Last updated: 01:41 PM ET, Tue September 08 2015

ZimZam: How a UniVisa Is Changing African Travel

Destination & Tourism | Will McGough | September 08, 2015

ZimZam: How a UniVisa Is Changing African Travel

Photo by David Cogswell

In an effort to streamline a shared tourism effort between Zimbabwe and Zambia at Victoria Falls, the two countries announced earlier this year a dual visa that allows visitors unlimited crossover when visiting the falls. Previously, crossing between Zambia and Zimbabwe required two visas – one for whichever country you were staying in and one for a day pass into the other.

At $50, the UniVisa is $20 more expensive than a single-entry visa to enter Zimbabwe, but the same price as a single-entry visa to Zambia (also $50). It can be purchased on arrival in either country at Victoria Falls Airport, Victoria Falls Land Border, Harare Airport, Kenneth Kaunda Airport (Lusaka), Harry Mwaanga Airport (formerly known as Livingstone Airport), or the Kazangula land Border (Border with Botswana).

For us, the UniVisa is a no brainer. Known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “The Smoke That Thunders,” the mile-wide, 354 foot-tall Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and deserves to be seen from all sides and angles, especially considering how different the perspectives are from each country. In Zambia, the trails take you around to the top and front of the falls, where the viewing infrastructure allows you to watch the water flow over at eye level. In Zimbabwe, the viewing areas are positioned closer to ground level, giving you a look up at the falls from its base.  

There are many other adventures to be had in and around the Falls. Zambia’s Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is home to eight of the country’s ten white rhinos (the two others are in Lusaka National Park). Walking safaris partner with the Zambia Wildlife Authority to allow protected viewing from as close as 50 feet. Also on the Zambia side is Devil’s Pool, arguably the world’s most intense infinity pool that lets you swim right at the cusp of the falls.

Both Zambia and Zimbabwe companies offer fly-over options, including helicopters and microlights, which give you a whole new perspective, specifically how the twisted canyon carves its way from the bottom of the falls. For the extreme adventurers, the crown jewel of the region is a rafting trip on the wild waters of the Zambezi. Much of the thrill comes from an unprecedented, loose rafting culture that encourages rollovers and capsizes, meaning you should be a strong swimmer and enjoy the prospect of being tossed around.

The UniVisa is just one aspect of a larger effort by Zimbabwe and Zambia to improve tourism at Victoria Falls. Both the Victoria Falls and Harry Mwaanga Airport are currently under construction, building new runways and terminals, in order to increase the amount of direct, international flights to the area. Victoria Falls Airport is constructing a 2.5-mile runway as part of a $150 million expansion project and Harry Mwaanga Airport continues to put the finishing touches on its new international terminal.

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