If this is to be your first visit to Africa, Zambia, and the Victoria Falls, you’re in for a huge surprise! Here are some secret places of Victoria Falls.
The Falls were first discovered by David Livingstone in 1855. He and the locals gave it various names including “the smoke that thunders”.
The Basalt plateau over which the Zambezi River flows has many cracks that are filled with Sandstone. This Sandstone is a type of rock that is easily eroded. Over many hundreds of thousands of years the Zambezi River has eroded the Sandstone cracks to form the Batoka Gorge.
The Victoria Falls create the largest curtain of water in the world! After the rainy season in parts North of Zambia and the Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River begins to swell and the floods arrive. This is usually from February to May every year depending on the rains. It has been said that in full flood there is over 3 million cubic liters of water rushing over the falls every second!!!
It is when the Falls are in full flood that the plume of spray rises several hundred meters into the air. Its a great sight to see from the air as you get the perspective of the Falls and the Batoka Gorge. On the ground in the National Park it’s not so great. Take an umbrella, rain jacket, poncho and nothing that you cant afford to get wet. It’s WET!
There is so much water cascading into the gorge that the force of the water going down creates an upward rush of air. This is incredible to see because there are water droplets that are rushing past your face going upwards! Water is supposed to flow downwards – not so here.
When you enter the Falls National Park keep bearing to your left. Along the pathways you will see a small sight that says “Boiling Pot”. If you’re fo reasonable fitness with strong knees this is a great walk to the bottom of the gorge. We have done it many times with guests and they absolutely loved it.
If you stay on the path and continue bearing to the left there is a beautiful path all the way to the border post. I walked this several times alone and found some stunning view points. Best of all? No one else to be seen.
There are lots of Baboons in the area so do be wary of what you carry with you. baboons are quick to intimidate us and will target women specifically. Yes, they can sex us.
Another great and little known path is to the right as you enter the Victoria Falls National Park. You do need to be aware of wildlife here. And not just Baboons but also Hippo and Elephant. You lose sight of the Falls for about 70 meters and then come to a railing where the view along the side of the Falls is excellent. In the distance is the small pedestrian bridge over to the island. Further away is the famous bridge which was completed in 1905. You can continue walking past the view points until you actually get to the banks of the Zambezi River.
Peer off to your left and you can see the edge of the Falls. Be very careful here. The rocks are wet and slippery and if you fall in you will be gone in seconds. You are that close to the edge! This is another great perspective of the Falls and one that few people bother to visit.
Head back towards the statue of David Livingstone. From here, walk down the steps and watch out for some stunning views through the trees’ and foliage. While you’re walking you will see that there is no barricade along the path. There are lots of steps and several smaller paths off to your right to viewpoints. If there isn’t too much spray these viewpoints are great for photographs.
Another of the secret places of Victoria Falls is the “island”.
In the photograph above you can see the small bridge. This you need to cross to get to this pinnacle of rock. If the Falls are in full flood this may not be possible. If it is then be prepared to get wet. And go slowly, it can be very slippery on that bridge. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife have in the past put down rubber mats on the bridge to make the footing safer. Unfortunately these were not fixed to the bridge so many are missing.
If you are susceptible to vertigo then don’t look down. It’s a perilous view but the views are also excellent along the bridge.
Once you have crossed this bridge there is a path on the right with fantastic views further along the face of the Falls. Take your time to explore this island. There is a little known and often overlooked path through the forest with great views of the Old Bridge. The foliage is stunning with lots of bird life and the tree’s all bear their names.
I always recommend guests to explore the national park at least twice. Once during the day and then a second time as the sun is setting. The different colours and light makes for unforgettable photographs and memories.
If it’s your first time to visit Zambia then read our Country Information for travel advice to Zambia.
For accommodation in this area have a look at Stanley Safari Lodge or Siankaba Island Lodge. Ilala Lodge in Zimbabwe is conveniently located very close to the entrance to the Falls National park in Zimbabwe.
For more information on this Natural Wonder of the World then read about it at Seven Natural Wonders.