Home to vast deserts, tropical rain forests, mountains and grasslands, Africa’s most well-known natural phenomenon is Victoria Falls. Created as the Zambezi River plunges over an approximately 100 metre vertical chasm spanning 1700 metres, there’s good reason Vic Falls as it’s affectionately known, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Vic Falls is twice the height and one and a half times the width of Niagara Falls, making it the largest curtain of water in the world. Located near the halfway mark of the Zambezi River as it otherwise lazes across Africa, it marks the boundary between Zimbabwe and Zambia. While the column of iridescent mist is nearly always visible, during high water season in mid-April, the plume reaches 1,650 metres.
Credited with discovering the falls almost exactly 159 years ago on November 17th, 1855, Scotsman David Livingstone was merely the first European to set eyes on them. Vic Falls has been around and populated for a very long time. Archeologists have found stone artifacts dating back 3 million years. They’ve found Middle Stone Age tools from 50 thousand years ago, and 10 thousand-year-old Late Stone Age weapons and digging tools.
As innovations continued and the population grew, other tribes were attracted to the area, including eventually the Makololo tribe who live there to this day. When missionary-explorer Livingston headed north up the Zambezi River searching for a trade route to the Atlantic Coast and places to establish missionary posts (reputedly to counter the slave trade), it was Makololo’s who escorted him to the falls. Little could they foresee the change coming to the continent. Originally called Mosi oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders) the falls were renamed by Livingston in honour of his reigning monarch.
Facing the Falls on the Zimbabwe side is an area of dense woodland vegetation, known as the Victoria Falls Rain Forest. Although it doesn’t meet the ecological definition of a rain forest, the area is lush with a diversity of vegetation, flora, fauna, birds and animals, nourished by the constant mist, A fringe area supporting only grass and herbaceous species thrives in what’s commonly called the shadow of the Falls.
The growth in tourism, attracted by the natural beauty has also led to the rise in tourism businesses. Operators in the area offer helicopter flights, bungee jumping, and cruises on the upper Zambezi River, above the falls. There are also plenty of established hiking trails.
Immerse yourself in the history and wonder of this spectacular site on Renedian’s Waterfalls and Wildlife or Victoria Falls to Cape Town Safaris. Renedian will also arrange a variety of optional excursions, including the helicopter rides helicopter rides taken by Alan and Marlies Sands, or the white-water canoeing enjoyed by John Colyer.