THE VICTORIA FALLS … “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by Angels in their flight” (David Livingston)
After we had a quiet time at the hotel we were fetched by our taxi and dropped at the entrance to the falls where our guide met us. Gateway Safaris, who did all our tours are very efficient and prompt, when they say you will be picked up at 15:00, they mean it and will are there on time.
At the parking area at the falls you will find a typical Africa scene with so called warriors doing a war dance, ululating and waving around their assegais and shields, all dressed up in cattle hides. I don’t think any one of them even know what it meant to be a warrior in yesteryear living on your guts and to survive in the wild. The moment you turn your back on them, out comes a cell phone and they are talking to somebody or listening to music. I find it very funny but I also know people who are not from Africa just love watching this action and confirming to themselves that this is wild Africa.
There are also a whole bunch of curio shops, but again, that is another attraction that we do not look at, we are used to all of this in South Africa. Make no mistake it is very busy at the gate, but our efficient guide took our passports and dealt with everything quickly and off we went to see the falls… a first for me, but Kallie has been to the falls as a youngster.
We followed the Victoria Falls Footpath guide, we were handed a map while our guide explained all about ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or “the Smoke that Thunders” to us.
After David Livingston listened to all the stories of the local tribesmen, he set off in search of the place that thunders. On the 16th November 1855 he was taken by a dugout canoe to an island which is today called Livingston Island that overlooked the largest curtain of the falling water. Being a true British citizen he named the falls after Queen Victoria of England and he wrote “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by Angels in their flight”. To be quite honest, the first time I saw a glimpse of the falls it took my breath away.
We came to Livingstone’s statue and after we took a few photos of the statue I got closer to the edge and got into a world of my own. I did not hear the guide telling more of the facts, I just stood there taking photos and staring at all that was on display in front of me …
Thinking back I was like a small child in front of a sweet counter where you should make a decision and you cannot… I could not decide where to look, I was just totally overawed.
As I came back to reality, I turned around and for a few moments was totally flabbergasted… I thought Livingston and I had been transported to a place in Nepal without me realizing it! I just stood there staring at the two Buddhist monks on front of the statue until I realized that it is just two people in bright orange raincoats and that I am still standing close to the proper falls.
And then we went on the long walk following all the nooks and crannies to get close to the edge ever so often.
The Zambezi at the falls site is over 1 000 kilometres away from its source and at the falls it reaches a 1 708 meter width and cascades some 100 meters into the 1st gorge below. Just imagine all the mist and rainbows you can see there!
During the peak months, from March and April, an average of 500 million litres of water per minute creates that veil of spray, but during those months it is so dense that sometimes you cannot see the falls. During the dry season the average flow drops dramatically. We did the tour and wandered in and out to all the viewpoints. The craziest one is where you stand on Zimbabwe’s side of the falls and watch the crazy people from the Zambian side swimming around at Devil’s Cataract.
We wove in and out to all the viewpoint taking hundreds of photos and while inside the rainforest we saw a rhinoceros head formed out of the stem of one of the trees next to the pathway. Apart from the falls we saw trumpeter hornbills, monkeys and other birds while wandering along towards the bridge.
As we reached Danger Point it became very wet, but it was all worth it … we did all of the points:
- Main Falls… 93 m depth
- Devil’s Cataract view… 73 steps but worth it
- Top of Devil’s Cataract and Livingstone statue
- Horseshoe Falls … 95 m depth
- Rainbow Falls … 108 m depth
- Danger Point, Eastern Cataract view … 101 m depth… there is no rails at this point.
- Bridge view
- The Knives Edge can be reached from the Zambian side of the falls.
And then the long walk back began. By then I knew my legs had had it and my toes did not want to work with me any longer. I was very happy when I saw the restaurant and entrance gate because I knew the end was near. We got back to the hotel well ahead of time to finish up and to get ready for our night out at the Boma … and then I walked into the hotel and stared at the flight of stairs… I knew I had to get up there and to the room … victory at last and I could go and soak in the bath for a while!
But before I say goodbye, let me first get something off my chest… Firstly if you are keen on taking photos, forget about a rain coat for yourself but take something to protect your cameras and equipment. You can get wet and will dry off quickly. But, do rent a big umbrella if you plan on taking photos, your guide can stand in his bright orange raincoat with the umbrella over your head protecting your camera while you stand and shoot as much as you want to without worries. The best lesson I learned was that old saying of, if the shoe fits … well make very sure that they fit you properly. I took my reliable Merrills with to do all the walking, and sure they would’ve been great if it was on dry ground. They were made for normal walking, but it turned out that they were very slippery on those wet rocks. Walking round turned out to be a matter of survival, no slipping and dropping your camera or toppling over the cliffs, by the end of the walk my feet were killing me. The damage to my toes were done properly, so much so that three weeks later I still have a blue big toe nail that I have to hide away under red nail polish. Lesson well learned!
And now I am going to take a break and visit Zanzibar for two weeks … will tell you all about my trip when I am back!