Here are five reasons to visit Victoria Falls by guest blogger, Roxanne Reid. Victoria Falls, on the boundary between Zimbabwe and Zambia, has long conjured an element of old-world Out of Africa romance. To visit the falls is a bucket-list expedition into the heart of Africa to see one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, and here are 5 great reasons to visit:
1. UNESCO World Heritage Site
Victoria Falls and the ‘rainforest’ that surrounds it are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That means that they have been recognized to have outstanding universal value. One reason for this is that the main falls form the highest, widest sheet of continually falling water in the world – twice as high as Niagara Falls and around 500m/1,640ft wider. The volume of water is impressive too: it is said that the whole annual consumption of New York City goes over the falls in just three-and-a-half days during peak flood season in March and April. The force of the water as it thunders into the gorge drives spray into the air and covers everything in mist. For this reason, the locals call Victoria Falls ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’, meaning the smoke that thunders. You can see this ‘smoke’ up to 50km/31mi away.
If you visit during March to May, when there’s enough spray, you may see a lunar rainbow during the full moon. Just like a normal rainbow, the moonbow appears when water particles in the air refract light. Victoria Falls opens at full moon for three nights. For the best effect, try to be there in the first hour or so after the moon appears.
2. Zambezi River
The Zambezi is one of Africa’s major rivers. It forms the boundary between Zimbabwe on one side of Victoria Falls and Zambia on the other and is the lifeblood of the area. Blood-red sunrises and sunsets along the river are dazzling in their beauty. Don’t miss a Ra-Ikane sunset boat cruise on the river to see hippos, elephants, crocs and birds, as well as to toast the setting sun.
3. Adrenaline Activities
If spiking your adrenaline is something that turns you on, you’ll be spoilt for choice at Victoria Falls. Most famous of the many adrenaline activities is probably the 111m/364ft bungee jump from the bridge above the falls into the gorge. White-water rafting is also popular. If you want to do this, make sure you visit at the right time of year. White-water rafting is only available from around the end of August to December when water levels are lower and therefore safer.
Another thrilling activity during the low-water months is to cross the old iron bridge to the Zambian side of the Falls for a swim in Devil’s Pool. You might call this the world’s most spectacular infinity pool. The experience will have you floating right to the very edge of the pool where the water plummets into the gorge below. A guide will come with you to keep you safe.
With a gorge swing, flying fox and zipline over Batoka Gorge as well, it’s no wonder this is known as Zimbabwe’s adrenaline capital.
Victoria Falls National Park and Zambezi National Park, both in Zimbabwe, and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia are all in easy reach of the falls. They provide a wealth of wildlife-watching opportunities, from elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard to a host of antelope species like sable, eland, kudu and impala.
If you’re really keen on wildlife and safari experiences, ask about a day trip to Hwange National Park. Zimbabwe’s biggest national park, it’s only an hour’s drive away from the Falls. Chobe National Park in neighboring Botswana, is 80 minutes away, and is known for its huge elephant and buffalo herds. Each park delivers some of the best wildlife viewing in southern Africa.
5. A Different Perspective
Once you’ve seen Victoria Falls from close up on the ground, take to the air in a helicopter or a microlight. You’ll get aerial views that will have you marveling at the sheer scale of the Falls. If you choose the heli-flip, the chopper will make a few passes over the falls so everyone gets to photograph them, no matter where you’re sitting. If you choose the microlight, hang onto your camera or phone. Even better, attach it to your body with a cable so you don’t lose it if you drop it.