Victoria Falls

Volunteering in Victoria Falls

Home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Victoria Falls is one of the most popular destinations in Southern Africa. The border town is also known as Africa's "Adventure Capital" and is home to amazing wildlife, unspoilt National Parks, spectacular scenery and awesome adrenalin activities!

Victoria Falls, located on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, plays host to both the majestic Falls themselves, after which the town is named, and a wealth of other sites and sounds. During the summer months, the spray from the Falls is visible for miles around and the water can be heard and felt throughout the town. Visitors to Victoria Falls may also experience the sight of elephants, baboons and warthogs walking down the main street and sitings of buffalo on the roads out of town are not uncommon.

Whilst in Victoria Falls, volunteers can also sample some of the local exotic cuisine such as crocodile, kudu and impala, and for the daring, even try a local delicacy - the mopane worm! Enjoy an evening of traditional drumming and music as you experience a taste sensation!

Whilst volunteering in the Falls, volunteers can also experience some of the world's best white water rafting; take a sunset cruise on the mighty Zambezi River listening to the cries of hippos and elephants, and the haunting calls of the fish eagle; visit the world-famous Vulture Restaurant and learn about what's being done to conserve these amazing birds; challenge yourself to do a bungee or zipline off the Victoria Falls bridge; or, for the less adventurous, enjoy high tea and a gin and tonic on the spectacular verandah at the Victoria Falls Hotel.

The people of Victoria Falls, like those throughout Zimbabwe, are incredibly friendly and welcoming and love to invite you to share the beauty of their home. Victoria Falls is a safe town, whether you choose to experience the beauty and wilderness of the National Parks, or the excitement of the adrenalin activities.

 

Quick Facts

Population: 35,000
Currency: the US dollar has been adopted as the official currency
Language: English is the official language, spoken by the majority of people, with most of the population speaking Ndebele as a first language
Time difference: GMT +2 (Northern hemisphere wintertime), GMT +1 (Northern hemisphere summertime)
Telephone: country code + 263, city code + 31, international access code 00
Main airport: Victoria Falls International

Ndebele phrases
Hello - Salibonani
Goodbye -Hamba kahle
How are you (essential!) - Unjani
Thank you - Siyabonga

Weather and Climate
According to International Living Magazine in 2011, Zimbabwe ties with Malta as having the best climate in the world. With sunshine an estimated 90% of the year, who can argue with that?

Summer is from November to March where temperatures in Victoria Falls range from an average minimum of 18°C to an average maximum of 40°C with localised, intermittent rainfall. Winter is from April to early September and is dry, with an average maximum temperature of 27°C. Temperatures can drop to 7-8°C at night but the daytime temperatures are extremely sunny and comfortable.

History

David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls in 1855, from what is now known as Livingstone Island. Livingstone named his discovery in honour of Queen Victoria of Britain, but the indigenous Tonga name, Mosi-oa-Tunya—"The Smoke That Thunders"—continues in common usage as well. 

European settlement of the Victoria Falls area started around 1900 in response to the desire of Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company for mineral rights and the exploitation of other natural resources such as timber forests, and ivory and animal skins. Before 1905, the river was crossed above the falls by dugout canoe or a barge towed across with a steel cable. Rhodes' vision of a Cape-Cairo railway drove plans for the first bridge across the Zambezi and he insisted it be built where the spray from the falls would fall on passing trains. From 1905 the railway offered accessible travel from as far as the Cape in the south and as far as the Belgian Congo in the north. In 1904 the Victoria Falls Hotel was opened to accommodate visitors arriving on the new railway. The falls became an increasingly popular attraction during British colonial rule of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), with the town of Victoria Falls becoming the main tourist centre.

Zimbabwe's independence in 1980 brought renewed levels of tourism and the development of the region as a centre for adventure sports including white water rafting in the gorges, bungee jumping from the bridge, fishing, horse riding, kayaking, and flights over the falls.

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft), resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America's Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. In height and width Victoria Falls is rivalled only by Argentina and Brazil's Iguazu Falls.

Victoria Falls town is a busy tourist hub and one of the most popular 'must-see' destinations in Southern Africa. The opening of the new international airport in 2016 has brought direct flights to and from Ethiopia and Kenya and also direct flights to and from Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, making the town even more accessible to international tourists.

Travel Hotspots

There is a good public transport system between Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, with the three cities accessible by bus and plane.

Hwange National Park: at 14,000 square kilometers, Hwange is a wildlife enthusiast's dream. With some of the most unspoilt wild areas in Zimbabwe, an abundance of elephants as well as leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo and over 100 bird species, a trip to Hwange should be on everyones To Do list. The Park is a short 1.5 hour drive from Victoria Falls and many operators will organise a fly-in safari from the town to one of the many lodges in Hwange.

Mana Pools National Park: Mana Pools is synonymous with the Zambezi River, elephants, lions, wilderness and remote beauty. It is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name “mana” means “four” in Shona, relating to the four large pools inland from the Zambezi River, the remnants of four ancient ox-bow lakes. Spread over 2,196 square km, the Park is part of a region of 10,500 square km which has no physical boundaries and animals are able to move freely throughout the area.

Lake Kariba: the world's third largest man-made lake offers spectacular elephant and buffalo sitings on its shores as well as being home to the ferocious tiger fish! Take the 24-hour ferry from Milibizi near Victoria Falls to Kariba town and witness the beauty of remotest Zimbabwe.

Matopos National Park: located in the heart of Matabeleland 35km south of Bulawayo, the granite Matopos Hills were formed over 2 billion years ago and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The National Park is the oldest in Zimbabwe, established in 1926 as a bequest from Cecil Rhodes, who is buried in on the summit of one of the Hills. With excellent hiking, horse riding and game viewing, the Park is a safe, peaceful and beautiful place to visit.

Gonarezhou National Park: this rugged, remote and wild National Park is situated in south-eastern Zimbabwe, close to the borders of Mozambique and South Africa. Because of its remoteness and vast size, large tracts of Gonarezhou remain as pristine wilderness. Meaning “place of the elephants” in Shona, it forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park where animals can move freely between Gonarezhou, Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.

Great Zimbabwe: a ruined stone city in south Zimbabwe, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the 11th Century. One of its most prominent features are its 5m high stone walls, constructed entirely without mortar and the ruins are some of the oldest, largest and most impressive stone structures in Southern Africa. The city was built over a period of 300 years and it is believed that over 18,000 people lived there at its peak before being eventually abandoned and falling into ruins.

Getting to Victoria Falls

Volunteers arriving into Victoria Falls can fly into the new Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA).

Airlines flying direct to Victoria Falls include Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, South African Airways and British Airways. All major airlines fly to Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport in South Africa, from where you can easily transfer through to Victoria Falls using BA or South African Airways.

Victoria Falls also has a direct link to Cape Town - South Africa's beautiful "mother city" and a trip to spend some time there is something that should definitely be considered.

 

 

Volunteering in Victoria Falls


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