Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls (Tokaleya Tonga: Mosi-oa-Tunya, "The Smoke that Thunders") is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Frequently described as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1,708m and height of 108m resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America's Niagara Falls.

David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855, from what is now known as Livingstone Island, one of two land masses in the middle of the river, immediately upstream from the falls near the Zambian shore. Livingstone named his discovery in honour of Queen Victoria of Britain.

There are two islands on the crest of the falls that are large enough to divide the curtain of water even at full flood: Boaruka Island (or Cataract Island) near the western bank and Livingstone Island near the middle—the point from which Livingstone first viewed the falls. At less than full flood, additional islets divide the curtain of water into separate parallel streams. The main streams are named, in order from Zimbabwe (west) to Zambia (east): Devil's Cataract (called Leaping Water by some), Main Falls, Rainbow Falls (the highest) and the Eastern Cataract.
The Matabele Tribe
The Zambezi River, upstream from the falls, experiences a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season the rest of the year. The river's annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April. The spray from the falls typically rises to a height of over 400 m and sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from up to 48 km away. At full moon, a "moonbow" can be seen in the spray instead of the usual daylight rainbow. During the flood season, however, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist. Close to the edge of the cliff spray shoots upward like inverted rain, especially at Zambia's Knife-Edge Bridge.

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. Iron-using Khoisan hunter-gatherers displaced these Stone Age people and in turn were displaced by Bantu tribes such as the southern Tonga people known as the Batoka/Tokalea, who called the falls Shungu na mutitima. The Matabele, later arrivals, named them aManz' aThunqayo, and the Batswana and Makololo (whose language is used by the Lozi people) call them Mosi-o-Tunya. All these names mean essentially "the smoke that thunders".

European settlement of the Victoria Falls area started around 1900 in response to the desire of Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company for mineral rights and British colonial expansion north of the Zambezi. Before 1905, the river was crossed above the falls at the Old Drift by dugout canoe or a barge towed across with a steel cable. Rhodes' vision of a Cape-Cairo railway drove plans for the first bridge across the Zambezi and he insisted it be built where the spray from the falls would fall on passing trains, so the site at the Second Gorge was chosen. From 1905 the railway offered accessible travel from as far as the Cape in the south and from 1909, as far as the Belgian Congo in the north. In 1904 the Victoria Falls Hotel was opened to accommodate visitors arriving on the new railway. The falls became an increasingly popular attraction during British colonial rule of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), with the town of Victoria Falls becoming the main tourist center.
Zambezi National Park Map
There are two small national parks at the falls – Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is 66 square km and Victoria Falls National Park is 23 square km. However next to the latter on the southern bank is the Zambezi National Park, extending 40 km west along the river. Animals are free to move between the parks although they are somewhat restricted by the town of Livingston and fencing around some of the lodges.

The national parks contain abundant wildlife including sizable populations of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, Grant's zebra, and a variety of antelope. Katanga lions, African leopards and South African cheetahs are only occasionally seen. Vervet monkeys and baboons are common. The river above the falls contains large populations of hippopotamus and crocodile. African bush elephants cross the river in the dry season at particular crossing points. Klipspringers, honey badgers, lizards and clawless otters can be glimpsed in the gorges but they are mainly known for 35 species of raptors including Taita falcon, Black eagle, Peregrine falcon and Augur buzzard that breed there. Above the falls, herons, fish eagles and numerous kinds of waterfowl are common.
Vicfalls Bridge
Interesting facts about Victoria Falls
  • The spray from the falls means that the Rain Forest at Victoria Falls is the only place on earth that it rains 24 hours a day – 7 days a week.
  • Moonbow - During a full moon you can see a moonbow also known as a Lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls.
  • When the river is at a lower level during the months of September to December, it is possible to swim in a naturally formed pool known as the ‘Devil’s Swimming Pool’ right on the edge of the falls. This pool is accessed from Livingstone Island. There is a natural rock wall just below the water on the edge of the falls which prevents swimmers from being washed over by the current.
  • Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The others are the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, Harbour of Rio de Janeiro, Mount Everest, Polar Aurora, Paricutin volcano.
  • Victoria Falls is the world’s largest curtain of falling water. The 1,700m wide water cataract drops through 110 m and the flow exits through a series of zigzagging gorges a 100m wide.
  • The Victoria Falls Bridge was the dream and brainchild of Cecil John Rhodes, but he died before the bridge was completed.
  • Queen Elizabeth the Queen of England visited the Victoria Falls in 1947… and stayed at the famous Victoria Falls Hotel in the royal suite.
  • The falling water crashing into the bottom of the falls is eroding all the time. The pool beneath the falls is 70m deep.
  • In 1910 two people named Mrs Moss and Mr Orchard’s bodies were found in the second gorge of Victoria Falls. They had been swept over the falls after their two canoes were capsized by a hippo at Long Island above the falls
  • During the high water level in April of 2013, four elephants trying to swim across the Zambezi River were swept by the currents down the river and over the falls.
  • The falls were once illuminated at night but the lighting was removed by The National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC).
  • The Zambezi River is the fourth largest African River after River Nile, River Congo and River Niger and transverses six countries that include; Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and is 1677 miles long.
Vicfalls Hotel
Visit Victoria Falls from: Option 1: 3 STAR at Kingdom Hotel:
  • 1 night Southern Sun OR Tambo Airport Hotel inclusive of bed and breakfast
  • 2 nights Kingdom Hotel inclusive of bed and breakfast
  • Return airport shuttle transfers Johannesburg airport to hotel to airport
  • Return airport transfers Vic Falls airport to hotel to airport
  • Tour of the Falls Tour
  • Sunset Cruise on the African Queen inclusive of drinks and snacks on the boat
  • Internal flights inclusive of taxes
COST: A$1860.00 per person twin share and A$300 single surcharge – Subject to availability
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Option 2: 4 STAR at Vic Falls Safari Lodge:
  • 1 night Southern Sun OR Tambo Airport Hotel inclusive of bed and breakfast
  • 2 nights Victoria Falls Safari Lodge inclusive of bed and breakfast
  • Return shuttle transfers JNB airport to SSUN Airport Hotel to JNB airport
  • Return transfers VFA airport to Vic Falls Safari Lodge to VFA airport
  • Tour of the Falls Tour
  • Sunset Cruise on the African Queen inclusive of drinks and snacks on the boat
  • Internal flights inclusive of taxes
COST: A$2150.00 per person twin share and A$100.00 single surcharge – Subject to availability
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