The Victoria Falls

UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, Victoria Falls is one of Africa's greatest features. You'll realise its sheer enormity before you even set your eyes on it, you'll hear its roar and see its high plume of white mist rising into the African sky. Little wonder the locals call it 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' (The Smoke that Thunders).

About The Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls and the Zambezi National Park are situated on the western tip of Zimbabwe. The Falls, known by the local Kololo tribe as Mosi oa Tunya- The Smoke that thunders, is one of the "Seven Wonders of the World" and one of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls on earth.

When to Go

  • January is height of the rainy season, when it can be hot and humid with afternoon thunderstorms. The waterfalls become more intense with increased river flow and the flowers in the rainforest above them are in bloom.
  • February days are hot and nights warm with plenty of rain, and the waterfalls' spray rises high in the sky. This is a good time to do aerial activities to view Victoria Falls as most of the rainforest is under constant shower.
  • March has hot days and warm nights; the rainy season is coming to an end but river levels are still very high and there are still huge volumes of spray.
  • By April, the water from the catchment area upstream in Zambia arrives. The waterfalls are at their highest flow.
  • May is the beginning of Autumn, with warm to hot days and a chill in the evening air. The Zambezi still flows strongly.
  • In June, Autumn gives way to Winter, with fry weather but cool temperatures at night. The Zambezi River levels drop and wildlife becomes more concentrated near water as the grass cover recedes
  • July is the coolest month. It's also the height of the dry season.
  • August is again dry and sometimes windy, which signals a shift in the seasons. The whitewater rafting low-water season starts, which lasts through to December.
  • September brings Spring and a noticeable increase in temperatures. There's excellent whitewater rafting as the water levels drop and the Grade 3-5 rapids are exposed.
  • October is the hottest month, and builds up to the start of the rainy season, when occasional storms take the edge off high temperatures. It is the best time for sunsets on the river.
  • November is usually the start of the rainy season. Baobab trees are in flower, as are rainforest flowers such as blood lilies and white gardenia.
  • December is hot and humid as the rainy season works towards its peak, though it is cooler than October because of cloud cover. The water levels are still quite low but levels start to rise with rains from the localised catchment area.

What to See

Victoria Falls
The falls are 1,7 kilometres wide and nearly 550 million litres of water cascade 70 to 108 metres into the chasm below -every minute- during the Zambezi River's peak flow. Victoria Falls is made of five different "falls". Four of these are in Zimbabwe: The Devil's Cataract, Main Falls, Rainbow Falls and Horseshoe Falls -and one, The Eastern Cataract, is in the bordering country of Zambia.

The Devil's Cataract
The falls here are about 70 metres deep. They derive their name from an adjacent island in the Zambezi River where it is reported that locals used to conduct sacrificial ceremonies. With the advent of the missionaries, this practice was frowned upon and considered "devilish", resulting in the name of the area.

Main Falls
The falls at this point are at their most majestic. With a wide curtain of water thundering down 93 metres into the gorge below and peak water flows of 700,000 cubic metres per minute, this section throws out a magnificent spray that continually nourishes the evergreen rainforest around the area.

Horseshoe Falls
This section is horseshoe shaped and is 95 metres deep. This section usually dries up at the height of the dry season between October and November.Rainbow FallsA beautiful rainbow can clearly be seen from this viewpoint. The falls are 108 metres deep at this point and are the deepest of the whole series.

The Eastern Cataract
These falls are situated completely on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls but have a stunning view from the Zimbabwean side. They are the second deepest falls of the series at 101 metres deep.

Cataract Viewpoint
A unique view of the falls below can be found by descending 73 steps into the gorge.

David Livingstone Statue
The David Livingstone statue can be found at the left end of the Falls near the spectacular Devil's Cataract viewpoint. On 16 November 1855, Livingstone (the first Western explorer to view the Falls) wrote in his journal: "...scenes so lovely must have been gazed on by angels in their flight."

The Rainforest
The rainforest area of Victoria Falls is filled with many unique species of flora and fauna. One can wander amongst the Fig, Mahogany and Date Palm groves while gazing at the falls from magnificent viewpoints. Many species of birds and small mammals may be spotted beneath the protective canopy of the forest.

The Boiling Pot
This place is appropriately named to describe the turmoil where water from opposite sides of the falls collide in the Zambezi River as it turns in a southeasterly direction passing through several gorges.

The Big Tree
This is a large baobab tree near the Falls. The tree which has withstood the test of time is 16 metres in diameter and 20 metres tall.

Victoria Falls Bridge
Having been designed in England, the bridge was transported from Europe in pieces and was assembled on site, bridging the Zambezi River and linking Zimbabwe and Zambia in 1906. The bridge is also renowned for its popular bungee jumping.

How to get to the Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls and Zambezi National Parks lie on the southern bank of the Zambezi River. Visitors can travel by car, driving 440 kilometres northwest from Bulawayo or through Kazungula Border Post with Botswana 90 kilometres to the west. The Victoria Falls Border Post is within metres of the Falls for access by road from Zambia. The road from Bulawayo to the Falls is completely tarred and the roads around thee Falls can easily be negotiated by all types of vehicles. Victoria Falls boasts an international airport with services from Harare and many regional and international destinations.