Mosi Oa Tunya National Park is the Zambia protected area of the shared Victoria Falls with Zimbabwe’s national park being Victoria Falls National Park. The Zambian park covers an area of 9 square miles (23.4 sq km).
The name locally translates into, “The Smoke Which Thunders.” Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park Falls are a UNESCO World Heritage site serving as home to Victoria Falls which is the largest waterfall in the world.
The national park is only 25 square miles (66 sq km) big. Although Victoria Falls is the pinnacle of the park, visitors can take a half-day safari through the park and experience rhino, elephant, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, buffalo, hippo, and crocodile are possible wildlife sightings in this small national park.
There are a number of ways to experience the falls on the Zambia side. There are short trails that travel above the falls, however, the primary views come from the trail in the rainforest which is across the gorge facing into the falls.
The falls plummet to the bottom of the gorge floor and then rise back up well over the falls, creating the smoke that thunders, and returns back down as rain. This moisture creates the rainforest environment found only in that area.
The number one attraction in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is Victoria Falls and often the reason travelers visit Zambia. On the Zambia side, visitors have an opportunity to experience the rainforest side of the gorge as well as see the face of Victoria Falls.
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park does offer visitors with game safari drives. Sighting one of the few rhinos that call the park home is a highlight. These rhinos are guarded 24 hours a day 7 days a week by armed guards.
Victoria Falls is the highlight of the national park and for all the right reasons. It is the largest waterfall in the world based on measuring a single sheet of water. The falls measures 1-mile (1.7 km) across and has a height of 360 feet (108 m) creating the largest single waterfall in the water.
Hiking Trails of Mosi-oa-Tunya Highlights:
The majority of visitors will hike the various trails that are available to travelers who want to engage Victoria Falls in a more intimate manner. The trails are fairly maintained, however, the mist from the falls can make them slippery so it is imperative that you pay attention to your footing.
Zambezi River Trail: This is a short trail that allows hikers to look down into the canyon of the falls from the Zambezi side. The trail then meanders a short distance up the Zambezi River allowing visitors to look at the river as it flows away and over the top of the falls.
Victoria Falls Face Trail: This trail is a loop trail that meanders along the other side of the canyon from the face of the falls. This is where slippery footing is more probable. The trail crosses over portions of the river below and has some elevation change. The majority of this trail provides a variety of different lookouts over the face of the falls. The mist from the thundering falls has created a lush rainforest type environment on the other side of the canyon.
Victoria Falls Activities (Zambia Side)
The main attraction in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is Victoria Falls. As noted above, there are multiple trails and opportunities for exploring Victoria Falls, however, that is not the only thing to do in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. There are a number of exciting activities that help you engage the wildlife, the scenery, and the majestic nature of Victoria Falls itself.
Some of the more popular activities in and around the park include the following:
Micro Flights: Imagine go-carts with wings. These guided flights provide you with an intimate and exhilarating open-air flight over the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls. It is possible you might even see elephants.
Helicopter Tours: These flights are trips that highlight the splendor of Victoria Falls by featuring aerial views of this majestic wonder of nature.
Bungee Jumping: Take a jump off the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe and drop straight down toward the Zambezi River below Victoria Falls. The bungee jumping occurs on the international bridge between the two countries. It may be accessed from either side.
Gorge Swing: This is a giant swing that carries you back and forth out over the canyon overlooking the Zambezi River.
Sunset Dinner Cruise: This is accessible from several of the hotels. The two-level open-air boats travel the Zambezi River along Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. The initial intrigue starts with wildlife spotting along the riverbanks, but the highlight comes as night approaches. The sunset over the Zambezi River is one of the most stunning sunset encounters in the world.
Elephant Safari: This is more of an intriguing adventure experiencing transportation on top of an elephant. There is a chance you may see other wildlife but plan on your riding an elephant as the primary adventure.
Chobe Day Trip: Chobe National Park in Botswana is only about 1 hour away across the border. This day trip from Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park starts with a half-day safari in a boat on the river traveling along the riverbank of the Chobe River. The second half of the day involves a jeep safari in the wooded and brushy area along the riverbank of the Chobe River. Plan to see an abundance of elephants.
Victoria Falls Hotels (Zambia Side)
The majority of people visiting Victoria Falls will stay in hotels or lodges on the Zambia side of the falls. Please visit Victoria Falls National Park for hotels on the Zimbabwe side.
The first decision you have to make is for your lodging at Victoria Falls are you looking for convenience, economics, class, romance, or seclusion. Below are hotels that the Global Alliance of National Parks recommend:
The Avani Victoria Falls Resort is an adobe-style hotel offering the closest lodging to Victoria Falls with direct access to the entry gates off the back of the property. The proximity to the falls lets guests repeat visits to the falls to witness how the rainbows shift throughout the day as well as more thorough trail exploration. Learn More
The Royal Livingstone combines class and convenience featuring an English colonial style lodge with open-air dining and a deck on the banks of the Zambezi River overlooking the falls. One of the best sunset views while relaxing on the Zambezi River. Zebra, giraffe, and monkey can frequently be found on the property. Learn more
The Victoria Falls Waterfront offers A-framed cabins nestled in the trees along the bank of the Zambezi River as well as tents powered with electricity and featuring twin beds that provide visitors with adventurous economical options for exploring the falls. Easy access to the gates of the safari part of the national park. Learn More
The Islands of Siankaba are remotely located upriver and outside the national park, but this is one of the more secluded and romantic places to stay for those that imagine a Swiss Family Robinson type experience while exploring the national park and wonder of the world. Nestled in trees on island shores overlooking the Zambezi River. Learn More
Below is a list of some of the other popular lodging and hotel destinations on the Zambian side for people visiting Victoria Falls and the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park:
- Tongabezi Lodge
- David Livingstone Safari Lodge & Spa
- Chrismar Hotel Livingstone
- Protea Hotel by Marriott Livingstone
- Victoria Falls River Lodge
- Sindabezi Island Chalets At Tongabezi
- Elephant Hills Resort
- Ilala Lodge Hotel
Victoria Falls Guides and Services
The majority of hotels have guide services or are equipped to secure them for you as part of the services they provide you there in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.
Wild Horizons (https://www.wildhorizons.co.za/): This is the leading tour and guide service in the Victoria Falls national park area. They provide over 50 different tours and activities related to the national park and surrounding area.
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, of course, protects the wonder of the world known as Victoria Falls. It also protects the wildlife that calls the wilderness around the falls home. Some of the wildlife includes buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, hippopotamus, elephant, and zebra.
One of the most important protective features of the national park is the protection of 10 white-rhinoceroses. These are the only remaining rhinos in all of Zambia. The rest have been eradicated by poachers. The population of rhinos has grown from 2 in 2005 to the current population of 10 because of the investment of the Zambezi government.
The Zambezi Government and the national park services provide armed guards who patrol alongside the rhinos protecting these from becoming victims of further poaching.
- Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall
- Microlites over the falls
- Sunset cruise on the Zambezi River
- Rhino sighting/rhino walks
- Britannica, Victoria Falls, https://www.britannica.com/place/Victoria-Falls-waterfall-Zambia-Zimbabwe, retrieved July 2020.
- Lonely Planet, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, https://www.lonelyplanet.com/zambia/livingstone/attractions/mosi-oa-tunya-national-park/a/poi-sig/1346636/1329668, retrieved July 2019.
- New World Encyclopedia, Victoria Falls, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Victoria_Falls, retrieved July 2020.
- Zambia Tourism, https://www.zambiatourism.com/destinations/national-parks/mosi-oa-tunya/, retrieved July 2019.
- UNESCO, Victoria Falls, https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/509/, retrieved July 2019.