06 February 2012

The smoke that thunders

Victoria Falls is one of the world's most outstanding waterfalls. Situated on the Zambezi River, it does indeed thunder at this time of year when the water level is high.  We hiked the 2.5 km trail on the Zimbabwean side of the river to take in the full beauty of this mighty cataract.  I've read that Victoria Falls is 1.7 kilometres wide and 108 meters high.  It is certainly impressive.  

Some people say Victoria Falls was discovered by the explorer missionary, David Livingstone, but the falls were there long before Livingstone made his way through the steaming jungle and first viewed the falls. He did name it, though - after Queen Victoria. Of course we had to acknowledge his efforts by viewing the large brass statue in his honor that stands close to the falls.


Before Livingstone's visit, the falls was known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, "the smoke that thunders" by the ruling Kololo people on the north bank of the Zambezi.  The Nambyan people, living on the south bank, called the falls Chinotimba, meaning "the place that thunders".  

Victoria Falls is grouped with Canada's Niagara, Brazil's Iguazu, and USA's Yosemite as the world's most impressive waterfalls.  Now I can say I have seen three of the four.  Someday, perhaps, we will get to Yosemite.  It was a pretty hike, but I confess, it was probably the wettest hike we've ever taken. 

We reached the swirling cauldron where all the water that has fallen into the long narrow canyon literally turns a corner and continues on downstream. 

And we got a close view of the famous bridge across the river where some insane people bungee jump. More about the bridge in our next post ...

No trip to Victoria Falls is complete without a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River above the falls.  We joined a whole bunch of tourists on a boat for what was really a "booze cruise" (read open bar). It was kind of crazy, but fun, too.  And the sunset was beautiful.

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