“It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by angels in flight.” Thus spoke Dr. David Livingstone, the first European to visit Mosi-oa-Tunya, which he named Victoria Falls. I cannot help but agree with him as setting eyes on the falls – Mosi-oa-Tunya that means the smoke that thunders is a breathtaking experience. The falls are located in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and hold the distinction of being the largest falls in the world.
When I boarded the plane headed to Johannesburg, Mosi-oa-Tunya was not on my list. However, after the 15-hour flight, I decided I was going to see as much as I could in southern Africa. Upon researching neighbouring countries, the falls won in a landslide. I arrived the city of Victoria Falls from Johannesburg filled with excitement and having made no concrete plans. The information desk directed me to a rental agency and 20 minutes later I made a left out of the airport and was headed down the road towards the falls in a 2001 Volvo s70.
After about 21 kilometers I was at the falls. The minute I stepped out of the vehicle, I could hear the thundering of the water and looking up I could see the spray. $30 later I was in the park.
There is a sign with the recommended route but a tour guide was hogging board so I blew past it. The route is set up as 16 viewpoints starting at the statue of David Livingstone and ending at the Railway Bridge. Viewpoint 1 Livingstone’s statue, allows you to watch the water flow over the end to become the first fall, Devil’s Cataract. At View Point 2 you are looking up at the water coming down. Viewpoint 3 where I started was like having a front row seat to the start of the waterfall movie. I was able to watch the water flow towards me and then topple down. I could hear it thunder below and watched the spray float upwards. I was awestruck. This fall is called the Devil’s Cataract. It is the lowest of the falls and separated from the rest by Boaruka Island.
Next is the Main Falls, then Livingstone Island from which Dr. Livingtone first views the falls. I visited during the rainy season and was unable to see it as the sprays were too dense. HorseLshoe falls, named for their shape and Rainbow Falls are next but I was unable to see these as well due to dense spray. Viewpoint 13 lies directly opposite Rainbow Falls, the highest of the falls and was continuously pelted by rain so much so that the path to the falls was coated in algae. I made several attempts to walk all the way down the path towards the falls but each time the downpour chased me back so wet and full of exhilaration I made it to viewpoint 16 from which you can see Livingstone bridge.
I have come to realise that most of my bucket lists items exist out of the African continent and seeing the falls was a reminder that so much beauty lies on this vast continent. So much so that Akon’s Mama Africa started playing my head. After exiting the park, I walked down the road to the bridge which was created as a link between Zimbabwe and Zambia and is considered no man;s land as it spans the 2nd gorge over the river.Thrill seekers have the chance to bungee jump from the bridge and I was momentarily tempted but for the $160 fee.
A Zambian who was selling wares on the bridge offered to show me something and took me off the beaten path to breathtaking views of the gorges past the bridge. Most people flock to see the falls but as the river flows on from the falls it has created beautiful gorges that zig zag across the landscape.
As mentioned previously I arrived at the falls with very little information and it was not until I spoke with my Zambian guide that I realised that the falls can be accessed from both Zimbabwe and Zambia. While a majority of the falls lie within Zimbabwe, seeing them from Zambia affords for unique and one-of-a-kind experiences and is definitely on my bucket list now!
Fun facts about the falls
- No shortage of rainbows
- Rain 24/7. Victoria Falls Rainforest is the only place in the world where it rains 24/7
- Spray from falls can be seen 50 km away
- When the levels are low in Sept-Dec, you can swim in the Devil’s Pool. This is a natural pool that has been created by thousands of years of erosion. There is a rock ledge on the lip of the falls where the water is only a few centimeters deep.