Visiting The Devil’s Pool On The Zambia Side Of Victoria Falls
Visiting The Devil’s Pool On The Zambia Side Of Victoria Falls was originally published in January 2021
My previous blog post was about the Zimbabwean side of Vic Falls. Well, guys, I saved the best for last because today I’m going to tell you all about the world’s most insane natural infinity pool- the Devil’s Pool, located on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls.
Taking an adrenaline-packed plunge in the Devil’s Pool was probably my most favorite activity I opted for on my epic Cape Town to Zanzibar trip a few years back. Many travelers I had met in Zimbabwe and Zambia had shrugged off a visit to the Devil’s Pool saying the excursion was too expensive. Well, I’m here to say visiting the Devil’s Pool is the best $91 I’ve ever spent. I’m not kidding guys, this place is one of those once-in-a-lifetime bucket list must-dos.
Right on the edge of thunderous Victoria Falls sits a calm pool of water, luring in adventurous travelers who dare sit on the rock lip at the top of one of the tallest waterfalls in the world.
Going to Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side too? Check out my Vic Falls Travel Guide
This Sounds Crazy! Is The Devil’s Pool Safe?
This depends on who you ask. I’m no stranger to death-defying activities, so if you ask me, I’d say the Devil’s Pool is relatively safe. A lip of rock forms a wall, if you will, at the edge of the falls in this particular spot, creating a natural barrier for the Devil’s Pool.
It’s worth mentioning that you do have to swim somewhat upstream from Livingston Island to get here in a decently moving current, so, in my opinion, this part was more dangerous than actually sitting in the Devil’s Pool. Of course, weaker swimmers will be accommodated by guides on the journey from Livingston Island to the Devil’s Pool.
Beware Of The Nibbling Fish
My friend Lorraine and I swam from Livingston Island to the Devil’s Pool with our small group and plunked down on the edge of Victoria Falls. Pretty soon, I felt a little jab at my legs, then another…then another! The feeling felt a bit familiar but I couldn’t figure out what was going on, was Lorraine messing with me?
I stared at the water and figured out it was little fish nibbling on my legs and feet. If you’ve ever had one of those “fish pedicures” in Southeast Asia, you’ll know this feeling too as these fish do the same thing. Being that we were going to be sitting in a river pool, I assumed there would be fish, but I had no idea that these little nibbling fish call the Zambezi home.
Continuing further afield in Zambia? Check out my guide to South Luangwa National Park
What Was The Devil’s Pool Tour Like?
Hands down, visiting the Devil’s Pool was my favorite excursion on my trip across southern Africa. Lorraine and I were staying in a campground in Livingston from which a van picked us up to start the tour.
We were dropped off at the Royal Livingston Hotel (it’s a gorgeous property, and we felt like hobos turning up in our stinky backpacker clothes). On arrival, we were handed welcome drinks and brought to the dock to wait for our boat to arrive. I honestly wished we had arrived a bit earlier to have a bit more time enjoying the deck views over the Zambezi.
These days, the Devil’s Pool tours no longer depart from the Royal Livingston Hotel. They now leave from a place called the Launch Site, located right on the banks of the Zambezi River between Livingston town and the former dock.
The Boat Ride To Livingston Island
The boat ride to Livingston Island from the Royal Livingston Hotel isn’t very long but feels like a bonus river safari. We saw elephants playing in the water and hippos relaxing the afternoon away as we passed on by to the island. Have your camera ready for photo ops (I, unfortunately, left my camera at camp because I didn’t want to get it wet, so all I have are some iPhone pics).
A Quick Tour Of Livingston Island On Foot
You’ll be unloaded off the boat on Livingston Island where you’ll be escorted to the open tent where you’ll have your high tea (or breakfast, or lunch). Those that plan to stay behind and not visit the Devil’s Pool can stay at the tent and walk around the island, enjoying the views.
Before we began the swim to the Devil’s Pool, our guides brought us on a quick walk to explore Livingston Island, keeping a lookout for wildlife and appreciating the unusual landscape of a strange island sat at the literal edge of a waterfall.
The Swim To The Devil’s Pool
Now for the dicey (exciting!) part. If you’re continuing to the Devil’s Pool as we did, you will be given a towel before your group and your two guides set off. First, we had to walk across a part of Livingston Island, so make sure to wear waterproof sandals with straps because the rocks can be a bit sharp.
Eventually, you’ll come to the edge of the island where you will want to ditch your towel and any other items that you would like to stay dry.
Next, we had to swim across a section of the mighty Zambezi to reach the Devil’s Pool. This part took about 5-ish minutes. You will need to focus on swimming against the current as the edge is not too far away. Weaker swimmers will be assisted by the guides, and if need be they can take you to a spot where it’s possible to walk across the river hand-in-hand.
Hanging Out In The Devil’s Pool
After the short upstream swim, we finally arrived at the edge of the Devil’s Pool and plopped right in. We handed over our phones to our guides when we got to the pool, who then directed us where to sit in the pool for great photos. This was about when I started feeling the fish nibble on my legs that I mentioned previously.
Visiting the Devil’s Pool was one of the more unique experiences I’ve had. I’ll never forget the excitement of sitting on the rock lip, peering over the edge as the water crashed down into the canyon below, and the fun we had screaming and waving at the tourists on the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls.
The Angel’s Armchair
This is another portion of the Devil’s Pool, it’s a bit less death-defying than the main Devil’s Pool you always see photos of but is worth visiting while you’re over here too.
High Tea On Livingston Island
The final portion of our Devil’s Pool tour was back at the tent on the edge of Livingston Island. Here we had fancy Pimm’s cup cocktails and cucumber sandwiches while enjoyed the early parts of the sunset before we departed back to the Royal Livingston Hotel by boat and were whisked away in our van back to camp.
Going to Botswana too? Don’t miss nearby Chobe National Park
Booking A Tour Of The Devil’s Pool
You cannot visit the Devil’s Pool independently, so the only way to take on this daring adventure is to book a Livingston Island & Devil’s Pool tour offered by Tongebezi. Prices have gone up since my visit, but is an updated pricelist for 2021:
- Breakfast (7:30 am, 9:00 am or 10:30 am): $110
- Lunch (12:30 pm): $175
- High Tea (3:30 pm): $150
The Devil’s Pool tour includes a boat ride from the Royal Livingston Hotel to Livingston Island (keep your eyes peeled for elephants, hippos, and other wildlife frolicking in the river!), access to the Devil’s Pool (swimming), towels, two guides (one to assist you on your swim, and the other will take your camera and snap your photos), and a gourmet meal with drinks (alcoholic included) in a tent on Livingston Island.
I recommend going for high tea, giving you the chance to swim in the Devil’s Pool, and then watch the sun begin to set as you enjoy cocktails and cucumber sandwiches. Of course, if you’re trying to save some $$$ the 7:30 am breakfast isn’t a bad option and the lighting won’t be too harsh in photos, and the vivid rainbows that typically dazzle over Victoria Falls are more likely to be out.
Booking A Devil’s Pool Tour With Kids
Traveling with kids in tow? Know that only children over the age of 12 will be allowed to visit the Devil’s Pool. Children over the age of 8 are welcome on the tours, however, they can’t go beyond Livingston Island unless they are 12 or older.
The Best Time To Go To The Devil’s Pool
You cannot access the Devil’s Pool year-round. During the rainy season when the Zambezi runs higher, it’s not possible (you’d get swept over the edge).
The Devil’s Pool is typically open from August to January, but October and November are the best months to do it as the Zambezi is at her lowest. The Devil’s Pool is closed from February to July when waters are too high and swimming from Livingston Island is too dangerous.
What To Bring With You To The Devil’s Pool
- Swimwear, if you plan to swim in the Devil’s Pool that is.
- A change of clothes for the ride back.
- Sturdy waterproof sandals with straps.
- Sunscreen and mosquito spray.
- Dry bag to protect electronics.
- Camera and/or phone.
- Cash for tips.
Don’t want to plan a trip through southern Africa on your own? No problem!
Check out this 41 day Cape Town to Zanzibar adventure with Intrepid Travel
Or this 18 day Vic Falls to Cape Town journey with GAdventures
Where To Stay In Livingston
- Budget: The Victoria Falls Waterfront Campground and Baobab Cottages Camp are great options for budget backpackers who have their tent in tow, like us. Plan for campsites to cost about $10-15 USD per night.
- Midrange: Maramba River Lodge comes highly recommended for those on a mid-range budget with options of safari tent rooms and rooms in the lodge. Check rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
- Splurge: The Royal Livingston Hotel is a superb property for those looking for a luxurious stay right on the banks of the Zambezi River. Shop prices on booking.com and hotels.com.
Getting To The Launch Site To Grab Your Devil’s Pool Boat From Livingston
From Livingston, it’s quite easy to get to the Launch Site. Your accommodation can call a taxi to take you and pick you up afterward for a few dollars, or you can opt to walk if your accommodation isn’t too far away.
Is your adventure taking you to Tanzania too? Don’t skip out on lovely Mikumi National Park
Getting To The Launch Site To Grab Your Devil’s Pool Boat From Vic Falls, Zimbabwe
If you aren’t booked on a Devil’s Pool tour that includes your transport from Vic Falls, Zimbabwe and back, don’t sweat it. You can still pretty easily get back and forth with relative ease.
Head to the Kingdom Hotel in Vic Falls, Zimbabwe to grab a shuttle that will bring you across the border and to the Launch Site for $15 USD per person. Departure times are: 6:15 am, 8:15 am, 9:30 am, 11:30 am, and 2:30 pm.
If you’re trying to stretch your budget as far as possible you can opt to walk the 5 kilometers each way, across the Zim-Zam Bridge border crossing to the Launch Site and save yourself the $15.
Continuing your journey on toward the northeast? Don’t miss Lake Malawi
Where To Stay in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
- Budget: If you’re a backpacker I recommend pitching a tent or renting a chalet at Victoria Falls Restcamp & Lodge, which is located right in the middle of town and within walking distance from most attractions in Vic Falls. They also have a dorm, as well as chalets and lodge up for rent and an on-site restaurant. Check availability on booking.com and hotels.com.
- Mid-range: Lokuthula Lodge offers beautiful chalets and a great looking pool at a comfortable mid-range price. Book your stay on booking.com or hotels.com.
- Splurge: Victoria Falls River Lodge is where I’d book if keeping to a budget wasn’t an issue for me! This is a unique all-inclusive ultimate luxury experience, offering beautiful luxe glamping tents and treehouse rooms. Check rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
Check out all these things to do in Vic Falls, Zimbabwe to plan your stay on the other side
Other Tips & Info For Visiting The Devil’s Pool
- We booked our Devil’s Pool tour the morning of and had no problems getting on a tour. Friends of mine who have visited a bit more recently have said that it’s become a popular activity, so it would be smart to try and book your tour online at least a week in advance to get a spot.
- You can bring a camera, however, it would be smart to bring a dry bag to store it in if it’s not waterproof.
- Drones are not allowed unless you have a permit to use one here. They will be confiscated if you bring one.
- Breakfast tours are 1.5 hours in duration, the lunch tour is 2.5 hours, and the high tea tour is 2 hours in duration.
- I’d recommend having travel insurance given the nature of this activity, though travel insurance is not required to book a Devil’s Pool tour.
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Bradt’s Zambia guide to help you plan your trip
Have Any Questions About Visiting The Devil’s Pool?
Ask in the comments section below.