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Home | Facts on Victoria Falls

Facts on Victoria Falls

This remarkable place is filled with so much history and fascination.

The Victoria Falls The gorge Walkway in the rainforest Statue of David Livingstone The Zambezi River above the Victoria Falls Construction of the Victoria Falls Bridge Lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls also known as "Mosi oa-Tunya" ("the smoke that thunders") is positioned almost exactly half way along the mighty Zambezi River's 2700 km journey from it's source to the sea.

Here the river plunges headlong into a 100m vertical chasm spanning the full one-and-a-half kilometre width of the river, creating the biggest curtain of falling water in the world and also one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

The power of the falls is awesome with the highest ever flow recorded in 1958 (read more about this flood and the mythology surrounding it) when it reached more than 700 000 cubic meters of water a minute. The water in the gorges rose 18 metres (60 feet) above its normal flood level.

This constant pounding by the currents of the mighty Zambezi has, over the millennium, cut through the rock faults and fissures and carved out not one but eight successive precipices (and now the ninth has begun).

When our early ancestors inhabited this area some 1.5 million years ago, they would have seen a different Victoria falls to he one we see today.

Being one of the greatest physical spectacles in Africa, it stands to reason that it has attracted so much interest from us humans over time and therefore the area is steeped in history and mystery.

In November 1855, Dr David Livingstone was transported in a canoe by the local Makalolo people to the very edge of these falls.

The sensitive Scotsman was so overwhelmed by his first sight of these spectacular falls, that he momentarily abandoned his scientific observations and recorded.

"It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight".

Loyally the good missionary, whose heart lies buried in Africa, named this great wonder of the world after Victoria, his British queen.

We have gone into much more depth about these facts on Victoria Falls and many others in the links below:

Facts on Victoria Falls

Height, Depth, Volume of the Largest Waterfall in the World

Victoria Falls is approximately 1700m wide, and varies in height from 80-108 meters. It's one and a half times wider than Niagara Falls and is twice the height making it the biggest curtain of water in the world.

Around mid-April is when peak flood waters occur. Roughly 625 million litres of water flow over the edge per minute. This huge volume of water produces a spray that rises up to 1650 feet into the air. More on the Largest Waterfall in the world...

Aerial view of the Victoria Falls - lagest waterfall in the world

The Victoria Falls from the air

Formation of the Victoria Falls, Geology and the Gorges

The original Victoria Falls was 8km downstream from the current day falls. Weaknesses in the basalt rock perpendicular to the river's flow, plus 2 million years' of erosion have resulted in the river cutting through seven subsequent gorges, which zigzag upstream from the previous one. The waterfall has already started cutting back the next one, at the one side of the Devil's Cataract. This a large east-north-east line of weakness across the river, and that is where the next full width falls will form. More on the formation of Victoria Falls...

Aerial view of the Zambezi River zig zagging gorges

The zig zagging gorge from the Victoria Falls

About the Victoria Falls Rainforest

The Victoria Falls Rainforest, as it has become known, is an area of dense woodland vegetation supported and nourished by the constant spray from the waterfall. The main section of the Rainforest extends only over a small section of the Victoria Falls Park, at its western end, on Cataract and Livingstone Islands on the lip of the Falls, and opposite the Main Falls, on the Zimbabwe side, where the never ending rain from the shadow of the Falls supports the development of a rich and diverse plant community. Although in ecological terms it is not a true rainforest, it has formed quite a unique ecosystem due the rainfall 24/7. More facts on Victoria Falls Rainforest...

The Victoria Falls rainforest at sunrise - Victoria Falls Guide

The Victoria Falls Rainforest at sunrise

David Livingstone

Born in Scotland, David Livingstone arrived in Africa in 1840. He was a missionary and a physician. In 1855 he set off down the Zambezi to find for himself the "Smoke That Thunders" which the local tribesmen called Mosi-oa-tunya. Livingstone named the falls in honour of his monarch Queen Victoria. More on Davis Livingstone...

History of Victoria Falls

Although David Livingstone was the first white man to see Victoria Falls on the 17th November 1855. Various local tribes had been living here for years. The town of Victoria Falls was originally established as a trading post called Old Drift on the Zambian side of the river where they used to cross the Zambezi. Later, it was moved to the current day location of Livingstone in around 1900. Read more...

Dr Livingstone portrait

The Zambezi River

It is the mighty Zambezi River which flows over the Victoria Falls. The Zambezi River is over 1650 miles long and is Africa's fourth largest river (after the Nile, Zaire and Niger respectively) and is the only one that flows east into the Indian Ocean. It flows through six countries on its journey from its source in north-western Zambia to the Indian Ocean, an amazing 2 700 km. The rivers beauty has attracted tourists from all over the world and provides great opportunities for game viewing and various water sports. Hippopotamus, crocodiles, elephants and lions are some examples of wildlife you will find along various parts of the Zambezi River. Learn more about the Zambezi River...

The lower Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia

The lower Zambezi River

Victoria Falls Bridge and Steam Railway

Prior to the Victoria Falls bridge being built and completed in 1905 the Zambezi River had to be crossed either by a barge on a steel cable or a dugout canoe at Old Drift. Cecil John Rhodes had a vision of a railway line from the Cape to Cairo part of this required a bridge to be built over the Zambezi gorge. This was completed in 1905 sadly after his death. This railway line made it possible for large number of tourists to visit the town. Read more...

The Victoria Falls Bridge across the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia

The Victoria Falls Bridge

Victoria Falls - One of the World's Seven Wonders

Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, do you know the others? Seven wonders of the world....

Cecil John Rhodes

Cecil John Rhodes was the son of a Hertfordshire clergyman. Born in 1853, Rhodes was an asthmatic child and his family believed a warm, dry climate would improve his health. In 1870, he was sent to live with his oldest brother Herbert in South Africa. There he was to help his brother on a cotton plantation in Natal. A year later, Cecil and his brother invested in the newly opened Kimberley diamond fields. Read more on the story of Cecil Rhodes...

Cecil John Rhodes - a portrait

A portrait of Cecil John Rhodes

A Lunar Rainbow

"A Wonderful Sight Not To Be Missed"....The lunar rainbow occurs for three days in each month generally from January through to about October. The lunar happens when the water level in the Zambezi River is high enough to cause heavy spray to blend adequately with the moon rays.  More on Lunar Rainbows...

A lunar rainbow / moonbow at the nighty Victoria Falls

Lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls

Strange Facts on Victoria Falls...

Try these for off beat facts on Victoria Falls you won't find anywhere else... read more...


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