The Victoria Falls constitutes one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. The Local people call it "Mosi-oa-Tunya", the smoke that thunders and is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
There is a magic about them manifested in the towering column of spray when the river is high, the thunder of the falling water, the terrifying abyss and tranquil lagoons upstream in which hippo and deadly crocodiles lurk.
The Victoria falls is 1 708 meters wide, making it the largest curtain of water in the world. It drops between 90m and 107m into the Zambezi Gorge and an average of 550,000 cubic metres of water plummet over the edge every minute.
Remarkably preserved in its natural state, Victoria falls inspires visitors as much today as it did David Livingstone in the 1860's. The falls and the surrounding area have been declared National Parks and a World Heritage Site, thus preserving the area from excessive commercialization.
Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Statistically speaking, it is the largest waterfall in the world. This recognition comes from combining the height and width together to create the largest single sheet of flowing water. Livingstone named the falls after the reining queen at the time.
Footage of Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls from the BBC Wild Africa series
Seasons The river's annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April. The spray from the falls typically rises to a height of over 400 metres (1,300 ft), and sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from up to 50 km (30 miles) away.
During the flood season, however, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist. Close to the edge of the cliff, spray shoots upward like inverted rain, especially at Zambia's Knife-Edge Bridge. As the dry season takes effect, the islets on the crest become wider and more numerous, and in September to January up to half of the rocky face of the falls may become dry and the bottom of the First Gorge can be seen along most of its length.
The minimum flow, which occurs in November, is around a tenth of the April figure.
Towns Victoria Falls town (in Zimbabwe) lies on the southern bank of the Zambezi River at the eastern end of the Victoria Falls themselves. Victoria Falls Airport is 18 km south of the town and has international flights to Johannesburg and Namibia.
Livingstone (in Zambia) is a historic colonial city and tourism centre for Victoria Falls lying 10 km south on the Zambezi River, and a border town with road and rail connections to Zimbabwe on the other side of the Falls. The Airport has international flights to Lusaka and Johannesburg in South Africa.
National Parks Open to visitors throughout the year, the Victoria Falls National Park in north-western Zimbabwe protects the south and east bank of the Zambezi River. It covers 23.4 km extending from the larger Zambezi National Park about 6 km above the falls to about 12 km below the falls.
A notable feature of the park is the rainforest which grows in the spray of the falls, including ferns, palms, liana vines, and a number of trees such as mahogany not seen elsewhere in the region.
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia is an UNESCO World Heritage site and is twinned to the Victoria Falls National Park on the Zimbabwean side. The Park covers 66 km (25.5 square miles) from below the falls in a north-west arc along about 20 km of the Zambian river bank. It froms the south-western boundary of Livingstone and has two main sections, a wildlife park at its north-western end and the land adjacent to the Victoria Falls.
The national parks contain abundant wildlife including sizable populations of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, and a variety of antelope.
Victoria Falls Activities
A number of activities can be undertaken. The 'Flight of Angels' provides a fabulous vista of the falls, the upstream river and its many islands and for the more adventurous there is micro lighting with stunning views of the Fall.
Rafting the wild rapids below the Falls is a very popular adventure. Visitors can also kayak, canoe, fish, go on guided walking safaris, ride on horseback and lunch on Livingstone's Island.
Game viewing via boat or open vehicles is a popular activity above the falls or in in Chobe in Botswana.