Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls

Livingstone District of Southern Province of the Republic of Zambia and Hwange District of Matabeleland North Province of Zimbabwe
S17 55 28.308 E25 51 19.404
Date of Inscription: 1989
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Property : 6,860 ha
Ref: 509
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These are among the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. The Zambezi River, which is more than 2 km wide at this point, plunges noisily down a series of basalt gorges and raises an iridescent mist that can be seen more than 20 km away.

The Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls is the world’s greatest sheet of falling water and significant worldwide for its exceptional geological and geomorphological features and active land formation processes with outstanding beauty attributed to the falls i.e. the spray, mist and rainbows. This transboundary property extends over 6860 ha and comprises 3779 ha of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (Zambia), 2340 ha of Victoria Falls National Park (Zimbabwe), 741 ha of the riverine strip of Zambezi National Park (Zimbabwe). A riverine strip of the Zambezi National Park extending 9 km west along the right bank of the Zambezi and islands in the river are all within the Park as far as Palm and Kandahar Islands, with the Victoria Falls being one of the major attractions. The waterfall stands at an altitude of about 915 m above mean sea level (a.m.s.l.) and spans to about 1708 m wide with an average depth of 100 m and the deepest point being 108 m. Sprays from this giant waterfall can be seen from a distance of 30 km from the Lusaka road, Zambia and 50 km from Bulawayo road, Zimbabwe. Basalts have been cut by a river system producing a series of eight spectacular gorges that serve as breeding sites for four species of endangered birds. The basalts of the Victoria Falls World Heritage property are layered unlike those of the Giants Causeway World Heritage site which are vertical and columnar.

Criterion (vii): The Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls is the largest curtain of falling water in the world; it is 1708 m wide and with up to 500 million litres per minute descending at 61 m (Devil’s Cataract), 83 m (Main Falls), 99 m (Rainbow Falls), 98 m (Eastern Cataract). Eight spectacular gorges of igneous origin (i.e. comprising basalts) and several islands in the core zone serve as breeding sites for four endangered and migratory bird species, such as the Taita Falcon and Black Eagle. The riverine ‘rainforest’ within the waterfall splash zone is a fragile ecosystem of discontinuous forest on sandy alluvium, dependent upon maintenance of abundant water and high humidity resulting from the spray plume of about 500 m (at maximum height) that can be seen from a distance of 50 km and 30 km from Bulawayo and Lusaka roads respectively. A direct frontage viewing of the falls is possible from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Criterion (viii): The Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls and associated eight steep sided gorges have been formed through the changing waterfall positions over a geological time scale. The gorges are an outstanding example of river capture and the erosive forces of the water still continue to sculpture the hard basalts. These gorges take a zigzag course of a distance of about 150 km along the Zambezi River below the falls. Seven previous waterfalls occupied the seven gorges below the present falls, and the Devil’s Cataract in Zimbabwe is the starting point for cutting back to a new waterfall. In addition, an aerial view of the falls shows possible future waterfall positions. Upstream are a spectacular series of riverine islands formed during the ongoing geological and geomorphological processes. The property is characterized by banded basalt of ancient lava flow, Kalahari sandstones and chalcedony out of which stone artefacts of Homo habilis dating three million years, stone tools of the middle Stone Age and weapons, adornments and digging tools of the late Stone Age that indicate occupation by hunter-gatherers.

Suggested Bases:

Zambia

Livingstone is to Zambia what the town of Victoria Falls is to Zimbabwe. Formerly known as Maramba, it was the capital of Zambia before it was moved to Lusaka. Livingstone is in the Southern Province of Zambia and is the tourist capital of the country. The city of Livingstone — where the bulk of the accommodation, restaurants, nightclubs, etc. are — is relatively small. Most likely, you will be comfortable walking around town. However, if you prefer not to, taxis prowl constantly. Official taxis are ones which are blue and have a red number plate. If you flag a taxi down on your way to the town centre, the driver may ask whether you are booking the taxi or not. If you are booking, you should pay full fare and driver is taking you to your doorstep. If you don’t book, it means that you pay only for one seat and the driver can pick up other passengers who are going in the same direction [read more].

Kazungula is a small border town on the northern banks of the mighty river Zambezi in Zambia. It marks Zambia’s border with three other countries: Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The town supports the huge road transit point that is the ferry terminal here. With limited facilities, trucks often have to wait for up to two weeks before being able to cross the river. Kazangula’s population services these transient drivers and hoards of locals being ferried to and from Zambia to Chobe in Botswana, every day [read more].

Choma is a town that serves as the capital of the Southern Province of Zambia. It is also the capital of Choma District, one of the thirteen administrative districts in the province. Choma lies on the Lusaka–Livingstone Road, approximately 292 kilometres (181 mi) south-west of Lusaka, the national capital and largest city in Zambia. This is approximately 194 kilometres (121 mi), by road, northeast of Livingstone, the largest city in Zambia’s Southern Province. The geographical coordinates of Choma are:16°46’16.0″S, 26°59’32.0″E (Latitude:-16.771111; Longitude:26.992222). Choma sits at an average elevation of 1,337 metres (4,386 ft) above mean sea level. In 1990, the population of Choma was 30,143 people. In 2000, there were 40,405 people. The 2010 population census and household survey enumerated the population of the town at 51,842 inhabitants. The table below illustrates the same data in tabular format. Choma Town is home to a museum dedicated to the cultural heritage of the Tonga people of southern Zambia [read more].

Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls is a town in the western portion of Zimbabwe, across the border from Livingstone, Zambia, and near Botswana. The town lies immediately next to the falls, and they are the major attraction, but this popular tourist destination offers both adventure seekers and sightseers plenty of opportunities for a longer stay. No doubt about it, Mosi-oa-Tunya (meaning “The Smoke That Thunders”) – but more commonly known as Victoria Falls – is one of the most amazing sights in the world. The Falls are twice as tall as Niagara Falls, and several times longer. Although not the highest, widest or greatest volume of water, they have the largest sheet of water for any fall in the world, and are a sight not to be missed. It took thousands of years of erosion for Victoria Falls to appear as and where it does now. Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “the smoke that thunders” only became known to the western world as Victoria Falls after David Livingstone first set eyes on this astonishing natural wonder in 1855, a heartbeat ago in geological time [read more].

Hwange (formerly Wankie) is a town in Zimbabwe, located in Hwange District, in Matabeleland North Province, in northwestern Zimbabwe, close to the international borders with Botswana and Zambia. It lies approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi), by road, southeast of Victoria Falls, the nearest large city. The town lies on the railway line from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, to Victoria Falls. Hwange sits at an elevation of 770 metres (2,530 ft), above sea level. The town houses the offices of Hwange Town Council, as well as the headquarters of Hwange District Administration. Hwange and the surrounding countryside is a centre for the industry in Zimbabwe. Hwange Colliery is the largest in the country, with proven reserves that are estimated to last over 1,000 years, at current production levels. The Wankie Coal Field, one of the largest in the world, was discovered here in 1895 by the American Scout Frederick Russell Burnham [read more].

Kariyangwe is a settlement in Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe and is located about 60 km south of Binga village. The settlement grew up around the Kariyangwe Mission, the first to be set up by Spanish missionaries that arrived in the country in 1949. The people are Matonga. Originally people lived at the bank of the river Zambezi. When the Kariba Dam was built in the 1950s, people were resettled to the current region. In the area of Kariynagwe there live about 10.000 people at the moment. It has a mission hospital operated by sisters without a permanent medical doctor available. The hospital has two off-grid photovoltaic systems to ensure basic electric supply. Education is provided by primary and secondary school. A more or less regular bus is connecting Kariynagwe to Binga and Hwange. Since May 2018 there is no public electric power supply. About 2 km of copper cable were stolen and not replaced up to now [read more].

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