Victoria Falls

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Victoria Falls is a town in the western portion of Zimbabwe, across the border from Livingstone, Zambia, and near Botswana. The town lies immediately next to the falls, and they are the major attraction, but this popular tourist destination offers both adventure seekers and sightseers plenty of opportunities for a longer stay.

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Points of Interest in Victoria Falls

  • Perhaps you have seen postcards, holiday snaps, or film footage of the seventh wonder of the world, Victoria Falls. But have you actually been fortunate enough to stand beside the ‘smoke that thunders’? Watching and listening as the roar of 546 m³ of water, minute by minute, plunge down into a 100 m deep gorge below.
  • Do not miss the Zambezi River, which is beautiful above the falls. Best seen on a cruise, especially at sunset.

For a memorable afternoon tea pop in to the Victoria Falls Hotel for a 3 tiered sandwich platter and cup of tea: expect to pay $30 for the experience. A first class hotel still seemingly untouched by the country's woes though having lost the shine.

Whitewater rafting day trips sell for about $130 plus $10 National Park fees. The price includes a full day of shooting some of the best rapids in the world (including some Class V rapids!); lunch, eaten on the water and all the beer you can chug after the climb out.

  • Visit the grand Victoria Falls Hotel for high tea. For about $30, you get tea, scones, and a magnificent view of the Falls.
  • From wherever you stay you can easily arrange for a safari (prices vary), a sunset cruise (around $55), or a helicopter ride (for about $130 plus $8 National Park fee, well worth the price) over the falls.
  • The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge has a no knock-out casino on site.
  • For a casino, The Kingdom Hotel does have something to offer.
  • For something different try an elephant ride ($130), lion walk ($130) or a horse-back safari offered by a variety of tour operators in town.

Victoria Falls National Park

Zambezi National Park

Kazuma Pan National Park

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About Victoria Falls

History

It took thousands of years of erosion for Victoria Falls to appear as and where it does now. Mosi-oa-Tunya, or "the smoke that thunders” only became known to the western world as Victoria Falls after David Livingstone first set eyes on this astonishing natural wonder in 1855, a heartbeat ago in geological time.

How the Falls Were Formed

During the Jurassic Period (150-200 million years ago) volcanic activity resulted in thick basalt deposits covering large parts of Southern Africa. As the lava cooled and solidified, cracks appeared in the hard basalt crust, which were filled with clay and lime. Erosion and the course of the mighty Zambezi River cut through these softer materials, forming the first of a series of waterfalls. Over at least 2,000 years, the Falls have receded 8 km upstream, as the Zambezi carved its way through seven gorges. This geological history can be seen in the dark basalt in the series of rocky gorges below the Falls. It is guessed that the Devil's Cataract, which is presently the lowest point of Victoria Falls, will eventually become the next gorge as the river continues to cut its way back upstream.

Essentially the river falls into a gorge directly in front of the falls, and then flows through a narrow cutting. You can view the falls straight on from across the gorge.

Dr. David Livingstone, I presume?

Scottish missionary David Livingstone first heard about Victoria Falls, known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, a full four years before he arrived there. The area was a sacred site for the Batoka and other local tribes. On the 17th of November 1855 Chief Sekeletu of the Makololo paddled Livingstone to an island in the Zambezi, known as Goat Island. Although the water was low at the time, it's little wonder that he felt a "tremor of fear" as he approached the wall of spray.

Gazing down into the churning chasm below must have been a heart-stopping experience (you can still make your way out to the island - now called Livingstone Island - from the Zambian Side during the dry season). Rumors abound that a Portuguese man beat him to it, but the evidence for this is scarce. The first official description of the Falls, as penned by Livingstone, was "No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight."

Food

The downtown area features a few coffee shops, sandwich shops, and fast food options. For a few US dollars, you can feed an entire family.

All of the hotels have restaurants, and it is common to sample a new one each night. One place not to miss for a sundowner: The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge offers a la carte dinner, and The Boma offers a buffet 'eat as much as you can' buffet dinner with authentic African dancing. The Ilala Lodge has a nice a la carte restaurant (a bit overpriced for the portions served; and the In-da-Belly Restaurant located in the camp site is a nice place to have simple meal and hang out at the pool and meet overland travellers from around the world.

There are a Spar and a Seven-Elevengrocery store in town. Drinks and Food, snacks, camping supplies, are available.

  • The Boma
  • Makuwa-Kuwa at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
  • Palm Restaurant at Ilala Lodge
  • Livingstone Room at the Victoria Falls Hotel
  • Jungle Junction at the Victoria Falls Hotel
  • The Blue Baboon - Great pizzas (when they have cheese ) at Shoestring Backpackers Lodge
  • The restaurant at the Camp Site serves Crocodile burgers and Warthog steak!

There is no food available within the park so bring it in yourself if you need something. Also, the monkeys within Victoria Falls will try to snatch your food if you are not paying attention to it.

  • Victoria Falls Hotel. Lunch on the veranda is most pleasant--even classy--and the food is first world caliber with prices to match.

Drinks

Victoria Falls is not known anymore for its tremendous nightlife. There are a few small bars near the downtown area, but they are not well-lit. It might be fun to stop in, but be careful.

Alternatively, all the hotels feature huge, well-stocked bars. However, the prices will be higher, and you might not feel that you are in Africa anymore.

Shopping

There is substantial opportunity to shop in Victoria Falls, and you can find a good deal. The curio markets are just behind the post office and has dozens of tourist shops from which you may select wood and stone carvings, jewelry, t-shirts, curios, books, postcards, artwork, etc. (For fun, see if you can find the shop with the pictures of Senator and Chelsea Clinton, from their visit.)

Traders in the sculpture markets are prepared to barter trade: hats, your shoes, T-shirts, pens, batteries are in demand. But think twice before you reduce people to the level of beggars. Just negotiate what you think is a fair price.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Victoria Falls on Wikivoyage.

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