Victoria Falls National Park

river gorge & Eastern Cataract of the Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls National Park is the most famous attraction in the region. It hosts the largest waterfall in the world, the Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The mighty Zambezi River is the source of the falls and serves as the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Zambezi River flows 2,700 km through six countries on its journey from its source in north-western Zambia to the Indian Ocean. The falls are 355 feet (108 m) high and stretch across 5,604 feet (1,708 m) creating the largest single sheet of falling water. The Victoria Falls are comprised of five individual falls: Devil’s Cataract, Main Falls, Rainbow Falls, Hoershoe falls (all 4 of them located within Zimbabwe) and the fifth fall Eastern Cataract (located on the Zambia side of the border).

The falls area is made up of two national Parks: Victoria Falls National Park on the Zimbabwe side of the border, and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park on the Zambia side. Victoria Falls National Park covers an area of only 23.4 km2 (9 sq. mi) and is even smaller than neighbouring Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (66 km2 / 25 sq. mi).

When to visit:

The optimal time to visit Victoria Falls depends on your interests as not all activities are possible or optimal during each season. Summer runs from October to April with daytime temperatures of around 30°C and 14°C at night. Dramatic thunderstorms are possible in the afternoons that make for magnificent sunsets. Winter runs from May to September/October with daytime temperatures of around 20°C. At night it can sometimes get as cold as 5°C so you will need warm clothes. Water temperatures are probably too cold for swimming during winter. The dry winters often result in spare vegetation which makes it easier to see wildlife. Due to the lack of water wildlife will congregate around water sources and you have a chance to see elephant and buffalo herds coming to the water’s edge for drinking.

Water levels are also an important thing to consider when you plan your visit to the falls. High water levels occur between February and July, with the peak being in March and April. During peak water level times activities such as white-water rafting and swimming are not possible or too dangerous. During the high-water period much more water is forced through the gorge which leads to dense spray thick with rainbows being thrown up in the air. If you go close to the falls, visibility might be a problem due to the dense spray. Low water levels occur between August and January with the lowest between November and early December. During the low-water period, the water level of the gorge drops making it ideal for white-water rafting and swimming such as taking a dip in the famous Devil’s Pool. You will have very little spray and due to low water levels, you will be able to see the geological formations better.

Nature & Wildlife:

The park is located within the Zambezian and mopane woodlands ecoregion which is characterized by the occurrence of the mopane tree (Colophospermum mopane). Rainforest growing in the spray of the falls includes ferns, palms, liana vines and several trees such as mahogany not seen elsewhere in the region. There is also a massive balboa tree with 16 m (52 feet) diameter and 20 m (65.6 feet) height. Wildlife is not the main reason for a visit to Victoria Falls National Park, but they add to the overall nature experience. During short game drives and walking safaris, visitors have the chance to see cape buffalos, hippos, crocodiles and various antelopes such as eland.


The Victoria Falls can give you Brown Firefinch, Schalow’s Turaco, Olive Woodpecker, Northern Gray-headed Sparrow, Collared Palm-thrush and many others. The gorges are very popular for adventure-type safaris and activities, and this sadly has led to the disappearance of the Taita Falcon. The still-resident Peregrine Falcons are more tolerant of disturbance. There are also many other raptors to be seen in the area, including the migrants in summer. African Swifts are common in the gorges and the mottled hollidayi race here has led to reports of Mottled Swift! Naturally, every birder knows to check out the local sewage works and the ponds at Victoria Falls are no exception. Ross’s Turaco has been reported from the river and here you can find Banded Snake-eagle, Lesser Sand-Plover (rare), Black-bellied Plover (Grey plover), Ruddy Turnstone, Rufous-bellied Heron, Rock, Collared and Black-winged Pratincoles, African Skimmer and many other waders and waterbirds. (Source of this section:

A good place to see some unique birds are also the palm trees along Zambezi Drive between the “Big Tree” and the river, the golf course and the campsite situated on the river. In these areas, you can expect Collared Palm-thrush, Brown Firefinch which often occurs in the company of Blue Waxbill and Red-billed Firefinch and Banded Snake-Eagle. Northern Gray-headed Sparrow is best found around the industrial sites, the railway marshalling yards and rubbish dumps. Taita falcon, once regular at Third Gorge, has, unfortunately, all but disappeared from the area. Lovebirds seen in the area are neither Black-cheeked nor Lilian’s Lovebirds but in fact, blue-rumped hybridised cage birds that have escaped captivity.

Victoria Falls can also be birded from the Zambian side. A good birding destination to visit on the Zambian side is the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.