THE VICTORIA FALLS

The Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya is a waterfall located in southern Africa on the Zambezi River between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls are the largest in the world.
In more modern terms it is known as ‘the greatest known curtain of falling water’.

he 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 (260 ft) at its western end to 108 metres (354 ft) in the centre. The only outlet to the First Gorge is a 110 metres (360 ft) wide 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.

Victoria Falls are a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe. Described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ - ‘the Smoke that Thunders’.

Columns of spray can be seen from miles away as 546 million cubic meters of water per minute plummet over the edge (at the height of the flood season) over a width of nearly two kilometers into a deep gorge over 100 meters below.

The wide basalt cliff, over which the falls thunder, transforms the Zambezi from a wide placid river to a ferocious torrent cutting through a series of dramatic gorges.

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 fall.

One special vantage point is across the Knife edge bridge, where visitors can have the finest view of the Eastern Cataract and the Main Falls as well as the Boiling Pot where the river turns and heads down the Batoka Gorge. Other vantage points include the Falls bridge and the Lookout Tree which commands a panoramic view across the Main Falls.

Sometimes the water is low enough to walk all the way across the lip of the Falls to Livingstone Island, the place where David Livingstone had his first glimpse of the Falls. This is surely one of the most magnificent views in the area.

There is a natural rock pool right on the edge of the falls, and the brave hearted can venture in and swim safely right to the very edge of the raging waters. Quite and experience!

Another interesting perspective is deep within the gorge into which the Falls descend. From the parking lot, look for the signs pointing to "The Boiling Pot." It’s quite a steep climb, but well-worn steps make it a fairly easy descent. Coming up is of course a little more strenuous, but the view from below of the wide Zambezi thundering over the cliff, then compressed into the deep thin crevice turning into the Batoka Gorge, crashing and swirling over rapids, is quite spectacular. From this vantage point one can also see up to the impressive Victoria Falls Bridge, spanning the gorge over 100 meters above.

The fall can be approached from the town of Livingstone by traveling south on Mosi O Tunya road for some 11 kilometers. Just before the border, there is a turning to the right which leads to a parking area. Walks all around the fall are accessible from this point. If approaching from Zimbabwe, cross the border at the town of Victoria Falls and watch for the left turning just after the Zambian customs post.

Different times of the year will provide completely different experiences of the fall region. Peak flood season is around March and April and the full power of the falls can be experienced in all its glory. But due to the masses of spray raising from the fallen water the full width of the fall cannot be seen on foot. The aerial view at this time however is spectacular, with clouds of spray rising high into the sky.


As the floods abate the view of the falls gets better and better through the year, but at it’s lowest, around November and December the Falls become little rivulets running over the edge and in some places along the 1,7km width no water falls at all. This season’s gift is the view of the impressive cliffs that form the fall wall and the magnitude of the abyss can be fully appreciated. Sobek and Safari Par Excellence do trips by raft to the base of the fall in low season called ‘the float of angels".

Victoria Falls is roughly twice 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.


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