Runner’s Weekend is back to tell everyone about the Victoria Falls Marathon in Zimbabwe, Africa. The Vic Falls half marathon and full marathons takes place annually in the month of June and takes runners across the famous Victoria Falls Bridge crossing into the country of Zambia before turning around to cross back over the bridge. While on the bridge, make sure to take a break from your run to enjoy the amazing site of the “Smoke That Thunders.” During the rainy season the constant spray from the falls creates a haze resembling a smoke screen blocking the falls. With June being the beginning stages of the dry season, the view of the falls will likely still be blocked out but it does not take away from the incredible view from the bridge. Though the bridge is the focal point of this race, runners also run along the streets of the African landscape where you may come across some wildlife such as baboons, elephants, and a variety of antelope. A big plus for the Vic Falls Marathon that is different from many other big races is their professional photographers. While many bigger races have professional photographers snapping away, several of them also ask runners to pay for those photos while the Vic Falls Marathon posts all of their photos onto their website shortly after the race with no purchasing gimmicks attached.
After the race there is plenty in the small town of Victoria Falls to keep you busy. Of course the biggest attraction is Victoria Falls. Listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and is the largest waterfall in the world based on combined width and length of the falls. Though runners may get lucky with a clear view of the falls through the spray while crossing over the bridge, your best bet is to enter the Victoria Falls National Park. The price is a bit steep at $30 per person for single entry into the park, there is no describing the astonishing site of the falls up close. Inside the park there are 14 marked outlooks along the path including the David Livingstone Statue, Devil’s Cataract and Danger Point, and the Main Falls. Visitors can easily sit and watch the falls for hours or bounce from outlook to outlook in around two hours total time inside the park. For the first half of the viewpoints you may get sprayed with a light mist during the month of June. But make sure to have your poncho ready as you get closer to the Main Falls because the spray will leave you soaked, especially as you make your way down to Danger Point. For those that are more daring, make sure to walk out onto Danger Point just far enough to be able to see around into the gorge where a bright rainbow is likely to be found in the afternoon. Please be careful when walking along the path and on Danger Point as there are no guard rails preventing you from plummeting down into the river below.
If thrills and danger is what you are into then Victoria Falls is the place for you. There are several activities for the thrill seeker to enjoy around the falls including the chance to bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge or free fall for 70m as you plunge toward the Zambezi River on the Gorge Swing. You can also do a series of zipline activities along the gorge ranging from the Flying Fox to the Foofie Slide or a regular ziplining experience with 9 zips.
You can also get your thrills in by taking to the waters of the Zambezi. There are many different river cruises, kayaking, canoeing and whitewater rafting excursions. Some river cruises have lunch and/or dinner options as well as sunset and sunrise options. One river cruise that we recommend is the Bushtracks Jet Boat Sunset Cruise. The smaller size and jets allow this cruise to take you as close as 800m away from the falls. This gives you a more private feel to your river cruise as no other boats are around you as you approach hippos relaxing in the shallows. You may also catch an elephant taking a swim in the river or view some of the rare birds of the Zambezi. The most daring thing to do in the river is taking a dip in Devil’s Pool. Located right on the edge of Victoria Falls visitors can flirt with disaster as they sit in Devil’s Pool as the surrounding river water plunges over the edge. Be aware that the pool is only open during the dry season.
Victoria Falls isn’t just a place to enjoy thrills and nature’s beauty, but also a place to enjoy the African wildlife. Though the river cruises will often give visitors encounters with the wildlife, there are other activities specifically geared toward animals. The Rhino Encounter Game Drive takes you on an open vehicle drive through a private reserve housing over 2000 animals and offers frequent sighting of the Black Rhino, Eland, Wild Dogs, Giraffe, Hippo and Hyena. For guaranteed animal encounters you can take on an Elephant Back Safari where visitors have the chance to ride on the back of an elephant as they travel through the bush in hopes of seeing Buffalo, Bushbuck, Crocodile, Warthogs, Impala and other wild game. Or have a chance to walk side by side with the king of the jungle. The Walking with Lions experience allows guests to get up close and personal as they walk side by side with lions. This thrilling experience is something that you will never forget.
What about the food in Victoria Falls? With the number of animals roaming around Africa it is no wonder that the specialty food is meat. Lola’s Tapas & Carnivore in downtown Victoria Falls is the place to go for specialty meats such as Giraffe steak, Zebra Burgers, Ox tail, and Impala Lasagna among others. Be sure to check out the daily specials. For a more casual dining experience with live music and a fun atmosphere check out the Three Monkeys Restaurant for great pizzas. Also inside the gated restaurant is the “I ❤ Vic Falls” sign. However, if you want a true African dinner experience then check out the Boma Dinner and Drum Show. The Boma is a buffet style restaurant that has an interactive African drum show nightly. Make sure to book in advance as the Boma is a popular attraction and does sell out.
While in Africa you should definitely plan some extra time to do a safari. There are several great safaris to do all around southern Africa. If you are tight on time then there are a few areas to go on safari nearby Victoria Falls. Hwange is located in Zimbabwe 2 hours to the south while the Chobe National Park is just across the border in Botswana to the west. One of the more accessible places to go on a safari is at Kruger National Park located about 6 hours away from Johannesburg in South Africa. Two other safaris that are on the top of most lists are Maasai Mara outside of Nairobi, Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania. Other areas that are worth checking into for safaris are South Luangwa in Zambia, Bwindi in Uganda and Ngorongoro in Tanzania. While on the safaris be sure to look out for the Big Five animals. The Big Five represent the 5 most dangerous animals to hunt in Africa and include the Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo.