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When we arrived in Livingstone, Zambia to see some on the amazing sights it has to offer, I decided that a visit to Angel’s Pool Victoria Falls had to be my splurge of the trip. Angel’s Pool at Victoria Falls is open during the rainy season, when water levels are high, and the famous Devil’s Pool is open when the water levels are lower. So at this time of year, the Victoria Falls Devil’s pool is inaccessible… and soon, I saw why!
Angel’s Pool Victoria Falls: Some Background info
Victoria Falls is right on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, with Livingstone being the Zambia side and Vic Falls Town on the Zimbabwe side. The tour company that basically has a monopoly on Livingstone adventures is EXPENSIVE as HELL. Like, jaw-droppingly expensive for my backpacker budget (and apparently it’s not even as bad as some of the resorts!). Anything you want to do will cost at least $100, if not much more.
There are so many adventures to do around Angel’s Pool Victoria Falls… but I do hope that your wallet is bottomless! You can bungee jump, zipline, do a gorge swing, raft on some of the world’s best rapids, go horseback riding, book elephant safaris and dinner/sunset cruises, do fixed-wing plane rides or scenic helicopter rides… and more. However, if there was one place to splash out a bit on awesome adventures, it would be here.
During dry season one of the most popular things to do is visit the infamous ‘Devil’s Pool,’ which is a little pool right on the actual edge of Victoria Falls (over 350 feet down) that you can hang over and take a photo. Obviously I wanted to do that (ha), but the water levels are too high at this time of year (late March).
So, in wet season, you can visit something called the ‘Angel’s Pool’ instead, which, as I was told, is apparently 1.5m away from the edge and still pretty cool. I didn’t know much about it, but I did know I wanted to go as close to the devil’s pool experience as possible, and to see the top of the falls. I am a bit of a daredevil, and I love me a good height/cliff/dangerous experience. So, I splurged big time (although pretty much the cheapest activity) on an Angel’s Pool Victoria falls tour, with breakfast, for $100. (With lunch it was $165 and ‘tea’ it was $145. What?)
Transfer wasn’t even included in this price (wow) so we met our taxi and got on a little boat to go to Livingstone Island, an island on the edge of the falls where David Livingstone (a British explorer) apparently stood as he laid eyes on the falls for the first time.
Victoria Falls is what David Livingstone named the falls (after the Queen of England at the time), as the first white man to discover them. But, the local tribes have always called it “Mosi Oa Tunya,’ meaning ‘the smoke that thunders.’ It was overwhelmingly apparent why it was called that, because in wet season the sheer volume of water going over the 1.7km long falls is so massive that it immediately billows back up in massive clouds of spray, that can be seen from over 20km from the falls. So, basically, picture a waterfall so massive and powerful that you can hardly even see it due to the spray it produces, floating up high in the air like a monsoonal cloud.
Angel’s Pool Victoria Falls: Our Experience
As we got closer to Livingstone island, the spray rose above us like a big white cloud of smoke. It was already a thrill to be speedboating near the edge of the falls, but I had NO idea what was in store. We were welcomed by interesting strawberry + maize drinks (good… getting some luxury treatment for my money here!) and a little tour of the island. It was adorned with little tents over dining tables, which were sheltered from the spray and set nicely for a meal, with a kitchen in the back. We stripped down to our swim suits and waterproof cameras, and set out for ‘the edge’ of Victoria Falls, the Angel’s Pool.
The guide told us to make sure he is always in front of us… and I soon found out why. This was like the ACTUAL EDGE of the MASSIVE waterfall. Like, there was a drop of over 100 meters directly below us, and there was water billowing back up to soak us before we even walked ten steps from the tent. The guide pointed devil’s pool out to us, and we could tell why it was impossible to do in wet season unless you legitimately had a death wish.
We took a few photos in various parts near the falls, always with a guide near us. He had to make sure we walked on the grassy bits, as not to step on a rock and slip off the edge of a 350 foot cliff! One by one, they would take us and position us for a photo, holding onto us and guiding us around. Perhaps the scariest of these is when we (when I say ‘we’ I mean just maybe three of us from a group of six… everyone else was too scared!!) sat on a little rock with the falls dropping hundreds of feet down, literally a few feet behind us.
They held us as we looked over the edge for a second – a sight to make even ME a little bit queasy. When I am queasy at a height – you know it’s fairly intense (if you know me, you know sitting on the edges of high places is one of my stupid favorite things). But, the excitement and adrenaline in my veins overpowered the queasiness for sure. We saw a rope right over the edge of the waterfall, and kindof assumed that was a catch-rope in case anyone maybe slipped from the Angel’s Pool, which we thought would be much farther up.
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We all joined hands to cross over a knee-deep bit of the river to another small little rock island. The current was STRONG and there was a LOT of water going by us. We were all a bit shaky and moving very carefully. We sat on the rock and watched the guide hold onto a rope and maneuver his way closer and closer to the edge… and to our disbelief, he went ALL THE WAY to the rope we had thought must be a simple last-resort precaution. WHAT.
We looked at each other with laughs of nervousness and uneasiness. Is he serious?? Yeah, this is not a joke. That is the Angel’s Pool Voctoria Falls. I was the first in line… so, I guess it was time to follow suit! Sorry, mum.
I turned on my Go Pro and grabbed onto the rope for DEAR life, not letting go with one hand until the next was firmly fixed to the next loop like a limpet on a rock. I turned my Go Pro off after losing a tiny bit of my footing… this was SO not a joke. A 350 foot drop was just a stone’s throw away from me. Actually, not even a stone’s throw.. literally a few feet. This rope was my lifeline and although the guide was firmly standing there, I had to concentrate on cautiously finding my way down to him. What is health and safety in Africa anyway?
I grabbed his hand and he helped me down into maybe chest-deep, flowing, whitewater, honestly ONE METER away from falling hundreds of feet to the depths of the Zambezi river within thick, foggy spray. My adrenaline was pumping so hard I couldn’t even really fathom the fact that I was on the edge of Victoria Falls in the deep, flowing Angel’s Pool.
I took some quick videos and lots of photos, smiled for the other guide to take photos, wet my hair, took a deep breath, and looked around in awe, with one hand gripping the rope. I honestly was so high on adrenaline and disbelief that the moment was over in what felt like a second. Eventually I climbed my way back up and made way for my friend Min to go, sighing a great sigh of relief and general AWESOMENESS. That. was. insane. Even as a huge adrenaline-junkie myself, I was blown away by the extremity of what had just happened. What a rush!
After only one other group member decided to do the same thing, and all the others decided to sit a bit closer to the ‘safe’ rock in shallower water for their pictures, we joined hands again to cross the current. We dried off, laughed about our terror, and (half) jokingly questioned the health and safety regulations and the strength of the single rope to stop one from going off the edge of Angel’s Pool Victoria falls. Our guide said no one had ever died and that they change the rope at least once a month… not sure how much better that made us feel, though!!
It was time for breakfast, which was included in our price. They had told us it was ‘light’ breakfast (eye roll) but we were pretty pleasantly surprised to be served a coffee, a selection of biscuits and yummy cinnamon raisin muffins, and a hot eggs benedict, all with a view of the falls and spray. We happily indulged in as much breakfast as physically possible (getting our money’s worth, obviously) before boarding the boat back to our taxi. Yep, swimming in Angel’s Pool Victoria Falls was definitely one of the craziest things I have ever done. Sorry, mum!!
WHERE TO STAY IN LIVINGSTONE:
I was on a tour when I went to Angel’s Pool, Victoria Falls, and Livingstone, so I camped in my lil tent in a field somewhere near a nice resort. But I did get a change to check out some different accommodation options, both for budget backpackers (read: poor people) like me, or some more luxe travelers who love a good resort (there are many!).
BUDGET ACCOMODATION IN LIVINGSTONE VICTORIA FALLS:
I walked past this place a few times and heard great things about it. It has a great vibe and has been around for a long while. They can sign you up for anything you need, and is close to the town center. Livingstone is awesome!
Fawlty Towers Livingstone
Also near the center of town, Fawlty Towers boasts pancakes by the pool and can book you into any tours you may want. They have both dorms and private rooms to fit any need.
LUXE ACCOMODATION IN LIVINGSTONE NEAR ANGEL’S POOL VICTORIA FALLS
The Royal Livingstone
This place is right on the Zambezi, and the closest you can get to the actual falls. You can see the mosi-oa-tunya right from your window! This place is definitely top-of-the-line when it comes to Livingstone Accomodation. Most of the tours depart from around this Resort as well.
Zambezi Waterfront Hotel
I ‘stayed’ here… but I really camped in a field out the back. However, although I lived on the grass, I was still allowed to use the amenities like the regular guests, which was awesome. This allows me to inform you that the amenities are, in fact, great! 😛 It’s right on the river also, and has a great restaurant, bar, and common area. I seem to remember the wifi being adequate as well, which is huge.
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ANGEL’S POOL VIDEO:
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