Victoria Falls Information
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 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. As there are numerous factors that come into play it is very difficult to predict the best time for doing both. The Falls is in its highest flow around May-June time frame. You could then expect the falls to span the entire 1.7km width of the Zambezi River as it plunges over its 108m wall. Unfortunately, during this time most of the viewpoints are too wet to photograph effectively (careful not to destroy your equipment by exposing it in the rain) and Raincoats are a must. This would be the perfect time to view the Falls from the air.
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! And other water activities in the Zambezi River below the falls becomes possible. Mist obscuring your viewpoints won't be as much of a problem.
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.
Take plenty of mosquito-repelling lotion/spray/stick, sleep under a bed net or in a room with mosquito proofing, wearing long-sleeved clothing and socks when outside at night (when the mozzies are most active.)
Any person entering Zimbabwe from or over a yellow fever or cholera infected area must be vaccinated against these diseases and have a valid Internationa Certificate of Vaccination. Dams and rivers may have bilharzia, but canoeing and rafting should not be a problem, just towel off as soon as possible. Tap water is safe to drink and only in extremely remote areas will you have to boil it or purify it. Also get tetanus immunisation.
|Size and flow rate of Victoria Falls|
|Height in meters and feet:||108m||360 ft|
|Width in meters and feet:||1,708 m||5,604 ft|
|Flow rate units (vol/s):||m³/s||cu ft/s|
|Mean annual flow rate:||1,088||38,430|
|Mean monthly flow— max:||3,000||105,944|
|— 10yr max:||6,000||211,888|
|Highest recorded flow:||12,800||452,000|