Known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke That Thunders), the Victoria Falls are a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe. The mile-wide Zambezi River suddenly plunges 30 stories, spilling water at a volume of more than 1 million gallons per second (2 million gallons during the rainy season). Rainbows, and columns of spray envelope you as the water plummets with a thunderous roar - no other natural wonder in Africa matches the falls' raw power.
Facing the Falls is another sheer wall of basalt, rising to the same height and capped by mist-soaked rain forest. A path along the edge of the forest provides the visitor who is prepared to brave the tremendous spray with an unparalleled series of views of the Falls.
Victoria Falls actually consists of several separate falls, divided by islands in the river - the most impressive are Main Falls, Rainbow Falls, and the Devil's Cataract.
The best time of year to visit Victoria Falls is midway through the dry season – during July or August. The volume of water pouring over the falls is at its highest at the end of the rainy season (March – May), but this isn’t a great time to visit as the immense amount of spray obscures views of the falls. Throughout the year there is a sufficient mist to sustain a lush rain forest in the gorge, even when the rest of the country is parched.
The Falls can be viewed from a number of different vantage points, on both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides of the Zambezi. For aerial views, take the Flight of Angels (a twin-engine plane) or microlight along the length of the falls – it won’t break your budget and it’s really worth every penny!
The Falls are located within the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, which provides sanctuary to numerous antelope species, zebra, giraffe and the only white rhinos to be found in Zambia.
For the adventurous and extreme sports fans, Victoria Falls is rapidly becoming known as the ‘Adventure Centre’ of Southern Africa, with various adrenaline sports, and other leisure options in this breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Activities on offer include
- whitewater rafting through Batoka Gorge,
- bungi jumping off the 111m high Victoria Falls bridge,
- canoeing on the upper Zambezi,
- horseback trails along the Zambezi,
- abseiling off the sheer cliffs of Victoria Falls Gorge,
- tandem kayaking through the rapids,
- river safaris and
- elephant back safaris.
Please note: If you’re planning to visit Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe, or view the falls from the international bridge, you will need to get a multiple-entry visa so that you can return to Zambia.
photo copyright: Kwando Safaris