David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855, from what is now known as Livingstone Island, one of two land masses in the middle of the river, immediately upstream from the falls near the Zambian shore.
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.
Victoria Falls (Tokaleya Tonga: Mosi-oa-Tunya, "The Smoke that Thunders") is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
It is clearly visible from the Zimbabwean side, which also has the town Victoria Falls named after the falls.
The recent geological history of Victoria Falls can be seen in the overall form of the Batoka Gorge, with its 6 individual gorges and 8 past positions of the falls.
The east-west oriented gorges imply structural control with alignment along joints of shatter zones, or faults with 50 m of vertical displacement as is the case of the second and fifth gorges.
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. For a considerable distance upstream from the falls, the Zambezi flows over a level sheet of basalt, in a shallow valley, bounded by low and distant sandstone hills.
There are no mountains, escarpments, or deep valleys; only a flat plateau extending hundreds of kilometres in all directions.It is also possible to walk to the bottom of the First Gorge at the Zimbabwean side.The minimum flow, which occurs in November, is around a tenth of the April figure; this variation in flow is greater than that of other major falls, and causes Victoria Falls' annual average flow rate to be lower than might be expected based on the maximum flow.The lip in the current falls is lowest here and carries the greatest concentration of water at flood stage.The sedimentary sequence overlying the basalt at the Zambezi River margins is called the Victoria Falls Formation, which consists of gravel, the Pipe sandstone, Kalahari Sands, and aeolian sand and alluvium.During the flood season, however, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist.Close to the edge of the cliff, spray shoots upward like inverted rain, especially at Zambia's Knife-Edge Bridge.One of these is the "Boiling Pot", which links the First Gorge with the Second Gorge.The falls may have already started cutting back the next major gorge, at the dip in one side of the "Devil's Cataract", between the western river bank and Cataract Island.The World Heritage List officially recognizes both names.resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water.