Victoria Falls: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Victoria Falls / Mosi-oa-Tunya
Main falls of Mosi-oa-Tunya or Victoria Falls
Location Livingstone, Zambia
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Coordinates 17°55′28″S 25°51′24″E / 17.92444°S 25.85667°E / -17.92444; 25.85667
Total height 108 metres (360 ft)
Number of drops 1
Average flow rate 1088 m³/s (38,430 cu ft/s)
Watercourse Zambezi River

The Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders) is a waterfall located in southern Africa on the Zambezi River between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls are some of the largest in the world.



At lower water levels, more of the First Gorge can be seen.

The Victoria Falls are considered by some to be among the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.[1] David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European recorded to view the Victoria Falls.[2][2] (see pre-colonial history, below), and this is the name in use in Zimbabwe. The older, indigenous name of Mosi-oa-Tunya is the name in official use in Zambia. The World Heritage List recognises both names.[3] While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is claimed to be the largest. This claim is based on a width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft)[4] and height of 108 meters (360 ft), forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world. The falls' maximum flow rate compares well with that of other major waterfalls (see table below).[3]

Physical features

The Eastern Cataract, on the Zambian side.

For a considerable distance above the falls, the Zambezi flows over a level sheet of basalt, in a shallow valley bounded by low and distant sandstone hills. The river's course is dotted with numerous tree-covered islands, which increase in number as the river approaches the falls. There are no mountains, escarpments, or deep valleys which might be expected to create a waterfall, only flat plateau extending hundreds of kilometres in all directions.[5]

The falls are formed as the full width of the river plummets in a single vertical drop into a transverse chasm 1708 meters (5604 ft) wide, carved by its waters along a fracture zone in the basalt plateau. The depth of the chasm, called the First Gorge, varies from 80 metres (262 ft) at its western end to 108 metres (360 ft) in the centre. The only outlet to the First Gorge is a 110-metre-wide (360 ft) gap about two-thirds of the way across the width of the falls from the western end, through which the whole volume of the river pours into the Victoria Falls gorges.[5]

There are two islands on the crest of the falls that are large enough to divide the curtain of water even at full flood: Boaruka Island (or Cataract Island) near the western bank, and Livingstone Island near the middle. At less than full flood, additional islets divide the curtain of water into separate parallel streams. The main streams are named, in order from Zimbabwe (west) to Zambia (east): Devil's Cataract (called Leaping Water by some), Main Falls, Rainbow Falls (the highest) and the Eastern Cataract.[5]


Flood and dry season flow rates

Victoria Falls from the air 1972.jpg Victoria5.jpg
‘The Smoke that Thunders’, rainy season, 1972 . . . and dry season, September 2003
Size and flow rate of Victoria Falls with Niagara and Iguazu for comparison
Parameters Victoria Falls Niagara Falls Iguazu Falls
Height in meters and feet:[3] 108 m 360 ft 51 m 167 ft 64–82 m 210–269 ft
Width in meters and feet:[3] 1,708 m 5,604 ft 1,203 m 3,947 ft 2,700 m 8,858 ft
Flow rate units (vol/s): m³/s cu ft/s m³/s cu ft/s m³/s cu ft/s
Mean annual flow rate:[3] 1,088 38,430 2,407 85,000 1,746 61,600
Mean monthly flow[6] — max: 3,000 105,944
— min:[6] 300 10,594
— 10yr max:[6] 6,000 211,888
Highest recorded flow:[3] 12,800 452,000 6,800 240,000 12,600 444,965
Notes: See references for explanation of measurements.
For water, cubic metres per second = tonnes per second.
Half the water approaching Niagara is diverted for hydroelectric power.
Iguazu has two drops; height given for biggest drop and total height.
10 falls have greater or equal flow rates, but are not as high as Iguazu and Victoria Falls.[6]

The Zambezi basin above the falls experiences a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season the rest of the year. The river's annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April,[6] 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. At full moon, a "moonbow" can be seen in the spray instead of the usual daylight rainbow. 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.[5]

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. At this time it becomes possible (though not necessarily safe) to walk across some stretches of the river at the crest. It is also possible to walk to the bottom of the First Gorge at the Zimbabwean side. The minimum flow, which occurs in November, is around a tenth of the April figure; this variation in flow is greater than that of other major falls, and causes Victoria Falls' annual average flow rate to be lower than might be expected based on the maximum flow.[5]

Victoria Falls is roughly thrice the height of North America's Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. In height and width Victoria Falls is rivalled only by South America's Iguazu Falls. See table for comparisons

The Victoria Falls Gorges

Satellite image showing the broad Zambezi falling into the narrow cleft and subsequent series of zigzagging gorges (top of picture is north).
Victoria Falls Bridge spanning the Second Gorge.

The whole volume of the Zambezi River pours through the First Gorge's 110-meter-wide (360 ft) exit for a distance of about 150 meters (500 ft), then enters a zigzagging series of gorges designated by the order in which the river reaches them. Water entering the Second Gorge makes a sharp right turn and has carved out a deep pool there called the Boiling Pot. Reached via a steep footpath from the Zambian side, it is about 150 metres (500 ft) across. Its surface is smooth at low water, but at high water is marked by enormous, slow swirls and heavy boiling turbulence.[5] Objects—and humans—that are swept over the falls, including the occasional hippo, are frequently found swirling about here or washed up at the north-east end of the Second Gorge. This is where the bodies of Mrs Moss and Mr Orchard, mutilated by crocodiles, were found in 1910 after two canoes were capsized by a hippo at Long Island above the falls.[7]

The principal gorges are (see reference for note about these measurements):[8]

  • First Gorge: the one the river falls into at Victoria Falls
  • Second Gorge: (spanned by the Victoria Falls Bridge), 250 m south of falls, 2.15 km long (270 yd south, 2350 yd long)
  • Third Gorge: 600 m south, 1.95 km long (650 yd south, 2100 yd long)
  • Fourth Gorge: 1.15 km south, 2.25 km long (1256 yd south, 2460 yd long)
  • Fifth Gorge: 2.55 km south, 3.2 km long (1.5 mi south, 2 mi long)
  • Songwe Gorge: 5.3 km south, 3.3 km long, (3.3 mi south, 2 mi long) named after the small Songwe River coming from the north-east, and the deepest at 140 m (460 ft), at the end of the dry season.
  • Batoka Gorge: The gorge below the Songwe is called the Batoka Gorge (which is also used as an umbrella name for all the gorges). It is about 120 kilometres (75 mi) long (the straight line distance to its end is about 80 kilometres (50 mi) east of the falls) and takes the river through the basalt plateau to the valley in which Lake Kariba now lies.

The walls of the gorges are nearly vertical and generally about 120 metres (400 ft) high, but the level of the river in them varies by up to 20 meters (65 ft) between wet and dry seasons.[5]


"Devil's Cataract", the westernmost cataract of Victoria Falls and the start of a line of weakness where the next falls will form.

The recent geological history of Victoria Falls can be seen in the form of the gorges below the falls. The basalt plateau over which the Upper Zambezi flows has many large cracks filled with weaker sandstone. In the area of the current falls the largest cracks run roughly east to west (some run nearly north-east to south-west), with smaller north-south cracks connecting them.

Over at least 100,000 years, the falls have been receding upstream through the Batoka Gorges, eroding the sandstone-filled cracks to form the gorges. The river's course in the current vicinity of the falls is north to south, so it opens up the large east-west cracks across its full width, then it cuts back through a short north-south crack to the next east-west one. The river has fallen in different eras into different chasms which now form a series of sharply zig-zagging gorges downstream from the falls. [5]

Ignoring some dry sections, the Second to Fifth and the Songwe Gorges each represents a past site of the falls at a time when they fell into one long straight chasm as they do now.[5] Their sizes indicate that we are not living in the age of the widest ever falls.

The falls have already started cutting back the next major gorge, at the dip in one side of the "Devil's Cataract" (also known as "Leaping Waters") section of the falls. This is not actually a north-south crack, but a large east-northeast line of weakness across the river, where the next full-width falls will eventually form.

Further geological history of the course of the Zambezi River is in the article of that name.

Pre-colonial history

Archaeological sites around the falls have yielded Homo habilis stone artifacts from 3 million years ago, 50,000-year-old Middle Stone Age tools and Late Stone Age (10,000 and 2,000 years ago) weapons, adornments and digging tools.[9] Iron-using Khoisan hunter-gatherers displaced these Stone Age people and in turn were displaced by Bantu tribes such as the southern Tonga people known as the Batoka/Tokalea, who called the falls Shungu na mutitima. The Matabele, later arrivals, named them aManz' aThunqayo, and the Batswana and Makololo (whose language is used by the Lozi people) call them Mosi-oa-Tunya. All these names mean essentially "the smoke that thunders".[10]

The first European to see the falls was David Livingstone on 17 November 1855, during his 1852–56 journey from the upper Zambezi to the mouth of the river. The falls were well known to local tribes, and Voortrekker hunters may have known of them, as may the Arabs under a name equivalent to "the end of the world". Europeans were sceptical of their reports, perhaps thinking that the lack of mountains and valleys on the plateau made a large falls unlikely.[11][12]

Livingstone had been told about the falls before he reached them from upriver and was paddled across to a small island that now bears the name Livingstone Island. Livingstone had previously been impressed by the Ngonye Falls further upstream, but found the new falls much more impressive, and gave them their English name in honour of Queen Victoria. He wrote of the falls, "No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight."[5]

In 1860, Livingstone returned to the area and made a detailed study of the falls with John Kirk. Other early European visitors included Portuguese explorer Serpa Pinto, Czech explorer Emil Holub, who made the first detailed plan of the falls and its surroundings in 1875 (published in 1880),[13] and British artist Thomas Baines, who executed some of the earliest paintings of the falls. Until the area was opened up by the building of the railway in 1905, though, the falls were seldom visited by other Europeans.

History since 1900

Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Victoria Falls' Second Gorge (with bridge) and Third Gorge (right). The peninsular cliffs are in Zambia, the outer cliffs in Zimbabwe.
State Party  Zambia and  Zimbabwe
Type Natural
Criteria vii, viii
Reference 509
Region** Africa
Inscription history
Inscription 1989  (13th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

The Victoria Falls Bridge initiates tourism

European settlement of the Victoria Falls area started around 1900 in response to the desire of Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company for mineral rights and imperial rule north of the Zambezi, and the exploitation of other natural resources such as timber forests north-east of the falls, and ivory and animal skins. Before 1905, the river was crossed above the falls at the Old Drift, by dugout canoe or a barge towed across with a steel cable.[7] Rhodes' vision of a Cape-Cairo railway drove plans for the first bridge across the Zambezi and he insisted it be built where the spray from the falls would fall on passing trains, so the site at the Second Gorge was chosen. See the main article Victoria Falls Bridge for details.[5] From 1905 the railway offered accessible travel to whites from as far as the Cape in the south and from 1909, as far as the Belgian Congo in the north. The falls became an increasingly popular attraction during British colonial rule of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), with the town of Victoria Falls becoming the main tourist centre.

Zambia's independence and Rhodesia's UDI

In 1964, Northern Rhodesia became the independent state of Zambia. The following year, Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence. This was not recognized by Zambia, the United Kingdom or the vast majority of states and led to UN-mandated sanctions. In response to the emerging crisis, in 1966 Zambia restricted or stopped border crossings; it did not re-open the border completely until 1980. Guerilla warfare arose on the southern side of the Zambezi from 1972: the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia War. Visitor numbers began to drop, particularly on the Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) side. The war affected Zambia through military incursions, causing the latter to impose security measures including the stationing of soldiers to restrict access to the gorges and some parts of the falls.

Zimbabwean independence in 1980 brought comparative peace, and the 1980s witnessed renewed levels of tourism and the development of the region as a centre for adventure sports. Activities that gained popularity in the area include whitewater rafting in the gorges, bungee jumping from the bridge, game fishing, horse riding, kayaking, and flights over the falls.[9]

Tourism in recent years

"Devil's Pool", a naturally formed safe swimming pool.
Victoria Falls entrance

By the end of the 1990s, almost 300,000 people were visiting the falls annually, and this was expected to rise to over a million in the next decade. Unlike the game parks, Victoria Falls has more Zimbabwean and Zambian visitors than international tourists as they are accessible by bus and train and therefore comparatively inexpensive to reach. This waterfall was the very first destination ever to be visited in The Amazing Race.[9]

The two countries permit tourists to make day trips from one side to the other without the necessity of obtaining a visa in advance, but visas issued at the border are expensive, particularly upon entering Zimbabwe. In 2008 Zambia increased the prices of their visas, and a U.S. or U.K. citizen can expect to pay US$135 or US$140 for a 3-year multiple-entry visa. Citizens of other nations will pay varying rates for a 3-month Visa, typically about £50, but may need to purchase a visa each time they cross the border.[14]

A famous feature is a naturally formed pool known as the Devil's Pool, near the edge of the falls, accessed via Livingstone Island. When the river flow is at a safe level, usually during the months of September and December, people can swim as close as possible to the edge of the falls within the pool without continuing over the edge and falling into the gorge; this is possible due to a natural rock wall just below the water and at the very edge of the falls that stops their progress despite the current.[15][16]

The numbers of visitors to the Zimbabwean side of the falls has historically been much higher than the number visiting the Zambia side, due to the greater development of the visitor facilities there. However, the number of tourists visiting Zimbabwe began to decline in the early 2000s as political tensions between supporters and opponents of president Robert Mugabe increased. In 2006, hotel occupancy on the Zimbabwean side hovered at around 30%, while the Zambian side was at near-capacity, with rates reaching US$630 per night.[17][18] The rapid development has prompted the United Nations to consider revoking the Falls' status as a World Heritage Site.[19] In addition, problems of waste disposal and a lack of effective management of the falls' environment are a concern.[20]

Natural environment

Two white rhinos at Mosi-oa-Tunya national park in May 2005. They are not indigenous, but were imported from South Africa.

National parks

The two national parks at the falls are relatively small — Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is 66 square kilometres (16,309 acres) and Victoria Falls National Park is 23 square kilometres (5,683 acres). However, next to the latter on the southern bank is the Zambezi National Park, extending 40 kilometers (25 mi) west along the river.[5] Animals can move between the two Zimbabwean parks and can also reach Matetsi Safari Area, Kazuma Pan National Park and Hwange National Park to the south.[9]

On the Zambian side, fences and the outskirts of Livingstone tend to confine most animals to the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. In addition fences put up by lodges in response to crime restrict animal movement.[20]


Mopane woodland savannah predominates in the area, with smaller areas of Miombo and Rhodesian Teak woodland and scrubland savannah. Riverine forest with palm trees lines the banks and islands above the falls. The most notable aspect of the area's vegetation though is the rainforest nurtured by the spray from the falls, containing plants rare for the area such as pod mahogany, ebony, ivory palm, wild date palm and a number of creepers and lianas.[9] Vegetation has suffered in recent droughts, and so have the animals that depend on it, particularly antelope.


The national parks contain abundant wildlife including sizable populations of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, and a variety of antelope. Lion and leopard are only occasionally seen. Vervet monkeys and baboons are common. The river above the falls contains large populations of hippopotamus and crocodile. Elephants cross the river in the dry season at particular crossing points.[9]

Klipspringers and clawless otters can be glimpsed in the gorges, but they are mainly known for 35 species of raptors. The Taita Falcon, Black Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Augur Buzzard breed there. Above the falls, herons, Fish Eagles and numerous kinds of waterfowl are common.[9]


The river is home to 39 species of fish below the falls and 89 species above it, mostly black cod and slippery trout. This illustrates the effectiveness of the falls as a dividing barrier between the upper and lower Zambezi.[9]


Victoria Falls in the winter season.
Victoria Falls seen from Zimbabwe in July.
The Victoria Falls (Mosi-o-Tunya), Livingstone, Zambia: A panoramic view from the Zambian side near the Knife-edge bridge
The Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya), Livingstone, Zambia: A panoramic view from the Zambian side near the Knife-edge bridge

See also


  1. ^ The Seven Natural Wonders Website accessed 29 April 2009.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b c d e f World Waterfalls Website accessed 1 March 2007
  4. ^ Southern Africa Places (2009). Victoria Falls. Retrieved on 2009-05-18 from
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l compiled and edited by Camerapix (1996). Spectrum Guide to Zambia. Nairobi: Camerapix International Publishing. ISBN 978-1874041146. 
  6. ^ a b c d e World Commission on Dams website: "Case Study — Kariba Dam-Zambezi River Basin" Annex 13 & 14 Victoria Falls Mean Monthly Flows. Website accessed 1 March 2007. This website gives mean monthly flow rates in cubic metres per second (i.e., the total volume of water passing in each calendar month divided by the number of seconds in the month), the standard measure used in hydrology to indicate seasonal variation in flow. A figure of around 9,000 m³/s (318,000 cu ft) is quoted by many websites for Victoria Falls but this is the mean maximum instantaneous rate, which is only achieved for a little amount of days per year. The figure of 536 million m³/minute (18.9 billion cu ft/min) on some websites (eg ZNTB) is an error for 536 million litres/minute (equivalent to 9100 m³/s or 142 million U.S. gallons/min). The '10-year maximum' is the mean of the maximum monthly rate returned in a ten-year period.
  7. ^ a b The Northern Rhodesia Journal" online, B. L. Hunt: "Kalomo to Livingstone in 1907". Vol IV No 1 (1959) p16. Accessed 28 February 2007. Mr Moss and Mrs Orchard and the eight Lozi paddlers managed to swim to the island, one of the paddlers saving the Orchards' year-old baby.
  8. ^ "Zambia — Gorges" on accessed 28 February 2007
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h United Nations Environment Programme: Protected Areas and World Heritage World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Website accessed 1 March 2007.
  10. ^ The Northern Rhodesia Journal" online: "Native Name of Victoria Falls", Vol I No 6 pp68 (1952). Accessed February 28, 2007.
  11. ^ The Northern Rhodesia Journal" online: "Native Name of Victoria Falls", Vol I No 4 pp80-82 (1951). Accessed February 28, 2007.
  12. ^ Agter die Magalies": "Agter Die Magalies" B.K. de Beer, pp43-44(1975) Postma Publications. Accessed September 1, 2007.
  13. ^ The international service of Czech Radio online: "Statue of explorer Emil Holub unveiled in Livingstone, Zambia" accessed 28 February 2007.
  14. ^ Embassy of the Republic of Zambia - Visa Fees
  15. ^ he3halo: Another one to add to ToGo list
  16. ^
  17. ^ "At African Waterfall, Visitors Confront A Tale of Two Cities." Trofimov, Y. The Wall Street Journal. December 29, 2006.
  18. ^ Victoria Falls Journal; The Best of Times, and the Worst, for Two Tourist Towns
  19. ^ Victoria Falls 'at risk', UN warns The Independent, 7 January 2007
  20. ^ a b S Hanyona: "Zambia's Ecotourism Venture Clouded by Ecotroubles." March 5, 2002. ENS website accessed 9 March 2007.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Africa : Southern Africa : Zimbabwe : Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls

No doubt about it, Mosi-oa-Tunya (meaning "The Smoke That Thunders") -- but more commonly known as Victoria Falls -- is one of the most amazing sights in the world. Just a few miles outside Livingstone and Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), the Falls are twice as tall as Niagara Falls, and several times longer.


The big question is which side - Zambia or Zimbabwe? - the answer is quite simply Zimbabwe - If you are traveling through Zambia then Zimbabwe's reputation may put you off - but it shouldn't - although the US$30 visa and US$20 entry fee (US$10 for SADC residents) to the Falls may do more to deter you if you are only coming over for the day. Still it is another African country to brag about visiting and the visa has an impressive hologram on it! That said, the money from the visa may well go to support the Mugabe government.

Victoria Falls is CASH ONLY. Furthermore, there are NO ATMs that accept foreign cards in the Victoria Falls area. If you are out of cash, you will have to go to Zambia to withdraw, and will likely have to exchange Zambian Kwachas for US Dollars or South African Rands. Do NOT get stuck without adequate cash on hand.


It took thousands of years of erosion for Victoria Falls to appear as and where it does now. Mosi-oa-Tunya, or "the smoke that thunders” only became known to the western world as Victoria Falls after David Livingstone first set eyes on this astonishing natural wonder in 1855, a heartbeat ago in geological time.

How the Falls Were Formed

During the Jurassic Period (150 - 200 million years ago) volcanic activity resulted in thick basalt deposits covering large parts of Southern Africa. As the lava cooled and solidified, cracks appeared in the hard basalt crust, which were filled with clay and lime. Erosion and the course of the mighty Zambezi River cut through these softer materials, forming the first of a series of waterfalls. Over at least 2,000 years, the Falls have receded 8km upstream, as the Zambezi carved its way through seven gorges. This geological history can be seen in the dark basalt in the series of rocky gorges below the Falls. It is guessed that the Devil's Cataract, which is presently the lowest point of Victoria Falls, will eventually become the next gorge as the river continues to cut its way back upstream.

Dr. David Livingstone, I Presume

Scottish missionary David Livingstone first heard about Victoria Falls, known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, a full four years before he arrived there. The area was a sacred site for the Batoka and other local tribes. On the 17th of November 1855 Chief Sekeletu of the Makololo paddled Livingstone to an island in the Zambezi, known as Goat Island. Although the water was low at the time, it's little wonder that he felt a "tremor of fear" as he approached the wall of spray.

Gazing down into the churning chasm below must have been a heart-stopping experience (you can still make your way out to the island - now called Livingstone Island - during the dry season).Rumours abound that a Portuguese man beat him to it, but the evidence for this is scarce, so the first official description of the Falls, as penned by Livingstone, follows: "No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight."

The Railway Bridge

The discovery of coal in Hwange and reports of copper in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) brought an influx of people into the area around the Falls. The Victoria Falls Bridge was commissioned by Cecil John Rhodes in 1900, as part of his ambitious plan to build a Cape to Cairo railway. The railway line never made it as far as Cairo, but the bridge was completed in 1905, opening up the area to colonisation. An interesting snippet of information about the railway bridge is that the first living creature to cross it was a leopard.

Get in

ACCESS to Victoria Falls Zimbabwe is assured with 24 international flights every week – 21 from Johannesburg and three from Namibian capital, Windhoek. These are complemented by a daily flight from Harare by Air Zimbabwe, plus a good road network from the South African border at Beit Bridge right through to the Falls. Additionally Air Botswana flies into Kasane, Chobe, just a 90-minute road transfer (and often a game drive itself) to the Falls and BA Comair and SAA all fly into Livingstone, Zambia, just a 30-minute transfer across the bridge border into Zimbabwe. And Air Zimbabwe is gearing up for the building momentum – they have approval to buy four more modern jets – two 767s and two 737s.

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls

The park is open year-round, but you will get a much different experience depending on the season in which you visit.

  • In the rainy season (November to March), the water volume will be higher and the Falls will be more dramatic. You are guaranteed to get wet if you cross the bridge or walk along the trails winding near the Falls. On the other hand, it is precisely because the volume of water is so high that your viewing of the actual Falls will be obscured -- by all the water!
  • In the dry season, (April to October), the water volume will be lower, and Victoria Falls might just be a trickle. You will get a clearer view of the rocky ledge beneath the Falls, which is pretty spectacular unto itself, but "the Falls" might be somewhat underwhelming.

There are some great hotels in Livingstone (Zambian side). There are some expensive resorts that are operated by Sun International, but various others a little distance from the falls.

  • Upper Zambezi Canoe Safari
  • Golfing
  • Visit the Wild Horizons Wildlife Sanctuary and Orphanage
  • Bungee
  • White water rafting (Grade 5, Grade 6 being commercially un-runable!)
  • Cruise up the Zambezi upstream of the falls. This is a must do. Utterly beautiful.
  • Take a microlight flight over the falls.
  • Experience a Wild Horizons Elephant Back Safari
  • Craft shopping in Vic Falls Town. Be prepared to bargain hard.
  • Gorge Swing! Zip Line! Flying Fox or Abseil
  • Experience the Steam Train Bridge Run at Sunset
  • A Full Day Trip to Chobe
  • Horse Riding
  • lion encounter experence
  • helle copter ride


There is no food available within the park--bring it in yourself if you need something. Also, the monkeys within Victoria Falls will try to snatch your food if you are not paying attention to it.

  • The Boma – Place of Eating
  • Makuwa-Kuwa at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
  • Palm Restaurant at Ilala Lodge
  • Livingstone Room at the Victoria Falls Hotel
  • Jungle Junction at the Victoria Falls Hotel


There are no "official" stops for drinks within the park (except for one drinking fountain, but drink at your own risk--the monkeys play in it), so prepare yourself by bringing drinks in advance. Directly across the street from the entrance are stands that sell drinks. A 500mL water bottle is only US$1. Inside the park you may find a single person selling some drinks as well, also for US$1.


It is not possible to sleep or dine in the park. Most people sleep in either Livingstone -- in Zambia -- or Victoria Falls -- in Zimbabwe.

  • Amadeus Garden, 538 Reynard Road Victoria Falls, [1]. Owner managed accommodation two kilometers from the Victoria Falls.  edit
  • Amadeus Garden owner managed lodge B&B style just 2km from the Falls, comprising of eleven bedrooms set around a courtyard; lush gardens and swimming pool. They do transfers from the airports in Vic Falls and Livingstone, Zambia.
  • Sprayview Hotel is about 2 km from the falls and overs accommodation from US$100.
  • Drifter Inn Victoria Falls [2] - only 20 minutes by foot from the falls, this simple but quiet inn offers rooms from US$50 p.p.
  • Victoria Falls Safari Lodge [3] - located in the immediate neighbourhood of the falls this lodge even includes a casino and is beautifully decorated in a safari-style. You can also have a good lunch here, while romms are available from US$150/pp.
  • Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge is carefully situated on a riverine fringe of the mighty Zambezi River where Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia converge. Located 80 kilometers west of Victoria Falls, access is by transfer from Victoria Falls, Livingstone or Kasane. Imbabala offers not only the chance to unwind but also some of the most amazing game viewing and bird watching in the region, in the seclusion of a private National Parks concession. The 5,000 acre concession has 14 kilometers of private Zambezi river frontage and borders the Chobe Forest Reserve, which is renowned for its massive Elephant population. Herds of up to 1500 elephants have been seen on the floodplains below the Lodge!
  • The Kingdom Hotel Victoria Falls, [4]. - In the depths of Zimbabwe, deep in the heart of the powerful Victoria Falls, you’ll find an architectural masterpiece, designed in the style of the Great Ruins of Zimbabwe. This four-star themed resort is fit for royalty,from US$150/pp.
  • Waterberry Lodge[5]. - about 15 km from the falls and 28 km from Livingstone itself, direclty located on the banks of the Zambesi river. All huts have garden view. Price from US$80/pp.
  • The Zambezi Sun - one of the well-known hotels near the falls with different kinds of accommodation and restaurant.
  • Stanley Safari Lodge, [6]. - One of the top adresses near the falls with wonderful views on the Zambesi river, the falls itself and a waterhole that elephants regularly visit.
  • David Livingstone Safari Lodge, [7]. - The banks of the mighty Zambezi have welcomed a breathtaking two-story 77-roomed hotel, comprising 72 river facing rooms and 5 luxurious suites. Historical English elements reflect in lofty scale with the rawness of texture, stone, wood and earth, contrasting with the richness of exotic gold, bronze, copper and ivory, once traded through ancient Arab routes. Price from US$150/pp.
This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VICTORIA FALLS, the greatest waterfall in the world, forming the most remarkable feature of the river Zambezi, Central Africa. The falls are about midway in the course of the Zambezi in 17° 51' S., 25° 41' E. For a considerable distance above the falls the river flows over a level sheet of basalt, its valley bounded by low and distant sandstone hills. Its clear blue waters are dotted with numerous tree-clad islands. These islands increase in number as the river, without quickening its current, approaches the falls, whose nearness is indicated only by a veil of spray. At the spot where the Zambezi is at its widest -- over 1860 yds. -- it falls abruptly over the edge of an almost vertical chasm with a roar as of continuous thunder sending up vast columns of vapour. Hence the native name Musi-oa-tunya, "Smoke does sound there." The chasm extends the whole breadth of the river and is more than twice the depth of Niagara, varying from 256 ft. at the right bank to 343 ft. in the centre. Unlike Niagara the water does not fall into an open basin but is arrested at a distance of from 80 to 240 ft. by the opposite wall of the chasm. Both walls are of the same height, so that the falls appear to be formed by a huge crack in the bed of the river. The only outlet is a narrow channel cut in the barrier wall at a point about three fifths from the western end of the chasm, and through this gorge, not more than 100 ft. wide, the whole volume of the river pours for 130 yds. before emerging into an enormous zigzag trough (the Grand Cañon) which conducts the river past the basalt plateau. The tremendous pressure to which the water is subjected in the confinement of the chasm causes the perpetual columns of mist which rise over the precipice.

Missing image

The fall is broken by islands on the lip of the precipice into four parts. Close to the right bank is a sloping cataract 36 yds. wide, called the Leaping Water, then beyond Boaruka Island, about 300 yds. wide, is the Main Fall, 473 yds. broad, and divided by Livingstone Island from the Rainbow Fall 535 yds. wide. At both these falls the rock is sharp cut and the river maintains its level to the edge of the precipice. At the left bank of the river is the Eastern Cataract, a millrace resembling the Leaping Water. From opposite the western end of the falls to Danger Point, which overlooks the entrance of the gorge, the escarpment of the chasm is covered with great trees known as the Rain Forest; looking across the gorge the eastern part of the wall (the Knife Edge) is less densely wooded.

At the end of the gorge the river has hollowed out a deep pool, named the Boiling Pot. It is some 500 ft. across; its surface, smooth at low water, is at flood-time troubled by slow, enormous swirls and heavy boilings. Thence the channel turns sharply westward, beginning the great zigzag mentioned. This grand and gloomy cañon is over 40 m. long. Its almost perpendicular walls are over 400 ft. high, the level of the escarpment being that of the lip of the falls. A little below the Boiling Pot, and almost at right angles to the falls, the cañon is spanned by a bridge (completed in April 1905) which forms a link in the Cape to Cairo railway scheme. This bridge, 650 ft. long, with a main arch of 500 ft. span, is slightly below the top of the gorge. The height from low-water level to the rails is 420 ft.

The volume of water borne over the falls varies greatly, the level of the river in the cañon sinking as much as 60 ft. between the full flood of April and the end of the dry season in October. When the river is high the water rolls over the main falls in one great unbroken expanse; at low water (when alone it is possible to look into the grey depths of the great chasm) the falls are broken by crevices in the rock into numerous cascades.

The falls are in the territory of Rhodesia. They were discovered by David Livingstone on the 17th of November 1855, and by him named after Queen Victoria of England. Livingstone approached them from above and gained his first view of the falls from the island on its lip now named after him. In 1860 Livingstone, with Dr (afterwards Sir John) Kirk, made a careful investigation of the falls, but until the opening of the railway from Bulawayo (1905) they were rarely visited. The land in the vicinity of the falls is preserved by the Rhodesian government as a public park.

See Livingstone's Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa (London, 1857) for the story of the discovery of the falls, and the Popular Account of Dr Livingstone's Expedition to the Zambesi and its Tributaries 1858-1864 (London, 1894) for a fuller description of the falls and a theory as to their origin. How I crossed Africa, by Major Serpa Pinto (English trans., London, 1881), contains a graphic account of the visit paid to the falls by the Portuguese explorer. In the Geographical Journal for January 1905 is an article by A. J. C. Molyneux on "The Physical History of the Victoria Falls." The article is illustrated by excellent photographs and gives a bibliography. Consult also "The Gorge and Basin of the Zambesi below the Victoria Falls," by G. W. Lamplugh in the Geog. Jour. (1908), vol. xxxi. (F. R. C.)

<< Victoria, Canada

Victoria Nyanza >>

Simple English

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is a waterfall, found in south central Africa in the Zambezi River between southeast Zambia and northwest Zimbabwe. It is 108.3m high. The falls were discovered by David Livingstone in November 1855.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address