Travel to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) – Mosi-oa-Tunya ‘The Smoke that Thunders’
Bordering Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is one of the most spectacular and memorable sights in the world. The Zambezi river widens to 1,700 metres at the falls and then plunges down a chasm 70 to 110 metres deep across its entire width.
The wide basalt cliff, over which the falls thunder, transforms the Zambezi from a wide placid river to a ferocious torrent cutting through a series of dramatic gorges, in the process making an adventure-seekers playground. On the Zimbabwe side of the falls, the town of Victoria Falls is a famous town and meeting place for travellers.
Victoria was the name given to the falls by a Scottish missionary, David Livingstone, in 1855. It was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘the Smoke that Thunders’. The force of the falling water – estimated at around 545 million litres per minute during the flood season – sends clouds of spray up to 500 metres into the sky and sustains a lush rainforest all around.
Other than partaking in some of the activities on offer the Victoria Falls are, of course, the premier attraction. Dozens of viewpoints, each one better than the last, are reached by paths through the rainforest which grows in the arc of the spray.
The volume of water is greatest in April and May though pictures are better when the river is less full. Enjoy traditional music, shop for souvenirs or perhaps dance the night away.
On the Zambian side of the Falls:
During the dry season, be sure to take a walk along the lip of the Falls themselves. Sometimes the water is low enough to walk all the way across to Livingstone Island, the place where David Livingstone had his first glimpse of the Falls. This is one of the most magnificent views in the area.
Another interesting perspective is deep within the gorge into which the Falls descend. From the parking lot, look for the signs pointing to “The Boiling Pot.” It is quite a steep climb, but well-worn steps make it a fairly easy descent. Coming up is of course a little more strenuous, but the view from below of the wide Zambezi thundering over the cliff, then compressed into the deep thin crevice turning into the Batoka Gorge, crashing and swirling over rapids, is quite spectacular.
From this vantage point one can also see up to the impressive Victoria Falls Bridge, spanning the gorge over 100 m above.
Many travellers just make a whirlwind walk along the trails of the Zambezi National Park to the various viewpoints. There is a better way to appreciate one of our planet’s greatest natural wonders. Take a picnic, some drinks and be the first to arrive, or last to leave – don’t rush a visit, linger a little longer.
Travellers without private safari vehicles can hire taxis around town and from hotels to and from the entrance to Victoria Falls.