Victoria Falls Viewing Points Explained In Detail • 29 July 2011

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The Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world, lies in southern Africa, on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. This is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. The falls are fed by the Zambezi River. This is locally known as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya‘ which means the ‘Smoke that Thunders‘

For a considerable distance upstream from the Victoria falls, the Zambezi flows over a level sheet of basalt, in a shallow valley bounded by low and distant sandstone hills. The river’s course is dotted with numerous tree-covered islands, which increase in number as the river approaches the falls. There are no mountains, escarpments, or deep valleys which might be expected to create a waterfall, only flat plateau extending hundreds of kilometres in all directions

There are 19 viewpoints 1-16 are on the Zimbabwean side and only 17-19 are on the Zambian side (see map). This is a question that is often asked by many visitors to this magnificent site on which side the falls are better viewed from. The 2 sides offer different types of views and in this article I am going to detail the viewpoints on the Zimbabwean side which has 80% of the view.

A guided tour of Victoria Falls is a must-do as the local guides can take you through all the view points below and tell the history behind these breath taking water falls.

View point 1
David Livingstone Statue facing eastwards towards the Main Falls. The First white man to see the Falls on the 16th November 1855 and named it Mosi-A-Tunya. Born in Blantyre, Scotland in 1813 and died in 1873. The statue have survived two removal attempts in 2001 and 2003 by the Zambian Government, who wanted the statue to be erected in Zambia on the other side of the river to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the explorer’s first sightings of the Falls. This view point gives an uninterrupted view of the David Livingstone statue and part of the Devil’s Cataract Falls.

View Point 2
This is through a flight of steps known as the Chain Walk going down the bottom of the Gorge. The steps, 73 of them, are very steep and this route is not recommended to those who are unfit or suffer from vertigo. Here a clear view of the beginning of the gorge and, depending on the season, the Main Falls can be seen from this point. During very low water level, the outline on the gorge can be seen well beyond the Main Falls.

View Points 3, 4 and 5
These view points over look the Devil’s Cataract and the Cataract Island on the far left. The Devil’s Cataract is the smallest of all the five Falls. It is 70m deep but returns more water than any other during the lowest water level. The Cataract Island is a piece of solid land that divides the Devil’s Falls and the Main Falls. During the high water level some water spills through the Cataract Island.

View Point 6
This one gives the best view of the Devil’s Cataract especially in the morning. This is directly opposite the Cataract Island and the first part of the Main Falls is visible at this point. The flat wall of the Cataract Island is pleasing to watch as dragon flies and resident swifts fly across the wall. Also the David Livingstone statue is visible from this point

View Point 7
This is arguably the best point to view the Main Falls as opposed to points which are directly opposite because the points opposite have their visibility affected by continuous sprays. This small view point is surrounded by very tall trees which have adapted to swampy area by developing buttresses which prevent the trees from falling or sinking in the waterlogged earth. The Main Falls 93 metres deep and about 150 metres wide, is the biggest of all the Falls and returns more water during high water season.

View Points 8 and 9
These two are directly opposite the Main Falls and viewing the opposite is more like gambling. The Main Falls is very hard to see as continuous spray and showers dominate the area. Here rain coats are a must regardless of the season. It must be noted that during the late summer, high water when the Zambezi River is pumping, the spray from the Falls is intense and any visitor to the rainforest can be soaked very heavy. Getting good photographs can be very tricky from both a visibility point of view as well as dealing with wet cameras.

View Point 10
This is directly opposite the Devil’s Pool and visibility is also affected by spray just like on 8 and 9. When the water level is high there is very little to see but gives a good view of the last part of the Main Falls. The Devil’s Pool is a volcanic vent with a rocky shelf that protects the swimmer from the water rushing past. Swimming is only available during the dry season. “To sit in the Devil’s Pool is to experience the ultimate rush of the Victoria Falls, perched on what feels like the very edge of the world, with the mad sound of water meeting rock filling one’s ears and the proximity to death gnawing one’s gut”

View Points 11 & 12
These positions provide views of the David Livingstone Island and the Horse Shoe Falls on the right. It is said David Livingstone stood opposite when he first saw the Falls and tried to measure the depth of the Falls by lowering a line which he had attached some bullets and a square of calico. At about 90 metres the weight became logged on a projecting rock still some distance before the bottom and would not go further. The correct measurements were done by Serpa Pinto in 1878. He was lowered down the bottom using a rope made from the shirts of his bearers. It is also said David Livingstone planted the some fruit and coffee seeds on the Island and named it the Garden Island but the garden did not last long as the fence and seedlings were destroyed by hippos.

View Point 13
Provides a view of the Horse Shoe Falls which is 95 metres deep and heavy showers are present throughout the High water season. A raincoat is a must on this point during high water season. The name Horse Shoe was derived from the excavation of the fissure above the wall by the river towards the David Livingstone Island forming an indentation similar to a horse shoe. This point is usually dry during the low water season and the depth of the falls can be assessed better at this time of the year when it s completely dry. The dry period offers birds like swallows, swifts and martins the opportunity to construct their nests on the cliffs.

View Point 14
This overlooks the Rainbow Falls, the deepest of all, 108metres deep. This point is not protected towards the Gorge and is very dangerous not only during the wet season when it is slippery but during the dry season as well as there is no barrier to safeguard viewers. During the dry season a pip in the gorge can reach the bottom of the gorge though this is not advisable. Here it showers every time during the high water level just like the Horse Shoe Falls.

View Point 15
This is the Danger Point and as the name implies, the place is very dangerous mostly during high water level (pictured below). Here visitors are strongly advised to keep away from the edge. When wet the place is very slippery and one can easily fall. To get the best from the danger point it is necessary to climb but be reminded that the point is very treacherous as one can easily slip or fell into the gorge below. On The danger point the Eastern cataract on the Zambian side can be seen clearly and the boiling pot below to the right. The Eastern cataract is 101metres deep. The waters from the Devils Cataract, Main Falls, Horse Shoe Falls and Rainbow Falls flows eastwards while the water from the Eastern Cataract flows westwards. The two opposing currents meet below the danger point to form the boiling pot and continue flowing southwards through the narrow gap in the basalt rock between the danger point and the Knife Edge on the Zambian side.

View Point 16
The Victoria Falls Bridge is visible from this point. The bridge was built over 2 years and was completed in 1905. The height is 111 metres above water level during the lowest water level and its about 198 metres long and this links Zimbabwe and Zambia. This bridge is part of a rail network originally intended to link the coal fields of Hwange, Zimbabwe with copper deposits of Zambia as part of Cecil John Rhodes’s vision to link the Cape to Cairo. At this point during a busy day bungee jumpers, gorge swingers and bridge sliders can be seen from this point.

It is highly recommended though to get a local tour guide who can take you on a Victoria Falls tour and show you all the falls and much more during your tour of this breath-taking waterfall, a true natural wonder of the world.

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