Located on the Zambezi River is the Victoria Falls, a waterfall that divides the countries Zambia and Zimbabwe. This waterfall is famed for its natural beauty and the lush wildlife it accommodates. It presents itself as a spectacular view that will surely take anyone’s breath away. This panoramic view can be adored from various angles at numerous viewpoints.
This waterfall is the only waterfall on Earth that exceeds the length of more than a kilometer and a height of more than a hundred meters. Its noise can be heard from 40 kilometers away, while its spray and mist that were caused by the falling water can rise more than 400 meters and be sighted from 50 kilometers away. For these reasons, locals have named this waterfall as Mosi-o-Tunya or “the smoke that thunders.”
History of Victoria Falls
Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingstone was the first European who saw the Victoria falls in November 1855 from an island that is now named after him. He named this waterfall in honor of Britain’s Queen Victoria. The Scottish explorer also named the waterfall as “Seongo” or “Chongwe,” meaning “The Place of the Rainbow.”
His first narration and description of the falls are as follows:
“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.”
Tourism of Victoria Falls
Tourists hardly visited the waterfall until the early 1900s, when a railway to Bulawayo was set up. Fast forward to 1990, more than 300,000 local and international tourists have been recorded to visit the stunning scene each year. Today, both Zimbabwe and Zambia permit tourists to visit the two sides of Victoria Falls. You can adore the waterfall’s beauty of the Zambian side from the Zimbabwean side, and vice versa.
National Parks and Wildlife in Victoria Falls
The Victoria Falls does not only invite you to look at its natural beauty, but it encourages you to go on safari tours, too! It has two main national parks: the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and the Victoria Falls National Park.
These wildlife parks are sanctuaries to elephants, Cape buffaloes, giraffes, Grant’s zebras, and different antelope species. Birds like Taita falcon, peregrine falcon, black eagle, fish eagle, heron, and waterfowl can be seen flying around. Lions, Southern African cheetahs, and leopards are often seen.
The Zambezi River is rich in wildlife, too. It contains a large number of hippopotamus and crocodiles.
Best viewpoints to sight the Victoria Falls
1) Livingstone Island
This popular island is where the famous Scottish explorer David Livingstone once stood to witness the beauty of Victoria Falls. It was opened in 1992 to provide tourists with a unique picnic destination at the brink of the Victoria Falls. A tour to this island is seasonal—they only allow tourists to go in here when the river flow is low enough to be accessible.
2) Devil’s Pool
Another travel vantage point is the Devil’s Pool. Many rock pools have formed near the falls, one of which was the Devil’s Pool located right at the edge of the Victoria Falls! This place is perfect for those who are fearless enough to take this thrilling yet very memorable venture of swimming at the edge of the world’s largest waterfall.
However, the water level has to be low before locals allow tourists to swim. Usually, this takes place between late August to January.
3) Victoria Falls Bridge
Built over Victoria Falls’s Second Gorge is the famous Victoria Falls Bridge. This bridge links Zimbabwe and Zambia. Half of it is located in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, while the other half is at the town Livingstone, Zambia.
This bridge was designed by George Andrew Hobson and spearheaded by Cecil Rhodes, who had died before the construction of the bridge started. It was believed that Rhodes built this bridge so that “the trains, as they pass, will catch the spray of the falls.”
On the Zambian side of the bridge, there is a museum where you can enter freely, and it has a café that offers a variety of refreshments. Also, this is where you can take the most exhilarating and death-defying adventure during your trip to the Victoria Falls—bungee jumping, swing, and zip line.
4) Knife Edge Bridge
The bridge is the perfect spot to capture a great view of the Eastern Cataract, the Main Falls, and the Boiling Pot, where the Zambezi River heads towards the Batoka Gorge. It is advisable to wear a raincoat and safety footwear in this place, especially at the end of the rainy season, because of the spray and mist of the waterfall. Usually, this is where tourists will see a rainbow.