Discover Victoria Falls

About Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe




The Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe's prime tourist attraction, is known for its splendour throughout the world. Offering a full and diverse range of local activities and tours, there is much to see and experience in this vibrant tourism hub.

Yet to fully appreciate the majesty of the Falls, we must start at its humble beginnings. The story of Victoria Falls begins with the Zambezi River, the largest watercourse system in the sub-Sahara region and Africa's fourth largest river. From a small bubbling spring rising in north-western Zambia, the river starts a 2,574 kilometre journey from the heart of southern Africa to the Indian Ocean.

Along the way the river quickly becomes wide and slow flowing, forming extensive marshes - the Barotse Floodplain - where the width of the river in flood can reach an astonishing 25 kilometres. After flowing on through the Caprivi Swamps it is joined by one of its major tributaries, the Chobe River, before continuing its journey east. Forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Zambezi is already a substantial river, nearly two kilometres wide, and yet is only about half way through its long journey to the sea. Flowing placidly through its broad, wide channel, it gives little indication of the dramatic change ahead.

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Explore the Zambezi with Discover Victoria Falls

As the river continues downstream, a distant roar grows louder, and a column of cloud can be seen escaping into the sky. The river becomes wider and shallower, flowing faster between islands, over rocks and through rapids. Then suddenly and dramatically it crashes 100 metres into the chasm that dissects its path, seemingly swallowed into its own riverbed and forming one of the most spectacular and awe inspiring natural wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls. When the river is in full flood it forms the world’s largest sheet of falling water, twice the height and one and a half times the width of Niagara Falls.

Opposite the chasm of the Victoria Falls, the level of the land continues, allowing the visitor to walk along its length, close enough to feel the roar of the water as it drops into the chasm. The local name for the Falls, 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' – 'the smoke that thunders', is not without reason - it assaults the senses!

The Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls pulse with an annual flood cycle of high and low water. Summer rains in the upper reaches of its catchment area, in Angola and Zambia, flood the river causing significant rises in its levels. During these periods half-a-million cubic metres of water per minute pour over the edge of the Falls. At high water the spray plume can rise up to 500 metres high and be visible 20 kilometres away . The sheer volume of spray can all but obscure the Falls from immediate sight. It nurtures a localised rainforest under its constant shadow, and the visitor should be prepared to be soaked to the skin (waterproofs advisable!)

During the dry winter months, before the regional rains return in November, the river recedes to only a fraction of this volume, and the Falls become dry for much of their length. It is during the dry season that the power of Victoria Falls can be truly appreciated. Clear of the shroud of spray, one can marvel at the solid rock walls of the gorge, worn smooth by the abrasive power of the water, and watch the tumbling waters fall into its depths.

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Explore the Zambezi with Discover Victoria Falls

Near the eastern end of the Victoria Falls, about three quarters of the way along its length, the river escapes through a narrow opening, only 60 metres wide. It then flows into a deep pool called the Boiling Pot, about 150 metres wide, before turning and racing on its 100 kilometre journey through the zigzagging Batoka Gorge. Compressed from such a wide open channel into the narrow twisting gorge, the river changes from placid and peaceful to tortuous and treacherous.

Above the Falls the river margins are a tropical paradise. Below, the landscape is dry and desolate, some of the wildest, most rugged and remote terrain in Zimbabwe. It is as if nature has released all of its powers in creating the spectacular waterfall, and now the river continues exhausted from its work. However, those who know the river here will know only too well that it is far from spent. The huge volume of water bubbles and boils with constrained energy, rushing through a series of over 60 gigantic rapids.

Visit our Victoria Falls Photo Gallery and browse our image gallery.

Discover more information on the Victoria Falls at 'To The Victoria Falls'.



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