12 Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is an increasingly popular tourist destination – it truly is remarkable. There are a number of unique aspects to the region, which perhaps further explains its appeal. Here are some fascinating facts which may surprise you, or simply encourage you to see the area for yourself.
IT IS THE LARGEST WATERFALL IN THE WORLD
Victoria Falls is neither the widest nor highest waterfall in the world, but it’s the world’s largest sheet of falling water, which solidifies this classification. It is twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls, and is only rivalled by Iguazu Falls in South America. It is 108m tall and 1708m wide.
VICTORIA FALLS IS PART OF THE ZAMBEZI RIVER
The Zambezi River is the fourth-largest in the African continent and spans across six different nations – its amazing journey spans an impressive 2,700 km. Along the way, you can see a range of wildlife and participate in a plethora of activities. Victoria Falls is the boundary dividing the upper and middle parts of the Zambezi.
IT IS FOUND IN TWO NATIONAL PARKS
Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to part of Victoria Falls and is named so because “Mosi-Oa-Tunya” means “the smoke that thunders” – a perfect analogy for these awe-inspiring waters. Victoria Falls is also, perhaps unsurprisingly, found in Victoria Falls National Park.
ITS ENGLISH NAME WAS CHOSEN BY DAVID LIVINGSTONE
In 1855, British explorer and missionary David Livingstone was the first European to witness the magnificence of one of Africa’s most incredible sights, Victoria Falls. He named it for the British monarch at the time, Queen Victoria. While many places have reverted to their indigenous names, the local people had so much respect for him that it has remained unchanged.
YOU CAN SEE THE FALLS FROM TWO COUNTRIES
75% of the Falls can be seen from the Zimbabwean side, while the remaining 25% is visible from the Zambian side. While Zimbabwe has had negative media attention in recent years, locals assure visitors that it is incredibly safe, and typically makes for a more superior viewing experience.
VICTORIA FALLS IS ONE OF THE WORLD’S SEVEN NATURAL WONDERS
The seven natural wonders of the world are Victoria Falls, Aurora Borealis, the Harbour of Rio de Janeiro, the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest, and Parícutin.
IT HAS SEVERAL GORGES
Victoria Falls is one of nature’s intricate mysteries, and features several principle gorges. These are the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth gorges – and the Songwe Gorge, named after the Songwe River, flowing in from the north east.
500 MILLION LITRES OF WATER CASCADE EVERY MINUTE
The numbers almost seem too impossible to imagine! That’s the equivalent of 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools, to put things into perspective. It flows at a rate of 1088m3/s.
THE FALLS CREATE “MOONBOWS”
A rainbow is beautiful; a moonbow is a special and unique phenomenon which only occurs in two places around the world, with Victoria Falls being one of them. A lunar rainbow happens when the light of the full moon hits the Falls, and it is a sight to behold.
IT RAINS AT VICTORIA FALLS RAINFOREST ALL DAY
On the Zimbabwe side of the Falls you will find the Victoria Falls Rainforest, which is the only place on earth to see rain every single day of the year. The rains bless the area with lush greenery in the forest, and it’s recommended that visitors explore it as well.
YOU CAN SWIM TO THE EDGE OF THE WATERFALL
If you’re a particularly daring traveller, you might enjoy swimming up to the edge of the Falls at Devil’s Pool with your guide. This is not something that should be attempted without proper consideration, as it involves a swim in the Zambezi and a reliance on the water to carry you. Once you reach the edge, however, the feeling is exhilarating. Consider it as the best infinity pool in the world! You can only do this when water levels are lowest, from September to December.
PLENTY OF WILD ANIMALS CALL IT HOME
If you’re venturing on out to Victoria Falls, be cautious (and pack a camera). You will be entering into the natural habitat of an abundance of animals, including many of the continent’s elusive “Big Five”. Be wary – crocodiles are particularly common in the region, so take extra care. Remember, part of respecting nature is appreciating that you could be in danger. Always listen to your local guides’ advice.