Trip Report | Victoria Falls Tour | Linx Africa | Botswana Tour |

Victoria Falls

Distance 165km.

We met with Douglas of Chowezi Tours and departed from Chobe Safari Lodge at 07:45 for the Victoria Falls. After investigating the whole rigmarole of Vic Falls and all the choices on which a visit depends, via Zimbabwe or via Zambia, own car or operator, we decided that we would visit the falls in one day from Kasane and back, whereas the ferry crossing to Zambia seemed a far more tedious option.

Read on...

Posted July 2008 by Linx



Victoria Falls

The Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya, (the Smoke that Thunders) is a waterfall situated in southern Africa on the Zambezi River between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls are, by some measures, the largest waterfall in the world, as well as being among the most unusual in form, and having arguably the most diverse and easily seen wildlife of any major waterfall site.

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, the claim it is the largest is based on a width of 1.7 kilometers and a height of 108 meters, forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world. The maximum flow rate of the falls compares well with that of other major waterfalls.

The unusual form of Victoria Falls enables virtually the whole width of the falls to be viewed face-on, at the same level as the top, from as close as 60 metres, because the Zambezi River drops into a deep, narrow slotlike chasm, connected to a long series of gorges. Few other waterfalls allow such a close approach on foot.

Many of Africa's animals and birds can be seen in the immediate vicinity of Victoria Falls, and the continent's range of river fish is also well represented in the Zambezi, enabling wildlife viewing and sport fishing to be combined with sightseeing.

Victoria Falls are one of Africa's major tourist attractions, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The falls are shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and each country has a national park to protect them and a town serving as a tourism centre: Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and Livingstone in Zambia, and Victoria Falls National Park and the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. (Position is at latitude (DMS) 17 55' 31.0506", longitude (DMS) 25 51' 27.399").

The recent geological history of Victoria Falls can be seen in the form of the gorges below the falls. The basalt plateau over which the Upper Zambezi flows has many large cracks filled with weaker sandstone. In the area of the current falls the largest cracks run roughly east to west (some run nearly north-east to south-west), with smaller north-south cracks connecting them.

Over at least 100,000 years, the falls have been receding upstream through the Batoka Gorges, eroding the sandstone-filled cracks to form the gorges. The river's course in the current vicinity of the falls is north to south, so it opens up the large east-west cracks across its full width, then it cuts back through a short north-south crack to the next east-west one. The river has fallen in different eras into different chasms which now form a series of sharply zig-zagging gorges downstream from the falls.

Ignoring some dry sections, the Second to Fifth and the Songwe Gorges each represents a past site of the falls at a time when they fell into one long straight chasm as they do now. Their sizes indicate that we are not living in the age of the widest ever Mosi-oa-Tunya.

The falls have started cutting back the next major gorge, at the dip in one side of the "Devil's Cataract" (also known as "Leaping Waters") section of the falls. This is not a north-south crack, but a large east-north-east line of weakness across the river, and that is where the next full width falls will eventually form.


Read about our own trip to Victoria Falls from Chobe Safari Lodge.