Devil’s Pool. Terrifying yet irresistible, it was inevitable that we were going to swim in Devil’s Pool and perch precariously on the edge of the mighty Victoria Falls. After all, it was the iconic images of brave adventures doing exactly that which led us to Zambia and the thunderous Falls so what better way to end 2016 than with a New Year’s Eve Devil’s Pool trip? We kept everything crossed for the low water levels which would allow us to take our place at the peak of the Falls and partake in an adventure which would see us zipping along in a speedboat, swimming across the mighty Zambezi river and clinging on for dear life in the Devil’s Pool as water thundered over our shoulders into the Falls below.
The day finally arrived and, with a mix of terror and excitement, we stood on the banks of the Zambezi River ready for our crazy African escapade!
If you prefer a video guide, check out our trip here:
Where to stay Victoria Falls
Visitors to Victoria Falls can stay on either the Zambia or Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls. We recommend visiting both sides: Zambia for a Livingstone Island and Devil’s Pool trip and Zimbabwe for the incredible views of the Falls in all their glory.
Victoria Falls visa requirements: Depending on the country of your passport you may need a purchase a visa to enter one or both of Zambia and Zimbabwe. If you require a visa for Zambia the rates are around US $20 for a day trip, US $50 for a single entry and US $80 for a multi entry visa. Zimbabwe visas are US $30 for a single entry, US $45 for double entry and US $55 for multiple entry. If you require a visa for both countries a UniVisa may be an option, and is US $50 for eligible passport holders.
Royal Livingstone, Zambia: we stayed at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, a luxury hotel on the banks of the Zambezi and from where the Devil’s Pool tour leaves. The views, rooms and grounds were incredible and it was one of the best hotels we’ve stayed at on our travels – check latest prices here!
The Protea Livingstone, Zambia: great, less expensive alternative on Zambia’s Livingstone Island. Clean and comfortable and close to the Falls – check latest prices here!
Victoria Falls Safari Club, Zimbabwe: one of the best hotels on the Zimbabwe side, some rooms overlook the hotel waterhole and the national park and – check latest prices here!
Speedboats and Zambezi swims!
After checking in with Alpha Omega, our tour leader, and meeting our equally adventurous trip companions we boarded our speedboat and zipped across rocky channels of the Zambezi River to Livingstone Island where David Livingstone himself is said to have first laid eyes on the Falls. He declared the encounter as ‘scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels on their flight’ and, having stepped in his footsteps on the Island we wholeheartedly agree.
Standing on the edge of a cliff on Livingstone Island, drenched in the mist of the Falls, listening to the deafening roar of the thunderous water is an experience we’ll never forget. The views were incredible and it felt really special to follow in the footsteps of Livingstone, standing in the exact spot where he first laid eyes on the Falls.
Sink or swim…
‘So first you will swim the 30 metres to the rocks, you will sit on those rocks and then we will swim in Devil’s Pool. See it in the distance in front of the rocks? Swim upstream to beat the current’.
Swimming, currents, cliff edges….say what?! I was overwhelmed with the sight of gallons of water plunging over the side of the Falls and dropping 100 metres to its base. The beauty of Livingstone Island and its amazing views had temporarily distracted me from the reason for our visit: the infamous Devil’s Pool. I tentatively dipped a foot in the waters of the Zambezi which were warmer than I expected and, before I knew it, I had swam my way across the Zambezi to the aforementioned rocks. Result!
A leap of faith
A successful swim across the Zambezi River. I felt like a superstar. At least I did until I saw Devil’s Pool. Then I felt terrified. ‘You’ll be absolutely fine’, Dave reassured me, ‘no one has ever gone over the edge’. Good to know.
It was our turn. To get into the pool we had to lower ourselves from the rocks into the water and then let go so the current in the pool could carry us over to Alpha Omega who was waiting for us at the edge of the 100 metre drop. Dave went first. It was never going to be a problem for the marathon runnning, bungy jumping, lover of any adventure who was cool as a cucumber as he hung on without breaking a sweat.
I lowered myself into the water unsure if I could let go as both Dave and Alpha Omega gestured for me to come to them. I froze, closed my eyes and counted to 10. It was now or never. Suddenly I felt the reassuringly arm of Alpha Omega guide me to a ledge on the edge of Devil’s Pool. My initial terror at being within touching distance of the mighty Victoria Falls was instantly replaced with immense excitement. It felt like we were on top of the world!
We posed, we laughed, we peeked over the edge of abyss and we high fived each other for our efforts. Water rushed over our shoulders into the Falls below and the thundering noise was a fitting sound track to our swim in Devil’s Pool. As an added treat tiny Zambezi fish nipped at our feet and legs and, while I’m all for a fish pedicure, those fishes need to know there’s a time and a place to nibble on ones feet and the edge of a 100 metre drop is really neither!
The adrenaline rush was incredible and it was truly surreal to be perched on the edge of Victoria Falls posing for photographs in one of the most beautiful places we’d ever seen. Even in the height of dry season the Falls are thunderous, the currents swirling, their power dwarfing the every ounce of bravery it took to sit in their path. Ready to return to the safety of dry land on the surrounding rocks we took one last peek over the edge attempting to etch every last detail of the once in a lifetime scene before us into our memories.
We did it!
One final swim across the mighty Zambezi and we returned to the safety of the solid footing of Livingstone Island. As we dried off in the African sunshine easy chatter filled the air as our group compared experiences in the pool: terrifying, unnerving, once in a lifetime…I want to do it again!! We’d all faced our fears and survived our stand off with the mighty Victoria Falls, we were ready to take on the world!
For more on Devil’s Pool
If you’re planning a trip to Devil’s Pool check out our step by step guide to swimming in the pool here! We booked our tour through Tongabezi who are the only official tour operators to Devil’s Pool and Livingstone Island. We stayed at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, a luxury hotel on the banks of the Zambezi and from where the Devil’s Pool tour leaves.