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A Tour of the Victoria Falls

By Peter Roberts

A tour of the Victoria Falls Park from the southern (Zimbabwe) side starts from the western end and with the statue of Dr David Livingstone overlooking the Falls.

The view here is of the western most part of the Falls - the Devil’s Cataract, where the river has cut almost 10 meters lower than along the rest of the Falls. The drop here is only 62 meters, the water breaking on rocks (fallen from above) slightly higher than the rest of the base of the gorge. The view also looks into the cleft into Cataract Island, which at times of high water flow carries a substantial volume of water. As one looks along the chasm of the gorge it is possible to see the Main Falls – dependant on the clouds of spray! Also at this end it is possible to walk down the steps into the gorge itself for the breathtaking view along the line of the Falls.

A Tour of the Victoria Falls

The next viewpoints along the paths show the Main Falls from varying angles. Falls here are some 830 meters wide and drop up to 93 meters into the chasm. This section carries a significant volume of water even at during the low season. The rain forest here is at its most developed, with the nurturing spray from the falls supporting the varied trees and understory plants which create this fragile miniature ecosystem.

Livingstone Island is the next break in the Falls, and it is here that Livingstone, travelling downstream by canoe, first witnessed the Falls in 1855. His famous quote, “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight” which has become synonymous with the Falls themselves was actually written in reference to the river section above the Falls. Livingstone named the island ‘Garden Island’ and planted a small nursery of apricots and peaches. It is also believed to be here that he carved his initials into a tree (and not at Big Tree, which again he probably never visited), and started measuring the Falls – his measurements being slightly on the side of cautious. The island itself projects forward from the general line of the Falls, and it must truly have been an incredible experience for Livingstone when he first looked over the edge, not knowing fully what to expect.

Exiting the main part of the rain forest the next section is known as the Rainbow Falls, and the rainbow created in the spray from the Falls can often be seen most clearly along here, as the volume of water carried over this section is less than Main Falls and the spray consequently lower. The depth of the gorge is at its greatest here with the falls plummeting 108 meters to crash on the rocks below.

From Danger Point, the most easterly viewpoint from the Zimbabwean side of the Falls, the view up into the Eastern Cataract can be seen and across to the Zambian viewpoints. It is here at Danger Point that the river exits the first gorge and enters the Boiling Pot before embarking on its journey through the gorges and rapids below.

A final viewpoint looks into the second gorge and at the Victoria Falls Bridge – a good vantage to watch the crazy bungee jumpers as the hurl themselves off the bridge and into the gorge.

Peter Roberts is a freelance researcher and writer with a special focus on the Zambezi. He is author of ‘Sun, Steel and Spray – A history of the Victoria Falls Bridge’, published in 2011, Corridors Through Time - a History of the Victoria Falls Hotel, published in December 2015, and Footsteps Through Time - a History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls, published in July 2017.

Discover more on the history of the Victoria Falls at 'To The Victoria Falls'.

Discover Victoria Falls

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Discover Victoria Falls

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A Tour of the Victoria Falls