Mosi oa Tunya, also known as Victoria Falls, is one of the most iconic natural wonders in the world. Located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, this majestic waterfall has a rich history and is steeped in legend.

The Discovery of Mosi oa Tunya

The First European Encounter

The first recorded European to lay eyes on Mosi oa Tunya was David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary and explorer. In 1855, Livingstone set out on an expedition to find the source of the Nile River. While traveling along the Zambezi River, he heard the thunderous roar of the waterfall and followed the sound until he reached the edge of the falls.

Livingstone was in awe of the magnificent sight before him and named the falls “Victoria Falls” after Queen Victoria of England. However, the local indigenous people had been aware of the falls for centuries and had their own name for it – Mosi oa Tunya, which translates to “The Smoke That Thunders.”

Victoria Falls – Zambia and Zimbabwe

The Impact of Colonialism

Livingstone’s discovery of Mosi oa Tunya sparked a wave of European interest in the area. In the late 19th century, the British South Africa Company, led by Cecil Rhodes, began to colonize the region. The construction of a railway bridge across the Zambezi River in 1905 made it easier for tourists to visit the falls, and the area became a popular destination for European travelers.

The Legend of Mosi oa Tunya

The Legend of Nyami Nyami

The local Tonga people have a legend that explains the creation of Mosi oa Tunya and the Zambezi River. According to the legend, the river was once inhabited by a powerful river god named Nyami Nyami. He was a serpent-like creature with the head of a fish and the body of a snake.

Nyami Nyami lived in the Zambezi River with his wife and children, and the people of the Tonga tribe believed that he controlled the flow of the river and provided them with abundant fish. However, when the British South Africa Company began to build the railway bridge, they disrupted the flow of the river and separated Nyami Nyami from his family.

The legend says that Nyami Nyami became angry and caused a great flood, creating the Victoria Falls. He continues to live in the Zambezi River, waiting for the day when the bridge will be destroyed, and he can be reunited with his family.

The Legend of the Smoke That Thunders

Another legend surrounding Mosi oa Tunya is that of the “Smoke That Thunders.” According to this legend, the falls were created by the god of thunder and lightning, Nyaminyami. He was angry with the people of the Tonga tribe for not making offerings to him, so he caused a great flood that created the falls.

The constant spray from the falls is said to be the smoke from Nyaminyami’s fire, and the thundering sound is the sound of his anger. The Tonga people believe that the falls are a sacred place and that the spirits of their ancestors reside in the mist.

Mosi oa Tunya National Park

The Creation of the National Park

In 1989, the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe came together to create the Mosi oa Tunya National Park, which encompasses the area around the falls. The park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, giraffes, and various species of antelope.

The park also offers a variety of activities for visitors, such as game drives, walking safaris, and boat cruises on the Zambezi River. It is a popular destination for tourists looking to experience the beauty of the falls and the wildlife of Africa.

The Impact of Tourism

The creation of the national park has had a significant impact on the local communities. The park provides employment opportunities for the people living in the surrounding areas, and a portion of the park’s entrance fees goes towards community development projects.

Tourism has also brought attention to the conservation efforts in the area. The park works to protect the wildlife and natural resources of the region, and visitors can learn about the importance of preserving these resources for future generations.


Avani Victoria Falls Resort

Why You Should Visit Mosi oa Tunya

A Natural Wonder of the World

Mosi oa Tunya is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and it’s not hard to see why. The sheer size and power of the falls are awe-inspiring, and the constant spray creates a beautiful rainbow that can be seen from miles away.

An Unforgettable African Safari Experience

A visit to Mosi oa Tunya is not just about the falls; it’s also about the surrounding wildlife and culture. The national park offers a unique opportunity to see some of Africa’s most iconic animals in their natural habitat, and the local communities provide a glimpse into the rich history and traditions of the region.

Adventure Activities

For the more adventurous travelers, Mosi oa Tunya offers a range of adrenaline-pumping activities. Visitors can go bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge, take a helicopter ride over the falls, or go white-water rafting on the Zambezi River.


Mosi oa Tunya is more than just a waterfall; it’s a symbol of the rich history and culture of the African continent. From its discovery by David Livingstone to the legends of Nyami Nyami and Nyaminyami, this natural wonder has captured the hearts and imaginations of people from all over the world.

A visit to Mosi oa Tunya is a must for any African safari, and it’s an experience that will stay with you long after you leave.

So, pack your bags and get ready to witness the beauty and power of Mosi oa Tunya for yourself.