Banks -- In Zimbabwe, you will need foreign currency. On the Zambian side, you can buy kwacha (Zambian currency) at hotels, or use the ATM at The Falls casino and entertainment center, near the border. Most prices are quoted in U.S. dollars, but getting change on large notes is hard, so it's useful to have some local currency or to carry small dollar denominations.

Business Hours -- Shops are generally open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 5pm. Activity centers and markets are open daily 6am to 6pm; many close only when the last traveler leaves.

Crime -- Despite the political crisis that has almost crippled Zimbabwe, the falls remain largely unaffected and relatively quiet and safe. Hoteliers in Victoria Falls are mindful of the vulnerability of their guests in a place where people are starving, so there's tight security as well as a Tourism Police service (look out for the yellow jackets), with guards patrolling a broad area on foot, horseback, quadbike, and bicycle from 7am to 9pm daily. Avoid petty crime by not flashing valuables, and stay in groups, particularly at night; also stay clear of deserted areas, including the banks of the Zambezi. Bear in mind that Livingstone is a much larger town than Victoria Falls, and many people live here to cash in on tourists; be alert and don't walk around alone.

Doctors -- In Livingstone: Contact Dr. Shafik, 1115 Kateti Rd. (tel. 260/213/32-1130). In Victoria Falls: Contact Dr. Nyoni at Victoria Falls Surgery, West Drive, off Park Way (tel. 263/13/43356; Mon-Fri 9:30am-5pm, Sat 9:30am-5pm, Sun 9:30-5pm; after hours tel. 263/13/40529).

Drugstores -- Drugstores are called chemists or pharmacies. In Livingstone: LF Moore Chemist is the establishment store on Akapelwa Street (tel. 260/213/32-1640). In Victoria Falls: Victoria Falls Pharmacy is located in Phumula Centre, Park Way (tel. 263/13/44403; Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat-Sun 8am-noon). A drugstore in the Kingdom Hotel is open daily.

Electricity -- Electricity in southern Africa runs on 220/230V, 50Hz AC, and sockets in Zimbabwe and Zambia take flat-pinned plugs. Bring an adapter/voltage converter; note that some bush camps have no electricity.

Embassies & Consulates -- All offices are in the capital cities of Harare (Zimbabwe) and Lusaka (Zambia); if you have diplomatic problems, speak to your hotel manager and ask him to contact your country's local representative.

Emergencies -- Your hotel or lodge is your best bet for the safest medical and emergency care. Alternatively, contact Medical Air Rescue Service, a 24-hour emergency evacuation service (tel. 263/13/44764). For an ambulance, call tel. 44210; for the police, call tel. 44206; to report a fire, call tel. 44400; for general emergencies, call tel. 112 or 44206.

Health -- Malaria -- Before leaving, ask your physician about starting a course of antimalarial prophylactics. If you suspect you have malaria, get to a doctor immediately for a test.

Language -- English is spoken in the tourist regions of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Time Zone -- Both Zimbabwe and Zambia are 5 hours ahead of GMT and 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Tipping -- For a meal, leave 10%; for small services such as hotel porters carrying your bags, tip $1 to $3, or the equivalent.

Visas -- Zambia: Thankfully, the Zambian government has slashed visa fees, and single entry now costs $50 (double entry is $80); a daytripper visa costs $20. Zimbabwe: Visa fees depend on nationality. For British nationals, a single entry costs $55 ($70 for double entry). U.S. nationals must pay $45 (this is automatically a double-entry visa). Canadians pay $75. Australians, New Zealanders, and Americans can purchase one for $30 (double entry $45). Do double-check these figures (they tend to change pretty regularly), if you intend to purchase a visa on arrival (visit www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm).

Water -- Tap water is generally considered safe, but it's worth asking first. You're often better off drinking the bottled water provided in your hotel room, because local water is less processed and may be richer in mineral content than your stomach is used to. The recent cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe did not affect Victoria Falls, and the area remains cholera free.

Wildlife -- Keep your eye out for elephants and hippos when you're out walking, cycling, or canoeing. Do not block their routes -- it's best not to turn around, but back away slowly. When driving on highways that are part of national parkland, never speed, and keep a watchful eye out for animals emerging from the bush to cross the road. Baboons are a nuisance on both sides of the falls. Keep food out of sight and remember that -- like all wild animals -- they are unpredictable and potentially dangerous.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.