Vic Falls records highest flows in a decade, but Covid-19 lockdown means tourists can't see it first-hand

22 April 2020 - 09:19 By Iavan Pijoos
The Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River is the main drawcard for visitors to the resort town of the same name.
The Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River is the main drawcard for visitors to the resort town of the same name.
Image: Reuters

Victoria Falls, which lies on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, has recorded its highest flows in a decade.

Zambezi River Authority public relations and communications manager Elizabeth Karonga said the high water levels were due to a significant increase in both rainfall and run-off in the catchment area upstream of Victoria Falls during the current rainfall season.

Data showed that four times more water was now flowing over the world’s largest waterfall than at this time last year.

The Zambezi River normally experiences two peaks or floods, which are more evident in the upper catchment area, upstream from Victoria Falls and, depending on their magnitude, their effects are translated downstream,” Karonga said.

The first wave of floodwaters was recorded at Victoria Falls on March 31, with a peak flow of 4,289 cubic metres per second.

Water levels rose even more when the second flow reached the Victoria Falls on April 14.

The second flow was expected to peak by the end of April at more than 4,300 cubic metres per second, Karonga said.

Karonga said the last time it reached these highs was in 2010.

The highest flow ever recorded was in 1958 when it reached an incredible 9,436 cubic metres per second, she said.  

“In coming weeks, the rise in flows at the Victoria Falls will continue until the rainfall upstream subsides, leading to a reduction in the Zambezi River flows, and subsequently reduced flows at the Victoria Falls.”

The falls are expected to peak at the end of May this year.

CEO of Zimbabwean hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism Ross Kennedy said nature continued to “show off her power and influence over our lives”.

“At a time when the world is in trouble the Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls display immense beauty, rugged power and a glorious snub to the current negatives.

“It has been quite some time since anyone witnessed the majesty and intensity of this level of water flowing over the Victoria Falls, with the last period of such floods being ten years ago.

“What a sad and disappointing irony it is, that at this time that one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World is at its absolute finest, the world is in lockdown and very few if any will get to witness or experience this iconic destination in all its splendour,” he said.