Slumbering and Partying-Victoria FallsReading Time: 5 minutes
When I first started looking at travelling to Victoria Falls I almost scratched it off the itinerary. A simple search for accommodation exposed a range of options that were waaay outside my budget. In discussions with a family member who has travelled extensively in the area, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the town also offered a variety of backpacker or budget friendly accommodation which was not marketed well online.
We went to the accommodation that was recommended to us and luckily we were able to get somewhere to stay. One of the 7 wonders of the world and I were going to meet face to face!!!(whoop whoop)
Victoria Falls Rest Camp (Trip Advisor Rated 3.5/5 at £120/night for a 2 bed air conditioned lodge(not on Booking.com)
This is an enclosed property with a range of accommodation options within its confines. The options include spaces to pitch tents, dome tents, a luxury tent, a hostel, chalets and self-catered lodges with or without air conditioning. There was a security guard at the entrance that only allowed staying residents to enter the premises and if you had a visitor someone was sent in to find you. It was like staying in an exclusive gated community.
We were able to get a self catering, air conditioned lodge which, although basic, had a fully kitted kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms. The bathroom was a saviour from the potential long walk to the toilet in the middle of the night (and as this is Africa, you don’t know what you could bump into at night). There were two large bedrooms, one had a double bed and the other had two single beds. In addition to the amenities on the inside, right outside the property, was a braai stand (Zimbwean/South African BBQ stand) which we definitely planned on making use of.
I longed for a semi-primitive experience and really wanted to camp which was definitely not the kind of holiday my friends had signed up for. So, on my lonesome I booked out a dome tent which cost about £15/night. This was more glamping than camping though as it consisted of two single beds on either side of the tent, with a comfortable mattress, lighting and a side table for each bed. I could even stand in the tent. There was light netting on the sides of the tent which made me feel like I was sleeping under the stars whilst keeping safe from the blood sucking mosquitoes that roamed the nights. There were communal showers and toilets close to the tent which I have to admit were impressively clean each time I visited.
Within the Rest Camp enclosure, was a swimming pool and bar which was a great place to relax on the loungers while having a refreshing drink after some day time shinanigans.
We found ourselves hanging out by the pool both during the day and when we came back to the accommodation late at night. Most times we were the only ones using the pool and one afternoon we strongly encouraged my brother to jump in! Albeit the term encouragement is used very loosely,we may or may not have received his consent but it involved exertion of power from four tiny little hands, which saw him lose his balance and land leg first into the water, fully clothed.
He had to hang the contents of his pockets to dry afterwards.
The Rest Camp is less than a 10minute walk to town and close to a TM supermarket. We totally took advantage of the supermarket and stocked up on supplies to cook which saved us a few dollars in breakfast and lunch costs. My inner number cruncher actually found eateries in Victoria Falls to be quite pricy.
Want to do everything but don’t know what that is or were to book it? That was us, and the staff were extremely helpful in recommending activities, making bookings and arranging transport. And as if that was not enough they seemed to also leverage their relationships with the companies running the activities to get us more competitive deals than appeared on the brochures. Setting the ambitious goal to go to a sunrise elephant safari after returning from a night out at 3am was of no issue for the staff at the Rest Camp as they exceeded ‘good customer service’ by ensuring that we all made it out of the lodge/tent and onto the bus on time.
I would also recommend travellers who are up for a no-fuss, economic, chilled fun filled evening to check out Shoestrings Backpackers. We found ourselves there for a drink or two that turned into more. It was a pity we had already had dinner as there was a braai going and the smell of beautifully roasted meat wafting in the air. At the property are several curio shops scattered along the wall of the property which had some cool souvenirs, in the event you suddenly realise that it is your last night and you forgot to get your mother a gift from Zimbabwe-this place will kill two birds with one stone. After averting that potential gift crisis you can chill out like we did at the tables having reasonably priced drinks ($1-$3), playing pool or dancing till your feet give up.
There is also a swimming pool, but no one seemed to be in the mood for a swim the night that we were there. We met other travellers who had been in Vic Falls for a variation of time periods, others who were there on repeat visits as well as some locals who said they regularly came here for the vibes. Shoestrings has hostel accomodation but my usual curious did not come out that night try and investigate what these looked like so I cannot speak to it.
These two places gave us some good bases inbetween all the random shinanigans during our time in Victoria Falls.
If you have been to Vic Falls, where did you stay? What other budget friendly accommodation would you recommend?