Before the colonization of Zimbabwe by the British, present-day Victoria Falls was home to the Tonga community. The falls were referred to as Mosi-oa-Tunya, which in the local Tonga language means 'the smoke that thunders'. David Livingstone became the first European explorer to discover the Victoria Falls in 1855 and he made it known to the outsiders especially Europeans. Livingstone eventually renamed the place to Victoria Falls in honor of the Queen of Britain who was named Victoria.
The falls are rated among the seven best natural wonders of the world. For this reason, the place was declared a World Natural Heritage Site by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The falls are 1.7 kilometers wide and 70 metres deep. About 550 million litres of water spill into the underlying Zambezi River base every minute and this is the most striking feature of the falls. This massive fall of the clear waters creates not only an epic deafening sound but also continuous mist which is seen from miles away curling upwards from the town.
The major attractions of the town are the falls which draw tourist both local and foreign. The Victoria Falls town is also home to other activities such as bungee jumping done in the gorges as one of the main attraction. The Rain Forest of Victoria Falls also draws considerable attraction due to its eye catching flora and fauna. The Victoria Falls Bridge adjoining Zimbabwe and Zambia is also a major attraction. The Bridge is largely adored for offering a spectacle site for bungee jumping and also offers tourists with an opportunity to view the Zimbabwean and the Zambian sections of the Victoria Falls. The Victoria Falls National Park together with the Zambezi National Park offer visitors with wildlife exposure. These two major parks are home to diverse wildlife particularly the so called 'Big Five' which include elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and white rhinoceros. In addition, herds of buffaloes, antelopes, zebras and giraffes add diversity to the game parks. The Zambezi River itself is known for boat cruises and aquatic adventures. Besides cruising, the abundance of tiger fish and bream fish in the Zambezi River makes fishing a major activity for both tourists and locals.
Major Events Held
The Victoria Falls hosted the 20th edition of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly from the 24th to the 29th of August 2013. The event attracted over 900 delegates from member states all over the world. The town also hosts the popular Victoria Falls Jazz Festival, the Victoria Falls Carnival, the Victoria Falls Marathon among other activities.
The resort nature of the Victoria Falls town make hotels and lodges the most notable of all places. These include the Elephant Hills Hotel, Ilala Lodge, Victoria Falls Hotel and Gorges Lodge. These areas are largely occupied by tourists from various parts of the world and are a hive of activity through out the whole year. Some small lodges and camping sites are available through out the town to offer accommodation and resting facilities for the touring communities.
The Chinotimba high-density suburb accommodates the majority of the residents. Victoria Falls townhouses locals mainly from the surrounding towns and cities. Approximately 50,000 people are residents. These people belong to various Shona and Ndebele tribes and speak local languages mainly Ndebele, Tonga, and Shona. A minority of the residents are of European descent and speak the English language. In this multicultural community, Asians, Arabs, and Europeans are the majority of the tourists who frequent the town.
Tips for visiting Victoria Falls
- Any time of the year is a great time to visit however one might want to avoid April (peak rainy/flood season) when the falls are at their fullest. They create so much mist that not only will you get soaked but it is also nearly impossible to even see the falls through the haze.
- If one wishes to visit the hang off the edge like a in the Devil’s Pool,ensure you visit at the end of the dry season around November. This is when the rate of flow is at its lowest which makes going to the Devil’s Pool safest.
- Note: The devil’s pool is only accessible from the Zambia side of the river. Going from Zimbabwe to Zambia as a Canadian in December 2013 cost me $50US. If you plan on going back to Zimbabwe know that (at least for Canadians) you have to pay full price for another VISA as multiple entry VISAs are not available. When I initially visited Zimbabwe as a Canadian I had to pay $75. It is, however, cheaper for the US and Europe.
- Also know that to visit the Devil’s Pool you are either going to pay a tour operator at least $100+ or you will have to sneak over to it (located at Livingstone Island) but then you don’t have a guide telling you where to go and what to do and watching out for you so you don’t fall over the falls.
- No matter the time of the year you may get wet!
- Bring water. Like most tourist places the cost of water is more expensive on-site than if one buys it elsewhere before arriving.
- Wear good walking shoes, especially important for the wet areas that could be slippery.
The waterfall is known as the Devil’s Cataract, which can only be seen from the Zimbabwe side of the falls.
- If you are staying nearby try to book an accommodation that has tours to the falls included.
- Don’t rush your visit, take time to enjoy it.
- If one can afford to get a guide, they tell you about so much more about the falls and the area than trying to figure out for oneself from just visiting.
- It is highly recommended to view the falls from the Zimbabwean side.
- The Victoria Falls Zambia, Published: 16 June 2014, Retrieved 16 June 2014
- Victoria Falls, Retrieved: 16 June 2014
- , VICTORIA FALLS & ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARKS, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority, ,Retrieved: 16 June 2014
- Victoria Falls Bungee Jumping, Retrieved: 16 June 2014
- UNWTO General Assembly, NewsDay, Published: 26 August 2013, Retrieved: 16 June 2014
- Melisa Mpofu, ’20th UNWTO best attended’, NewsDay, Published:26 August 2013,Retrieved: 16 June 2014
- Victoria Falls Guide, Retrieved: 16 June 2014"
- "VISITING VCTORIA FALLS TIPS AND FACTS = Travel Ypourself". December 2, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2017.