As one of David Livingstone’s greatest, most famous discoveries and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, we’ve uncovered 10 things you probably didn’t know about Victoria Falls.
1. First discovered by European eyes in 1855
The Falls were first seen by European eyes when David Livingstone discovered them in 1855. To view them he stood upon what is now known as Livingstone Island; a small outcrop of land at the edge of the Falls, in Livingstone, Zambia.
2. Without the Zambezi River, the Falls would not exist
They are a part of the Zambezi’s 2,574 km long stretch and lie almost exactly halfway along the river, with the Zambezi then leaving the Falls and making its way east to flow into the Indian Ocean.
3. The flow of the Zambezi and water levels change
From September to December the flow of the Zambezi lessens and water levels drop. This allows dare devils to swim to the very edge of Victoria Falls in a naturally formed pool and look down into the chasm below. The pool is made by a rock wall that halts the current enough for a swim; it is ominously named ‘Devil’s Pool.’
4. The Falls are 1,708 metres wide and 108 metres high
While known as the world’s largest waterfall Victoria Falls is neither the highest (Angel Falls) nor the widest (Khone Falls). However, it is the largest curtain of falling water on the planet, one and a half times wider than Niagra Falls and twice as high.
5. On the Zimbabwean side of the Falls lies The Victoria Falls Rainforest
This special place is home to unique plant and animal life, some of which are indigenous to the area. Their environment is one equally unique, as the rainforest is the only place on earth where it rains all day … everyday! This is a direct result of the water vapour rising from the Falls, which then falls as rain in the rainforest…
6. Victoria Falls is home to a ‘Moonbow’, which is a rainbow at night.
As the sun sets on a full moon, Victoria Falls hosts a rare and beautiful sight as the light from the moon bouncing off the spray gives life to a ‘moonbow’, a rainbow during the night. The spectacle lasts from sunset to sunrise and is one of Africa’s most distinctive and striking secrets.
7. David Livingstone had heard magical tales about the waterfall
Before exploring the area and witnessing the Falls for himself, David Livingstone had already heard tales of the mighty waterfall. Although at the time it wasn’t called Victoria Falls! Locals had named it Mosi-oa-tunya, which means ‘The Smoke That Thunders’. Livingstone re-named the Falls in honour of Queen Victoria.
8. Every minute, over 5 million cubic metres of water pour over the falls
During the wet season it cascades into a gorge over 100 metres deep. The opposing cliffs that comprise the gorge are made from basalt and rise to the same height.
9. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World
The Falls join the Great Barrier Reef, Grand Canyon, the Aurora Borealis, the Paricutin volcano, the Harbour of Rio de Janeiro and Mount Everest.
We think the Zimbabwean side is the best place to view the Falls face on. Spray from the Falls will leave you drenched (particularly on the Zimbabwean side), so be sure to pack waterproofs!
A holiday near Victoria Falls can be a truly magical experience and is a perfect destination for those looking for an active holiday. There are so many ways to discover the Victoria Falls including helicopter ride over the top, bungee jumping off Victoria Falls Bridge, jet boating and white water rafting. Our favourite way to discover Victoria Falls is on a sundowner cruise, where you can see the famous ‘moonbow’ come alive. Victoria Falls, the perfect honeymoon destination.