The smoke that thunders

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The Victoria Falls park entrance

Locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya – the ‘smoke that thunders’. No other name describes the Victoria Falls better. Straddling the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls are one of the most impressive falls in the world, spanning more than a mile. I saw a photo of the falls in a geographic encyclopedia as a child and I knew then, that’s where I’ll go… one day! Thirty-odd years later, that dream came true.

We flew into Livingstone in Zambia from Johannesburg and as the plane approached the airport, the falls came into view. The aerial views of the Victoria Falls were simply breathtaking! Several days later, I found myself standing at the entrance of the Victoria Falls park on the Zimbabwean side of the falls. I could barely contain my excitement. From the entrance, I followed the path that leads visitors through the forest to the falls. As I approached the falls, I noticed the thicker vegetation. Whilst the flora at the entrance was shrubbier, closer to the falls, the scrawny bushes made way for trees whose thick branches were covered with all sorts of epiphytes such as lianas. Sustained by the incessant spray from the falls, the rainforest formed an extraordinary contrast to the woodland savannah in the surrounding region. The thunderous roar of the falls was clearly audible and I quickened my pace. I made my way to a clearing and there they were: the Victoria Falls!

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My first glimpse of the falls

I stopped for several minutes to take in the splendid view, then continued along the path through the forest. The path branched off to various lookouts, each of which offered amazing views of the falls on the other side of the gorge. It was a hot day and I was only too happy to linger at the lookouts, getting absolutely drenched by the enormous clouds of spray!

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A view of the falls from one of the lookouts

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Another fabulous view of the falls

The path stopped abruptly at the end of the gorge. Signs warned visitors not to get too close to the edge – there were no fences, at least not that I can recall. The view of the falls, the gorge and the rainbows below were absolutely stunning!

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Panorama of the falls

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At the edge of the gorge – Victoria Falls

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Rainbows at the Victoria Falls

See my short video of the falls:


Fun for thrill-seekers

Aside from walks through the forest to view the falls, the park also has several activities for those seeking an adrenaline-charged experience. The activities ranged from fox-flying (zip-lining in a horizontal position) across the gorge (least scary) to gorge swinging (simply terrifying!). I chose to stay put and enjoy the view! Haha!

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Views of the Second (left) and Third (right) Gorge, with the Victoria Falls bridge in the background (left).

I stood in the shade and watched these thrill-seekers – i.e. crazy people – zip-line across the gorge, and bungee-jump or swing into the gorge. Their screams echoed across the gorge, assuring me that I’d made the right decision!

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Zip-lining at the Victoria Falls

My friends Nellie and Alberto from Wild Junket filmed the gorge-swing experience:

Seeing the Victoria Falls truly was a dream come true and I’m glad I got to see it. It’s a pity that I didn’t get to experience the falls from the Zambian side – one of the biggest attractions there is the Devil’s Pool, where visitors can sit in a natural pool at the very edge of the falls.

The Devil's Pool (image courtesy of Charles Haynes)

The Devil’s Pool (image courtesy of Charles Haynes)

That only means I’ll have to return… one day! :-)

Note: My trip to Zimbabwe was made possible by Rani Resorts and Nicky Arthur PR, Views expressed above are, as always, mine.

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5 Responses to “The smoke that thunders”

  1. Lance 30/03/2013 6:21 am
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    Stunning photos! We’re going to Africa later this summer and I’m trying to talk the wife into Vic Falls. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Keith Jenkins 28/01/2013 11:24 am
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    Hi Annette,
    Thank you for your comment and for passing the link on. Wish I had time to do a helicopter flight over the falls but seeing it from the plane before we landed in Livingstone gave me a pretty good idea. :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  3. Annette Gibbons 26/01/2013 4:56 pm
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    Isn’t it wonderful? I can hardly believe I was a tour guide there in 1977. What a brilliant place. Now I have to return knowing there’s a zip wire to experience! Great pix from all angles. The flight over the Falls in helicopter or small plane is a highlight too.
    I passed this link to friends from my time at the Falls to enjoy & bring back memories for them.

  4. Keith Jenkins 24/01/2013 12:10 pm
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    Cocktails and dinner in the Devil’s Pool? Wow! Sounds edgy! ;-)

  5. Alastair McKenzie 23/01/2013 5:11 pm
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    Did that (Devil’s Pool) on my honeymoon :)

    Sipping cocktails while sitting with our feet in the water a metre away from the edge, while the table was prepared for our private dinner for two right on the edge of the falls.

    I didn’t know they are zip-lining there now. Interesting.

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