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Imagine water thundering over the rim of Victoria Falls to 355 feet below (translation: almost twice the height of Niagara Falls) and swimming toward the spectacle — intentionally. Called Devil’s Pool, the natural rock swimming pool atop the waterfall is accessible via a bookable excursion.
Departing from the Zambia side of Victoria Falls, clients can take a motorboat to Livingstone Island — the location from which Scottish physician and explorer Dr. David Livingstone first sighted the colossal cascade — and then into a protected pool of water. While accompanied by the constant presence of a guide, they can enjoy a short swim to the edge of the globe’s most glorious infinity pool.
Indeed, a visit to Devil’s Pool — and all of Victoria Falls — is replete with unrivaled experiences. Logistics-wise, however, it can be complicated. Following are tips for travel advisors for planning the perfect trip for clients.
Opt for an Africa-Based DMC“To get the true benefit for a client, it’s important that travel advisors select an Africa-based DMC as their partner — these are folks who can provide local destination knowledge and extensive experience in putting together the perfect tour package,” said Victoria Weinstein, director of Salute Africa, a Johannesburg-based tour operator. “Africa is a complex destination, one where we include two, three or even more countries on the continent in one trip.”
To get the true benefit for a client, it’s important that travel advisors select an Africa-based DMC as their partner — these are folks who can provide local destination knowledge and extensive experience in putting together the perfect tour package.
Weinstein adds that it’s important to be aware of and keep fully up to date on the latest rules and regulations, standards, practices and logistics regarding the entire destination.
After a fam with Salute Africa, Lisa Stein Koon, president of Coronado, Calif.-based Panorama Travel, took a group of 20 to Victoria Falls.
“I love that Salute Africa included both sides of the falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia, two different countries offering two different perspectives,” she said. “However, like many situations in Africa, the transition between the two can be somewhat messy, so it is imperative that you deal with an operator who really knows the area.”
Consider Flying“Fly, definitely fly, into Victoria Falls, ensuring easy logistics between countries, which in turn maximize clients’ time,” Weinstein said.
There are short, direct regional flights from Cape Town, Johannesburg and even airports within South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park, as well as Nairobi, Kenya. This allows for various combinations of countries and a variety of experiences in one trip.
Evaluate Which Season to Visit“As always, nothing is ever straightforward where mother nature is concerned,” Weinstein said.
She explains that directly after the region’s summer rains — February to May — is when the falls are at their true might, showcasing the world’s largest falling sheet of water. However, this most impressive spray doesn’t coincide with peak safari season, and extremely high water levels prohibit activities such as swimming in Devil’s Pool.
From experience, she deems the dry winter season — July to August — the best time to visit. This is when clients can expect warm days and cool nights, little to no rain, amazing game viewing and still plenty of water thundering down.
At the end of the dry winter season, — October and November — water levels are at their lowest — possibly even drying up on the Zambia side. Plus, the weather can be very hot and humid.
Don’t Miss the Abundant Awe-Inspiring Activities Beyond Devil’s Pool, Weinstein has several other not-to-be-missed suggestions.
“Chances are those who come to view the falls only do so once in their lifetime,” she said.
With that in mind, Weinstein strongly recommends pre-booking the following special-interest activities ahead of time to avoid possible disappointment; otherwise, these excursions may be sold out during the actual trip.
Dinner Steam Safari: A visit to the Edwardian-style Victoria Falls Hotel, built by the British in 1904, serves as a trip back into a bygone era, especially when accompanied by dinner onboard Loco 512, a steam-powered train. After a short walk across the hotel lawn to the station and boarding via a red carpet to a local musical welcome, the train travels to the Victoria Falls bridge to witness sunset.
RELATED: A Guide to Bungee Jumping in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Night Safari in the Stanley & Livingstone Private Game Reserve: Victoria Falls lies in Zambia and Zimbabwe, both known for having some of Africa’s top safari destinations — national parks and private wildlife sanctuaries. One example is Stanley & Livingstone Private Game Reserve, which offers a safari throughout the almost 10,000-acre swath of land in an open four-wheel drive safari truck.
Clients can sip on cocktails in the wild at sunset and indulge in an around-the-fire bush dinner after dark and under the stars. The reserve is home to the Big Five, including the endangered and typically elusive black rhino.
Bridge Swing: It’s not bungee jumping, but it is a bridge activity. After being briefed on safety, getting fitted into a harness and literally stepping off the Victoria Falls Bridge, it’s a 262-foot upright free fall into Batoka Gorge before flying over the rapids of the Zambezi River.
As of press time, the U.S. State Department’s Do Not Travel global health advisory is in effect for Africa due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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