As can be discovered from a visit to the Falls' Visitor Information Centre, its related human habitation dates back over 2.5 million years, to the Early Stone Age.
However their origin lies in a unique geological process that took place during the Jurassic Period (150-200 million years ago), during which a number of volcanic eruptions caused molten lava to form a dense basaltic bed, in which cracks appeared as the lava cooled and solidified.
Soft deposits of clay and lime then filled these cracks, to be worn away hundreds of thousands of years ago, as the Zambezi River cut through them, thereby forming the first of a series of (to date) eight waterfalls, leaving behind the series of eight gorges left behind by the retreating waterfall.
In principle this process is still continuing! Immediately above the Falls there are two lines of weakness - soft-filled fissures in the rock - crossing the river. It is here that - many centuries from now - that the Victoria Falls will subsequently be located. This process will then be repeated several times upstream until the river's direction changes to a west-east course, thereby removing its ability to gouge out further fissures.
In terms of becoming a tourist destination (and eventually a World Heritage Site), it is really the legendary Scottish explorer, Dr David Livingstone who must take the original credit for this (although they were of course well known to the indigenous peoples of the region long before), and we provide more details of this remarkable character via the link opposite.