Swimming in Devil’s Pool is the ultimate adrenaline junkie adventure at Victoria Falls and we couldn’t resist the once in a lifetime opportunity to sit on the edge of the thunderous Victoria Falls. We had a million questions when planning our Devil’s Pool trip mostly around the safety of swimming in Devil’s Pool (Elaine), how much camera equipment we could bring (Dave) and what time of the year we could take the trip (both of us!). We’ve put together this step by step guide on how to visit Devil’s Pool which we hope answers all your questions and helps you plan your trip. It’s one of the most incredible experiences we’ve had on our travels and we hope you enjoy as much as we did!
What is Devil’s Pool?
Devil’s Pool is nature’s ultimate infinitely pool! It’s a deep armchair shaped rock pool on the edge of Victoria Falls on Livingstone Island. Erosion has created a stone ledge which acts as barrier between those brave enough to jump in and the 100m drop to the base of the Falls below!
Getting to Livingstone Island
The Devil’s Pool trip leaves from the deck of the stunning Royal Livingstone Hotel on the Zambian side of the falls. If you are staying on the Zimbabwe side of the falls this means you will need to cross the border before your trip, more on that later. The tour begins with an awesome 5 minute speedboat trip from the beautiful Royal Livingstone Hotel across to Livingstone Island, navigating the rocky channels of the Zambezi River, followed by a walk through the Island itself.
Devil’s Pool Tip: pickup is from the sundeck of the Royal Livingstone Hotel 15 minutes before the scheduled tour time. The Royal Livingstone is a beautiful hotel so it’s worth leaving some time either side of the tour to explore. We stayed at the Royal Livingstone, you can check out our review here.
Walking around Livingstone Island
Livingstone Island is the spot where David Livingstone first set eyes on the majestic Falls and he declared the encounter as ‘scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels on their flight’. Livingstone Island has incredible views of the Falls and it felt really special to follow in the footsteps of Livingstone. A plaque, with the words of my now favourite quote, marks the spot where Livingstone stood when he first sighted the falls.
Devil’s Pool tip: Livingstone Island is open from early July to early March making it possible to visit Livingstone Island even when Devil’s Pool is closed.
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!
Swimming in Devil’s Pool
Getting to Devil’s Pool
After a walk through Livingstone Island and checking out the Falls in all its glory the tour proceeded to the edge of the Zambezi River where our guides pointed out Devil’s Pool in the distance. The guides explained how we had to swim to a set of rocks a short distance across the river and that we would need to swim upstream due to the current. The swim itself was fine but, knowing that water was flowing towards the edge of 100m drop, everyone was very foused on getting across to shallower parts as quickly as possible! As we emerged from the swim we sat on a rocky section as we awaited our turn to swim in Devil’s Pool.
Devil’s Pool Tip: there is a safety rope along the edge of the Falls and the guides were in front, behind and along side us when we made the swim!
Swimming in Devil’s Pool
It was the moment we’d all been waiting for! Each group took turns in the Pool while the rest of us waited on the surrounding rocks. One of the guides sat at the edge of the Pool, a second took pictures and the third watched over the proceedings to make sure the rest of us weren’t wandering anywhere we shouldn’t!
To get into the pool we lowered ourselves from the rock into the water and then had to let go – this leap into the unknown was the hardest bit! The current in the pool then carried us over to Alpha Omega, the guide who was waiting for us at the edge of the Falls. He sat with us as Dave and I posed together and then separately and the other guide snapped pics along the way. When we’d finished we had to swim back towards the rocks and the guides pointed out the direction we needed to swim to avoid the current. The final swim was short but quite stressful – one person ended up in a treadmill type situation not making any progress because of the current but the guides quickly assisted him.
Devil’s Pool tip: We were in Devil’s Pool for around 10 minutes. We weren’t allowed to do any fancy jumps or backflips into Devi’s Pool or hang over the edge of by our feet like some of the pictures we’d seen, likely because of the higher water levels so close to the pool closing for the season.
Here’s a video of our Devil’s Pool experience, check out the flow of the water and the drop over the edge!
Is swimming in Devil’s Pool as scary as it looks?
Absolutely for me, probably more so! Dave describes it as ‘unnerving’. The most terrifying moment is letting go of the rocks and floating with the current to the edge of the pool as this is a real leap into the unknown. Being so close to the edge of the Falls is surreal and the force of the water in the pool surprised us both. However, Alpha Omega, the guide who was in the Pool with us, is amazing and looked after everyone like a total pro whether they were brave or scared. We were confident that the pool was safe or they would have closed for the season so that helped calm our nerves!
As scary as it is, swimming in Devil’s Pool is absolutely one of the greatest moments of our trip and we felt like we could rule the world afterwards! The adrenaline rush, the privilege of being on the edge of the thundering Victoria Falls, swimming in the Zambezi….it’s what bucketlist moments are made of! Just check out these smiles:
Safety, Swimming and Wildlife at Devil’s Pool
Is Devil’s Pool safe?
There’s nothing foolproof about dangling over the side of a 100 metre high waterfall but there are two things to remember!
- Firstly, the Tongabezi guides have been running the tours for years and know exactly when the water levels flip between safe and unsafe and adjust the tours accordingly. There have never been any reported incidents in the Devil’s Pool which is testament to the Tongabezi safety record. To answer the question ‘has anyone died at Devil’s Pool’: nope.
- Secondly, there is a lip on the edge of Devil’s Pool so, realistically, when the water levels are considered safe to swim you’d probably have to let go to be swept over the edge. While I was terrified at times I always felt confident that the guides were there to support me if I faltered!
Devil’s Pool tip: the water levels in Devil’s Pool are typically lowest in October and November so, if you’re worried, this is going to be a good time to visit. We swam in the pool in early January days before it was due to close for the season and the water levels were higher and currents stronger than we expected based on the pictures we’d seen.
Do I have to swim in Devil’s pool if I go on the tour?
Jumping into the Pool is not compulsory. It’s fine to just visit the Island and it is absolutely worth it for the incredible views. There were people on our trip who stayed on dry land enjoyed the scenery while the rest of us went into the pool.
Do I need to be able to swim to get to Devil’s Pool?
Our journey to Devil’s Pool was a mix of an upstream swim across a small portion of the Zambezi in a relatively steady current and walking over rocks on the river bed when we were at a depth that our feet could touch the bottom. At this time of year we’d say swimming is essential but, from what we understand, the guides might be able to help if you ask in advance. Again, time of year and water levels are going to dictate the water flow and current and we were there at the very cusp of the season when the levels were rising so it might not be an issue at other times in the season.
Is there any wildlife in the water?
There sure is! Hippos and crocodiles are common in the Zambezi. Apparently the guides check Devil’s Pool every morning for baby crocodile but maybe they were joking, I couldn’t tell in my adrenaline fuelled haze! Either way, they’ll be visible in the water if they did happen to be lounging in the pool! The worst predator we came across were some biting fish who enjoyed nibbling at our feet and legs as we clung on for dear life!
What to wear and bring to Devil’s Pool
Cameras and GoPros
Cameras: Bring your camera! The guides have a dry bag which they use to take the cameras across the river safely while the group makes the swim. At Devil’s Pool one of the guides stands on the edge of the pool and takes pics of each person on their own camera. Our guide was a real pro with every camera that came his way and took loads of pics of the groups and then individually at the edge of the Falls!
Devil’s Pool tip: it’s best to leave the bulky DSLR’s at home or, if you want to take them to Livingstone Island, then leave them with your clothes and bag on the other side of the river. We heard that the guides won’t take a DSLR across to the pool but we didn’t see it happen on our trip – understandable given how complex and expensive some cameras are and then there’s the water and 100m drop!
Go Pros: Bring it! We took our GoPro into the Pool and the footage is awesome! Use the waterproof casing and bring a tether to secure it to your wrist.
Insect Repellent and Sun Block
Speaking from personal experience the mosquito’s are feisty at Victoria Falls! Insect repellent is a must if your susceptible to mosquito bites.
What to wear:
- Swimming gear if Devi’s Pool is a possibility: we found it easiest to wear our swimming costumes under our clothes so we were ready to rock!
- Swimming shoes: we went barefoot but others wore protective shoes to walk across the rocky river bed.
- Flat shoes: wear flat shoes to the island. The ground is marshy and you need to have secure footing to navigate the paths.
What not to bring:
- Towels are provided
- Food and drinks are included in the tour (soft drinks at breakfast, alcoholic on lunch and afternoon tours)
- Complex/bulky cameras
There’s no secure storage facilities for visitors to Livingstone Island but there is a small area to leave clothes and belongings just before the swim. We left our things there (including tech) without a second thought – access to the island is only via tour and our thoughts were on our impending near death experience!! Obviously leaving belongs is at an individuals own risk so, alternatively, leave them at home if you prefer.
The Devil’s Pool tour
How to book a Devil’s Pool tour
Tongabezi have exclusive access to Livingstone Island and Devils Pool and run five tours a day to the Island. It’s one of the most sought after activities at the Falls so book in advance through your accommodation or via the Tongabezi website. We reserved our spots a month or so in advance of our trip. Only 16 people are granted access to the island at any one time given its protected status.
Devil’s Pool tip: when we arrived at the Royal Livingstone the Devils pool tour was booked out for the following 6 days. If swimming in the Pool is on your bucket list don’t leave it until the last minute to book a spot!
Tour times and prices
Tongabezi offers five trips per day to the island and the trips last between 1.5 and 2 hours. Alcohol is served with lunch and high tea (after the swim of course!). Tips are optional.
- 7:30am/9:00am/10:30am: Morning Breezer – price US $100
- 12:30pm: Lunch – price US $165
- 3:30pm: High Tea – price US $140
Devil’s Pool tip: if you are debating the best time of the day to visit Devil’s Pool we opted for the morning as the weather tends to be clearer and less rainy in the am and there’s also the chance of a rainbow behind the pool. The rainbow came just after our turn but it was beautiful to see! The lunchtime and afternoon trips last longer as the food and drinks are a bigger part of those trips.
Food and drinks
We went on the early morning tour and a breakfast of eggs benedict, muffins, scones and fruit was served after our swim. The lunch menu includes soup, salad, vegetables, meat and a pudding while the high tea menu is a mix of sandwiches, tarts and pastries.
Breakfast is served with fruit juices and water while red and white wine, beer, gin, pimms, vodka and soft drinks are served on the later tours.
Staying on the Zimbabwe side? Getting to the Royal Livingstone
We stayed in the Royal Livingstone hotel which meant we just had to pop downstairs to the sundeck on the morning of our tour. If you’re staying in Livingstone it will cost a few dollars for a taxi ride to the hotel.
Arriving from Zimbabwe: Visas, border crossings and transport
- Visas: a visa is required to enter Zambia and reenter Zimbabwe and the easiest option is to get a UniVisa, which gives 30 day entry to both countries. A UniVisa is available at a discounted rate of US $50 for eligible passport holders. You must require a visa to enter both countries (we couldn’t avail of it as our Irish passports were exempt from a Zambian Visa). A Zimbabwe visa cost US$30 for a single entry, US$45 for a double entry and US$55 for a multiple entry visa so if you can’t avail of a UniVisa then be sure to buy a double or multi entry on arrival so you can use it to get back from the Zambia side as it works out less expensive.
- Border crossings: make sure to budget enough time for the border crossing so as to arrive in time for the Devil’s Pool tour. When we crossed from Zimbabwe to Zambia it took about 15 minutes to cross through immigration but there is always the chance of hitting the border at a busy time.
- Walking: the Royal Livingstone is approximately a 5km walk from the Victoria Falls Hotels on the Zimbabwe side so it is possible to walk.
- Shuttle: Tongabezi introduced a shuttle from the Kingdom Hotel on the Zimbabwe side: it costs US $10 per person for a return journey and leaves the Kingdom Hotel at 6:15am, 8:15am, 9:30am, 11:30am arriving at the Royal Livingstone 1 hour later (the 6:15am will arrive at the Royal Livingstone at 7:15am, 15 minutes in advance of the tour start time).
- Taxis: taxis are an option but remember you will have to get multiple cabs to the border, across the bridge and then to the Royal LIvingstone as they are not permitted to cross the border.
One last Devil’s Pool tip… make a bathroom trip on Livingstone Island!
The views from the open air bathroom, otherwise known as the ‘loo with a view,’ on Livingstone Island are amazing!