘Victoria Falls’ in Zimbabwe uses predominantly cash only. More ATMs are available in Livingstone, Zambia.
Livingstone Island Tour
There is just one way to get to this amazing and freaking scary infinity pool: book the Livingstone Island Tour. Only under the low water conditions tourists are permitted to enter. How much does it cost to jump into Devils Pool? Prices vary a bit, depending on whether you do the Livingstone Island Tour during breakfast, lunch, or high tea time. They offer different packages. Expect them to be somewhere between US$150 and US$200 per Person.
Breakfast package (7:30, 9:00, 10:30)
Lunch package (12:30)
High Tea package (15:30)
The Livingstone Island Tour starts at the Royal Livingstone Hotel in Zambia with a safety briefing before a short boat ride to Livingstone Island. Once you get to the island, the staff will welcome you with a traditional African drink, and it will NOT be blood and milk. No worries. Second stop: the eastern side of the island to view Rainbow Falls and the Horseshoe. You will then have to swim a few meters upstream towards the Devils Pool for your once in a lifetime experience. The current of the Zambesi River at this point is slow. Sit at the edge of Devils Pool, gaze at immense water torrents flowing just feet away from you. When you return to Livingstone Island, you can fill up on a traditional bush breakfast before your journey back to the hotel.
Devils Pool Deaths
Last not least let’s write dedicate some thought on the death toll at Victoria Falls in general and this pool in particular. In September 2009 a local tour guide died after successfully rescuing a tourist from sliding over the slippery edge somewhere near but not directly at Devils Pool. The incident is described in detail here -> Devils Pool Death. Other then that there are no deaths reported – according to Livingston Island Tours. They are the only tour operator at Devils Pool. One cannot compare the Vic Falls with let’s-say the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Victoria Falls represent a happy place, and it’s expensive to go there. Those two facts alone probably keep suicidal people away.
Another accident in connection with the Victoria Falls happened on New Years Eve in 2012. A 22-year old Australian woman made a bungee jump from the Vic Falls Bridge. Her rope snapped. She fell into the crocodile infested Zambezi river with her feed tight together. Nevertheless she survived with some bruises only.
Devils Pool Victoria Falls. By Chili & Chirp | Hugging horizons since 2004 | More travel destinations in Africa.