It is situated on the Zambezi River, at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and is also known as ‘The Smoke That Thunders’, from its indigenous name Mosi-oa-Tunya. The name ‘Victoria’ was bestowed by Scottish explorer David Livingstone in 1855, to honour the monarch of the day.
Describing his view of the Falls, Livingstone wrote that no one in England could imagine their beauty, that surely these were scenes familiar to angels in their flight. High praise indeed – and a bronze statue of Livingstone admiring the Falls, located on the Zambian shore, conveys the wonderment the explorer felt on observing this vast body of cascading water. It is a wonderment that is shared by all travellers to the Falls, accounting for the continuing popularity of Vic Falls as a tourist destination.
Visitors to this area enjoy an excellent assortment of activities. The national parks of Victoria Falls and Mosi-oa Tunya contain plenty of wildlife to spot on game drives and walking safaris through the area. Vic Falls National Park boasts elephant, rhino, buffalo, hippopotamus, crocodile and a lot of antelope species, while Mosi-oaTunya National Park is home to zebra, giraffe, buffalo, warthog, as well as, again, many types of antelope. An exploration of the rainforest part of Vic Falls National Park is offered by the majority of lodges here. This is nourished by the spray from the Falls and features an abundance of palms, ferns, vines and trees specific to the area such as ebony and pod mahogany. It is a haven for keen botanists!
Bird watchers are also well served by the Falls, as the gorges provide ideal nesting territory for no fewer than 35 species of raptor (birds of prey) – among them, black eagle, augur buzzard, and Taita and peregrine falcon. And above the waterfall itself, wildfowl thrive, well fed by the plentiful fishlife. Both birdspotting and game fishing are popular activities.
Elephant interactions and lion walks are also offered by lodges around Vic Falls, but the area is most famous for its status as the Adventure Capital of Africa. If you are after a massive rush of adrenaline, this is where you can get it! White water rafting here is the wildest in the world, with bungee jumping, canoeing, zipwiring and gorge swinging not too far behind. Seasoned daredevils will relish a swim in the aptly titled Devil’s Pool, the pool right at the top of the Falls – absolutely awesome!
Guests preferring calmer pursuits enjoy river cruises, shopping expeditions to Victoria Falls town and excursions to the local villages to get to know the people for whom this region is home. And no visit to Vic Falls is complete without a trip to The Boma for authentic Zimbabwean cuisine and an afternoon spent sampling the famous High Tea at Stanley’s Terrace, Victoria Falls Hotel.
The accommodation options around Vic Falls consist of luxurious hotels and lodges positioned close to the waterfall and classic safari camps situated along the banks of the Zambezi – check them out below!