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When explorer David Livingstone became the first white man to set eyes on the falls, he famously described the crashing waters as exuding such power that they must have been "gazed upon by angels in their flight," and promptly named them for his queen. A century and a half later, the might and influence of the British crown has waned, but the Zambezi River still pounds the Batoka Gorge, drawing travelers to witness the spectacle as the falls plummet 100m (328 ft.), twice the height of Niagara.

Straddling the western border between the beautiful but poverty-stricken state of Zimbabwe and hot new safari destination Zambia, Victoria Falls is justifiably called one of the Wonders of the Natural World, and spans almost 2km (1 1/4 miles), making it the largest show of its kind on Earth. The sight of more than 9 million liters of water crashing down into the Batoka Gorge is one not easily forgotten; on a clear day, the veil of roaring spray can be seen from up to 80km (50 miles) away, and provides perpetual moisture to nourish the rainforest that clings to the cliffs opposite Victoria Falls. It is this phenomenon that gave the falls its local name: Mosi-Oa-Tunya -- literally, "The Smoke That Thunders."

People come here not only to immerse themselves in the spectacle of the falls, but also to partake in the varied adventure activities, from bungee jumping off the bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia to surfing the world's most challenging commercially run rapids. Not for nothing has this area been dubbed the adrenaline capital of southern Africa.

If, however, your idea of the ideal Vic Falls trip is to soak in the Thundering Wonder, then return to your lodge and kick back with a gin and tonic, admiring the bushveld savanna, or watching elephants and hippos patrol the great Zambezi, rest easy: Accommodations on both sides of the falls will provide this opportunity -- and more.