1. What is the lunar Rainbow?

Waterfall, Victoria Falls, Lunar rainbow.

Lunar Rainbow as seen from the first Zambian viewpoint after the David Livingstone statue. The picture shows the Eastern Cataract.

The lunar rainbow is a series of nighttime rainbows visible in the mist of the Victoria Falls, caused by the refraction of the moon’s light reflected in the rising, swirling spray. Visitors get to experience the Victoria Falls, also known as Mosi-oa Tunya, at night, it is a surreal and very enjoyable experience.

2. When is it possible to see the Lunar rainbow?

Lunar Rainbow

The Victoria Falls at night is a surreal experience.

The Lunar rainbows occur during the high water period from February to August. If you are in Livingstone over the full moon, the National Heritage Commission (the body in charge of this world heritage site) will open the park from 1800-2400 the night preceding the full moon, the night of full moon and the night after the full moon.

However, please be advised they will not open if the weather looks to be cloudy and there is no notice if this is the case.

Victoria Falls, moonbow, Zambia, Livingstone

“Mosi-oa Tunya” from above the Eastern Cataract.

The cost of entry is USD 25 for non-Zambian residents. Be advised if you have been in the falls during the day, you still need to pay again to access the falls at night.

Full moon Calendar 2020, park open one day before and one day after the below dates:

 Feb 9th, March 9th, April 8th, May 7th , June 5th, July 5th, Aug 3rd.

Please be advised the August opening is dependent on water levels.

Lunar Happenings:

March 9 – Super full moon
March 24 – Micro new moon
April 8 – Super full moon
June 5 – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse (19:45 to 23:03)
July 5 – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse (05:07 to 07:52)

3.  What to bring and where to go.

Pack a picnic basket and head to the eastern viewpoints, from here the rainbows are easily seen. You can still access the rest of the park, however, the best (driest) points are from the eastern cataract. The best rainbows are seen looking into the falls from the side where the moonlight angles into the gorge.

Victoria Falls, moonbow, Zambia

From the first Zambian viewpoint after the David Livingstone statue.

Please be courteous with your flashlights. There is absolutely no need for a light, the brightness of the moon is more than sufficient. It is annoying and rude to flash your light onto others enjoying the views, doing so impairs their night vision, treat others as you would expect to be treated.

4. Photography.

Night-time falls shots are fun and provide an interesting alternative to conventional daytime shots. The most obvious rule is not to use your flash. In order to take a picture of the “Lunar Rainbows,” it is necessary to have control of the camera’s shutter and ISO settings and a tripod or bean bag set-up is essential. As a general rule of thumb, an ISO of 800 and a shutter time of 10 seconds works well.

Victoria Falls, moonbow Lunar rainbow.

Low shutter speed and an ISO of 800, your subjects will need to stand still and you should light them briefly from the front.

5. Be aware of the dangers.

Don’t overdo it on the beers and wine. You are obviously on the edge of a large chasm and distance perception at night can be a challenge to most people. Walk carefully in groups and keep children close at hand. There is little wildlife danger as the troops of baboons are roosting. It is perhaps the only time you can comfortably enjoy a meal in the national park without getting raided by these insatiable animals.

Please be respectful and keep your voice low and your flashlight off.

Sean Edington

Author Sean Edington

More posts by Sean Edington

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