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Victoria Falls on Zambezi River

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Victoria Falls is one of the most famous tourist sites in subsaharan Africa, a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Victoria Falls present a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Victoria Falls on Zambezi River_

The falls were formed as the Zambezi River eroded softer soil and bedrock separating a series of lateral volcanic dikes, which in turn created the narrow, zigzagging gorge below the falls.
The river's course is dotted with numerous tree-covered islands, which increase in number as the river approaches the falls. There are no mountains, escarpments, or deep valleys; only a flat plateau extending hundreds of kilometres in all directions.
The river currently plunges over one of these dikes into the chasm hollowed out of softer bedrock. The depth of the gorge, and by proxy the height of the falls, varies from 260 feet at the end of the gorge to 344 feet in the center of the formation. Two islands divide the river into four main channels and each resulting waterfall has its own unique name; Devils Cataract, Main Falls, Rainbow Falls (the tallest part) and the Eastern Cataract.
In addition to the four main segments, there are two other portions of the falls that have their own name as a descriptor: Armchair Falls (a narrow plunge that drops first into a notch in the rock, then falls into the gorge,) and Horseshoe Falls. Given the relatively minor status of these romantically described portions of the falls, we recognize the 4 main segments and relegate the two smaller segments to the footnotes.

Victoria Falls on Zambezi River_

The Scottish missionary and explorer - David Livingstone,is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855.
In 1851, Livingstone first heard of the great waterfall, but it was only in 1855 that he set out to visit it. He spent the night on Kalai Island a few kilometers upstream of the Falls, having come down river by foot, and the next morning set off in a small canoe to approach the thundering smoke. He landed on the biggest island on the lip of the falls, now called Livingstone Island and from there obtained his first view of the Falls.
Of the surrounding area he wrote: "No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight" (Livingstone 1857)

The Zambezi is known as the “River of Life” across southern Africa, but surviving by the river near Victoria Falls is not always easy. During the rainy season the Zambezi has a fierceness and a power that is deadly to both animals and humans. At the peak of the rainy season, almost 300,000 gallons of water cascade over the falls every second.
The Zambezi river, upstream from the falls, experiences a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season the rest of the year. The river's annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April.
The spray from the falls typically rises to a height of over 400 metres (1,300 ft), and sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from up to 48 km (30 mi) away. At full moon, a "moonbow" can be seen in the spray instead of the usual daylight rainbow. During the flood season, however, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist.
Close to the edge of the cliff, spray shoots upward like inverted rain, especially at Zambia's Knife-Edge Bridge.


Victoria Falls on Zambezi River_aerial

As the dry season takes effect, the islets on the crest become wider and more numerous, and in September to January up to half of the rocky face of the falls may become dry and the bottom of the First Gorge can be seen along most of its length. At this time it becomes possible (though not necessarily safe) to walk across some stretches of the river at the crest. It is also possible to walk to the bottom of the First Gorge at the Zimbabwean side.
The minimum flow, which occurs in November, is around a tenth of the April figure; this variation in flow is greater than that of other major falls, and causes Victoria Falls' annual average flow rate to be lower than might be expected based on the maximum flow.

Short info about Zambia
Formerly called Northern Rhodesia as an integral part of Cecil Rhodes’ Cape to Cairo vision, Zambia is in fact steeped in history dating all the way back to the African Stone Age. However, in many ways the famous Scottish missionary David Livingstone put the country on the European map as he came to the shores of Lake Tanganyika in search of the source of the Nile in the early 19th century.
One of the most water rich countries in Africa, Zambia has 5 vast lakes, 3 major rivers, 17 waterfalls and various wetland areas.

Victoria Falls on Zambezi River

Height - 355 ft (108 m) (at center)

Water volume - 1088 m³/s (38,430 cu ft/s)

Number of drops - various

Type - Vertical Block

Interesting facts
The indigenous name, Mosi-oa-Tunya—"the smoke that thunders".
The Scottish missionary and explorer - David Livingstone,is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855.
It is classified as the largest, based on its width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft), resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water.

Travel tips
In Zimbabwe, there are two seasons- the wet and dry season. Regardless, the temperatures are rather moderate and less arid and humid than in the Northern part of Africa. The dry season generally is from May to October.
At the tail end of the dry season, it is the least desirable time to visit Africa. In fact, October and November are known as “suicide months” because the temperatures remain high through the night as well.
The summer wet season is called the "green season", since it provides much needed rains to the area. In November, the first rains begin as migrant birds arrive in the area and the bush becomes green.  During this time, it is also very hot generally.
In the summer, the rains can be literal torrential downpours for a day and then, the sky can clear and it is suddenly sunny the next day. The weather is very difficult to predict. However, in January and February, there tends to be long periods of heavy rain and floods even, making it often difficult to travel.

At night in this area during the wet season, it can become very very cold depending on the altitude. In fact, at times temperatures can fall below freezing! Travelers should bring coats and cover-ups to bear the cold nights.
It is recommended to travel between April to May and August to September.



Victoria Falls on Zambezi River_aerial

The Falls can be approached from the town of Livingstone by traveling south on Mosi-oa-Tunya Road for some 11 kilometers. Just before the border, there is a turning to the right which leads to a parking area. Walks all around the Falls are accessible from this point. If approaching from Zimbabwe, cross the border at the town of Victoria Falls and watch for the left turning just after the Zambian customs post
Different times of the year will provide completely different experiences of the Falls region. Peak flood season is around March and April when the full power of the Falls can be experienced in all its glory. Due to the masses of spray rising from the fallen water, the full width of the Falls cannot be seen on foot. The aerial view at this time is spectacular, with clouds of spray rising high into the sky. As the floods abate the view of the Falls gets better and better through the year, but at it’s lowest, around November and December the Falls become little rivulets running over the edge and in some places along the 1,7km width, no water falls at all. The delight of visiting the Falls in this season is the view of the impressive cliffs that form the Falls wall, and the magnitude of the abyss can be fully appreciated. Sobek and Safari Par Excellence do trips by raft to the base of the Falls in low season called ‘the float of angels"

Entry into the national park is roughly $20

Livingstone, Zambia Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

View Victoria Falls on Zambezi River in a larger map

17° 55′ 28″ S, 25° 51′ 24″ E
-17.924444, 25.856667


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