Victoria Falls holds a secret to this day that the majority of its many thousands of visitors do not know about. Every full moon in the evening, this world famous tourist attraction opens up to showcase one of nature’s most mystical and breathe-taking phenomena – the magic of a lunar rainbow.
Victoria Falls represents one of the few places on earth that this natural spectacle can be viewed regularly and with ease.
Like its daytime counterpart, a lunar rainbow is caused by refracted water particles in the air, which at Victoria Falls, are every present thanks to the spray from the falls which can reach up to 1000 metres in the air.
A lunar rainbow, often referred to as a ‘moonbow’, is much fainter and harder to see than a rainbow seen in the day. While in the day, a rainbow can rely on the sun to provide it with light, at night, a much lower concentration of light is reflected from the surface of the full moon. Thus, only when the moon is full and the skies clear of cloud is there sufficient light to create a visible ‘moonbow’.
The best time to witness a lunar rainbow is during times that the falls are full, commonly between the months of April and July. It is best viewed in the early hours of the moonrise, before the moon climbs too high in the sky to create a visible lunar rainbow.
One thing regarding the Victoria Falls ‘moonbow’ that remains of some debate is as to which side of the falls is the best to see this natural phenomenon. While during the day, the Zimbabwean side is generally considered the better side to view the falls as you can walk and view as much as two thirds of the falls, for a ‘moonbow’, the opposite applies. This is because on the Zambian side, the moon rises from behind the viewer, creating the best known view of the lunar rainbow over the aptly named Rainbow Falls.
For guests wanting to view a lunar rainbow, the Victoria Falls rainforest operates night tours the night before, during and one night after the full moon, to maximise the chances of seeing a fully-fledged ‘moonbow’. On cloudy evenings, these tours do not take place.
Should you be lucky enough to be in the Victoria Falls region over the fall moon period, don’t miss out on this incredible spectacle of nature!