Victoria Falls is the English name for the Mosi Oa Tunya, the infamous, bountiful waterfalls in Mosi Oa Tunya National Park, Zambia. “Mosi Oa Tunya” means “The Smoke that Thunders,” but David Livingstone, the Scottish explorer, named Victoria Falls for his queen. Both names are widely recognized. Today, the Victoria Falls are recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.
The falls are breathtaking and powerful enough to intimidate and inspire even the most experienced of travelers. They fill you with wonder and awe. They’re big; at 5,604 feet wide, they form the largest continuous sheet of falling water in the world, and they’re moving; the constant erosion of the falling water has actually pushed the falls markedly backward over the years. The umissable crowning glory of the falls is the permanent rainbow. You can see a rainbow from almost any angle as you walk along the path viewing the falls. You can chase it if you want, but it moves — trust me, I was after that pot of gold.
The Livingstone-adjacent Mosi Oa Tunya National Park is full of wildlife and well-known not just for the magical waterfalls and rainbows, but for Mosi Oa Tunya game drives. Additionally, the park features level five rapids just below the falls, and you can also take elephant rides, helicopter tours or go bungee jumping. When you visit the falls, they may not be as powerful as you see above; part of the water is diverted to create hydropower — but according to our guide, we happened to visit on a lucky Sunday when the hydropower plant was under maintenance.
Perhaps Victoria Falls is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s hard to tell which side of a rainbow is the end and which side is the beginning.
To reach Victoria Falls, fly into Livingstone from Johannesburg, or to Lusaka and then take a train. Nearby accommodations include the fabulous Sussi & Chuma treehouse hotel. Right outside the Victoria Falls Heritage Site is a market where you can bargain for all kinds of souvenirs, so be sure to read Bartering in Africa – bring socks and other tips before you go!
[Photos and video by Annie Scott.]