The smoke that thunders, or Mosi-oa-Tunya. This is the name that indigenous peoples gave the awe-inspiring waterfalls of the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe. While it is more commonly known as Victoria Falls, when one experiences the falls, the smoke that thunders is imminently more apropos. These falls, which explorer David Livingston said “must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight,” will be the highlight of any journey to South Africa.
Visitors can view the falls from Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in the country of Zambia and Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe. In fact, visitors can get a glimpse of the falls from as much as thirty miles away. During the wet season, 19 million cubic feet of water spills from the falls, and the spray shoots over a thousand feet into the air and can be seen by those miles away. Unlike other world-famous falls, like Niagara, you are treated to a front-on view of Victoria Falls. Here, your senses will be treated to cool mist of the spray, the tremendous noise, and the ever-present rainbows. Incredible doesn’t begin to describe it.
Travelers who want to see, and hear, Victoria Falls at its most impressive should make plans to travel to Zimbabwe or Zambia in the rainy season, March to May, when the volume of water increases, as does the drama of the falls. Today’s visitors often opt to view the falls from the Zambian side, and the decision is due in large part to political tensions in Zimbabwe. Many view it as safer to go to Zambia, and even tour groups will urge you not to travel in Zimbabwe unescorted. That being said, it is generally considered safe to visit the falls and get a day pass to view them from the Zimbabwean side. You don’t need to get a visa for a day visit, and hotels in the area often include a pass with your accommodations. Make sure to check current advisories and regulations regarding border crossings before you go, and make sure you get back before the border closes (usually at around 6:00pm).
A pleasant day can be spent at Victoria Falls, taking in the sights and sounds. The more intrepid among us can enjoy pursuits like bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, and kayaking. While there, take advantage of the opportunity to view the native wildlife. Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is home to baboons, warthogs, giraffe, white rhino, elephants, and buffalo. Natural beauty abounds at Victoria Falls.