Saturday, November 19, 2011

Zambia, Walking Across Victoria Falls


It is another hot and dry morning as I leave Jollyboys Backpacker Hostel headed for the central downtown market. Today, I am in for a treat not just because it is Halloween and I love candy but because I am on my way to experience one of the seven wonders of the world.

Arriving just outside the central outdoor open market I find myself at the local Livingstone transportation hub. Here I hop in a community taxi with three other passengers for a shared ride to Victoria Falls about 10 miles away. My portion of the cab fare, about US$1.25.

Having arranged a tour earlier at Jollyboys for US$55, leaving the taxi drop off point it is a short walk to “The Shop That Thunders” where I register for my tour. As luck would have it, there is a couple from China going on the tour with me who are visiting from Zimbabwe.

They will be returning there after the tour and their private driver has offered to allow me to accompany them. I cannot refuse the offer as he will guide me through the border crossing process and take me to a local Zimbabwe restaurant for lunch. So far, that is already two treats for the day and I haven't even put on a costume.


IMG_4614A US$20 entrance fee and our tour to walk across Victoria Falls to Livingstone Island begins around 10am. A few steps from the park's entrance we can see our destination in the far distance with a possible treacherous but beautiful path between us and it.



IMG_4617We are cautioned to be careful as we begin our journey which can only be accomplished at certain times of the year.

At points along the way our guide provides a helpful hand to prevent us from falling.



As promised when I signed up for the tour I get my shoes wet but discover that at some points it is actually better to step into the small pools of water. Many of the rocks are slippery from algae growth on them and a few ankles have been sprained or broken along our path.






To our left, is the massive gouge that forms Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. To our right, is a dammed up portion of the Zambezi River which is at a low level this time of the year.



IMG_4630The river's tranquility disguises it's powerful force that comes in the rainy season.

Beneath my feet are some clues as I step on rocks some of which are as smooth as glass.



Clear pools of water remain scattered across what is now a part of the fall’s surface. In a few months, this area that was formed by volcanic activity thousands of years ago will become the bottom of Victoria Falls. It will then become covered by almost twenty feet of the Zambezi River.

It is hard for me to image that in January or February if I stood here I would be covered in about twelve feet of rushing water. Wow!


IMG_4624A short break and we get a photo opportunity along with a close up glimpse of the gouge.

The waterfall behind us is just a baby compared to what we will see later. Yet, it's sounds and plunging descent is still spectacular.




IMG_4634Approaching Livingstone Island we are given a history lesson of the area and various portions of the falls are pointed out to us.









From our position we can see Rainbow Falls along with Miner's Rapids which is so fierce that it has only been navigated by one professional kayaker, Still Fisher from South Africa.

Although David Livingstone a British explorer put the area on the map, so to speak, this area has been important and known to local forefathers for a long time. Here human sacrifices where made to the river gods as gold, jewelry and humans where tossed into the gushing river thousands of feet below us.



IMG_4635Livingstone named the falls after his queen,  Queen Victoria of England. However, to locals it was always known as “Moos-o-tun-ya”.

“The Smoke That Thunders”.




Looking towards the main falls I am inclined to become local and also call here “Moos-o-tun-ya” as I watch towering wet smoke gloriously rises from the river surface below and cut through an arcing rainbow.







The pounding water's descent while fierce is also soothing and peaceful. It is goose bump type experience. I take a deep breathe to enjoy it all.



IMG_4645I guess Livingstone may have had a point in assigning royalty to the falls.

Yes, they are simply majestic!







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