Where Are the Victoria Falls?
These famous falls, among the most spectacular in the world, are on the boundary between Rhodesia and Zambia in southern Africa. The falls form the most remarkable feature of the Zambezi River. They are midway up the Zambezi near the town of Livingstone, which is named after David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, who discovered the falls in 1855.
For some distance before the Victoria Falls the Zambezi flows over a level sheet of basalt—a hard, blue volcanic rock—in a valley between sandstone hills. Curiously, the Zambezi does not increase its speed of flow as it nears the mighty falls.
The water pours over an almost vertical precipice, nearly a mile wide, at a rate of between four million and 75 million gallons a minute, depending on the season. The minimum flow is between November and December and the maximum between April and May. The Victoria Falls are wider than Niagra Falls and more than twice their height. At the highest point the water plunges 355 feet.
The only outlet for
this vast force of water is a narrow channel cut in the opposing barrier wall
near its western end. The river is forced through this narrow, 100-foot gorge
for nearly 400 feet. This part of the falls is aptly known as the Boiling Pot.
From the Boiling Pot the water emerges into an enormous zig-zag which forms the beginning of the Batoka Gorge, about 60 miles long. At one time it was thought that these fantastic falls were the result of a volcanic fault in the earth. Now it is believed they are caused by the check on the natural erosion of the river bed provided by the hard basaltic rock sheets.