Victoria Falls is the Eden of Africa. David Livingstone, a Scottish explorer who came upon these cascading waters in 1885, wrote that he was struck by “scenes so lovely they must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” Spray from the cataract creates a multitude of rainbows and forms a rain forest microclimate, with lush greenery growing along the canyon sides. The thunderous, iridescent water is astounding to behold—this is beauty in its rawest form. Learn more about one of Earth’s greatest natural wonders with the following facts:
1. Victoria Falls is the largest curtain of water in the world, stretching 5,604 feet across, more than a mile long. Plunging 354 feet into the canyon below, this is a dramatic spectacle to witness. The Zambezi River is typically in full flood between February and March. During this time, over 150 million gallons of water plummet over the sheer precipice per minute. At low water in November, the flow diminishes to 2.6 million gallons per minute, and the river divides into braided channels that descend in many individual falls. The Chutes de Khone in Laos is the widest waterfall by far, measuring 35,376 feet, and Venezuela’s Angel Falls is the tallest, dropping 3,212 feet, but Victoria Falls holds its own as the largest sheet of falling water on the planet.
2. Victoria Falls was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989 and is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, alongside the Great Barrier Reef, Aurora Borealis, Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, Harbor of Rio de Janeiro and Paricutin volcano. Victoria Fall’s geological history dates back two million years since the uplifting of the Makgadikgadi Pan, one of the biggest salt flats on Earth. The sculpting of the hard basalt gorges points to the erosive force of the Zambezi River over time. Early stone age tools have been found around the waterfall, giving evidence of prolonged human occupation.
3. Victoria Falls is placed halfway along the mighty Zambezi River, which flows into the Indian ocean. Travelers on our Secluded Botswana Safari will enjoy a sunset cruise before walking along the gorge rim the next day. A network of trails lead to various vantage points and open out to an extraordinary panorama of this powerful phenomenon. While exploring the Hidden Jewels of Zimbabwe & Zambia, Nat Hab guests cross the historic Victoria Falls Bridge over the Zambezi Gorge, a feat of civil engineering. At a height of 420 feet, it was the tallest railway bridge of its time after its completion in 1905. The bridge remains a critical link between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
4. The Devil’s Pool is a swimming area right at the edge of the falls. This precarious spot overlooking the chasm is not the only adrenaline-fueled activity found here—there is a wide array of dare-devil pursuits, from bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge to helicopter rides and white water rafting. For those looking for a more serene excursion, visit the waterfall at night and search for a ‘moonbow,’ a lunar rainbow formed by moonlight shining on the rising spray.
5. The national park surrounding Victoria Falls is called Mosi-oa-Tunya, which translates to “The Smoke that Thunders,” aptly named after the clouds of mist that can be seen rising off the falls from more than 12 miles away. This is one of the best places to see white rhinos, and with no predators in the park, Nat Hab travelers are able to safely trek on foot in search of these rare pachyderms, accompanied by guides and park rangers. Also inhabiting this riverine ecosystem are elephants, giraffe, zebra, antelope, hippos, chacma baboon, warthogs and birds such as white-backed vultures and African fishing eagles.