It all happened so fast at the Victoria Falls gorge swing. Standing on the small wooden platform roughly 390 feet above the swirling Zambezi River, I could hear the loud rush of the river as two employees strapped the harness onto me.
As soon as the thing was locked into place, I was going off the platform, like it or not, because the tension of the rope was pulling me off the edge. While I gripped the rope with both hands for dear life, I took a couple of steps forward, and then one final step right off the platform.
The first thing I saw was the rocks and shrubs on the bottom of the mountain way down below. It was terrifying for a brief second, because it was the first time I’ve ever looked down and there was absolutely nothing below me for 400 feet.
Instinctively I winced and closed my eyes, afraid to watch the ground as I plunged toward it in a freefall.
Finally, the rope lost its tension and I felt myself swinging out over the Zambezi River.
Four seconds of freefall is a really long time. It’s about as long as a bungee jump. It’s hard to experience a longer freefall unless you’re skydiving.
The gorge swing at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done. But once it was over and I was gently rocking above the river, I felt such an adrenaline rush. It was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done!
VIDEO: My Jump At The Victoria Falls Gorge Swing
Note: I visited Victoria Falls as part of my two-month overland tour through eight countries with Absolute Africa. Interested in finding out more? Here’s a link to the tour I took, and here’s an extensive review of the adventure.
About the Gorge Swing and Adrenaline Package
You can book the gorge swing on its own, but for the best value, book the half-day adrenaline package, which also includes a zipline and a flying fox. The zipline is a standard zip that takes you partially down into the canyon. It’s great to do that first, because it calms your nerves a bit and gets you used to being suspended out over the canyon.
Next comes the flying fox. This is similar to a zipline, but instead you run off a platform headfirst and extend your arms like Superman. You glide horizontally until your momentum stops, then you turn and grab the rope as you’re pulled back to the mountain.
Once you’ve done the zipline and flying fox, the gorge swing will seem much less intimidating. It will still be plenty scary though!
This is the view from atop that mountain. You can see all the ropes going across the canyon, with the river below. When doing the gorge swing, your harness is attached the machine on this side of the canyon, while the rope that you’re holding onto is actually anchored into the far side of the mountain.
Note: The video above was actually my second gorge swing of the day, so it doesn’t fully capture my terror. You can see that on the second jump, I was more at ease and was able to look at the camera as I jumped. The leg kicking was just for effect. And because it was fun.
TIP: If you go with friends who are also swinging, they will be standing right next to you near the platform, so they can take pics and vids. If you have friends who aren’t jumping, they can come over on the hillside and take good pics and video clips from over there.
My video was taken by a friend standing in the spot shown above along the sidewalk fence. It’s a good vantage point for seeing the jump and then panning down to the water below.
Note: You can also do the gorge swing jump in tandem with a friend. The two of you will be hooked up and you’ll get to experience the thrill of the freefall together! It’s cheaper (per person) to do the tandem.
How do you get back up the mountain after the gorge swing?
Once you reach the bottom and your momentum slows, you are hanging in the harness maybe 20-30 feet above the river. And yes, there are crocodiles down there! After several seconds, the contraption attached the mountain starts recoiling the rope and forcibly pulling you back up.
On the way back up, once you reach a certain height, gravity and physics mean that you’ll be pushed up against the mountain. At that point, you have to stick your legs out and lean back, as if you were rappelling. You don’t have to do much since the machine is providing the power to pull your rope up – just “walk up” the mountain as you’re being raised, until you reach the top.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing it barefoot as I did, because you could get a few scrapes and bruises on the way up. Nothing serious, but near the top there were a few sections of rocky ground where I got a bit scraped.
Remember, this is Africa! So things are a bit more rough around the edges like that. If this attraction existed in America, we’d probably have an air-conditioned elevator to take guests back up in comfort. And that would be no fun!
Safety: Has there ever been a Victoria Falls gorge swing accident?
Anyone participating in this activity will want to know whether there’s ever been a gorge swing accident at Victoria Falls. No, as of this writing, there has not been such an accident on the gorge swing platform.
There was one bungee jump accident at Victoria Falls back in 2012, when a young Australian woman’s bungee cord snapped and she fell into the Zambezi River. She managed to battle the current to get to shore and survived.
Her account is a reminder that accidents can happen anywhere. But again, that was nearly a decade ago, and it was a different activity. It doesn’t appear as though there’s ever been a gorge swing or flying fox accident at Vic Falls. The safety record of adventure activities on the Victoria Falls Bridge seems quite high. These companies rely entirely on tourism, after all, so it’s in their best interests to make sure everything is extremely safe.
Frequently asked questions about the gorge swing
Where does the gorge swing take place?
The gorge swing takes place along the shore of Victoria Falls, on the Zimbabwe side, looking down into the canyon. The swing is on the Zimbabwe side of the border, so if you’re staying in Zambia, you will need to walk across the Victoria Falls Bridge, pass through customs, and make your way to the launch spot.
While you might think the swing takes place on the Victoria Falls Bridge that separates Zambia from Zimbabwe, that is not the case. Bungee jumping is the only activity that happens on the bridge. And I’d recommend the gorge swing over the bungee jump for sure.
How can I book the Victoria Falls gorge swing, zipline or flying fox?
To book in person, visit the company office at Victoria Falls. In the past, all of these activities took place at the Lookout Cafe, but unfortunately, the cafe burned down in 2018.
These adrenaline activities are still taking place, however, operated by Wild Horizons in the same location. You can find the office by walking to the spot labeled “Foofie Slide” on the map below. It’s down a sidewalk and a gravel road off Livingstone Way. You can walk there or take a short cab ride from the heart of Vic Falls.
To book online, go through the Wild Horizons page or the Lookout Cafe page. If you book online, you may get a free transfer from your hotel to the swing location. Check out their Facebook page for updates on the cafe.
What should I wear to the gorge swing?
Just wear normal clothing, tshirts, shorts, etc. Tennis shoes are best since you’ll need to walk up the mountain on your way back up. You don’t need to bring anything special, except perhaps for a camera, sunscreen, and water.
What time of year does the gorge swing operate?
The gorge swing and related activities operate year-round at Victoria Falls.
Do I need a certain level of fitness to participate?
Nope, we saw all types of people enjoy the gorge swing. It does appear that they have a maximum weight limit of 140 kg, or about 308 pounds.
What is the height and how long is the freefall?
The height of the platform where you’ll be launching from is about 120 meters (393 feet) above the Zambezi River. The freefall lasts almost four seconds and covers about 70 meters (230 feet), before the rope swings out like a pendulum and you sway gently over the river.
How much does the gorge swing cost?
As of this writing, a single gorge swing runs approximately $90 USD, while a tandem costs $130 total (meaning $65 each.) Prices can vary depending on season, and on whether you book on-site or through an online provider.
If you book the half-day adrenaline package, you can get the zipline, flying fox, and gorge swing together for a total of around $140 USD.
If I book and pay in person, what kind of currency and credit cards are accepted?
Many tour companies at Victoria Falls do accept credit cards, but cash is always better just in case. And you’ll avoid international card fees.
All businesses in Zimbabwe today accept and prefer U.S. dollars as the payment method. There is a local Zimbabwean currency, but its value is questionable, so stores and tour companies always accept payment in U.S. dollars. Bring USD for all purchases in the country.
Are kids allowed to do the gorge swing?
Yes, videos have been posted of children as young as 9 doing the gorge swing. The website doesn’t list any specific age requirement – I believe that’s up to the discretion of the employees. You can inquire further when you get to the office.
If you plan to be in Victoria Falls, do not miss the gorge swing! You may be terrified for a few minutes before jumping, but afterwards you’ll be ecstatic that you did it. The gorge swing is way more of an adrenaline rush than sitting in Devil’s Pool, for instance!