You Can Take a Dip at the Edge of the World's Largest Falls

About Africa

You Can Take a Dip at the Edge of the World's Largest Falls
Daredevils and adventure-seekers can't resist! People really do take a dip in the natural pool at the top of this world-famous, record-breaking waterfalls. It's the largest falls in the world: 1708 meters (5604 feet) across and 108 meters (354 feet) high.

If you're up to date on your geography trivia, you'll realize that's not the highest or the widest falls in the world. But that incredible combination of height and width results in a sheet of falling water unmatched in size by any other falls. (Oh, and that's still double the height of Niagara Falls).

Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been called one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Named Victoria Falls for the Queen by Scottish explorer David Livingstone when he first came across it in 1855, it's called Mosi-oa-Tunya – The Smoke that Thunders – in local Tonga dialect.


Upstream from the falls, the Zambezi River flows across a wide, flat plateau with no hills or mountains to channel the flow of water. So the entire 5600-foot width of the river drops over the edge of a fracture in the landscape, falling into the gorge below, and flowing through the chasm in a zig-zag series of gorges that form the border between the two countries in southern Africa.

Both issue visas to allow tourists to cross back and forth across the border to see the falls from both vantage points. A million international and local visitors a year come to see the falls and there are concerns about development and environmental management endangering the site.

And as for the top picture? Victoria Falls has a famous natural feature on the Zambian side, an 'armchair' called the 'Devil's Pool' near the edge. When the water is at a certain level, a rock barrier reduces the current in that spot to relative calm. Daredevil adventure-seekers risk death to swim only a few feet away from that 350-foot drop.

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