We have always had a fascination for water, as water has always had an amazing effect on our human minds and emotions. And as we all know, water is the elixir of life. So when we heard about the Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe-Zambia, we decided it was time to book that flight and go visit them.
An amazing quirk of nature, which begins as a calm flowing water of the Zambezi River encounters the 5,578-foot-wide edge of the Victoria Falls gorge, it abruptly plunges 100 meters to the bottom. One needs to visit to experience the impact which generates soaring mists and thunderous sounds, that can be seen and heard kilometres away. During the rainy season which is mid-November through late April, the falls can be heard but vanish behind a thick wall of mist. During the summer months, the water volume noticeably eases and becomes less spectacular.
The Victoria Falls or in the local dialect known as the Smoke that Thunders was discovered for the western world by David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer. He discovered it in 1855 and proclaimed it to the world. He stood on one of two land masses in the middle of the river, from the falls on the Zambian side and named his discovery in honour of Queen Victoria.
The smoke that thunders, continues as the name used by local people today as well. The World Heritage List officially recognizes both names. The falls were well known to local tribes, and Voortrekker hunters may have known of them, as may the Arabs under a name equivalent to "the end of the world". Europeans were sceptical of their reports, perhaps thinking that the lack of mountains and valleys on the plateau made a large falls unlikely.
We stood in awe and gawped at the Victoria, which is the only waterfall in the world that is over one kilometer wide and over one hundred meters deep. Its roar can be heard from 40 kilometers away, while the spray and mist from the falling water rises up to 400 meters and is visible from the distance of 50 kilometers. We whipped out our cameras to take pics of the rainbows which form naturally on the water and are incredible. They are moon shaped, produced by the light reflected off the surface of the Moon.
On a visit only if you are bold enough, please ask for a dip in a natural pool, about ten meters wide, located right next to the cliff, next to the Livingstone's island. Only a narrow strip separates it from the deep precipice. This place is called the Devil's Pool. After getting into this pool the swimmer can feel at close quarters how tons and tons of swirling water plummet a few metres from them. This pool is closed during the high-water season, as the swimmers can be dragged by the current into the precipice.
Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America's Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. In height and width Victoria Falls is rivaled only by Argentina and Brazil's Iguazu Falls. There are no mountains, escarpments, or deep valleys; only a flat plateau extending hundreds of kilometres in all directions of the falls which add to its beauty.
At full moon, a "moonbow" can be seen in the spray instead of the usual daylight rainbow. During the flood season, however, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist.
Objects and humans that are swept over the falls, including the occasional hippo or crocodile, are frequently found swirling about,washed up at the bottom.
To quote Livingstone who went in raptures on seeing the phenomenon - "No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight."
The two countries permit tourists to make day trips from each side and visas can be obtained at the border posts. Costs vary from US$20-US$50. Remember that visitors with single entry visas will need to purchase a visa each time they cross the border. Since there are regular changes in visa regulations,visitors should check the rules before crossing the border.Just take heed and get the correct visa, rather than face unnecessary trauma.