Victoria Falls is the largest curtain of water in the world at 1708 meters, with a drop of 100 meters into the Zambezi Gorge. More than 550,000 cubic meters of water plummet over the edge each minute. Victoria Falls and the surrounding area are now part of a National Park and a World Heritage Site. Although spectacular all year, after the rain season from February on, the river and falls are the most awe-inspiring, with the heaviest flow and volume of spray.
The original waterfall was about 8 kilometers (4 miles) downstream from its present location. Over the last two million years, the erosive force of the river cut seven subsequent gorges, each further upstream. More recently, in November 1855, David Livingstone, a missionary and explorer from Scotland, and one of the most respected individuals of the Victorian age, arrived at the falls in a canoe with members of the Makalolo tribe. It was Livingstone who named the falls after his monarch, Queen Victoria.
Archaeological sites around the falls have yielded Homo habilis stone artifacts from 3 million years ago, 50,000-year-old Middle Stone Age tools and Late Stone Age (10,000 and 2,000 years ago) weapons, adornments and digging tools. By the time Livingstone arrived, the falls were well known to local tribes, and the Arabs may have known of them also, under a name equivalent to "the end of the world".
Livingstone described the falls in letter, "No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.
Today, Victoria Falls still constitutes one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. Called Mosi-oa-Tunya, the smoke that thunders by the locals, an almost constant column of spray saturates the area during high water, and the constant thunder of the water. A variety of wildlife can be seen just upstream, including crocodiles, hippos, elephants, monkeys and a wide variety of birdlife.
David Livingstone also gave his name to the town on the Zambian side of the Falls which has become something of an adventure sports haven in Southern Africa. In addition to more sedate activities, like sunset boat cruises on the upper Zambezi, visitors can microlight, take scenic light aircraft and helicopter flights, go on an elephant back safari, brave the white-water rafting on the lower Zambezi or bungee jump an exhilarating 111 meters down into the Zambezi Gorge.
Visit the Victoria Falls on any of our Zambia Safaris or on many of our Botswana Safaris.