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  • 25 Jun, 2024

Explore Victoria Falls: Location, Size, Best Time, Climate & Local Communities

Explore Victoria Falls: Location, Size, Best Time, Climate & Local Communities

Discover Victoria Falls: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Africa with a width of 1,700 meters & a drop of 108 meters. Best time to visit, climate, and local communities.

Victoria Falls is one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world, located on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa. The falls are known for their grandeur, size, and the thunderous sound of the water cascading down the cliffs. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at the location of Victoria Falls, exploring its geography, climate, and the impact of human activities on the area.

Geography of the Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is situated in a region of Southern Africa known as the Zambezi Basin, which covers an area of approximately 1.4 million square kilometers (540,000 square miles). The Zambezi River is the fourth-longest river in Africa, flowing for over 2,700 kilometers (1,678 miles) from its source in Zambia to the Indian Ocean in Mozambique.

Victoria Falls Location

The Victoria Falls themselves are located on the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls are part of the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe and the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia.

Victoria Falls Length and Height

The Victoria Falls themselves are located on the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls are about 1.7 kilometers (1.1 miles) wide and up to 108 meters (354 feet) high, making them one of the largest waterfalls in the world.

The Zambezi River is a vital source of water for the region, providing water for irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, and domestic use. The river flows through six countries in Southern Africa, including Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, and supports a diverse range of ecosystems and wildlife.

Victoria Falls Climate

The climate in the Victoria Falls area is characterized by a tropical and sub-tropical climate, with hot summers and warm winters. The region experiences a rainy season from November to March, with the heaviest rainfall occurring between January and February. During the dry season from April to October, the weather is generally sunny and dry, with cool temperatures at night.

The high water levels of the falls occur during the rainy season, and the low water levels occur during the dry season. The change in water levels can be dramatic, with the flow of the falls varying from a few hundred cubic meters per second during the dry season to over 10,000 cubic meters per second during the rainy season.

Victoria Falls Entrance Fees - Zimbabwe Side

The entrance fee for Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe starting April 1 2023 is now $50 USD for international visitors and $30 USD for regional visitors (those from countries in the Southern African Development Community). Zimbabwean citizens and residents pay $10 USD or equivalent in local currency. Please note that fees are subject to change, so it's a good idea to check current rates before your visit.

Victoria Falls Park Opening Hours

The park is open daily from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. These hours may vary depending on the season and other factors, so it's a good idea to check the current operating hours before your visit.

It's also worth noting that some activities within the park, such as guided tours, may have different operating hours and fees, so it's a good idea to check in advance to avoid any surprises. Additionally, the park may have certain rules and regulations in place to protect the environment and ensure visitor safety, so make sure to familiarize yourself with these before your visit as well.

Name and local communities of Victoria Falls 

The name Victoria Falls was given to the falls by the Scottish explorer David Livingstone, who was the first European to see the falls in 1855. Livingstone named the falls after Queen Victoria of England, who was the reigning monarch at the time.

However, the falls have a much older and richer history with the local communities. The local name for the falls is "Mosi-oa-Tunya," which means "the smoke that thunders" in the Tonga language. The name reflects the awe-inspiring nature of the falls, with the mist from the water cascading down the cliffs creating a cloud of smoke that can be seen from miles away.

Local Communities of Victoria Falls

The Victoria Falls area is home to several local communities, including the Tonga, Lozi, and Luvale people. These communities have a rich cultural heritage and have lived in the area for centuries, relying on the Zambezi River for their livelihoods.

The local communities have a close relationship with the falls and consider them to be a sacred site. They have a deep understanding of the natural environment, including the flora and fauna, and have developed a rich knowledge of the medicinal properties of the plants in the area.

Despite their close relationship with the falls, the local communities have faced significant challenges over the years, including displacement from their ancestral lands and the impact of tourism on their way of life. Efforts have been made to involve the local communities in the management of the area and to promote sustainable tourism practices that respect their cultural heritage.

The name and local communities of Victoria Falls are an important part of the falls' history and significance. The falls have a rich and complex history, with the name reflecting both the European influence on the area and the local communities' deep understanding of the natural environment. The local communities are an integral part of the area's cultural heritage and have a critical role to play in the conservation and management of the falls. As we continue to appreciate and enjoy the beauty of Victoria Falls, it is essential to recognize and respect the history and culture of the local communities that call it home.

Victoria Falls: a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Victoria Falls were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989 due to their outstanding natural beauty and geological significance. With its immense size and thundering waters, it is no surprise that the site has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and here is why Victoria Falls was granted this prestigious designation and what it means for the conservation and promotion of the site.

Outstanding Natural Beauty

One of the main reasons why Victoria Falls was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site is due to its outstanding natural beauty. The falls are a magnificent sight to behold, with the Zambezi River plunging over a 100-meter drop and creating a cloud of mist that can be seen from miles away. The falls are surrounded by lush tropical forests, creating a stunning contrast against the rugged terrain.

The surrounding area is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, lions, hippos, and crocodiles. The falls are also an important breeding ground for various bird species, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers.

Geological Significance

In addition to its natural beauty, Victoria Falls is also of significant geological importance. The falls were formed over millions of years as the Zambezi River gradually eroded the underlying basalt rock. The erosion resulted in the formation of a series of gorges that have been used by geologists to study the geological history of the region.

The falls are also a prime example of a waterfall recession, where the location of the falls has shifted over time due to the erosion of the underlying rock. This phenomenon has been studied extensively by geologists and has contributed to our understanding of how waterfalls are formed and evolve over time.

Conservation and Management

The UNESCO designation of Victoria Falls as a World Heritage Site has helped to raise awareness of the site's importance and promote its conservation and management. Both Zambia and Zimbabwe have established national parks around the falls, which are managed to ensure the preservation of the natural environment and the protection of wildlife.

Efforts have also been made to promote sustainable tourism practices and to involve local communities in the management of the site. The falls attract thousands of visitors every year, and the tourism industry is an important source of income for the local economy.

Victoria Falls is a truly remarkable natural wonder that has been recognized for its outstanding natural beauty and geological significance. The UNESCO World Heritage Site designation has helped to promote the conservation and management of the site and raise awareness of its importance. The falls are a symbol of the power and beauty of nature and will continue to inspire and amaze visitors from all over the world for generations to come.

Impact of Human Activities on the Victoria Falls

Impact of Human Activities have had a significant impact on the Victoria Falls area, both positive and negative. Tourism is one of the most important economic activities in the region, and the falls attract thousands of visitors every year. The tourism industry provides employment opportunities for local communities, helps to support conservation efforts, and contributes to the development of infrastructure and services.

However, tourism has also had negative impacts on the area, including overcrowding, pollution, and damage to the natural environment. The construction of hotels, restaurants, and other tourist facilities has led to the destruction of habitats and the displacement of wildlife.

Best time to visit Victoria Falls

The best time to visit Victoria Falls depends on what you want to experience in terms of weather, activities and other considerations. The falls are at their fullest and most impressive between February and May, after the rainy season. However, during this time, the spray from the falls can be so dense that it can be difficult to see the falls themselves.

Best Season To Visit Victoria Falls
 

If you want a clearer view of the falls, it is best to visit during the dry season, from June to August. The weather is also cooler during this time, making it more comfortable for outdoor activities.

Here is an overview of what to consider when choosing the right time to Visit Victoria Falls.

Visiting the Victoria Falls Between February & May

Visiting Victoria Falls between February and May is generally considered the best time to see the falls at their most impressive. During this time, the water levels of the falls are at their highest, and the spray from the falls creates a cloud of mist that can be seen from miles away.

Victoria Falls Image In May
VICTORIA FALLS IN MARCH


 

Victoria Falls Image in March
VICTORIA FALLS IN MAY


 The high water levels can also make some activities, such as white-water rafting, more challenging and thrilling. Additionally, the lush vegetation surrounding the falls is at its greenest during this time, providing a beautiful backdrop for photos and sightseeing. During this time, the falls are at their highest water levels, and the spray can be very intense, creating a stunning and dramatic spectacle. This is a great time for photographers, as the lush vegetation and vibrant colors provide a beautiful backdrop.

The weather during this time is generally warm and humid, with occasional rainfall. While the rain can make some activities more challenging, such as game drives, it also brings out the wildlife, making it a great time for bird watching and other wildlife viewing.

Additionally, this is a quieter time to visit, as it falls outside of the peak season, and accommodations and activities may be more readily available and affordable.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Victoria Falls depends on your personal preferences and priorities. Whether you choose to visit during the peak season or the shoulder seasons, you are sure to be mesmerized by the beauty and power of this natural wonder.

Visiting the Victoria Falls Between June & August

Visiting Victoria Falls between June and August can be an excellent time to go, as it falls during the dry season in the region. During this time, the falls will still be at their mighty, even though the water level will be decreasing towards August. The rocky formations are more visible, and it's easier to see the falls themselves. This also means that the spray from the falls is less intense, making it easier to view and photograph the falls.

The weather during this time is generally cool and dry, with sunny days and cool nights. It's an ideal time for outdoor activities such as game drives, walking safaris, and helicopter tours. The wildlife is also more active during this time, as they come to the river to drink, making it an excellent time for wildlife viewing.

Activities such as white-water rafting are also available during this time, and less challenging, as the water levels are considerably lower. Visiting Victoria Falls between June and August is a great time to go if you're looking for cooler, drier weather and excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. Just keep in mind that some activities may not be available, and you'll need to plan ahead to secure your accommodations and activities.

It's important to note that while the weather is generally cooler during this time, it can still be quite warm and sunny during the day, so it's important to bring sunscreen, a hat, and other sun protection. By mid July the water levels have dropped enough so that you can visit the Angel's Pool. This is one of the best  times of the year to see the lunar rainbows, however only around the time of the full moon.

It is also important to note that between June and August, mornings and evenings will be cold thus it is important to bring some woolies, especially for your game drives when you can be in open vehicles.

Visiting the Victoria Falls Between September & November

Visiting Victoria Falls between September and November can be a great time to go, as it falls during the dry season in the region. During this time, the water levels at the falls start to decrease, revealing more of the rocky formations and making it easier to see the falls themselves. This also means that activities such as white-water rafting and swimming may be available, as the water levels are lower and more manageable.

Victoria Falls Image In October
VICTORIA FALLS IN OCTOBER


 

Victoria Falls in November
VICTORIA FALLS IN NOVEMBER


 The weather during this time is generally warm and dry, with little to no rainfall. This makes it an ideal time to explore the surrounding areas and take part in various activities such as game drives, walking safaris, and helicopter tours. The wildlife is also more active during this time, as they come to the river to drink, making it an excellent time for wildlife viewing.

Overall, visiting Victoria Falls between September and November can be a great time to go, as the weather is generally favorable, and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. Just keep in mind that this is a popular time to visit, so it's important to book your accommodations and activities in advance to ensure availability.

Visiting the Victoria Falls Between December & January

Visiting Victoria Falls between December and January can be a great experience as this is the rainy season in the area, which means the falls will be at their most impressive with high water levels and abundant spray. However, it's important to note that the rainy season can also bring some challenges, such as heavy rainfall and thunderstorms, which can impact travel plans and make some activities more difficult.

Additionally, the high water levels can make some activities, such as swimming and white-water rafting, more dangerous or even impossible. So if you're planning to visit Victoria Falls during this time, it's important to take these factors into account and plan accordingly.

Overall, if you're prepared for the possibility of rain and willing to adjust your plans if necessary, visiting Victoria Falls between December and January can be a memorable experience. However, if you're looking for a more predictable and stable weather experience, you may want to consider visiting during the dry season, which runs from around May to October.

Victoria Falls Activities

There are a wide range of activities that visitors can enjoy at Victoria Falls, catering to a variety of interests and levels of adventure. Here are just a few of the most popular activities:

Bungee jumping:

For the ultimate adrenaline rush, visitors can experience a bungee jump from the Victoria Falls Bridge, which spans the gorge between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

White-water rafting:

The Zambezi River offers some of the best white-water rafting in the world, with rapids ranging from Class II to Class V.

Helicopter rides:

Visitors can take a scenic helicopter ride over the falls, offering a breathtaking view of the falls and the surrounding area.

Game drives:

The area surrounding Victoria Falls is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, lions, hippos, and crocodiles. Visitors can take a game drive to explore the area and see the wildlife up close.

Cultural experiences:

Visitors can also enjoy cultural experiences, such as a visit to a local village to learn about the traditions and way of life of the local communities.

Victoria Falls Wildlife

The Victoria Falls area is home to a rich and diverse range of wildlife, both on land and in the water. The Zambezi River is home to a variety of fish species, including the legendary tiger fish, which provides a thrilling challenge for anglers.

On land, the area is home to large populations of elephants, which can often be seen grazing along the river. Other wildlife species that can be seen include lions, leopards, hyenas, zebras, giraffes, and various species of antelope. The area is also a birdwatcher's paradise, with over 400 species of birds recorded in the area.

Victoria Falls Water Levels

One of the most remarkable features of Victoria Falls is the dramatic changes in water levels throughout the year. During the rainy season from November to March, the water levels of the falls reach their peak, with the flow of the falls increasing from a few hundred cubic meters per second to over 10,000 cubic meters per second.

During the dry season from April to October, the water levels of the falls decrease significantly, with the flow of the falls dropping to a few hundred cubic meters per second. This provides visitors with a different perspective on the falls, with the rocky terrain and the underlying basalt rock formations exposed.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Victoria Falls is a unique and spectacular natural wonder that attracts visitors from all over the world, giving them a range of activities and an abundance of wildlife and nature to enjoy. The falls are located in a region of Southern Africa that is characterized by a diverse range of ecosystems and wildlife. The Victoria Falls remain one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders of the world and their beauty and grandeur continue to inspire and amaze visitors from all over the world.