The world’s seven natural wonders stand the test of time: Truth, Love, Joy, Faith, Peace, Virtue and Wisdom.”MATSHONA DHLIWAYO
The greatest falling sheet of water in the world
One of the seven Natural Wonders of the World due to the sheer scale of the waterfall at 1,708 metres wide and ranging between 61 and 98 metres high across it’s length.
Mosi-oa-Tunya – The Smoke that Thunders
The local Makololo name for this extraordinary and sacred place is far more apt: “Mosi-oa-Tunya” – The Smoke that Thunders. At the height of the river flow in May the spray that rises up from the fall can reach 400 metres high and is visible from 50 kilometres away.
Outstanding Universal Value
The exceptional geological and geomorphological features and active land formation processes combined with the outstanding beauty attributed to the Victoria Falls afford this 6,860 hectare trans-boundary site UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
The Upper Zambezi River originally drained south through present day Botswana to join the Limpopo River until a general uplift of the land between Zimbabwe and The Kalahari desert about two million years ago blocked this drainage route. The river was forced to flow east over the Batoka Basaltic Plateau of Zimbabwe and Zambia and begun cutting through the basalt as it went.
The recent geological history of Victoria Falls can be seen in the overall form of the Batoka Gorge, with its six individual gorges and eight past positions of the falls. The east-west oriented gorges imply structural control with alignment along joints of shatter zones, or faults with 50 metres of vertical displacement as is the case of the second and fifth gorges. Headward erosion along these structural lines of weakness would establish a new fall line and abandonment of the earlier line. North-south oriented joints control the south flowing sections of the river.
The Devil's Cataract is "nick point" in the current Victoria Falls, being 20 metres lower than the lip of the Eastern Cataract. As more Zambezi water is channelled through this weak point, the faster the erosion of the basalt at this spot. Water is dragged away from the eastern side of the present Falls until, eventually in the future, the whole of the Zambezi will be channelled through the Devil's Cataract, cutting a deep gorge and leaving the whole of the curtain westward towards the Zambian side, a high, dry gorge wall.
The entire volume of the Zambezi River pours through a series of eight zigzagging gorges stretching 30km downstream of the Victoria Falls. At many points down it's journey through the Batoka Gorge the river squeezes through the towering basalt walls less than 120m apart at some points creating some of the most famous commercially navigable white water in the world.
The Rainforest is an area of dense vegetation along the southern rim of the Victoria Falls where the never ending rain from the shadow of the Falls supports the development of a rich and diverse plant community. The 'rain' created by the spray from the waterfall condensing and falling back to earth, varies depending on the seasonal water level, can be torrential during high water periods - raincoats and waterproof camera covers are definitely recommended!
As with any semi-tropical river, The Zambezi water flow level fluctuates throughout the year peaking in April and reaching it's lowest levels in November annually. Due to the geology of the waterfall the Eastern (Zambian) side of the Victoria Falls can dry up completely in the low water season. However with the minimum recorded water flows of 390 cubic metres (390,000 litres) per second there is still an incredible amount of water flowing over the falls.