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 Victoria Falls is the world's largest sheet of falling water. (Photograph by Marcus & Kate Westberg)
The falls generate mists that can be spotted from more than a dozen miles (20 kilometers) away. The mists also sustain a rain forest-like ecosystem adjacent to the falls and on the opposite cliff that faces them like a dried-up mirror image, thick with mahogany, fig, palm, and other species of vegetation.

Stone artifacts from the hominin Homo habilis have been identified near the falls and show that early humans may have lived here two million years ago. More “modern” tools also evidence far more recent—50,000 years ago—Middle Stone Age settlements.

Today several hundred thousand visitors from around the world trek to the falls each year; several hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, and other tourist businesses cater to them.

The beauty of the falls lies in their natural state, but the area is at some risk of runaway tourism-based development—more resorts, hotels, and even a possible dam below the falls that could flood several park gorges. Operators in the area offer everything from helicopter overflights to bungee jumping, and the management of these activities while preserving a quality visitor experience for all is an ongoing challenge.

Island on the Edge
The island where David Livingstone first set eyes on Victoria Falls now bears his name -- as you can see on the plaque at right. (Photograph by Marcus & Kate Westberg)

How to Get There

Most visitors visit from either Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) or Maramba (Zambia), where complete tourist facilities exist. Each town is accessible by road, rail, and air.

When to Visit

The river is typically in full flood during February and March, when as much as 540 million cubic meters of water fall over the edge every single minute. During the rainy season, however, the spray plume can obscure the view of the falls themselves. By November, when the water is at low ebb, visitors may see the curtain split into many smaller channels of falling water.

How to Visit

The falls are massive and invite contemplation from many different viewpoints. Trails invite you to walk around the area and enjoy vistas. Unique views are also to be had from the Knife Edge Bridge and Victoria Falls Bridge. River-level views from below the falls are a good way to experience their power up-close. At certain times of the year the daring may even swim in pools on the very crest of the cataract.

Retreats on the River
Hippos submerge themselves in the Zambezi River to keep cool under the African sun. (Photograph by Marcus & Kate Westberg)
People of the Zambezi
The thundering smoke was home to the Tonga and Makalolo peoples long before Livingstone first saw the falls. On the outskirts of Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, villagers live in mud-and-thatch huts and tend maize fields.
Getting to know the local people and their way of life is a vital part of visiting Victoria Falls. (Photograph by Marcus & Kate Westberg)
The River Club supports an Elephant Chili Pepper Project, where farmers from Simonga plant chili to protect their crops. With its constant roar and spray rising high into the sky, Victoria Falls is a sight to behold at any time of year and from any angle.
Culled from: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/world-heritage/victoria-falls/

 

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