Located on the Zambezi River on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe is one of the world’s most famous waterfalls. While it’s not the tallest or the widest, it is the largest. Its name? Victoria Falls.
Referred to in the 1800s by the Kololo tribe as Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders), approximately 546 million cubic metres of water cascade from Victoria Falls’ summit every minute. It’s a sight to behold – the volume is so large that it forms the biggest sheet of falling water in the world.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that the first European laid eyes on the falls. Scottish explorer David Livingstone is believed to have been the first, and it was he who christened them ‘Victoria’ Falls after Queen Victoria, the then monarch.
Since this maiden visit, there’s been a steady flow of tourists to one of Africa’s most spectacular sights – and today it makes an exciting excursion for those on South Africa holidays. For those on holidays to Zambia, it forms the obvious focal point of their itinerary.
Part of Victoria Falls’ appeal is its accessibility. Facing it is an equally-shear wall of basalt, though no water cascades down it. As long as they won’t mind a little spray in the face, visitors can walk along a cliff-top path directly opposite the falls; something that promises quite a spectacle and some fantastic photo-taking opportunities.
There is an even more adventurous way to see the falls, though. If budget allows, tourists can board a helicopter or microlight for unrivalled views from above. The best views come from the microlight – and not just of the falls, for Victoria Falls’ surroundings are often explored by elephants and other safari wildlife.
Visitors who prefer to keep their feet on the ground will almost certainly approach the falls from the Zambia side of the border, a country that’s home to some of Africa’s best wildlife parks. The Zambezi River, meanwhile, is revered by fishermen all over the world for its fish stocks, which include the giant vundu and toothy tigerfish.
Indeed, Zambia holidays are recognised for offering a window into as the ‘real Africa’, such is its unspoilt scenery and unpolluted traditions, and it’s a nation fortunate enough to co-host what’s arguably the African continent’s leading attraction. But when is the best time to visit?
Well, assuming travellers want to sample the majesty of Victoria Falls, it’s worth bearing in mind the two seasons it experiences: the rainy between late November and early April, and the dry for the remaining months. While more water falls during the wet season, the additional mist makes it impossible to see Victoria Falls’ base (though this may actually boost the falls’ appeal for photographers, such is the increased likelihood of snapping a rainbow).
Probably the best time to visit is during June and July, where good weather is combined with relatively good water levels – something that’s sure to make a Zambezi holiday unforgettable.