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Zambia

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Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, July 04, 2009 at 17:48:58

Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya on the Zambezi River, ZambiaCalled Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders) by locals, the breathtaking Victoria Falls are located in southern Africa on the Zambezi River between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

While neither the highest, nor the widest waterfalls in the world, Victoria Falls claims to be the largest at 108 meters tall and 1,708 meters wide.

Victoria Falls are one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. David Livingstone a Scottish explorer is believed to have been the first European to view the Victoria Falls, on 17 November 1855, during his 1852–56 journey from the upper Zambezi to the mouth of the river. The falls send an average of 550,000 cubic meters of water over the edge every minute. And with spray from the falls reaching 400 meters, you'll want to grab one of the raincoats available from the entrance.

The Victoria Falls Gorges
The principal gorges are:
- First Gorge: the one the river falls into at Victoria Falls
- Second Gorge: (spanned by the Victoria Falls Bridge), 250 m south of falls, 2.15 km long (270 yd south, 2350 yd long)
- Third Gorge: 600 m south, 1.95 km long (650 yd south, 2100 yd long)
- Fourth Gorge: 1.15 km south, 2.25 km long (1256 yd south, 2460 yd long)
- Fifth Gorge: 2.55 km south, 3.2 km long (1.5 mi south, 2 mi long)
- Songwe Gorge: 5.3 km south, 3.3 km long, (3.3 mi south, 2 mi long) named after the small Songwe River coming from the north-east, and the deepest at 140 m (460 ft), at the end of the dry season.
- Batoka Gorge: The gorge below the Songwe is called the Batoka Gorge (which is also used as an umbrella name for all the gorges). It is about 120 kilometers (75 mi) long (the straight line distance to its end is about 80 kilometers (50 mi) east of the falls) and takes the river through the basalt plateau to the valley in which Lake Kariba now lies.

A famous feature is a naturally formed pool known as the Devil's Armchair, near the edge of the falls, accessed via Livingstone Island. A boat trip on the Zambezi river proves a relaxing experience - and if you're lucky you'll get to spot some of the area's wildlife - among national parks such as Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, Victoria Falls National Park or Zambezi National Park - including elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, crocodiles, Vervet monkeys and baboons, a variety of antelope and hippopotamus. Klipspringers and clawless otters can be glimpsed in the gorges, but they are mainly known for 35 species of raptors. The Taita Falcon, Black Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Augur Buzzard breed there. Above the falls, herons, Fish Eagles and numerous kinds of waterfowl are common. Many species of fish can also be found.

And for those seeking some action, there are organized bungee jumps into the Zambezi gorge and white water rafting excursions. To truly appreciate the falls, hop abroad the "flight of angels" - an exhilarating 15-minute helicopter ride over the waterfalls - for an unforgettable bird’s eye view.

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