Devil’s Pool Victoria Falls: 9 Things to Know Before You Go
Seeing Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, is listed in many travelers’ top 100 bucket list items. Did you know though you can take it one step further by actually swimming in a naturally made infinity pool right on top of the world’s largest waterfall? I guarantee swimming in Devil’s Pool Victoria Falls will be one of the most exhilarating experiences you have ever done.
I have bungee jumped and cage dived with great white sharks, and THIS EXPERIENCE TOPS THEM ALL!
When I found out swimming in Devil’s Pool was possible, I started to research all the logistics of how to make this experience happen. Here are the 9 things to know before you dare to lean over the edge of the world’s largest waterfall!
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01- How to Get to Devil’s Pool Victoria Falls
Devil’s Pool Victoria Falls as seen from the Zimbabwe side
You need to travel to Zambia to get to Devil’s Pool!
Devil’s Pool is located next to Livingstone Island, which is situated at the edge of Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
You access Devil’s Pool from the Zambia side of the falls.
The day before my husband and I were going to swim in Devil’s Pool, we visited Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side. Probably not the best idea because we could see where we would be swimming the next day.
The picture below shows where Devil’s Pool is located. It’s terrifying to see it from the other side, but we lived through it and it was totally worth it.
Courtesy of Shutterstock Images: Another angle of Devil’s Pool Victoria Falls as seen from above
02- How to Book the Devil’s Pool Tour
#1- BOOK THROUGH YOUR HOTEL
The first way to book the Devil’s Pool tour is directly through your hotel. They will make the reservation and arrange the transport.
We stayed at the incredible Stanley & Livingstone Boutique Hotel in Zimbabwe.
Although we did not book the tour through our hotel, we did arrange the tour transportation through the hotel. This was critical because as mentioned earlier Devil’s Pool is located in Zambia, and our hotel was in Zimbabwe.
Amazing hotel by the way! Don’t miss our full hotel review if you are still trying to figure out where to stay in the Victoria Falls area.
The transfer required 2 taxis.
One taxi took us from Zimbabwe to the border crossing in Zambia, and then the second taxi picked us up from Zambia to take us to the drop-off point for the tour.
We left at 9 am from our hotel in Zimbabwe and arrived with plenty of time to spare for our 10:30 am Livingstone Island/Devil’s Pool tour in Zambia.
Bring your passport/visa if you are staying in Zimbabwe. Since our hotel was located about 15 minutes outside of Victoria Falls Town, it was expensive ($60 pp roundtrip) but was worth it to have the transportation all pre-arranged.
#2- BOOK THROUGH TONGABEZI
Tongabezi is the ONLY OFFICIAL licensed tour operator for Devil’s Pool. You can book with them directly.
If you are staying in Victoria Falls Town, Tongabezi will pick you up at the Kingdom Hotel for $15 USD pp roundtrip if you let them know ahead of time. You still need to arrange transport on your own though to Kingdom Hotel.
By the way, the Tongabezi tour operator also runs the charming, highly-rated Tongabezi Lodge (5.0 on TripAdvisor and 4.7 on Google).
These unique cottages are incredibly romantic, with most being situated right along the Zambezi River. Check out the Nut House! Wow.
#3- BOOK THROUGH REPUTABLE TOUR COMPANIES
You can also arrange transport through several reputable companies:
03- Best Time Slot to Book
Rainbows at Devil’s Pool Victoria Falls
You have the option of booking 5 different time slots:
- 7:30 am: Breezer (includes breakfast). Cost: $120 USD
- 9:00 am: Breezer (includes breakfast). Cost: $120 USD
- 10:30 am: Breezer (includes breakfast). Cost: $120 USD
- 12:30 pm: Lunch on Livingstone Island. Cost: $190 USD
- 3:30 pm: High Tea (includes high tea and drinks). Cost: $165 USD
What’s the BEST time slot?
This will all depend on what other activities you have booked, but I personally picked the 10:30 am time slot for 3 reasons:
1) In the morning you will have the RAINBOWS in your photo and the lighting is better (see photo above).
2) The water is beginning to warm up a little more compared to the 7:30 am time slot.
3) You can sleep in and still have time later in the afternoon to do another activity such as a sunset Zambezi River Cruise.
04- What to Expect in 5 Steps
Map of the Devils Pool Tour at Victoria Falls
STEP #1: BOAT RIDE
The tour used to operate right from the Royal Livingstone Hotel, but now you will need to be dropped off between the Dry Manzi and the Royal Livingstone Hotel at the launch site. They have a tent set up to offer shade where you do your paperwork before you set off for the tour.
You then take a twin-engine boat across the channels of the Zambezi River to Livingstone Island. During this short boat ride, you can really see why they call Victoria Falls the “Smoke that Thunders” as you begin to see the plumes of mist that surround this massive waterfall.
Boat ride out to Devil’s Pool. You can see all of the mist rising up from Victoria Falls.
STEP #2: LIVINGSTONE ISLAND TOUR
When you get off the boat, you are welcomed with a traditional nonalcoholic African energy drink made from maize meal called Maheu. The chef will then greet you and ask about any food allergies.
The guides will show you the island and tell you about its history. You have the option of locking up your bag since everything you bring from that point on will get wet.
You have 2 guides.
One will join you during the short swim across the river to get to Devil’s Pool and also while you are in the pool itself to keep you safe. The other guide will take your phone and daringly walk on top of the falls to take some amazing photos and videos with your personal phone.
Our guide was an expert at operating all types of phones. We kept our GoPro on us to document the experience.
STEP 3: SWIM ACROSS THE ZAMBEZI RIVER
Getting ready to swim across the Zambezi River to get to Devil’s Poo Victoria Falls in Zambia
At this point, you strip down to your bathing suit, give up your phone, and swim a small distance (with the guidance of one of the guides) to get to the rocky outcrop right above Devil’s Pool.
There is only a rope separating you from the edge of the falls. Obviously, there is current but never once did I feel like I was going to be pushed past the rope and over the falls.
The water is cold in mid-September but not unbearable. You quickly stop complaining about the temperature when you realize what you are about to do.
I’m short (5’2″), so there were a few portions where I could not touch the bottom. You could technically wade across if you are of average height.
In less than 5 minutes, you are quickly climbing over the rocks on the other side to get ready for one of the most amazing experiences of your life.
You must swim all the way to the right to get across the Zambezi River (away from the ropes).
STEP #4: TAKING THE PLUNGE
Getting ready to jump into Devil’s Pool Victoria Falls
Not to sound dramatic, but at this point, everything became surreal.
I was so nervous and terrified before embarking on this experience, but once I had to make the choice to slide off the rocks to swim the 2 seconds to the rock ledge of the world’s largest waterfall … a weird calm came over me.
This was probably because I knew no mistakes could be made at this point or else you are going over the edge).
The mental challenge is > the physical.
Your guide gives you exact safety instructions on where to enter the pool. When you maneuver your body into Devil’s pool, you are immediately pushed by the current directly to your guide who is ready to receive you on the rock ledge.
At that point, you can HANG OVER THE EDGE (if you choose) with the guide holding your ankles. If you have a GoPro, you can get amazing footage of the bottom of the falls with beautiful rainbows in the background.
The second guide takes a ton of photos, so you will have many options to choose from.
Staring over the edge of Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls (taken with the GoPro)
Another shot hanging over the edge of Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls (taken with the GoPro)
Sitting on the rock ledge at Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls
After about 5 minutes, you slide over to allow the next person to swim up to the ledge.
We had only 6 people in our group, including myself and my husband. We felt we had plenty of time to experience Devil’s Pool and were even offered if we wanted to go back a second time.
Also, I read reviews that there are nibbling fish, but I never felt them probably due to wearing water shoes.
After your time in the pool, you swim back across the Zambezi River where they provide you with towels to dry off.
The guides will then provide a little more history of the island and take some more photos of you with some stunning rainbows as the backdrop. Then it’s off to breakfast to celebrate your accomplishment!
Swimming back across the Zambezi River after swimming in Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls
Just finished swimming in Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls. You can see the next group of people in Devil’s Pool behind us.
STEP #5: BREAKFAST OR LUNCH/TEA
Eating Porridge with Creme Fraiche for an Al Fresco Breakfast at Livingstone Island
There is a small changing room to get out of your wet bathing suit before eating breakfast. For the morning tour, we had two breakfast options:
1) Croissant sandwich with bacon jam or
2) Porridge with creme fraiche (similar to oatmeal). It’s accompanied by tea or coffee.
My husband and I tried each choice, and both were delicious. After breakfast, it was back to the boat and on to the next adventure!
05- Best Time to Visit
Devil’s Pool is only open during the drier months, usually between mid-August and late December. This will vary from year to year. The Zambezi River water levels have to be low enough to be able to safely swim.
Tongabezi’s website will provide up-to-date information if the pool is open.
When we went in mid-September, the water levels were unusually low for the start of the season. This made me feel much more comfortable since I’m not the strongest swimmer.
If Devil’s Pool is closed, you may still be able to swim in Angel’s Pool, which is open during certain times in the rainy season when the water levels are higher. You can usually swim in Angel’s Pool from mid-July/late August – early January/mid-February.
Angel’s Pool sits a little further back from the falls and offers a bit more safety and comfort while still offering an amazing view.
This option is a great alternative if you cannot swim in Devil’s Pool.
06- What to Bring
PASSPORT, KAZA UNIVISA, & CASH
Bring your passport/Kaza Univisa if you are going from Zimbabwe to Zambia. We cash-tipped our guides for great service.
I preferred a one-piece, so I didn’t have to worry about my bathing suit falling off for these once-in-a-lifetime photos. They provide towels.
It was much easier to navigate the rocks with my water shoes. My husband forgot to bring his shoes, but the guide luckily had an extra pair.
CAMERA AND GOPRO
My advice is to give the guide your camera (or phone), and then keep your GoPro with you to get amazing footage when you lean over the edge of the falls.
SUNGLASSES AND SUNSCREEN
I made the mistake of not bringing my sunglasses, and I was squinting in all of the photos while in Devil’s Pool. You will not lose them in the water. The guide was kind enough to let me borrow his sunglasses for a few photos after we got out of Devil’s Pool. Also, sunscreen of at least an SPF 30 is imperative. I always bring Elta MD UV Clear sunscreen when we travel.
CHANGE OF CLOTHES
Wear your bathing suit there. Then change into dry clothes and undergarments afterward, so you are comfortable while you eat breakfast/lunch/high tea after.
We had booked some high-risk activities including cage diving with great white sharks and swimming in Devil’s Pool on top of the world’s largest waterfall. We decided to get travel insurance just in case we broke a leg and needed a Medevac to the nearest hospital facility. You will have to sign a liability waiver before the Devil’s Pool tour.
Through extensive research, we decided on the Explorer Plan offered by World Nomads Travel Insurance. It covers over 200 adventure activities! For 2 weeks of travel within Africa for 2 people, it cost us $291.82 for peace of mind.
PRO TIP: We obtained a Kaza Univisa at the Victoria Falls airport in Zimbabwe when we landed for $50. You can now purchase this visa ahead of time online.
It allows access back and forth between Zambia and Zimbabwe multiple times and day trips to Botswana. Good for 30 days. Obtaining this visa at the airport saved us a lot of time at the border crossings between these countries.
07- Devil’s Pool Victoria Falls Deaths
Devil’s Pool with David, our guide
Nope. No tourist has died on the official Livingstone Island Tour operated by Tongabezi.
If you research deeply enough, you may across an article from 2009 about an unofficial tour guide who fell off the waterfall while trying to save a tourist many years ago, but according to the report, this did not occur at Devil’s Pool.
Again, Tongabezi is the ONLY official tour operator.
The guides are top-notch and made safety their utmost priority.
You will only have a problem if you cannot swim at all or just completely disregard the guide’s clear safety instructions. We felt confident and comfortable under the guides’ expertise for this tour.
Everyone has to make their own risk assessment, but in our opinion, we felt completely safe.
08- Yes, Swimming is Required
I am not a strong swimmer, but if you throw me in a pool I can get from one side to the other.
Prior to doing this experience, I was nervous because of my weaker swimming skills. I even practiced swimming in a pool before this trip.
I had no problem with swimming, but I went during a time when the water level was historically low compared to previous years. Most people (of average height) could walk the whole way across in waist/chest-deep water.
If you absolutely have no concept of the mechanics of swimming, then I would advise against swimming in Devil’s Pool.
One of the girls in my group was not sure if she could swim across, and the guide had her do a swimming test first before he agreed she could continue.
SAFETY COMES FIRST for both the tourists and guides. Do not put anyone’s life in jeopardy.
09- Zambia vs. Zimbabwe: Which is Better
The launch site for the Devil’s Pool tour is in Zambia, but we preferred to stay on the Zimbabwe side because 75% of Victoria Falls is seen from Zimbabwe.
During the height of the dry season (sometime in October/November), Victoria Falls completely dries up on the Zambia side but that’s the ideal time for Devil’s Pool! We went in mid-September.
Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe is within walking distance of a lot of the hotels located in Victoria Falls Town.
Since our hotel was located 15 minutes from the town, our hotel provided complimentary transfers to and from the park. The park has 16 viewpoints on a network of well-marked paths.
Plus, a lot of the activities operate from the Zimbabwe side (with the exception of the Devil’s Pool tour or Microlight flights). So although the Devil’s Pool tour has to be accessed from the Zambia side, we preferred to stay in Zimbabwe for all of the above reasons.
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