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Interesting Facts about Victoria Falls

The Eastern Cataract. Victoria Falls. Livingstone. Zambia

The Eastern Cataract. Victoria Falls. Livingstone. Zambia

We’ve been to Victoria Falls a number of times and it never ceases to amaze. David Livingstone was not understating it when he said: “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”. Locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders) and, it seems, that early Arab traders may have known them under a name meaning “the end of the world”.

The Zambezi River just above The Eastern Cataract. Victoria Falls. Zambia

The Zambezi River just above The Eastern Cataract. Victoria Falls. Zambia

(Photo details: Panorama created from a stitch of 6 images. Nikon D800 and 24 – 70 f2,8. ISO 50, 0,8sec at f16).

So, here are some interesting facts about Victoria Falls:

  • They are on the Zambezi River on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe
  • They are considered the largest in the world – not the longest or highest but based on their width, 1,708 metres (5,604 ft), and height, 108 metres (354 ft).
  • They are formed by a fracture zone in a basalt shelf.
  • Over the previous 100,000 years, the falls have been moving upstream through the Batoka Gorges.
  • There is evidence of human occupation in the area extending back over 30 000 years.
  •  David Livingstone arrived at the Falls on 17 November 1855.
  • Some authorities believe that the the first European to see the falls was a Portuguese priest by the name of Gonçalo da Silver in the sixteenth century.
  • A bridge, the brainchild of Cecil John Rhodes, was built across the 2nd Gorge in 1895, linking Zimbabwe and Zambia (then, Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia).
  • The highest flow rate over the falls was 12 800 m3/s (12 800 000l per second)
  • The Tonga people call the falls Shungu na mutitima, the Matabele, aManz’ aThunqayo, and the Botswana (from Botswana) call them Mosi-o-Tunya, all essentially meaning, “the smoke that thunders”.
The Eastern Cataract. Victoria Falls. Livingstone. Zambia

The Eastern Cataract. Victoria Falls. Livingstone. Zambia

(Photo details: Nikon D800 and 24 – 70 f2.8. ISO 50, ¼ sec at f16)

Roger de la Harpe

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