Victoria Falls National Park

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Victoria Falls National Park

Aptly christened from the majestic Victoria falls that are tucked in its precinct. It is home to the Zimbabwean side of the marvellous wildlife scenes the celebrated Scottish Missionary and Explorer Dr. David Livingstone captured in his diary as, “no one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England, scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels on their flight”. Established in 1937 initially as a part of Zambezi national park from which it split in 1979 leaving it with a pristine protected area of 23.4 square kilometres to enhance sustainable management. Victoria Falls National Park is located in the North western part of Zimbabwe in the district of Hwange in the town of Victoria falls bordering the Zambian border town of Livingstone. Victoria Falls National Park’s coordinates of 1755’S 2540’E spread along the south and eastern banks of the mighty river Zambezi and on its southern sector its courted by the beautiful Zambezi National Park.

The park is well-heeled with several world renown heavenly wildlife features that have aptly won it the moniker “safari Eden of Africa”. The stellar feature of the park is without a doubt the beautiful magical Victoria falls (Mosi Oa Tunya meaning smoke that thunders in the Chitonga dialect) that charms all visitors who set eyes on it. An elite fellow of the seven natural wonders of the world, an admiration it shares with the Polar Aurora (Polar Lights), the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, the Harbour of Rio de Janeiro (Guanabara Bay), Mount Everest and the Paricutin Volcano. This UNESCO world heritage spans an area of 1,708 meters over two parks in two countries that is Victoria falls national park in Zimbabwe and Mosi Oa Tunga national park in Zambia. Its falls of over150 million gallons of water from river Zambezi during the rainy season drop through a nerve wrecking height of 108 meters, at a speed flow rate of 1088m3/s creating the largest most dramatic single sheet of falling water that hits the rocks below so ferociously forming a widespread heavy blanket of mist and a strong roar most eyes have not seen and ears have not heard. This exploit makes Victoria falls to neither be the world’s tallest waterfall an accolade belonging to Venezuela’s Angel falls at 3,212 ft. nor is it the world’s widest waterfall an accolade belonging Laos’s Chutes de Khone at 35,376 ft. yet it is the world’s largest curtain of falling water on the planet twice the height and one and a half times wider than Canadas Niagara Falls.

Victoria falls has a total of five falls four of which i.e. Devils Cataract falls, Horseshoe Falls, Main Falls and Rainbow Falls are on the Zimbabwean side of Victoria falls whereas the Eastern Cataract is the only one on the Zambian side. This implies for a fantastic view of the falls one must either visit both sides of the falls or if they are to do one side it has to be the Zimbabwean side. These falls create mystical rains throughout the year in form of mist, a thingamajig that produces beautiful rainbows everyday due to the sun light’s refraction in the mist as well as stunning moonbows caused by the moon light’s refraction in the mist of the area. Apart from the spectacular panoramas the falls offer they equally offer spectacular swimming opportunities at various locations in its infinity pools with the daredevils well catered for at the devils’ pool, with a pool hanging at the cliff where daredevil visitors can sit on the devil’s chair at the edge of the cliff in the over flowing pool while they watch the waters fall and create their magic an act that is nerve wrecking however its equally therapeutic due to the waterfall sounds and wet stunning rainbows. These pools are equally loved by the water loving wildlife like hippos, elephants, waterbucks and many others who occasionally come to cool off in these tranquil pools. The falls can be viewed by hiking to vantage points within the park, water rafting and jet skiing to Livingstone islands or better still view it like the angels David Livingstone talked about by flying over them using helicopters and microlights of which the later are exclusives of the Zambian side.

Since most visitors come to this area to view the falls the question is if a choice is to be made which side of the falls are to be visited if one can visit both sides. Both sides of the falls are stunning however for a more livid experience of the falls Zimbabwe carries the day because it has 75% of the falls with the main falls on its side besides they flow all year unlike the Zambian side that takes on dry rock formations during dry seasons, hospitality services are not pricey owing to low taxes levied on these service providers by the Zimbabwe government, there are well established facilities that enhance memorable safaris, there is sustainable management of wildlife resources on the side of Zimbabwe and finally the Victoria falls spectacular tourist town is less than a kilometre away from the gates of the Victoria falls. It’s not all gloom in Zambia because the Zambian side hosts the best infinity pool in the world “the devils pool” as well as the famous viewpoints of Livingstone islands, the flying bird experience of microlights are only a privy of the Zambian side and the spectacular late afternoon beautiful views of the falls rainbows can peacefully without a rush be viewed from this side because the vantage view point in the Mosi Oa Tunya side is near the gate unlike the vantage points of Victoria falls national park that are far away from the gate, a thing that definitely doesn’t go well with the closing time (18:00) of the park.

The other feature of Victoria falls national park that is worth mentioning is the river Zambezi, the river with the most dams as wells as the fourth largest in Africa. This beautiful 2700 m river snakes through six countries to the east on its way to the Indian ocean. Its banks beautifully separate Victoria falls national park from Mosi Oa Tunya national park with picturesque riverine vegetation of fan-palms, saro-palms and lush emerald grass lined beautifully in the backdrop of cobalt hills. The river waters during dry seasons are wonderful for rafting and jest skiing however on other days’ boat cruises and fishing since the river is loaded with over 39 species of fish downstream and over 84 species up stream plus birding give visitors such a wonderful psychedelic sensation. a plethora of animals as well as birds throng the shores of the river for a cool off and the sumptuous fodder on its banks. The historic Victoria falls bridge that connects the Zambian side with the Zimbabwean side divided with Zambezi river is a spectacular vantage point that all ought to visit for dare devils bungee jumping is rife on the bridge not forgetting the mist blanket is alive on the bridge so get ready to get drizzled on.

Another spectacular feature of Victoria Falls National Park is the pristine tranquil beautiful wet emerald green African rain forest that is sustained by the daily rain (mist of the falls) that has enabled species of faunas that wouldn’t grow in this area to grow. Visitors will be stunned by the wild date palm, thick groves of date palms, Rhodesian teak woodland, canopies of fig and mahogany trees, ebony, ivory palm, batoko plum and other undergrowth in the forests surrounded by a savannah grassland. The walkways in this forest are well defined and clear with some paved with cobblestones with clearly marked viewpoints. This forest is awash with wildlife and birds’ thanks in part to the plentiful forage and perennial source of water coupled with the geo positioning of the park in that it’s on a migratory corridor that goes through the zambezi national park, matetsi safari area, kazuma pan national park up to the largest Zimbabwean park of Hwange national park in the further south.

This corridor enables animals to freely range to and from Victoria falls national park without a restriction. Implying this park is harbours the African big five and in big numbers, so visitors should gear up for a an adrenaline packed wildlife parade of herds of elephants, hippos, wildebeests, white rhinos, waterbucks, antelopes, sable buffalos, zebras, giraffes, impalas, kudus and of course where these herbivores are the predators are in the vicinity planning for their next meal so the tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, cheetahs, hyenas roam these forest and savannah grassland floors and the entire park, primates like vervet monkeys and baboons are in town as well not forgetting reptiles like crocodiles, the East-African spiny-tailed lizard, the Okavango dwarf gecko, the Transvaal gecko, the Zambezi thick-toed gecko and many other reptiles. Of course the snakes are in town too, the likes of the Berg adder, Cape house snake and many others. The wet forest being laden with wildlife and fauna action is very appropriate for a morning safari game walk or drive when the animals are up and aggressive before they get lazy during the midday heat. Not forgetting the plentiful birds like herons, fish eagles, peregrine falcons augur buzzards, Taita falcons and may other birds reside in these forests so birding is rife in the park as well.

Victoria falls national park being home to the legendary Victoria falls makes it rank highly on the African safari circuit itineraries. By being either the starting point or the finishing point of an African safari, an African safari icing of sorts.

Top things you simply must do in Victoria Falls NP

Sundowner Cruise Safari

Sundowner Cruise Safari

Nothing like floating at a leisurely pace on a boat cruise on river Zambezi in the backdrop of a sunset or sunrise, the tranquil blue waters flirting with the bright orange African sun is nothing short of psychedelic, a much needed break activity from the time is money routines. Once on board get ready to be wowed by the troops of vervet monkeys swinging through the forest branches, the elephants taking a shower, the crocodiles sun bathing on the banks, the hippos cooling off in the river the twitchy beautiful waterbucks munching and drinking, with binoculars you will see the predators setting up not forgetting the colourful feathered water birds. It’s a buffet of splendid wild life action while one floats on the tranquil warm waters of Zambezi. Fishing sessions and photogenic moments are arranged for clients at vantage points during the cruise. Zambezi’s waters with over 23 raging rapids offer a world class rafting experience of water rafting for the aquatic daredevils who alternatively could surf the waves on a board or go solo kayaking and jet skiing which entails thundering along the Zambezi River using high-powered jet-boats to do a an aquatic fast and furious in the wild.

Scenic Angel flights (Air safaris)

Scenic Angel flights (Air safaris)

Just like Livingstone described the falls as “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” since we are not angels and have no wings the angelic views are recreated by getting strapped into a helicopter or microlight air craft which will hover over the thundering smoke on a 30-minute flight of angels that affords a visitor an excellent aerial view down at the curtain of falling water stretched more than a mile wide. From the air one will have sweeping views of the raging rapids at Batoka Gorge and the Victoria Falls Bridge that spans the river separating Zambia from Zimbabwe. Then comes the adrenalin-filled ride down the gorge. Microlight Flights are for the more adventurous who are keen on being really birds to fully feel the effects of the elements of the environment, from, the wind, to the mist probably even a brush with a bird exhilarating they are. Holly Molly the rides are angelic and are must do once in precincts of Victoria falls national park.


Victoria falls bridge

Victoria falls bridge

Before the bridge the Zambezi river was crossed from the old drift which is up the river from the falls because of the dangers faced from the strong currents as the water rushed over the falls. British business man Cecil John Rhodes fronted and funded the construction of Victoria falls bridge in his dream to connect Cairo to Cape by railway. He insisted on the bridge being positioned in a place that the mist from the falls would fall on the passing trains reason why it was built just a little below the Boiling Pot. Designed by George Andrew Hobson of London based consultants Sir Douglas Fox and Partners, the canyon is traversed by this magnificent bridge 650ft long with a main arch of 500ft span and the height from low water level to the rails on the bridge is 420ft. The bridge was completed in April 1905 and at the time it was built it was the highest railway bridge in the world, unfortunately Cecil never lived to see its completion. The famous view of the Bridge with the falls behind it is best seen from the view point just below Victoria Falls Hotel from which visitors may as well see tourists bungee jumping from the bridge. A visit to Victoria falls ought to be topped up with a visit to the historical falls for a tour that is full of insights on the fascinating history of the bridge and ticking bungee jumping off the bucket list from this spot will be a once in a life time memory like no other.

River Zambezi

River Zambezi

The Zambezi is one of Africa’s finest pristine ultimate remaining wild rivers, at 2,574 kilometres lengthwise this river which is the fourth largest in Africa and the largest river flowing into the Indian Ocean flows eastwards from its source source in Zambia through Angola, along the border of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, to Mozambique, where it empties into the Indian Ocean. Its banks boast of many beautiful important ecosystems and habitats like Dry Forests, Montane Forests, Riverine Woodlands, Wetlands, Savannas and flat forest islands. These habitats and ecosystems inhabit animals like the buffalos, zebras, giraffes, elephants, crocodiles, hippos’ rhinoceros, cheetahs, lions, leopards, and many more other animals. In the same breath the waters of river Zambezi inhabit several fish species like the cichlids, catfish, tigerfish, yellowfish, bull sharks (Zambezi shark), and many more other fish species. The birds equally throng the rivers habitat and ecosystem in numbers with over six hundred bird species taking advantage of the rich Zambezi waters birders should be on the lookout for species like the African fish eagles that are specifically present in huge numbers, the heron, egret, pelican and many more other birds. The river being resource rich is awash with a plethora of activities for its visitors ranging from water rafting, jet skiing, game drives, canoeing, birding, fishing, photography and boat cruises.


Victoria Falls Rainforest Facts

Victoria Falls Rainforest

The Victoria Falls Rainforest located on the cliffs opposite the waterfall facing the Main Falls is a natural area of ever wet emerald green dense vegetation in the precincts of the national park. It is a brittle ecosystem that is absolutely dependent on the lavish water and extraordinary humidity of the constant daily rainfall created from the spray forced up from the bottom of the gorge. Its vegetation is similar with the riverine vegetation and among the many that ordinarily wouldn’t grow here but because of the daily rain are Date palm groves, Ferns, Liana vines, Fig Trees, Creepers, Flowers, the Mahogany that is indigenous to this region and many other trees like teak wood and undergrowth plants like the Flame Lily a national flower of Zimbabwe. The emerald rain forest inhabits the big mammals of the park like wilde beests, zebras, elephants and the small ones as well like the warthogs, impalas not forgetting the predators like leopards, lions fresh on their heels, the reptiles like the african python, primates like the Chacma Baboons (Papio Ursinus) and the Vervet Monkeys (Chlorocebus Pygerythrus) plus a vast birdlife that create a never-ending incredible sightings of the ground feeding Fire-finches, the Trumpeter Hornbill (Bycanistes Bucinator), the Coppery Sunbird, the Blue Waxbill, Schalow’s Turaco (Tauraco Schalowi). On a walk through the dense rain rainforest and beyond one comes across 19 spectacular viewpoints that offer an opening to see the entire waterfall including the historical iron railway Victoria falls bridge. However, visibility is very poor during the Zambezi River’s high season since the spray is so thick. It is quite a rare overwhelming phaenomenon of nature that makes for an unforgettable magical safari forest walk experience an absolute nature lover’s paradise.

Victoria Waterfalls

Victoria Waterfalls

This spectacular waterfall is located about midway along the course of the river Zambezi, at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. An elite fellow of the seven natural wonders of the world, an admiration it shares with the Polar Aurora (Polar Lights), the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, the Harbour of Rio de Janeiro (Guanabara Bay), Mount Everest and the Paricutin Volcano. This UNESCO world heritage spans an area of 1,708 meters over two parks in two countries that is Victoria falls national park in Zimbabwe and Mosi Oa Tunga national park in Zambia. Its falls of over150 million gallons of water from river Zambezi during the rainy season drop through a nerve wrecking height of 108 meters, at a speed flow rate of 1088m3/s creating the largest most dramatic single sheet of falling water that hits the rocks below so ferociously forming a widespread heavy blanket of mist and a strong roar most eyes have not seen and ears have not heard. This exploit makes Victoria falls to neither be the world’s tallest waterfall an accolade belonging to Venezuela’s Angel falls at 3,212 ft. nor is it the world’s widest waterfall an accolade belonging Laos’s Chutes de Khone at 35,376 ft. yet it is the world’s largest curtain of falling water on the planet twice the height and one and a half times wider than Canadas Niagara Falls. Victoria falls has a total of five falls four of which i.e. Devils Cataract falls, Horseshoe Falls, Main Falls and Rainbow Falls are on the Zimbabwean side of Victoria falls whereas the Eastern Cataract is the only one on the Zambian side. This implies for a fantastic view of the falls one must either visit both sides of the falls or if they are to do one side it has to be the Zimbabwean side. These falls create mystical rains throughout the year in form of mist, a thingamajig that produces beautiful rainbows everyday due to the sun light’s refraction in the mist as well as stunning moonbows caused by the moon light’s refraction in the mist of the area. Apart from the spectacular panoramas the falls offer they equally offer spectacular swimming opportunities at various locations in its infinity pools with the daredevils well catered for at the devils’ pool, with a pool hanging at the cliff where daredevil visitors can sit on the devil’s chair at the edge of the cliff in the over flowing pool while they watch the waters fall and create their magic an act that is nerve wrecking however its equally therapeutic due to the waterfall sounds and wet stunning rainbows. These pools are equally loved by the water loving wildlife like hippos, elephants, waterbucks and many others who occasionally come to cool off in these tranquil pools. The falls can be viewed by hiking to vantage points within the park, water rafting and jet skiing to Livingstone islands or better still view it like the angels David Livingstone talked about by flying over them using helicopters and microlights of which the later are exclusives of the Zambian side.


Bungee Jumping

Bungee Jumping

We live once so they say so get the adrenalin pumping, the Victoria Falls Bungee Jump is undoubtedly the most scenic bungee jump in the World that must be on any African safari itinerary. With the spectacular Victoria Falls themselves in the backdrop and the stunning River Zambezi flowing beneath the handsome robust historic Victoria bridge, bungee jumping at this spot is unmatched.

Zip lining

Zip lining

The Abseiling, Gorge Swing (Zip Line) for the wild adventurerers who want to kick it like jungle boy in the movies look no further just a little downstream from the falls suspended across the deep Batoka Gorge is a range of elevated line fun activities to thrill all of one’s for long contained wild innate side bursting.


 

Chief's Island

Horseback Trails

Horseback Trails

This therapeutic slow paced activity is done along the Zambezi river banks and the surrounding forests and gives one an opportunity to absorb the tranquil environment by having an up-close connection with the wildlife in the area in colonial safari style. Additionally, Shearwater’s herd of twelve elephants that reside on the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve a few kilometres outside of Victoria Falls offer an incredible Elephant back safari that is equally therapeutic.

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