UNESCO World Heritage Site #268: Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls

UNESCO World Heritage Site #268: Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls
UNESCO World Heritage Site #268: Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls is the world’s greatest sheet of falling water and significant worldwide for its exceptional geological and geomorphological features and active land formation processes with outstanding beauty attributed to the falls i.e. the spray, mist and rainbows. This transboundary property extends over 6860 ha and comprises 3779 ha of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (Zambia), 2340 ha of Victoria Falls National Park (Zimbabwe), 741 ha of the riverine strip of Zambezi National Park (Zimbabwe). A riverine strip of the Zambezi National Park extending 9 km west along the right bank of the Zambezi and islands in the river are all within the Park as far as Palm and Kandahar Islands, with the Victoria Falls being one of the major attractions. The waterfall stands at an altitude of about 915 m above mean sea level (a.m.s.l.) and spans to about 1708 m wide with an average depth of 100 m and the deepest point being 108 m. Sprays from this giant waterfall can be seen from a distance of 30 km from the Lusaka road, Zambia and 50 km from Bulawayo road, Zimbabwe. Basalts have been cut by a river system producing a series of eightspectacular gorges that serve as breeding sites for four species of endangered birds. The basalts of the Victoria Falls World Heritage property are layered unlike those of the Giants Causeway World Heritage site which are vertical and columnar.

I’m sure most people are already aware of Victoria Falls. Widely considered one of the natural wonders of the world, the reality actually lives up to the hype.

Straddling the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, the falls are the largest waterfall in the world as measured by volume of water. If you visit when the water is high, like I did in February, the mist can be so great that it is often difficult to impossible to even see the falls.

If you visit during the wet season, expect to get drenched. The mist can be so strong that there is a perpetual rain nearby. My ability to take photos was seriously hampered by the mist many times.

Visiting the falls can be done from either side of the border. I’d recommend crossing the border to experience both sides, regardless of which side you come from. If you come in via Zimbabwe, they offer a dual entry visa for US$45 and you can get a day trip visa to Zambia for just US$20. Park fees are US$30 on the Zimbabwe side and $20 on the Zambian side.

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