A World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls is filled with history, beauty, and adventure. At 5,604 feet wide and 354 feet tall, Victoria Falls forms the largest sheet of falling water in the world. Long before Scottish explorer Dr. David Livingstone found the falls in 1855 and named it after Queen Victoria, it was called Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning “the smoke that thunders.” The powerful rush of water over this broad ledge creates a massive cloud of mist and a thundering roar, a tangible measure of its mighty strength.
Livingstone is an adventure-packed destination on many bucket lists, and rightly so. Its endless variety of activities, from bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge, white-water rafting down the Zambezi Gorge, taking a boat cruise down the Zambezi as the sun falls, to visiting historical sites and museums, mean there is something for every kind of traveler. The Zambezi River creates the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and Victoria Falls Bridge connects the two countries. A trip across the border to the Zimbabwean side is relatively easy and can be expedited with a guide.
The designated pathways along the Zambian side of Victoria Falls travel along the rim of the gorge, offering incredible views of the falls under the shade of forest trees. Zambia is also home to Devil’s Pool. This natural rock pool on the edge of the falls is an activity for thrill seekers. A trip to Devil’s Pool is possible only when conditions are right and the water is low, typically from September to December.
While Victoria Falls is a spectacular site to see throughout the year, the amount of water falling down the face of the falls fluctuates throughout the year and depends on the timing and extent of the year’s rainy season. Its flow is at its highest from February to May after the rainy season, and reaches its lowest at the end of the dry season, from October to November.
At its greatest flow, the falls’ mist is at its mightiest and most thrilling. The fall’s power is definitely tangible, and the mist can make it difficult to capture photographs without getting wet! Typically, by June, the rush of water has decreased a bit, offering panoramic views and great photographic opportunities. From October to November, temperatures rise and the falls slows.
The forested habitat around the falls shelters many small-mammal species, including baboons and vervet monkeys. A river cruise down the Zambezi River reveals the area’s hippos, crocodiles, and beautiful water birds. Zambia’s Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is home to Africa’s larger mammals, including elephants, white rhinos, giraffes, and buffalo. Large and small antelopes can also be seen in its plains and forested habitat.