There has been a lot of action on line recently about the water levels at the Victoria Falls. The fact is that the water level in the Zambezi River right now is low for this time of year. We have indeed just seen the level drop below the normal lowest level that it would usually get to in an average dry year. This would normally only happen towards the middle to the end of November. The rainfall cycle in this part of Africa is such that we see little rainfall in the Zambesia catchment area from the beginning of May right through to late October. Even in October we only see the rains begin right up in the Northern end of the catchment in North Western Zambia, Southern Congo and North Eastern Angola. For the most part the rainfall in the greater Zambesia catchment only begins in December.
This means that the flows in the Zambezi are sustained by rainfall that has fallen 6 months prior to its passing the Falls, and in the 2014 / 2015 rainfall season we did experience a low rainfall across this region, which has resulted in this current low level. This is not to say however that the river is or is even close to drying up. We are talking about a very large river system and the Victoria Falls find themselves situated some 1350km downstream from the source of the river and some 400km downstream from the massive Barotse flood plains that hold water from the upper catchment like a sponge letting it out slowly into the river downstream.
The rocky river bed at the Victoria Falls is not even and the deep water channel is right up against the Zimbabwe side of the Falls which means each year as low water hits us the Zambian side of the Falls do virtually dry up and leave only 25% of the rock face at the falls with water flowing over it. This year this percentage is likely to drop to as low as 20% of the full face flowing. Yesterday the 9th of October I took a walk around the Falls just before sunset and captured the pictures that appear alongside this article.
If you are visiting the Victoria Falls later this year then please do make sure you make plans to visit the Zimbabwe side of the Falls so you can enjoy the same spectacular views as I did yesterday you will NOT be disappointed. You can very easily cross to Zimbabwe from Zambia across the Victoria Falls Bridge – please arrange this with your Hotel or travel agent. If you need a visa the please obtain a Univisa on entry into Zambia.
Please go to Water level February 2016 for a further update
Editor 5, VF24
10 October 2015