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However, PLEASE NOTE, this particular section is lengthy so please ignore unless you are interested in the history and tradition. For those who are, it should prove absorbing.

VICTORIA FALLS HOTEL

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If you have a love for Old England with its history and tradition, then this is the place for you! Every corridor is like an art gallery showing the history of the hotel in pictures. And in the (discreetly opulent...!) Bulawayo Room the walls are adorned with Vanity Fair cartoons of many famous English politicians. Within the room itself there is a small library, international newspapers, a bridge table and a mountain of memorabilia. Not to mention a writing desk with paper and envelopes, etc. Quite an incredible comfort zone.


The whole establishment has an air of prosperity. A far cry from the wooden building with corrugated roof that was the original Victoria Falls Hotel (1904). Too many changes to mention have taken place over the years but each one has added more luxury, more comfort and more rooms including suites and honeymoon suites.

In 1947 the hotel was host to the Royal Visit of his Majesty King George V1, Queen Elizabeth and the two Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret.


The (then) Queen occupied a suite which for many years was named the Queen’s Suite but is now called the Livingstone Suite. So if you wish to sleep in the same room as the much loved, now sadly missed, ‘Queen Mum’, you know which suite to request.

The terrace has spectacular scenic views of the well groomed lawns which sweep down to the gorge beyond which lies the Victoria Falls Bridge. Permanently a trifle damp from the Falls spray (the smoke that thunders). And not many know that the local township, called Chinotimba, means “the place that thunders”.

The bridge of course divides Zambia from Zimbabwe and it was on a train parked in the middle of the bridge (neutral territory!) that Ian Smith and Harold Wilson held their talks which led to Rhodesia declaring UDI – Unilateral Declaration of Independence on November 11th 1965.

Of interest is the fact that the bridge, which was part of Cecil Rhodes dream of a rail link “from Cape to Cairo” was, against engineering advice, built where Rhodes wanted it! That was across the Zambezi at a point where the spray from the Falls would fall on train carriages crossing the bridge.

Incidentally the Victoria Falls Hotel logo features a lion (Africa) with the sphinx of Egypt symbolising that Cecil Rhodes dream.

And of historical interest is the fact that the bridge was built in sections in England and erected simultaneously from opposite banks of the Zambezi. When it was time to join the two sides, they did not join – there was a 6 inch overlap. Horror of horrors! Until next morning when, with no expansion from the heat of the sun, the two sides fitted perfectly.

As for the Falls, they speak (well they make enough noise!) to demand your attention. Of course they can be seen from both Zimbabwe and Zambia and the Zambian side, in the form of the town of Livingstone, has long been jealous of what Zimbabwe has to offer.

In 1906 marriages could be solemnised in Victoria Falls and so the volume of honeymooners continued to increase. This caused Livingstone residents to be worried about the lack of development in their own town especially as the Victoria Falls Hotel had been granted a license to establish a general store, a hair salon and a curio shop. And this worry was exacerbated even more by the Livingstone Administrator announcing he had failed to get the Victoria Falls Hotel abolished. Much to the wrath of the settlers in Livingstone.

Of course people in general fail to realise, and the media in particular fail to point out, the town of Victoria Falls is actually safer than London and New York (no army, no political unrest). At the moment Livingstone is possibly enjoying more tourists than Victoria Falls. But once the problems in Zimbabwe are a thing of the past, Victoria Falls will once again take its rightful place at hosting not only the largest curtain of free falling water in the world but doing so with a beauty and chaotic grandeur that caused David Livingstone to reflect in awe in 1855 “how very small man really is”.

Back to the hotel.

As you look from the terrace towards the spray and the bridge it is difficult to imagine that prior to 1908 the railway line ran between the terrace and the gorge. Now however it lies on the other side of the hotel.

What is interesting, however, is that from 1920 for nearly 40 years, the hotel offered a trolley service from the hotel to the Falls. The trolley ran on a two foot gauge along the route of the original (pre 1908) rail track. One of the trolleys has been preserved and can be seen in the grounds of the hotel. That same old rail track is now the private walk to the Falls for the residents of the hotel.


For those of a religious persuasion, the Victoria Falls hotel has a chapel (consecrated on 28th February 1932) which is used by both tourists and local residents. The alter is of Indian Teak and the candlesticks were specially designed in London and are similar to those used in St. Martin-in- the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, London.

Going from one extreme to the other, the hotel also boasts a bar with the walls again full of old history in the form of photographs of Stanley at the famous meeting “Mr. Livingstone I presume”. The bar itself is both adequate and interesting. The latter in that the bar is higher than most. With bar stools of equal height. So dwarfs and ‘Little Uns’ be prepared. You need your own foot stool to gain access to the bar stool!

The Victoria Falls hotel is truly an amazing experience. Alas the average stay for most tourists is but two days yet it would take longer than that to digest all the history from the pictures around the hotel. And that is before embarking on any of the TOURS and ADVENTURES offered with a personal friendly service by Afro Honeyguide Adventures.

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