7 Interesting Facts about Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is one of the world’s most incredible natural wonders. Part of the Zambezi River, the waterfall forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. You can see most of the falls from the Zimbabwean side, but most visitors head to the Zambian side. If you want to get closer to the falls, you can actually swim right up to the edge, for instance, in one of the many natural pools. So, if you are planning a visit or are just curious to know more,  here are some incredibly interesting facts about Victoria Falls between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

7 Interesting Facts about Victoria Falls between

1. You can hear Victoria Falls 50km away

In the Kololo and Lozi languages, the waterfall’s name is Mosi-oa-tunya, which means “the smoke that thunders”. In Tonga it is Shungu Namutitima, which translates to “Boiling Water”. These names are very descriptive. ‘Boiling Water’ and ‘The Smoke’ reference the billowing clouds of mist that rises from the plunging water. This can reach a height of over 400 meters. Thunder refers to the incredibly loud noise that the waterfall makes. People can see the mist from a distance of 50km and can hear the thunderous falls 40km away.

2. Victoria Falls got its name from Queen

In 1855, Scottish missionary and explorer, David Livingstone was the first European to see the waterfall. He named it Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria. She was the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain at the time.

3. Victoria Falls is part of the Zambezi River

The Zambezi is the fourth-largest river in the African continent after the Nile, Congo, and Niger. On its 2,700km journey from its source in north-western Zambia to the Indian Ocean, it travels through six different nations. These are Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Victoria Falls is the boundary between the upper and middle parts of the Zambezi. You’ll find it almost exactly halfway along the river.

4. Victora Falls is in both Zimbabwe and Zambia

The Zambezi River forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. These two countries share Victoria Falls. On the Zimbabwe side, the waterfall is located in the Victoria Falls National Park. Zambezi National Park is upstream from the falls. It split off from Victoria Falls National Park in 1979. On the Zambian side, you’ll find Victoria Falls in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. From the Zimbabwean side, you can see about 75 per cent of the falls. The remaining 25 per cent is visible from the Zambian side.

5. Victoria Falls is the largest curtain of falling water in the world

Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. The waterfall stands at an altitude of about 915 metres above mean sea level (a.m.s.l.). It is 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) wide. It varies in height from 70 metres (233 ft) to 108 metres (360 ft). For comparison, it is one and a half times wider than Niagara Falls and twice the height. At its peak in mid-April, roughly 625-million litres of water flow over the edge per minute. Victoria Falls is not the widest waterfall in the world nor the tallest. However, taking into account all dimensions and flow rate, Victoria Falls is the biggest curtain of falling water in the world.


6. Victoria Falls is home to endangered birds

In 1989, UNESCO inscribed Victoria Falls on its World Heritage list because of its “exceptional geological and geomorphological features”. Its beauty also has outstanding value because of the spray, mist and rainbows created by the falls. In terms of geological and geomorphological importance, the water of the Zambezi River has eroded the basalt rock to create a series of eight gorges. These gorges serve as breeding sites for endangered bird species and migratory bird species, for instance, the Taita Falcon and Black Eagle.

7. You can swim to the edge of the waterfall

In 2019, more than 300,000 foreign tourists visited the Zimbabwean side of the falls. About one million tourists visited Victoria Falls on the Zambian side. Brave travellers can swim up to the edge of the falls at The Devil’s Pool. This is at the western point of Livingstone Island on the Zimbabwean side. Swimming here is generally safe as the pool has a rock lip that protrudes upwards and, therefore, stops you from falling over the edge. It’s like the most exhilarating infinity pool in the world.

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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