Information on Victoria Falls
Although known by the local Batonga people as Mosi-Oa-Tunya for many years, Dr. David Livingstone was the first white man to see Victoria Falls. Livingstone, a Scottish explorer, named them for the British Queen, Victoria. While Victoria Falls is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, when you combine overall width and height, it is the largest. But it was only after Livingstone stumbled upon them that people began to flock to the falls from all over the world.
- One of the most unusual features of the Victoria Falls is the formation. The falls can be found on the Zambezi River. At the spot where the waterfall formed, the river drops into a narrow, but deep, rift in the earth's crust, sending the water plunging down a long series of connected gorges. This allows visitors approaching on foot to view the entire width of the falls face on from less than 200 feet away, though you can see the mist from 12 miles out and hear the thunder long before that.
Like many tropical locations, Victoria Falls has a wet season and a dry season. The rainy season occurs from February to May. During this time it is impossible to view the falls on foot as both the pathways and the face of the waterfall are completely shrouded in mist. The spray sent up from the falls during the wet season is often visible from up to 30 miles away. During the dry season, June to January, the footpaths are easily accessible. As the flow of the river decreases, small islands on the crest of the fall appear. By the end of September, with water flow at half of the rainy season capacity, the foundation of the First Gorge is visible. From the Zimbabwe side, it is then possible to hike to the gorge's bottom.
- There is one national park on either side of Victoria Falls. On the Zimbabwe side is the 5,683 acre Victoria Falls National Park. Open all year, the park's most notable feature is the tropical rain forest, which survives as a result of the constant spray from the waterfall. A wide variety of trees, liana vines and ferns can be found here and nowhere else within this region. On the Zambia side is the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Declared a World Heritage site, this 16,309-acre park is divided into two secions--the land adjacent to Victoria Falls and a wildlife park. The park is home to substantial numbers of buffalo, rhino, elephant, giraffe, zebra and antelope.
- To date, approximately 300,000 people visit Victoria Falls each year. Due to the waterfall's location between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the two countries allow tourists to make day trips from one side to the other without obtaining a visa in advance. However, a visa purchased at the border can be expensive. Each time you cross the border, expect to pay between $50 and $150 U.S. dollars. Prices vary depending on where your passport was issued.