One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – Victoria Falls is the world’s largest curtain of falling water. The 1,700 metre wide cascade of water plummets 110 metres down to the lower Zambezi River. This awe inspiring sight also forms the spectacular border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Evolution theorists believe that the falls were formed around 100,000 years ago, when the Upper Zambezi River flowed across the plateau, finding and forming cracks in the softer rock, eventually creating a series of gorges.
Victoria Falls’ local name is “Mosi-oa-Tunya” which translates to “The Smoke That Thunders” – which is spot on. This name was given to the falls by the Kololo tribe that lived in the area in the 1800s.
Dr David Livingstone was the first European to see the falls in 1855. The Scottish missionary and explorer had heard many tales of the thundering, smoke like waters on the Zambezi and he finally arrived before them on November 16, 1855. Livingston stood on a small outcrop on the edge of the waterfall (which was subsequently christened Livingstone Island) and named the Victoria Falls in honour of Queen Victoria.
The magic of the Victoria Falls puts it firmly on the must see list but what other extraordinary secrets does it hold?
The Zimbabwean side of the falls will offer you the best view of the famous curtain of water. Here you will also find the Victoria Falls Rainforest, which is home to a breathtaking range of unique plants and animal life. Listen out for the strange calls of the resident birdlife including the child-like cries of the Trumpeter Hornbills echoing through the rainforest. There’s also the cute Schalow’s Turaco.
This beautiful bird is mainly green but with a blaze of red feathers which show from under its wing when in flight. It also has a funny little Mohawk making it easily recognisable with its red eyes and beak. You may also spot the small fast flying sunbirds among the many colourful and varied species found in the region.
It has its very own rainbow! As the sun shines through the mist created by the falls it forms an almost ever present rainbow. Even at night, the reflection of moonlight on the water creates what is referred to as a ‘Moonbow’ or ‘Lunar Rainbow’. When the moon is full, this can last from sunset to sunrise.
If you visit between the months of September to December, you can enjoy a dip in the world’s most exciting infinity pool! During this time water levels drop and as a result, you can swim to the very edge of Victoria Falls in this naturally formed pool, the Devils Pool, and look down into the gorge below. Other activities around the falls are bungee jumping off the bridge, gorge swings and the world famous white water rafting.
Victoria Falls facts:
- While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on sheer volume of water.
- During the wet season an estimated 5,000,000m³ of water pours over the falls every minute.
- The water depth at the base of the falls is 70 meters (229 feet).
- Fish live in the river above and below the falls. The river is home to 39 species of fish below the falls and 89 species above it.
- The Victoria Falls Bridge was the vision of Cecil John Rhodes but he died before its completion.