- About Victoria Falls
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David Livingstone had already visited Linyanti, on the banks of the Zambezi River in the Caprivi Swamps above the Falls, several times before he eventually explored a comparatively short distance downstream to claim for himself the discovery of the Victoria Falls. Indeed Livingstone had already travelled upriver into the Barotse floodplains, turning west in an epic to trek all the way to the Atlantic cost, before returning to Linyanti and setting off downstream to map his great river in its path east to the Indian Ocean.
He travelled by boat with Chief Sekeletu of the Makololo, who casually asked “Have you smoke that thunders in your country?” as they approached the columns of rising spray. Livingstone was enchanted by the Zambezi River above the Falls, writing in his diary “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” – a quote often erroneously used in reference to the Victoria Falls themselves – but Livingstone could hardly of imagined the natural wonder which lay in wait as the local boatmen took him right up to the lip of the Falls, landing on the island that now bears his name. He describes in his journal:
“…creeping with awe to the verge, I peered down into a large rent… and saw that a stream of a thousand yards broad leaped down a hundred feet, and then became suddenly compressed into a space of fifteen or twenty yards… the most wonderful sight I had witnessed in Africa.”
An early etching of the Victoria Falls
Livingstone records the Makololo name for the Falls, ‘Mosi-oa-tunya’ – commonly translated as ‘the smoke that thunders’, but named them in English after Queen Victoria. The date is widely accepted to have been 16th November, 1855 (although there is some confusion over the exact date as Livingstone later discovered he had ‘lost’ several days during his travels!).
Livingstone was extremely cautious in his first estimates of the size of the Victoria Falls, and it was not until five years later, in 1860, when he returned to them during his Zambezi Expedition, that he undertook extensive physical measurements of them.
There is also much debate as to whether Livingstone can claim to have ‘discovered’ the Falls, with some doubting that he was even the first European to view them. Their existence had been known through tales told to and by explorers and hunters for some years previously. Indeed Livingstone himself had first heard of the Falls in 1851 when he had visited Linyanti for the first time. This argument however is largely inconsequential as Livingstone earns his right to be named as the ‘discoverer’ of the Falls by fact of his being the first to describe and publish his account of them to the wider world.
Livingstone’s travels in one of the last great unknown areas of the world caught the imagination of Victorian England, and the publication of Livingstone’s discoveries turned him into one of the most famous explorers of his generation.
Read more on the Development of the Victoria Falls.
Victoria Falls is the ultimate Africa tourist destination, offering not only one of the seven natural wonders of the wor...
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We offer genuine, uncontrived safaris in unfenced wilderness areas, designed for the more discerning traveller. Please e...
Anyone who loves the bush or wants to truly experience the natural environment at Vic Falls needs to do a trip with Charles Brightman. His work with the anti-poaching unit is inspirational and we cannot recommend him highly enough.
Barbi Jay – Australia
Discover Victoria Falls is by far the best way to experience all that this incredible part of the world has to offer. I have been to the falls several times but came away from this most recent trip with the most memorable and special experiences I could wish for.
London, United Kingdom
Charles Brightman was our guide in the Zambezi National Park and his enthusiasm for nature and all things was so contagious that our 3 hour Walking Safari went for 5 and a half hours and finished only because we had a midday lunch appointment. Treat yourself to a wonderful experience.
Our bush walk with Charles Brightman was so informative and his love for the bush, animals, birds, environmental issues and the country was inspiring. And the sunset dinner was wonderful! Many, many thanks - a great service!
We engaged Charles as our private guide whilst on holiday in Zimbabwe last October. Cannot recommend him enough - he made our trip to Hwange!!
Discover Safaris, based in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, is owned and oper...
Discover Victoria Falls with our background information section on the...
Victoria Falls is the ultimate Africa tourist destination, offering no...
Discover Victoria Falls is proud to offer some of the best accommodati...
We offer genuine, uncontrived safaris in unfenced wilderness areas, de...