Locals of the area surrounding the beautiful Victoria Falls know it as “the smoke that thunders” or as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” in their own language. These falls are located on the Zambezi River in southern Africa, and they border the two countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Known as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls are massive in size, spanning approximately 1700 meters across in width. They are approximately three times larger in height that America and Canada’s Niagara Falls, and they are more than two times the width of the Horseshoe Fall. In this way, Victoria Falls are only rivaled by the Iguazu Falls in South America.
Because of this size, they definitely earn their spot as one of the natural wonders of the world. Victoria Falls are the biggest curtain of flowing water in the entire world (during high water which ranges from February until the middle of July). For this reason, the falls are also considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as well as a part of several National Parks (along with the surrounding wilderness area of the Zambezi). Most any time of the day a large rainbow can be seen above and into the mist provided by the rushing of the falls into the Zambezi River below. During the earliest part of the day, the rainbow is most vibrant, bright and clear. There is also a rainbow (or a “moonbow” as some call it) that can be seen near the falls when there is a full moon at night.
The falls drop approximately 100 meters. Behind their rush down to the Zambezi Gorge is a huge sheet of basalt (rock). For those who go to southern Africa to visit Victoria Falls, they are most spectacular during high water (or rainy season), when the mist from the bottom of the falls can reach up to 400 meters high! People in the rainforest area of this part of Africa can actually see the mist rising up from the falls from up to 40 meters away.
Depending on rain fall and the time of season, there are several water sports that can be practiced near the falls and in the Zambezi. During low water periods (July until the end of January), river boarding and river rafter are very popular. Lighter activities include safaris among the forests near the Zambezi, canoeing and kayaking and even elephant back riding and horseback riding. Some tour companies offer “walking with lions” and bunji jumps over an 111 meter drop. There is also fishing, abseiling, jet boating, a gorge swing and game driving.
Greater than five hundred million cubic meters of flowing water washes over the edge of Victoria Falls each minute, and the size created is truly spectacular. Across from the main sheet of falls is another sheet of basalt that falls in a cliff, creating a beautiful and breathtaking overall landscape. There is a path along the edge of this cliff at which viewers can stand and view the tremendous falls. Many viewers and tours tend to stop at a very special vantage point near here. This is located across a bridge called the Knife-edge Bridge. This point of viewing shows the very best view of the Main Falls as well as the Boiling Pot (this is where the river starts going down the Batoka Gorge) and the Eastern Cataract (one of the main streams).
Victoria Falls is typically listed as the last of the 7 natural wonders of the world, although it is far from the least important. Many people say that of all the natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls is the most epic, beautiful and leaves the greatest impression when seen in person. For those interested in travelling here, there are hotels in both Zambia and Zimbabwe, and many will be happy to know that the falls have remained neutral from any political problems this area of Africa may have otherwise seen. Victoria Falls are a proud place for Africans and one that people from all over the world come to see every year.