Victoria Falls thunders in Africa

Thundering Victoria Falls

Thundering Victoria Falls

Straddling the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe in Africa, Victoria Falls is called Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Smoke that Thunders. And for good reason.  Especially toward the end of the rainy season, December to April, the spray is so heavy that it obscures the curtain of water, and it’s impossible to see the foot of the falls in the river. Iridescent mist (never mind that you get soaked) makes for incredibly bright and colorful rainbows extending across the sky.

Deep gorges below the Falls

Deep gorges below the Falls

Victoria Falls is less than 200 feet wide in places and runs almost at right angles across the width of the Zambezi River.  Below the tall, rugged rock wall the whole volume of the rive plummets in a single vertical drop into this deep, narrow chasm and then pours into a series of gorges.  This unusual geographical configuration allows a remarkably close approach on foot.  And it’s okay to gawk!

Brilliant rainbows on the Falls
Brilliant rainbows on the Falls

The entire scope of the Falls is best viewed when water level is low, at the end of the dry season, September to November.  You can get a better sense of its magnitude since the crest, or rocky face of the cliffs, and depth of the gorges are easily visible, although the sheet of water may not be solid.  You’ll also want to view the Falls on several occasions—morning and afternoon give different perspectives—and you might see “moonbows” at night.

A World Heritage site, the Falls are protected by each country–Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia and Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe.  A bridge over the Zambezi River connects the two countries.  Although you need different visas, it’s worthwhile to view the Falls from different vantage points, if possible.

You can view the Falls from overhead on a helicopter jaunt or the Flight of Angels, a ride in a fixed wing Cessna that provides fabulous vistas of the Falls and the river upstream.  Rafting the furious rapids below Victoria Falls is a worthy adventure for thrill-seekers.  Fishing, horseback riding, or going on safari (either walking or on an elephant) to view indigenous wildlife are other popular activities in the area since Victoria Falls has arguably the most diverse and easily-seen wildlife of any major waterfall site.

The magic of its thundering water, soaking mist, and sheer-sided gorges inspires visitors as much today as when David Livingstone first saw it in 1855.  Fortunately, Victoria Falls is easily accessible from all major destinations in Africa.

For more information: 
Victoria Falls

Photos by Beverly Burmeier
Going On Adventures


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