Mosi oa Tunya National Park
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Home to the only white rhinos in Zambia, Mosi oa Tunya's compact size and proximity to a major airport make it a great destination for first-timers.
What YAS members think
- Home to the only white rhinos remaining in Zambia
- Can easily be combined with a trip to the Zimbabwean side of the falls
- July and August are best for photo opportunities of the falls
- UNESCO World Heritage Site
About Mosi oa Tunya National Park
Mosi oa Tunya (often spelled Mosi-oa-Tunya), which is the ‘local’ name for Victoria Falls, originates from the Lozi language and means ‘the smoke which thunders’. Mosi-oa-Tunya is Zambia’s version of Victoria Falls National Park. Like the Masai Mara and the Serengeti, these contiguous parks change names at the border. Both include part of the Zambezi River and, of course, the majestic Victoria Falls. The park is divided into two parts: the waterfalls and the wildlife.
Wildlife of Mosi oa Tunya
The Zambezi River attracts a decent variety of wildlife, including the following: antelope species, cape buffalo, elephants, monkeys, baboons and warthogs. There are no predators in the park and, due to the constant exposure to humans, the animals here are generally relaxed and easy to photograph. Due to the compact size of the park, game drives are normally completed within half a day. The roads are mainly tarmacked and, under normal conditions, are easy to manage. Walking safaris are also possible in Mosi oa Tunya.
The portion of the Zambezi River before the falls is home to several small islands. These islands serve as breeding sites for four migratory and endangered birds, including the Taita falcon and the black eagle. The park also has recorded at least 450 species of birds, with some sources claiming over 750 species, many of which are resident. For avid birders, the migrating birds arrive between November and December.
White rhinos of Mosi oa Tunya
A highlight of this park is the white rhino. This endangered species was re-introduced into this region and this park is the only place in Zambia where you can observe them. They are heavily protected but, due to the small size of the park, your chances of seeing one are good. In March 2017 a baby rhino was born and the little one can also be seen here.
The spray from Victoria Falls can be seen from Lusaka Rd in Zambia, around 30 kilometers / 50 miles away. The falls are an impressive 1700 meters wide and the deepest drop is around 100 meters. Some main areas of attraction at the falls include:
- The Devil’s Cataract (Zimbabwe side)
- Main falls (Zimbabwe side)
- The boiling pot (Zimbabwe side)
- Rainbow Falls (Zambia side)
- Eastern Cataract (Zambia side)
Activities in and around Victoria Falls
In addition to wildlife safaris and a visit to the Falls, there are myriad items to do at this popular destination, including the following:
- Horseback riding
- Bungee jumping
- White water rafting
- Gorge swings
- Microflights over the falls
- Helicopter flights over the falls
- Fine dining along the Zambezi River
- Local village visits
When is the best time of year to visit Mosi oa Tunya National Park?
The rainy or wet season runs between September and March. At this time, large numbers of migrant birds come from Europe, which may make this the ideal time of year for birders. If you are keen to take a plunge in The Devil’s Cataract, you’ll want to wait for the dry season, particularly in the later months of July and August, as this pool is only accessible during the dry season and is accessible by walking along the rim of the falls and is not for the faint of heart! There is also less mist in July and August, making the falls easier to photograph.
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is the second smallest national park in Zambia with only 66qkm. It's along the upper Zambezi River about 10km away from Livingstone town center. Since there are no predators, the animals are very relaxed and give you excellent photo opportunities. This park is open all year round and visitors can drive their own car. No 4x4 is needed to come up close to the numerous antelopes species, herds of buffaloes, giraffes, elephants, warthog, baboons, Vervet Monkeys, ... Birdwatchers wont be disappointed either with several kingfisher species present, African fish eagle, white-fronted bee-eaters and the illusive African finfoot.
While on our honeymoon in South Africa, my husband and I made a trip up to Zambia / Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls and we are so glad we did! My husband and I felt it was well deserving of "the seven natural wonders of the world" placement and were amazed by the amount of water that rushes over the falls. On our first day in Zambia, we took a boat over to Livingstone Island, where we were able to walk and sit on the very edge of the falls, in Angel's Pool. We visited in July, when the water was quite full, so Devil's Pool was not an option for us...thankfully (!). It will be an experience neither me nor my husband will ever forget, and luckily, our tour guide took several pictures of our terrified faces sitting on the edge! We also ventured to the park area on both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides. The Zambia side is incredible and was a worthwhile view to see. It was also fun to meander through the park seeing monkeys, warthogs, and tons of wildlife. If you have the time, we definitely recommend seeing both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides! Lastly, we were absolutely blown away by our hotel, The Royal Livingstone. The Royal Livingstone is a luxurious 5 star hotel situated on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls along the banks of the Zambezi River, just a short walk to the entrance of the falls. You are so close to the falls, you can hear the roar of the falls and see the midst as you sit on the deck by the river sipping cocktails. It was our favorite hotel of our entire trip and it was such a treat to stay in such beautiful and comfortable surroundings while visiting such an incredible natural wonder. We were sad to leave when our trip was over!
Flying to Mosi oa Tunya
The closest airport to the park is Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport, formerly Livingstone Airport, on the northern edge of Livingstone, Zambia. It's about 30 minutes from the airport to the park.
If you are arriving at Victoria Falls International Airport, in Zimbabwe, the journey, without any border crossings, is about an hour. Be aware that you will require multi-entry visas if you are planning on returning to Zimbabwe for your return flight.
A third option is to arrive fro Kasane Airport in Botswana. It's about a two-hour drive to Masi oa Tunya not counting any border crossings.
Driving to Mosi oa Tunya National Park
If you're coming from Lusaka, Zambia, you're looking at around 6.5 to 7 hours driving, in normal conditions.
The following airlines travel to Mosi oa Tunya National Park
Bush & Lake Aviation is a newly established charter company offering flights from its Lilongwe base to destinations in Malawi and the adjacent regions. We offer a small team of dedicated pilots, engineers, and management with many years of experience in the aviation business. We fly directly to your destination making your connections possible and saving you the unnecessary frustrations of transfers - queues and delays Bush & Lake Aviation specializes in charters for leisure travel or business. Visit website
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Airlink is a privately-owned, BBBEE Level 4 business and regional airline serving a comprehensive network of smaller destinations throughout Southern Africa. We are now operating independently under our own unique 4Z flight code offering more freedom, more choices and more travel opportunities. Visit website
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