10 Interesting Facts About The Zambezi River

As one of the largest rivers in Africa, the Zambezi River provides a wealth of life and beauty to the surrounding flora and fauna, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa, notably for its most spectacular feature: the mighty Victoria Falls – the largest waterfall in the world.


To celebrate this iconic river, we have compiled a list of 10 interesting facts:

 1. The Zambezi River is the fourth largest river in Africa
As one of the largest rivers in the continent, the Zambezi river flows an exceptional 2574km (1599 miles) in length. It sits closely behind The Nile (the longest river in Africa), The Congo (the widest river in Africa) The Niger River.

2. ‘River of Life’
The Zambezi River provides a rich source of water for communities living on its riverbanks. As a result, it is often nick-named the ‘River of Life’ for its central role in aiding farming, fishing and domestic chores for local people. Without it, life in such areas would not be possible.

3. Waterfall wonders
The river pours over several waterfalls along its route to The Indian Ocean, including the breath-taking Victoria Falls – one of Africa’s most popular tourist destinations and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Other well-known waterfalls include Ngonye Falls in western Zambia, and the more discrete, Chavuma Falls on the border of Angola and Zambia.

The Mighty Victoria Falls Zambezi River

The mighty Victoria Falls – flowing in full force during high-water season

4. The Zambezi flows through a total of six countries
En-route to the Indian Ocean, the mighty river flows through Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique. It spends the majority of its time in Zambia, and the least in Botswana.

5. Animals galore
Hundreds of animals can be spotted along the shorelines of the river. Among the most common are crocodiles, hippopotamus, elephant, buffalo, zebra and a variety of buck. Lion, leopard and giraffe are a little more difficult spot, but if you’re lucky these can be seen visiting the river’s edge as they come for a refreshing drink.

Elephant on Zambezi River

A large African elephant wades through the river water to graze on an island separating Zimbabwe and Zambia

6. The river’s source is located in Zambia
The wetlands of the Mwinilunga District of North-Western Zambia is known as the source of this powerful river. The source is a marshy black wetland, known as a ‘dambo’, in the centre of the iconic Miombo Woodlands.

7. It has surprisingly few bridges
Despite its impressive length, bridges crossing the Zambezi are few and far between. Notable crossings include the Otto Beit Bridge at Chirundu in Zimbabwe, the historic Victoria Falls Bridge, the Katima Mulilo Bridge between Namibia and Sesheke in Zambia, and the Tete Suspension Bridge in Mozambique.

8. It’s a bird-lovers paradise!

The Zambezi River is home to some of the most rare and endangered birdlife species on the planet, some of which can only be spotted in select locations such as along the banks of this river. This makes birdwatching cruises all the more special. Find out what birds you can spot and why it makes for a perfect birdwatching location in our previous blog.

African Skimmers Birds Of the Zambezi

A rare sighting: A trio of African Skimmers fly in sync en route to catch their meal for the day

9. A hydroelectric power source
A large hydroelectric power station is located along the Zambezi River at Kariba Dam, bordering Zimbabwe and Zambia. At 128 meters high (420 ft) and 579 metres long (1,900 ft) Kariba is one of the largest dams is in the world. The Kariba Dam supplies 1,626 megawatts (2,181,000 hp) of electricity to both bordering countries and generates 6,400 gigawatt-hours (23,000 TJ) per annum.

10. Why tourists love it!
Tourists travel far and wide to visit the Zambezi River. Included in the rich and wonderful things to see here, are unmissable river safaris, white-water rafting, and river boat cruises, such as those onboard Ra-Ikane River Cruise.

Ra-Ikane Breakfast Cruise Zambezi River

Waiting for the sun to rise on a Breakfast Cruise on board Ra-Ikane

For a unique way to explore this fascinating river, choose from a selection of luxury cruises onboard the Ra-Ikane. Spot the wonderful array of bird life onboard an early morning Birdwatching Cruise, or watch the sun rise over the river, while enjoying a Breakfast Cruise. Experience exceptional animal sightings on board a Lunch Cruise or witness the most spectacular sunset on a Sunset Cruise. For more information visit www.raikane.com, email raikane@ilalalodge.co.zw or call  +263 (213) 2844737/8/9.