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Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls. Also known as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ ('The Smoke That Thunders'). Whatever you call the world's largest waterfall it calls to mind images of vast billowing clouds hovering above the point where the mighty Zambezi River hurtles headfirst into a chasm 1,708 meters wide and 108 meters deep. That’s more than twice the height of Niagra Falls. Set on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, Victoria Falls is, quite rightly, a huge draw for thousands of visitors each year.

Zambia or Zimbabwe?

Which country boasts the best view, Zambia (to the north) or Zimbabwe (to the south)? They both have their charms. Happily, the introduction of the KAZA Univisa (covering Zambia, Zimbabwe and day trips into Botswana's Chobe National Park) has made crossing Victoria Falls Bridge a cinch. At just $50, it's affordable, too.

Want to cop an eyeful of that classic view of the Main Falls? Head to Zimbabwe. Roughly two thirds of Victoria Falls lies in Zim and water flows all year round. Victoria Falls National Park has a network of paths that open up onto 16 stunning viewpoints overlooking the Devil's Cataract, Main Falls, Horseshoe Falls and beautiful Rainbow Falls. That said, Zambia has plenty on offer. From Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park you’ll enjoy closer views of the thundering torrent. A walk across Knife-edge Bridge puts you right alongside the action. When the Zambezi is in full throttle, prepare to get soaked to the skin. From Zambia, you can also see down the length of the Falls at sunset.

At a Glance

  • When to go

    High water levels are between February and July when the Zambezi River experiences a five meter rise in the water being forced through the gorge. The power of the Falls is mesmerizing as it throws up a dense cloud-like spray that drenches delighted bystanders and is interlaced with rainbows.

    Low water levels happen between August and January. Very little spray means you now get an excellent view of the Fall's ancient geological details and appreciate the sheer magnitude of the chasm. Now the fun really begins as the Zambezi River is transformed into one of the best whitewater rafting destinations in the world.

  • What to do

    Adrenaline junkies: Enjoy some of the world's craziest whitewater rafting trip that takes you down 19 class IV and V rapids while water levels are low, IX when they're high. Or how about a helicopter ride through the spray of Victoria Falls that gives you an unbeatable bird's eye view? Or a microlight glihht that gets you close enough to the Falls to feel the spray on your face? If you laugh in the face of vertigo, you can bungee 111 meters off of Livingstone Bridge for one of the most scenic jumps you'll ever do. Or don a harness and zipline or swing serenely across the gorge.

    Mellow souls: Swim in the rock pools below the Falls, surrounded by the towering black basaltic rock with water cascading down. Or paddle across the 'Boiling Pot' in an inflatable raft with guides who'll take you directly beneath the Falls. Alternatively, take a dip in Devil's Pool (a rock pool set at the lip of Victoria Falls), accessible only from the Zambian side. On dry land, explore Livingstone Island, named after explorer David Livingstone, the first European to see the Falls in 1855.

Did you know?

Upon his first sighting of the Falls, David Livingstone wrote, "It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight".

Unique ecosystem

The national parks are home to elephant, buffalo, giraffe, Grant's zebra, variety species of antelope, vervet monkeys, baboons and honey badgers. Lion, leopard and cheetah are occasionally seen. The Zambezi River itself contains plenty of hippos and crocodile, with elephant crossing in the dry season.

Did you know?

Victoria Falls is one of the few places in the world where you can see a 'moonbow' or 'lunar rainbow'. The light of a full moon in a cloudless sky is refracted and reflected by the ever-present water particles from the spray of the Falls.

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