The Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls - Is It Safe?

The Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls is considered to be one of the most exciting but dangerous experiences. Are you covered by travel insurance? Here's what you need to know before you go.

OMG Photo © GettyImages/WR Mekwi

UPDATE: Victoria Falls is experiencing significant fuel shortages, impacting local game safari operations and even transfers to and from the airport. Find out more about Zimbabwe's fuel, food and money shortages via our Travel Alerts page.

Travelers are inches away from going over the top of a huge waterfall, plunging down a 354 ft (108m) drop. This is Victoria Falls on the Zambia - Zimbabwe border where 38,430 cubic feet of water per second drop into an abyss. But there's one spot where the surging water doesn't reach, and if you know where to tread and where not to swim you can stare death in the face.

That one spot is called The Devil's Pool.

Clearly there are dangers associated with taking the plunge into The Devil's Pool. Local guides will lead you there and offer some rudimentary safety. We recommend you DON'T do this.... but if you do, you do this at your own risk.

Zimbabwe Side

Traditionally the Zimbabwean side of the falls has been the most popular. It's a short walk to the falls national park from the town and the best views are from this side.

However, Zimbabwe's tumultuous economic state over the years has resulted in travelers favouring the Zambian side. It's famously reported that by 2006, hotel occupancy on the Zimbabwean side was down to 30%; while the Zambian side was at full capacity and there was rapid development of more accommodation.

But since 2011 travelers have started coming back to Zimbabwe, mostly because the cheaper hotels and lower park fees offer better value for money.

Victoria Falls has suffered some of the same food and fuel shortages experienced throughout Zimbabwe, but the situation is much improved. Local hoteliers promise you'll find most things you need in Victoria Falls, just don't expect much choice.

Safety at the Falls

The local businesses have worked hard at restoring harmony and making sure the town remains safe for visitors. There are tourist police and they can be identified by their yellow vests. You'll see them everywhere around the town and at the falls.

Most hotels have security guards too, which can be handy because the local touts are very persistent. The police and the guards usually keep them at bay.

As more travelers have returned to the falls, so has the nightlife vibe. There are breweries, restaurants and other venues to have a good time at. 

If you do need to get around at night, make sure you have someone with you or better still take a taxi. Not necessary because of people but any animals which may be out and about. 

It's also not advised that you take the path down to the falls at night to avoid any unfortunate meetings with the local wildlife.

On the Zambian Side

Regardless of which side of the falls you're on, there's always a different view or something to attract you to cross to the other side.

If you want to go all the way across and visit the town of Livingstone on the Zambian side you will need a Zambian entry visa and a Zimbabwean re-entry visa. All these visas can be issued on-the-spot, but allow between US$35 and US$100, depending on the type of visa you get. Many hotels can make all the arrangements for you as part of a day tripper package.

If you just want to view the falls from the middle of the bridge you don't need any visas, just take your passport.

Other Travel Tips for Victoria Falls

When visiting Victoria Falls, avoid getting your passport wet. A small dry bag or ziplock bag is handy for this, otherwise you may face difficulties if you try to travel using a damaged passport and you may have to pay for a replacement.

Take a spray jacket or poncho, you will get wet.

So will your camera equipment, so either put it in a waterproof housing, dry bag or keep it under wraps in your bag.

The hotels no longer accept Zimbabwe Dollars. They do take US Dollars or South African Rand and will accept credit cards. The same is not true of the small shops in the town of Victoria Falls – cash, preferably US Dollars, is the only currency.

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