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From America’s Grand Canyon and Canada’s Yoho National Park to India’s very own Lonar crater lake — there is no dearth of natural wonders on our planet. And so, we have embarked on a mission to list out 21 such natural wonders from around the planet. You may have heard of some of these wonders — Mt Everest, for instance, is a celebrity among natural wonders as is, Grand Canyon — but our hope, though this series is to introduce you, our readers, to not just the superstars but also the relatively lesser-known ones too so we could spark a little bit of wanderlust in you and get you packing. And so, today we travel to the border of two African counties — Zambia and Zimbabwe — where we are greeted by this sight! Also Read - Two-time Olympic Medallist Sushil Kumar Hasn't Given Up on Tokyo Dreams
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Victoria Falls are known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya that can be translated from Tonga as Smoke that Thunders. The waterfall cascades down from a dizzying height of 354 ft on to the Zambezi river, which flows right into the Indian Ocean.
Though Zambezi flows primarily through Zimbabwe and Zambia, it also touches four other countries — Angola, Namibia, Botswana, and Mozambique. The Victoria Falls are spread across Zambia and Zimbabwe that share not only the waterfall but also a bunch of national parks.
The first European to discover Victoria Falls was David Livingstone, who was wont with so many European travelers of the era, wandered through the rainforests of Africa in 1855 when he stumbled upon the island from where he spotted the majestic sight. The island has now named after him and a bronze statue of David Livingstone pointing to Victoria Falls stands as a commemoration to the explorer.
Interestingly, Vistoria Falls are neither the highest or the widest in the world. Even so the waterfall is classified as the largest because of its width (5,604 ft) and height (354 ft) that makes it the single largest sheet of falling water on the planet. To put it into perspective, Victoria Falls are about twice the height of Niagara Falls and more than twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls.
They’re accountable for the largest amount of water that falls on the earth! So much so that, some decades ago the height of the waterfall were noted to be 90 m, but the water force erodes the bottom making them taller as time goes by.
The oldest stone artifacts that have been discovered at archaeological the sites around the falls date back to over three million years ago. Also found around at the sites were 50,000-year-old Middle Stone Age tools as well as Late Stone Age weapons that could be dated back to anywhere between 10,000 and 2,000 years ago.
Victoria Falls are also greatly responsible for initiating tourism into the region. Cecil Rhodes the British businessman, mining magnate and politician in South Africa was responsible to the construction of a bridge across Zambezi river at such a strategic point that passengers could enjoy the spray from the falls as the train passed over it. With the opening of the railway line, tourists began arriving in the droves with Victoria Falls become the centerpiece of the region’s tourist attraction. Victoria Falls Hotel, which opened its doors in 1904, has hosted several members of the British royal family including King George VI and his family in 1947, continues to do business and is unarguably the best (and very expensive) place to stay here.
We leave you with this final picture of Victoria Falls and this one-of-a-kind bridge over the river Zambezi.