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Best Time to Visit Victoria Falls (Helicopter Tours & Cruises!)

Plan your perfect Victoria Falls visit! Find the best times for helicopter tours, cruises, and budget tips. Maximize your experience from April to May.

Tobi Miles
August 11, 2022
Best Time to Visit Victoria Falls (Helicopter Tours & Cruises!)

Victoria Falls is around twice the height of Niagara Falls and is an amazing sight to behold. The roar of the water crashing down onto the rocks below and the intense wall of mist from the powerful waterfall draws in crowds of tourists every year.

The best time to visit Victoria Falls is from April to May if you want to see the water flowing at its peak level. Temperatures will peak in the mid-80s and drop down to the 50s in the evenings. Hotel rates average around $96/night during these months and you can snag discounted rates if you book further out.

If you've always wanted to visit Victoria Falls to take in the majesty for yourself, there is a monthly breakdown below of the best times to visit. For those interested in participating in activities such as white water rafting and swimming, booking a vacation during the drier months is recommended.

When is the Worst Time To Visit Victoria Falls?

The worst time to visit Victoria Falls is during the dry season, as some portions of the waterfall may be completely dry. Nobody wants to take a long trip just to see sections of exposed rock on the Zambian side.

The dry season in the region runs from October to November and possibly through early December. When the flow is this low, it generally ruins the experience of viewing the falls, though you may still be able to swim in Devil's Pool.

Depending on the activities you want to enjoy during your trip, it may also lead to disappointment if you visit the falls during the high point of the rainy season. This means that many of the water excursions, such as rafting, Devil's Pool, and Livingstone Island, will be closed to visitors due to the rough rapids.

When is the Cheapest Time to Visit Victoria Falls?

Naturally, many travelers are interested in how to get the most bang for their buck and how to stretch their budget to conserve resources. When visiting Victoria Falls on a budget, you'll want to consider accommodation rates, flights, as well as prices for the activities you won't want to miss out on.

Since many people enjoy booking water excursions and adrenaline-pumping activities such as bungee jumping, kayaking, and rafting along the rapids, the high water months invite fewer daredevil tourists. Many activities outside of simply viewing the falls are closed during the rainy months, therefore inviting smaller crowds.

For the cheapest trip possible, avoid the months of June through August, as this is when you'll be competing with the largest number of tourists for the best room rates. Traveling in off-peak months, such as November, December, and January, can save you money and you won't be waiting in as many lines.

Best Time to Visit Victoria Falls? Monthly Breakdown

January: Full Power Waterfalls

During the first month of the year, the falls will be steadily swelling with the increased rainfall from December. January is often the rainiest month, with nearly 175mm in rainfall (around 7 inches). On average, there are 16 rainy days, which accounts for half the month.

While the falls can be amazing to see with so much rainfall, be prepared to have a difficult time viewing them. You'll likely be bombarded with spray and mist and you may need to book a helicopter tour to see them clearly from above.

Despite the inclement rainy weather, temperatures are generally pleasant at around 84°F (29°C) to 66°F (19°C). Carrying an umbrella and a rain jacket is recommended as you go about your vacation.

  • Celebrate New Year's at a parade
  • Enjoy the mist coming off the falls
  • Marvel at the magnitude of the falls at full power

February: Best Time to Enjoy Nature

February still sees a significant amount of rain, with 5-6 days seeing rainfall. On average, expect 140mm of rain, which is 5.5 inches. If you toss a rain jacket into your luggage, you should be able to manage the trip without much difficulty.

The weather stays cool and comfortable with highs of 85°F (29.5°C) and lows reaching 65°F (18°C). Despite some rain, you can explore the Victoria Falls National Park on foot, enabling you to view the lush vegetation up close.

  • National Youth Day on February 21st (Commemorates Robert Mugabe)
  • Walk the footpaths in Victoria Falls National Park
  • Head to Knife Edge Bridge on the Zambian side

Related Read: Best Time to Visit Botswana

March: Best Time to Take a Cruise

March sees around 80mm of rainfall, which is around 3 inches. There are typically 9-10 rainy days during the month, which can impact your plans if you're trying to head to a nearby national park to catch a glimpse of safari animals.

However, as the month carries onward the rain decreases. The dry season begins in April, which thus begins an overall decrease in the water flow of the falls.

Temperature-wise, you can expect the weather to average around 86°F (30°C) to 63°F (17.5°C). This is generally considered comfortable, though you may require a light rain jacket from time to time.

  • Book a family safari trip to view wildlife
  • Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River
  • Hike the Zambezi River Walk on the Zimbabwe side

April: Best Time to Visit Harare

April generally marks the end of the rainy season, which means that there is less of a concern about sudden thunderstorms. With more consistency in the weather, tourists can reliably depend on clear days that are optimal for exploring the outdoors.

Typically, the temperatures stay in the range of 85°F (29°C) to 57°F (14°C). White water rafting activities are still closed, as the rapids are too powerful to safely guide the tours. If this is a priority for your trip, look at booking when the water is at a lower point.

Starting in April, wildlife in the surrounding natural areas begins to congregate around water sources. As the dry season continues, it becomes easier to spot these animals as they consistently flock to the same locations.

  • Harare Jazz Festival
  • Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA)
  • Vic Falls Carnival
  • Independence Day on April 18th

Related Read: Best Time to Visit Tanzania

May: Best Time to Book a Helicopter Flight

During May, you will want to bring a light rain jacket with you. This is the high water season at the falls and there will be an increased amount of spray and mist coming off the powerful waterfall. The weather tends to range around 82°F (28°C) to 50°F (10°C) during the month.

You may want to opt for booking a helicopter tour to see the intense water from above, instead of getting sprayed in the face from the ground level. This is an added expense but truly a unique way to experience this natural wonder.

  • Bulawayo Music Festival
  • Celebrate Africa Day on May 25th

June: Best Time to Avoid Popular Tours

Peak tourist season begins in June and carries on through August. If you're looking to avoid an increased crowd size, you should plan your trip around these months. You may be waiting in long lines and struggling to find the best rates at the surrounding accommodations.

Enjoying the less popular activities, or at least avoiding the overcrowded locations, is a great way to still enjoy a pleasant vacation. Try any of the hikes in the area, where crowds have space to disperse. 

With temps ranging from 77°F (25°C) to 45°F (7°C), the weather can get a bit chilly during the evening. However, the afternoons require a light jacket at the most, which makes for comfortable outdoor excursions.

  • Take a breakfast cruise aboard the African Queen
  • Go canoeing in the upper Zambezi River
  • Take a microlight tour

July: Best Time to Enjoy the Sunshine

During July, you can still expect a significant amount of other tourists flocking to Victoria Falls. You may also experience increased trouble in booking outings such as wildlife viewing and white water rafting.

If you want to take a vacation to the area during the summer months, you'll want to book flights and hotel stays well ahead to avoid paying premiums. Expect the weather to average at around 76°F (24°C) to 44°F (6.5°C). In July, the majority of the days are bright and sunny, which is suitable for a host of outdoor activities.

  • Zimbabwe International Book Fair
  • Go on a rappelling excursion
  • Book a canopy tour

Related Read: Best Time To Visit Madagascar

August: Best Time to Celebrate the Film Industry

Temperatures can feel a bit muggy at a high of 82°F (28°C), though they drop down to 49°F (9°C) during the evenings. After you've spent time at Victoria Falls, you can check out the activities around the film festival held annually in Zimbabwe.

This is generally the final month of the tourist season before it drops down to a shoulder season from September until November. Rafting, zip lining, and swimming in Devil's Pool are available to you during August, though you may need to be on a waitlist for some activities.

  • Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF)
  • International Congress on Nutrition and Health (ICNH)
  • Celebrate Heroes Day to commemorate those who died for independence

September: Best Time to Avoid the Rain

During the month, temperatures will begin to noticeably rise. You can expect the weather to range from highs around 90°F (32°C) and at nightfall, for lows to drop down to around 57°F (14°C). This makes for a pleasant time to visit, especially if you want to do outdoor safari tours as well.

The weather is generally dry during September, so you don't have to worry about sporadic rainstorms. Nearly the end of the month and into October you'll begin to see increased rainfall, which continues through February and early March.

  • Livingstone Cultural & Arts Festival
  • Visit Hwange to see the elephant herds
  • Book a zip lining excursion

October: Best Time to Go On a Game Sightseeing Tour

October temperatures are generally comfortable, ranging from 93°F (34°C) to 64°F (18°C). This is a great time to visit the nearby parks, such as Chobe National Park and Hwange National Park to view the game through a guided tour.

Both of these parks are less than a two-hour drive from Victoria Falls, making it an easy day trip. After you've viewed the falls, you may want to explore the surrounding area and make the trip an especially memorable one.

Whitewater rafting tours are popular during October, as water levels are ideal for the activity. Due to the increased demand, consider booking your reservations before your trip.

  • Zambezi Whitewater Festival
  • Visit Chobe National Park for a safari
  • Book a bungee jumping experience

November: Best Time to See the Falls at Their Lowest

November has warm temperatures, with highs averaging around 91°F (32.5°C) and lows dropping down to 66°F (19°C). This is typically considered the end of the dry season, so the falls will be at their lowest.

You may be seeing some exposed rock portions behind the waterfall, especially on the Zambian side. This doesn't mean visiting Victoria Falls is completely uninspiring but tourists should be aware of the possibility of seeing a semi-underwhelming view before they make the trip.

Just because the falls are lower than in other months doesn't mean you can't have a memorable vacation. Many of the activities in the surrounding area are in full swing during November, such as safari tours and kayaking trips. You can experience the falls from unique vantage points.

  • Harare International Food Festival
  • Jikinya Traditional Dance Festival
  • Book a kayaking tour of the falls

December: Best Time to Avoid the White Water Rafting Crowds

In December, the weather around Victoria Falls ranges from 86°F (30°C) to 66°F (19°C) and can be a pleasant time to view the falls if you catch a clear day. However, the rainfall is significant with around 170mm (6.7 in) on average.

You may experience downpours that affect your ability to do outdoor activities, which is why many tourists opt to avoid this month. The rain is beginning to pick up during the month, so the falls will begin to increase in power as well.

Though many activities such as white water rafting, swimming in Devil's Pool, and bungee jumping are shut down for the season, it can still be an exciting trip to see the falls in their momentous glory. If you can book a sightseeing trip by helicopter or plane, you're guaranteed the best possible views.

  • Masquerade Ball Night in Livingstone
  • Fly above the falls via helicopter for an aerial view
  • Celebrate the Day of National Unity on December 22nd

Related Read: Best Time to Visit Zanzibar

When is the Best Time to Swim in Devil's Pool?

If you're looking to add a swim in Devil's Pool to your itinerary while you're visiting Victoria Falls, you'll need to keep a watchful eye on the water levels. During the peak rainy season, the waters will be too deep and the rapids too intense to allow for swimming.

The best time to swim in Devil's Pool is during October and November. The waters will be low enough to provide a safe experience. It is all dependent upon the water levels in the Zambezi River, which feeds into Devil's Pool.

Generally, the pool is open from mid-August to early January. However, this can be affected by particularly wet seasons and is entirely dependent on how the weather has been. Before booking your trip dates, you can look at the estimated opening time to get a better indication of when the pool will be open to tourists looking to take a daring dip.

When is the Best Time to Visit Livingstone Island?

Livingstone Island and white water rafting are available as soon as the waters drop to a safe level. During the peak rainy season, which generally spans from late November to February, the water becomes largely impassable.

Livingstone Island and Devil's Pool are often closed until June, which enables them to open in time for the spike in tourism. If you can plan a trip for July or August, these are generally the best times to visit the island.

However, these months also fall during the peak tourism season. You may encounter larger groups of people, though you can consistently depend on the water staying at a manageable level during the summer months.

When is the Best Time to Go White Water Rafting Near Victoria Falls?

White water rafting is a popular activity near the falls and for good reason. The rapids can make for an exciting adventure that brings tourists a taste of adrenaline and offers spectacular views.

Rafting is generally open from July through November, with the peak season being between September and November. This is when waters are lower, allowing them to be safe but still keeping a strong enough current to propel the rafts through the water.

Once the rainy season rolls around, white water rafting excursions are shut down to ensure everybody's safety. Even with the most experienced guide, the magnitude of the water that flows down after the intense rains can simply be too much for the rafts.

When is the Best Time to Take a Safari Near Victoria Falls?

Oftentimes, tourists book a safari tour that coincides with their trip to Victoria Falls. After all, it takes a day or two max to view the falls and to do any of the water activities offered in the area.

After this, you can head out to any of the surrounding parks, such as Chobe National Park, and go on a safari tour to see the animals in their natural habitats. Due to this being a popular addition to many people's vacation plans, you'll want to reserve your spot in advance.

On these tours, you're likely to see a variety of African animals, ranging from elephants to zebras. This is exciting for many younger children, as well as adults. Pack a camera so you can catch a snapshot of the animals meandering through the terrain.

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
March 28, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
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