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Can You Fly a Drone in Victoria Falls?

Southern Africa’s Victoria Falls is a stunning falls on the Zambezi River where rare animal and plant species propagate

As one of the biggest falls on the planet, Victoria Falls attracts significant visitors. You also wish to go and take your drone with you.

Can you fly a drone in Victoria Falls?

You can fly a drone in Victoria Falls, but only recreationally. You must obtain permission and a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Transport and Communication in Zambia and follow the local drone rules when operating your UAV.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about flying a drone in Victoria Falls, including how to apply for the relevant permit and what drone laws you must know here.

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Bringing a drone to Africa

Before you can fly your drone in Victoria Falls, you must get it into Africa.

It’s recommended you register your drone before you get there, not afterward. You can raise suspicions bringing an unregistered drone into Africa, so go through the proper channels to register the UAV.

Then there’s the matter of how you’ll transport your drone. You can likely bring the UAV on the plane in your checked luggage or carry-on bag, but the allowable bag sizes will vary by airline.

Read up on what your airline allows before you step on the plane.

It’s always best to carry a drone in a bag made specifically for it. This way, it can’t jumble and move around too much en route to your destination.

Remove your drone’s batteries and carry them in a separate bag or compartment.

Check your airline’s policy about carrying batteries, as some deem it a flight risk since batteries have been known to explode in pressurized conditions.

» MORE: Airline Drone Policy (read this before you travel)

Can you fly a drone in Victoria Falls?

Victoria Falls is situated on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. This makes it tricky to regulate because which local drone authority would dictate the rules?

The answer is both. The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Transport and Communication in Zambia make the rules about drone usage in and around Victoria Falls.

So what are the rules?

Well, CAAZ in Zimbabwe dictates that you must have a permit and authorization from them before using a drone around the falls.

The Ministry of Transport and Communication in Zambia requires you to obtain drone flight permission from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zambia.

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Obtaining a permit to fly a drone in Victoria Falls

The first part of flying a drone in Victoria Falls is receiving a permit from CAAZ. Then you can obtain authorization to fly from Zambia’s Ministry of Transport and Communication and CAAZ.

This rule is according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe Regulation No. 2, passed in 2017.

Without a permit, you’re flying illegally, and you don’t want to do that. We’ll discuss why in the next section, so don’t miss it.

CAAZ has all its forms on its website here. Download the form and fill in the fields, providing information like your full name, an email address or phone number, and pertinent details on your drone and your projected flight.

For instance, you must mention where in Zimbabwe you plan to fly your drone and where you registered your drone. You must also share the specs for your drone, including its make and model, and weight.

Once you apply for your permit, CAAZ will get back to you. If CAAZ grants you a permit, it will only last for three months.

At that time, if you’re still interested in using your drone in any part of Zimbabwe, you must repeat the application process.

Remember though that a permit isn’t all you need to fly a drone around beautiful Victoria Falls. You also need CAAZ’s official permission to fly and authorization from the Ministry of Transport and Communication.

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What happens if you use a drone illegally around Victoria Falls?

Using an unregistered drone in Africa carries with it stiff penalties, including a fine or three years behind bars.

You also cannot fly your drone without a permit or authorization, as you could incur the same punishments.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone Over Niagara Falls?

Victoria Falls drone laws to know before your visit

CAAZ and the Ministry of Transport and Communication each have their own respective drone laws, and Victoria Falls has its own set of rules as established by the drone authorities.

Let’s go over everything you need to know.

CAAZ drone laws

Here is a collection of drone laws established by CAAZ:

  • You must have a valid drone license. If you don’t already hold one, you can only apply for a drone license in Africa if you’re 18 and older. You must pass a medical assessment, foreign theoretical training, a practical assessment, and a radiotelephony exam to obtain your license.
  • You must have registered your drone with the Zimbabwean government.
  • You cannot use your drone for aerial videography or photography unless you have prior permission from CAAZ.
  • You can only fly a drone recreationally, not commercially.
  • You cannot operate your drone near a military installation, airport, or restricted area.
  • You must have permission when operating over private or public property.
  • Your drone cannot fly higher than 120 meters from the ground.
  • Your drone must stay in your visual line of sight the entire time you fly it.

Ministry of Transport and Communication drone laws

The Ministry of Transport and Communication requires pilots using drones in Africa to abide by these laws:

  • You must have a valid, current drone license.
  • You must register your drone with the Zambian government.
  • You cannot use your drone for aerial videography or photography unless you have prior permission from the Ministry of Transport and Communication.
  • You cannot use your drone commercially, only for recreational purposes.
  • You cannot use your drone near military installations, airports, or restricted areas.
  • You must have permission to fly your drone over private or public property.
  • You cannot fly higher than 120 meters from the ground.
  • Your drone must stay in your visual line of sight during operations.

Victoria Falls drone laws

Finally, we have the laws that the Ministry of Transport and Communication and CAAZ established when using a drone around Victoria Falls:

  • As the drone operator, you’re responsible for your actions. You must prioritize safe operations whenever you launch your drone.
  • You cannot take videos or photos of any other people unless they consent to it. This may mean visiting the falls during the less busy hours or taking photos and videos selectively.
  • You cannot operate your drone in poor weather such as rain, hail, fog, snow, or strong winds.
  • You cannot fly a drone at night around the falls. It’s too dangerous.
  • You cannot fly your drone in, around, or over protected areas near or within Victoria Falls, including wildlife preserves.
  • You cannot use your drone near national parks around Victoria Falls.
  • You must stay at least 152 meters or 500 feet from environmentally sensitive areas and wildlife.
  • Your drone cannot fly within 45 meters or 150 feet of other aircraft, vehicles, buildings, and people.
  • Your drone cannot fly over 121 meters or 400 feet from the ground.
  • Do not use your drone to interfere with aircraft, including unmanned aircraft like other drones and especially manned aircraft.
  • Follow local security laws, which ban data collection via drone and might also outlaw encrypted communications.
  • Do not fly over sensitive infrastructure like hospitals and schools around Victoria Falls. These are strict no-fly zones, and you will receive a sanction or fine for violating this rule.
  • Do not use your drone for surveillance purposes.
  • Local regulations can change at any time. Review current drone laws with the local authorities before using your drone in Victoria Falls.
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Victoria Falls, nicknamed Boiling Water and Thundering Smoke, overlooks southern Africa’s Zambezi River and measures 5,604 feet.

While drone pilots can operate here, you have to go through a lot to make it happen.

The unique positioning of Victoria Falls between Zimbabwe and Zambia means you must follow both authorities’ respective drone rules.

Those rules happen to overlap in a lot of places, fortunately for you!

You must have a CAAZ-issued permit and the organization’s permission before you fly. You must also obtain permission from the Ministry of Transport and Communication in Zambia.

Being able to see Victoria Falls with your own two eyes and capture magnificent drone footage makes it all worth it!