The Victoria Falls Rainforest is a natural area of dense vegetation, within the national park, that has taken root under the almost constant rainfall that is created from the spray forced up from the gorge. The rainforest is part of the 1900ha reserve of the Victoria Falls National Park that was established in 1937.
On the Zimbabwe side, the rainforest is located on the cliffs opposite the waterfall, facing the Main Falls. On your walk through the dense rainforest there you will come across 17 spectacular viewpoints giving you the opportunity to see the entire waterfall and the iron railway bridge.
This is a fragile ecosystem that is totally dependent on the abundant water and high humidity of the constant rain. This “rain” is created by the spray that is carried upwards on the air currents that rise up from the bottom of the gorge. As the spray from the waterfall rises up, the tiny droplets condense and fall as rain. During the rainy season, the spray is so dense that visibility is very poor obscuring the view of the waterfall, keeping the area of rainforest under 24 hours of constant rain.
Victoria Falls Rainforest – the Flora and Fauna
Although this dense vegetation has been given the name “rainforest” most of the vegetation is the same that grows along the Zambezi riverbanks and islands of the Zambezi river upstream of the waterfall, just in more abundance. The flora of the Victoria Falls rainforest includes Ferns, Liana Vines, Date Palm groves, Fig and some trees that are not indigenous to the region, like Mahogany.
The rainforest is a beautiful section in which to walk, with designated paths that lead you through. You will notice the roar of the waterfall is muffled beneath the protective canopy and a quiet peace pervades the area. There are many resident small mammals and during your rainforest walk you may come across Vervet Monkeys and Chacma Baboons in the trees as well as groups of charming, inquisitive Banded Mongooses. If you are quiet and look carefully you may be fortunate and spy the Bushbuck or Warthog that have made the rainforest area their home.
The birdlife is boundless with exciting sightings of the Trumpeter Hornbill, Schalow’s Turaco, the Coppery Sunbird and the Blue Waxbill, as well as the associated insects and butterflies – making this walk a nature lovers paradise.
Thomas Baines was an artist/explorer who was the artist to David Livingstone’s 1858 expedition to the Zambezi. Baines quarreled with Livingstone on this trip and he was unfairly dismissed for theft. In 1862 he made it back to the area where Baines painted many of his famous scenes which were reproduced in the album of prints “The Victoria Falls, Zambezi River” which was published by Day in London 1865. He had gone back to the waterfall to meet Livingstone and clear his name, but by the time he arrived Livingstone had already moved out of the area. He then spent 12 days sketching and painting his now-famous artworks of the waterfall and produced at least 9 paintings from various vantage points around the waterfall.
Below is a view of the Falls from the Victoria Falls Rainforest from where Thomas Baines painted “The Great Western Fall” in 1862.