To visit Victoria Falls is more than paying homage to a time gone by. It is to witness one of the most remarkable geological events taking place on the planet as the water carves its way through the ancient rock.
What to Do at The Victoria Falls
The key experience in visiting the Victoria Falls area is to visit the Falls themselves. However, there are a range of other activities and experiences on offer, which are detailed below. Always ask your booking agent or operator what to bring along, and check on the appropriate clothing to wear, as this may change seasonally. Based on the concept devised by locals, we have divided the activity zones as follows (note that, for the first four zones, we ignore the divide between Zimbabwe and Zambia and treat the entire Falls as a holistic experience):
At the Falls - Rain forest walk
, Bungee jumping
Over the Falls -
Aerial experiences and microlighting over Victoria Falls
Above the Falls - River cruises
and Canoeing upstream from Victoria Falls
Below the Falls -
Adrenalin and high wire activities
in the gorges
Around the Falls -
A guide to other activities and attractions divided into a Zambian section and a Zimbabwean section
Best Times to Visit Victoria Falls
The best time to visit Victoria Falls
is during the high water season from January to early May,
when the Zambezi River is at full flow. For the average holiday traveler, Victoria Falls provides an absolutely awesome experience, whilst for the adventure-seeker, this is the best time for white water rafting on the Zambezi
The current curtain of water is actually the eighth waterfall in a geological march through time. At some point - in who knows how many years - the ninth Victoria Falls will form. The Zambezi River is carving its way through a series of fault lines in the underlying basalt. These cracks generally run from east to west, while the river flows from north to south and this is why the Falls and gorges are formed in a zig-zag pattern.
But the Victoria Falls will not go beyond its twelfth or fifteenth manifestation, because, by that time, it will have worked its way right back through the ancient fault lines into the Kalahari sands. At the point at which the basalt ends and the sands begin, the Victoria Falls will become a series of powerful rapids and the extent of the drama of what we witness today will be no more.
Victoria Falls Stats
Falls width - 1708m
Maximum height - 108m
Lowest height - 62m
Narrowest point of gorge - approx. 60m
Highest water flow (March/April) - approx. 500 million litres / minute
Lowest water flow (Late Nov/early Dec) approx. 10 million litres / minute
Greatest flow ever recorded - March 1958 > 700 million litres / minute
Distance from source - approx. 1 200 km
Distance from the Indian Ocean - approx. 1 500 km
Game Drives near The Falls
Zimbabwe's flagship national park is Hwange
, renowned for its large populations of Elephant and Buffalo. See wildlife on a game drive in Victoria Falls
is a remote reserve where you can experience the untamed nature of the bush on a walking safari.
The nearby Matetsi
Game Reserve is well worth a visit to see its population of rare Sable antelope.
Victoria Falls - A Shared Heritage
Sharing the Seventh Wonder of the World, Zambia and Zimbabwe meet along the mighty Zambezi River. The mile wide Victoria Falls and Batoka Gorge form an awesome focal point. The centre of this railway suspension bridge is 'no-mans land', and the site of magnificent views of the falls and gorge, from where Bungee jumpers
launch themselves into the gorge.
Enjoy Local Culture
Marimba street musicians at Victoria falls Village. Get about and meet the locals. Wonderful craft markets, colorful cuisine and friendly people and a chequered history. Discover the local Victoria Falls culture and people
The Smoke That Thunders
The tumultuous plume of spray created by the half-a-million cubic metres of water dropping over the 100m basalt rock face each minute is a phenomenon that has given rise to its poetic African name, Mosi-oa-Tunya - "the smoke that thunders
". There is significant seasonal variation in the flow - the river is at its fullest during the summer rainy season when the spray is at its most dense, and at its lowest at the end of the dry season.
The spray is the solitary reason why there is a permanent rainforest on the edge of the gorge opposite the Falls. The Falls consist of a number of individually named waterfalls, each with its own dynamic.
The heaviest flow of water is on the extreme west, on the Zimbabwean side of the river, at a section known as the Devil's Cataract, which is about 10m lower than the rest of the Falls. Here, beneath the stony gaze of the statue of David Livingstone
, the water plunges 60m into the gorge below.
The Devil's Cataract
is separated from the rest of the watercourse by Boaruka Island (also known as "Cataract Island"). East of Boaruka Island is the 150m-wide Main Falls, which almost always has an impressive display of water falling across its face. Here, the fall is slightly higher than Devil's Cataract, measuring up to 93m from lip to gorge, where it edges up against the next island - the 100m-wide Kaseruka Island, also known as Livingstone Island
It was from this island that Livingstone reportedly first saw the Falls, having come downstream by canoe. The spray is heaviest at Devil's Cataract and Main Falls, which has led to the development of a permanent rain-forest on the southern side of the gorge opposite these falls. During the rainy season, when the most water is falling over the Falls, walking through the rainforest can be like walking in a perpetual thunderstorm. During the dry season, when water volumes are at their lowest, the rainforest can give one the feeling of walking in a gentle mist.
To the east of Kaseruka Island are the Rainbow Falls, which take their name from the fact that the play between light and water here result in a permanent rainbow, which may be viewed from Danger Point
, on the opposite side of the river. Here the Falls are at their highest, with the bottom of the gorge 108m below the lip.
Next to Rainbow Falls are Horseshoe Falls, named for a horseshoe-shaped fissure in the basalt. When the water level is low, hippo and elephant may be seen in the shallow pools slightly upstream from Horseshoe Falls. The next set of waterfalls is called Armchair Falls, named for the fact that, during low flow periods, visitors can actually sit in an armchair-shaped rocky pool right on the edge of the precipice.
The Eastern Cataract
is the final set of falls and the one most prone to drying up. Before the summer rains come, there is often no water at all passing over the Eastern Cataract, which butts up against the Zambian mainland.
A Landscape Shaped in Human Time
When some of our early ancestors inhabited the area 1,5 million years ago, the Victoria Falls was most probably not where it is today but would have flowed over the edge of one the gorges downstream. Where you stand witnessing the Falls today would have been at that time the middle of the great Zambezi River. But, as we have evolved, so has this landscape and, eventually, the fault that now forms the present-day Falls was carved out by the mighty push of water. The process is still ongoing, and faster than you might think.
The isolated islands of basalt that sit at the top of the present Falls have even withered and worn away in living memory. Some scientists believe that, since Baines painted the Devil's Cataract in 1862, the river has cut back as much as 7m. Whether or not the erosion is happening this quickly in geological terms or not, the underlying concept is not up for question.
Sometime in the future, there will be a new Falls, with the Devil's Cataract being the cornerstone of a realignment of the falling Zambezi, and the current lip of the Falls will develop into the next new rainforest while the present rainforest will wither and die due to lack of moisture. Read more about Victoria Falls History
The Victoria Falls have been billed as the greatest falling curtain of water on the planet, making it one of the seven natural wonders of the world...more
Apart from being a natural wonder of the world and a mighty sight to behold, Victoria Falls also offers a wealth of activities and exciting things to do....more
Read about exciting adventure activities at Victoria Falls. These pursuits for the adventurous at heart include white water rafting, bunji jumping and more....more
There are two traditional villages in the Victoria Falls area that tourists may visit. Both are on the Zambian side of the border...more
Information for visitors traveling to Victoria Falls, Hwange Game Reserve and Lake Kariba. Read more about Vic Falls adventure activities, highlights......more
This Victoria Falls Travel Guide to Victoria Falls history explains how the falls and surrounding area was occupied from around 3 million years ago...more
Victoria Falls has many attractions and places of interest, worth paying a visit on your Victoria Falls holiday. Read more about these must-see places....more