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Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park

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.

Highlights

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 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

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 measure 1-mile (1.7 km) across and have a height of 360 feet (108 m) creating the largest single waterfall in the water.

Accordingly, Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and the Ambassador wonder to the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.  It is the pinnacle attraction of both the national park and the country.

Victoria Falls Hotels (Zambia Side)

The majority of people visiting Victoria Falls will stay in hotels or lodges on the Zambian 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 recommends: 

Royal Livingstone by Anantara

The Royal Livingstone by Anantara located on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls serves this natural wonder with class and convenience. The hotel is nestled along the Zambezi Riverfront and inside Mosi-oa-Tunyya National Park. The hotel is within walking distance to this world wonder featuring a private park access gate.

Avani Victoria Falls Resort

The Avani Victoria Falls Resort is the epitome of the old adage, “Location, location, location.” It is the closest hotel to the natural wonder of Victoria Falls whether on the Zambia or Zimbabwe side of the falls.

Islands of Siankaba

The Islands of Siankaba Lodge represent seclusion, intrigue, romance, and adventure all wrapped up into one lodging experience. The lodge is located up river from Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and Victoria Falls nestled in the trees on two private islands out in the Zambezi River.

Zambezi Waterfront

The Victoria Falls Waterfont accommodations deliver an economical option with heightened African charm. The primary lodging option is found in the A-frame chalet structures that are nestled in the forested banks of the Zambezi River.

Other Hotels

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

Things To Do:

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:

Microlight 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.

Zambezi 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 from the top of an elephant.  There is a chance you may see other wildlife but enjoy the fact that you are riding an elephant next to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Victoria Falls Gorge Swing

This is a giant swing that carries you back and forth out over the canyon overlooking the Zambezi River.  If you don't have fear of heights, this is quite the adventure.

Chobe National Park Day Trip

Chobe National Park in Botswana is just over an hour away across the border.  This day trip starts with a half-day safari in a boat  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.  This is the best wildlfe viewing while visiting Victoria Falls.c

Mosi-oa-Tunya Market Shopping

The market is located right outside the gate to Victoria Falls.  It is a covered market with multiple vendors offering a variety of African flavored artwork, jewelry, and other unique pieces.

Visitors will find handcrafted bowls, animal figures, musical instruments, and a comprehensive collection of Zambian souvenirs.

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park Trails:

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.

Guides & 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 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.

Park Protection

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.

Mosi-oa-Tunya Highlights

  • Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall
  • Microlites over the falls
  • Sunset cruise on the Zambezi River
  • Rhino sighting/rhino walks

Park Map

Sources