15 Incredible Facts About Victoria Falls

It’s hard to deny that amazing waterfalls are some of the most fascinating natural wonders on the planet. It’s an extremely humbling experience to stand in the vicinity of such a powerful force.

Very few waterfalls radiate this feeling better than this magnificent natural wonder in the southern part of Africa.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about Victoria Falls, one of the largest of its kind in the world.

1. It’s located on the border of two countries in southern Africa

Victoria Falls is one of the countless natural wonders in Africa. It’s situated in the southern part of the continent and is part of the natural border between the countries Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It’s located on the Zambezi River, the 4th-largest river in Africa with a length of 2,574 kilometers (1,599 miles). It’s also the longest east-flowing river in Africa and eventually empties in the Indian Ocean.

This important river flows through 6 different countries in the part of Africa, including Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

Victoria Falls facts
The astounding Victoria Falls / Wiki Commons

2. It was named in honor of the British monarch by a famous explorer

The waterfall was named after Queen Victoria, the British monarch who reigned over Great Britain between 1837 and 1901. This period is now referred to as the “Victorian Era.”

The 19th century was a fascinating century in terms of discoveries. The first European to lay eyes on this amazing natural wonder was Scottish explorer David Livingstone (1813-1873), one of the most famous explorers in Africa.

His most famous discovery was the source of the Nile River, but he also discovered Victoria Falls on November 16, 1855. The awesome sight of the waterfall made him name it in honor of Queen Victoria.

Victoria Falls fun facts
Aerial view of the waterfall / Diego Delso / Wiki Commons

3. The river flows through multiple zigzagging gorges

The Zambezi falls off the edge of a cliff into an amazing canyon referred to as the “First Gorge.” That’s for the simple reason that it’s followed by five more gorges shortly afterward.

These gorges are called the Second Gorge, Third Gorge, Fourth Gorge, Fifth Gorge, and the Songwe Gorge. The last gorge was named after a small river called the Songwe River that joins the main river from the northeast.

The Second Gorge is the location of the so-called “boiling pot,” named for the boiling-like turbulence during high water. The Victoria Bridge spans this gorge and is an amazing attraction by itself.

Victoria Falls satellite picture
Satellite image of the waterfall / Wiki Commons

4. It’s not the largest waterfall in the world but still has incredible dimensions

The length of the gorges through which the Zambezi River flows ranges from 1.95 kilometers (1.21 miles) to 3.3 kilometers (2.1 miles). The combined width of the waterfall is 1,708 meters (5,604 feet), an incredible number.

It’s also one of the highest waterfalls in the world with a maximum height of 108 meters (360 feet). Yes, this is as tall as the average skyscraper, quite astounding indeed.

Despite these incredible figures, it’s neither the widest nor the highest waterfall in the world. This is interesting because its substantially wider than Niagara Falls on the Canada-US border, and over double as high.

Khone Phapheng Falls on the Mekong River in southern Laos is the widest waterfall in the world with a width of 10,783 meters (35,376 feet). Angel Falls in Venezuela is the world’s tallest uninterrupted waterfall with a height of 979 meters (3,212 feet).

Victoria Falls dimensions

5. Multiple national parks full of wildlife are located near the waterfall

There are two national parks located in the vicinity of the waterfall called the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and the Victoria Falls National Park. These are relatively small, covering an area of just 66 square kilometers (25 square miles) and 23 square kilometers (8.9 square miles).

A much larger national park is located west of the waterfall and is called the Zambezi National Park. Thie park covers an area of 560 square kilometers (220 square miles) and is famous for being the home of numerous wild animals.

Some of the animals that live here include the African elephant, lion, Cape buffalo, leopard, sable antelope, common eland, common zebra, Southern giraffe, greater kudu, waterbuck, and impala.

Yes, this is Africa!

Victoria Falls aerial view
Aerial view of the National Parks / Diego Delso / Wiki Commons

More interesting facts about Victoria Falls

6. The waterfall is one of the numerous feats of nature that was named in honor of the British Queen. Some others include Lake Victoria in Africa and the Great Victorian Desert in Australia.

7. One of the most fascinating facts about Victoria Falls is that its English name isn’t used locally. In the Sotho language that is spoken in the region, it’s referred to as the “Mosi-oa-Tunya” which translates to “The Smoke That Thunders.”

8. There are two small islands at the edge of the First Gorge. These are large enough to divide the waterfall into different sections at low water. Boaruka Island or “Cataract Island” is located in the utmost western part of the waterfall and Livingstone Island in the middle.

Victoria Falls islands

9. The island in the middle was named in honor of David Livingstone, the Scottish explorer who was the first European to see this force of nature. It’s from this island that he first laid eyes upon the waterfall.

10. The flood season of the river happens between February and May. The peak of the waterfall’s flow rate happens in April and the average flow rate is 1088 cubic meters per second (38,430 cubic feet per second).

11. At its peak, the spray of the waterfall can rise to 400 meters (1,300 feet) in the air and sometimes even more. This magnificent natural miracle can be seen from a distance of 50 kilometers (30 miles) away.

12. Victoria Falls has been a popular tourist attraction for multiple decades. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit this amazing spectacle every year and the region is full of facilities to accommodate visitors.

Victoria Falls detail

13. The waterfall was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1989. The organization describes them as being “among the most spectacular waterfalls in the world.”

14. One of the most remarkable attractions of the waterfall is a small naturally formed pool referred to as “Devil’s Pool.” Here you can swim near the edge of the Zimbabwean side of the waterfall.

15. Swimming at Devil’s Pool is only possible between September and December when the flow rate is minimal. A rock barrier separates adventurous swimmers from tumbling off the edge of the huge waterfall.

Devil's Pool Victoria Falls
Devil’s Pool / Joepyrek / Wiki Commons