Taking the family to watch moonbows over Victoria Falls

The Cagols decided to travel around the world to introduce their kids to truly wondrous experiences. Will a moonbow over Victoria Falls be one of them?

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We arrive in the Victoria Falls area as a full moon is approaching and decide to take advantage of the timing to visit the falls for the first time under moonlight. If we were lucky, we’d see a moonbow, just like a rainbow, but created by moonlight passing through spray that's created by the waterfall.

The kids are incredibly excited. They were already ecstatic to be visiting Vic Falls, but to see a moonbow as well is proving too much.

"I didn’t even know there was such a thing," exclaims Luca. "Wait until I tell my friends back home."

Moonbow over Vic Falls: the pink dots are the kids (Edwina Cagol)

We arrive at the park entrance just as it's getting dark. Our guide explains that lunar rainbows, or moonbows, are exceedingly rare. The moon needs to be nearest its brightest fullmoon phase and low in the sky, under 42 degrees. 

"Vic Falls is one of the few places in the world where you can see one," he says.

Apparently, Yosemite National Park in California, Cumberland Falls in Kentucky and Plitvice Lakes in Croatia are some of the others.

The paths within the park are rough and it is easy to stumble, but under the bright moonlight we find our way easily enough. We see a plume of spray pass in front of the moon and our daughter, Maddalena, can hardly hold her excitement in. She yelps with delight at the magic that lies ahead.

She doesn’t have to wait long. We are rewarded with a lunar rainbow at the very first viewpoint.  Combined with the shimmering water cascading over the falls, it is a truly magical sight. We stumble from viewpoint to viewpoint, rewarded each time with a moonbeam, just from a different angle.

Vic Falls at night (Edwina Cagol)

Vic Falls at night (Edwina Cagol)

I must admit I had worried that visiting the Falls for the first time at night may have been underwhelming, and it's true that we never truly get our bearings on the darkness visit. But the sense of disorientation only makes the experience more mystical and other-worldly.

The next day, we visit the Falls again. We start at the upper end, at a point with spectacular views down into the gorge where the water falls. Water levels are high, so the volume of water plunging over the Falls is immense. There is a lot of spray and it isn’t long before the kids are soaking wet. It is their favourite part of the visit. 

Vic Falls by day (Edwina Cagol)

Vic Falls by day (Edwina Cagol)

My wife, Edwina, spots a rainbow, brighter and more intense than the ones we’d seen at night, and points it out to the kids. 

‘It’s nice,’ says Luca. ‘But I like moonbows better.’


Edwina and Mauro Cagol are travelling around the world for a year with their three young children. To find out more about their adventures, visit their blog.

Main image: Moonbow over Vic Falls (Edwina Cagol)

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