victoria falls: the largest waterfall in the world
The name Victoria Falls was given to the falls by the Scottish explorer Dr. David Livingstone. He named the falls after the reining queen at the time. The locals called the falls Mosi-oa-Tunya meaning “smoke that thunders.” Many people still refer to this nickname, which accurately defines the power of the falls crashing into the canyon floor.
When Zambia gained independence in 1964, officials went through the entire country and changed the streets, cities and buildings from British names to African names except for the city of Livingstone and Victoria Falls. This reflected the deep respect and appreciation the people of Zambia had for the Scottish missionary.
- Also called Mosi-oa-Tunya meaning “smoke that thunders.”
- Largest waterfall based on width and height
- One mile wide (1.7 km) and 360 feet high (108 meters)
- Two national parks protect the falls
There are numerous activities to add excitement and adventure to a trip to Victoria Falls. However, when it comes to viewing the falls, there are two unique and distinctive views of the falls that should both be explored to help you capture the true splendor and amazement of this wonder of nature.
The first, and potentially the most impressive, view of the falls comes from the air. You can accomplish this by leveraging a flight over the falls using either a helicopter or microlite. The microlite is the more adventurous route, but either will provide you with a breathtaking and spectacular aerial view of the falls and the surrounding area. You will have a fair chance of seeing elephants or other wildlife while taking in the awe inspiring view of the falls. Although there are no guarantees, witnessing wildlife along the way will enhance your natural wonders experience.
The second and almost equally impressive view of the falls comes from the various trails that follow alongside the falls. This unique trail places you face-to-face with the tops of the falls. The falls are head on and only about 200 feet (60 meters) away. As you enter the park and turn the corner you are instantly presented with the magnificence and glory of the falls. As you take the path and hear the water pounding and witness the vapor rising, you quickly understand the name, “smoke that thunders.”
The months of June and July are probably the best time to view the falls. The water levels are still high enough to showcase the splendor of the falls, but the amount of water is less creating less spray and more visibility of the falls.
As you move into the later part of the dry season, August through October, it is quite possible you will see more rock face than falls. However, this also opens the door for walking across the top of the falls which can be a unique and exhilarating experience as well.
The high water levels creates a greater amount of mist in the air. This increases the probabilities that you will be able to capture rainbow images around the falls. More than likely you will want to use a polarizing filter which will help with the reflecting light from the sun and mist in the air.
The lower water levels can create more dramatic pictures with the various rocks cropping out between the falls. You should also be able to see the canyon and base of the falls. You will also be able to walk across the top of the falls and take images down the face of the falls.