Victoria Falls is considered one of the most beautiful and impressive places in the world. It is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and in the language native to the area is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke That Thunders). It is the most spectacular of a number of falls along the Zambezi River, the fourth longest in Africa and the largest that empties into the Indian Ocean.
The spray from the falls can be seen for miles and during the rainy season more than 500 million cubic meters of water per minute go over its edge, which is nearly two kilometers wide and falls over one hundred meters. The world’s only waterfall more than a kilometer wide and more than hundred meters tall, Victoria Falls is considered the largest waterfall in the world based on its combination of width and depth.
There are walking paths for the hardy to take-in an up close view of the water’s violent descent and the area has fully developed amenities. Tourists can make day trips across the international border in order to see the falls from multiple places.
The Falls were given their western name in honor of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth by David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer whose search for the source of the Nile River was his holy grail. He is believed to have been the first European to visit the area in 1855. Livingstone is famous for his meeting with Henry Stanley in 1871 after Livingstone had lost contact with the western world for six years. Stanley was hired to find him by The New York Herald newspaper and when he finally did is said to have uttered: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”
One of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, at high water Victoria Falls/Mosi-oa-Tunya can be heard from as far away as 40 kilometers and its spray rises over 400 meters above the falls, able to be seen from as far away as 50 kilometers. It is a major tourist destination, with Zambia and Zimbabwe cooperating in making it a visitor mecca, not unlike the Niagara Falls area on either side of the Canada/United States border.
The water level at the falls peaks in April at the end of the rainy season. It’s lowest in October and early November when the water level of the Zambezi River is so low that it’s actually possible to walk in some parts of the waterfall, which are dangerous and spectacular most of the year.