These are among the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. The Zambezi River, more than two kilometres wide at this point, plunges noisily down a series of basalt gorges and raises an iridescent mist that can be seen more than 20 kilometres away.
The Victoria Falls are the most significant feature of the Victoria Falls National Park, and when the Zambezi is in full flood (usually February or March) they form the largest curtain of falling water in the world. During these months, over 500 million litres of water per minute go over the falls, which are 1708m wide, and drop 99m at Rainbow Falls in Zambia.
At low water in November the flow can be reduced to around 10 million litres/minute, and the river is divided into a series of braided channels that descend in many separate falls. Below the falls the river enters a narrow series of gorges which represent locations successively occupied by the falls earlier in their history.
Since the uplifting of the Makgadikgadi Pan area some two million years ago, the Zambezi River has been cutting through the basalt, exploiting weak fissures, and forming a series of retreating gorges. Seven previous waterfalls occupied the seven gorges below the present falls, and Devil's Cataract in Zimbabwe is the starting point for cutting back to a new waterfall that will eventually leave the present lip high above the river in the gorge below.
Vic Falls attract many 'extreme' sports lovers; bungee jumping off the Zambezi Bridge, white water rafting and body boarding are just a few options available.
Less adventurous visitors will enjoy walking through the National Park, where there are excellent viewing points. The spectacular views that can be obtained by taking a helicopter or light aircraft 'flight of the angels' are unforgettable!
The Zimbabwean Town of Victoria Falls in is a vibrant 'Tourist' destination with numerous shops, activities, casino and nightlife. The recent political troubles in Zimbabwe have not seriously affected life, other than making incidental expenditure remarkably cheap!
The Zambian side is much less 'touristic' and would appeal to those seeking a more natural and African environment.
The best time to visit Victoria Falls
The Zambezi basin above the falls experiences a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season the rest of the year. The river's annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April, The spray from the falls typically rises to a height of over 400 metres (1,300 ft), and sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from up to 50 km (30 miles) away. At full moon, a "moonbow" can be seen in the spray instead of the usual daylight rainbow. During the flood season, however, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist. Close to the edge of the cliff, spray shoots upward like inverted rain, especially at Zambia's Knife-Edge Bridge. As the dry season takes effect, the islets on the crest become wider and more numerous, and in September to January up to half of the rocky face of the falls may become dry and the bottom of the First Gorge can be seen along most of its length. At this time it becomes possible (though not necessarily safe) to walk across some stretches of the river at the crest. It is also possible to walk to the bottom of the First Gorge at the Zimbabwean side. The minimum flow, which occurs in November, is around a tenth of the April figure; this variation in flow is greater than that of other major falls, and causes Victoria Falls' annual average flow rate to be lower than might be expected based on the maximum flow.
Visiting the falls depends on whether you want to view the Falls at its most impressive ore at its lowest flow. For example if you want to view the falls up close you will want to be there at its lowest flow.
The Falls is in its lowest flow around October-December time frame. During these conditions the falls will brake up into subgroups comprising of seven smaller water “strands”, with much of the underlying bedrock exposed along the wall. Lacking its thunderous impact due to some degree of water diversion for hydroelectricity, but plenty of other activities become possible. Among these activities are swimming at the “Devil's Swimming Pool” that lets you swim right at the edge of the Falls!
During July through September is perhaps the most popular time frame to visit the Falls (good views and best weather). Gradually in transition from a flooded state to a low flow state with an acceptable volume of water and fewer problems with mist.
Around January through March/April is the wet season. The area is Warm and extremely humid and thundershowers are more likely. During this period the Falls are in transition, going from a low flow state to a high flow state. Thus, you're likely to have satisfying views of the falls without mist being as much of a problem as during full flood. Even though it is typically raining this time of year, the flow of the River depends on the drainage systems further upstream where water drains into the Zambezi River from Western Zambia and Angola.
Malaria: Travellers coming to Zimbabwe should get medical insurance. Other medical requirements include getting malaria prophylactics as this is a malaria area. Anti-malaria tablets can be bought at your local pharmacy and you should start taking them at least 24 hourse before entering the country. Tell your pharmacists which areas you inted visiting. You will have to take the pills for six weeks after leaving the country.