Victoria Falls is one of the most famous of the world’s falls and are considered to be among the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. They were first sighted by Dr David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, He gave the falls the name ‘Victoria Falls’ in honour of the British Queen, but they also have the indigenous name of ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya”, which literally meaning the ‘Smoke that Thunders’. While they are neither the highest nor the widest waterfalls in the world, they are claimed to be the largest. This claim is based on their width of 1,708 m and height of 108 m, forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world.
I started my day with a walking tour which took in over 1.2 km of the falls on the Zimbabwean side of the Zambesi River. I’m not really sure just when is the best time to visit although I’m told that it is about now – just after the peak of the wet season. The falls are more spectacular when the river is at it’s highest, but at that time the amount of spray from the cascade completely blocks out the view. On the ther hand, when the river is low, only a part of the falls flow and you don’t get the same compete curtain of water flowing over the entire width.
There was one part of the walk where the spray fell like rain, and without the raincoats provided by the tour company, we would have been drenched. We walked along the falls as far as the bridge that carries both road and rail to Zambia. It is a ‘Mecca’ for bungy jumpers, having an 111 metro drop. The bridge was designed by Cecil Rhodes and it is 198 metres long, with a main arch spanning 156.50 metres and a height of 128 metres above the lower water mark of the river in the gorge below.
I was picked up at the entrance to the falls by the helicopter company for the second activity of the morning, a scenic flight. This 25 minute flight took us around a couple of circuits of the falls, a fly over the narrow gorge that carries the Zambesi downstream, and then a brief loop around the adjoining nature park. We were able to see elephant, giraffe and buffalo.
I was back at the hotel for lunch and while looking out across the waterhole, eating my hamburger, four very large (and probably very old) elephants came down to drink. It was very hard to concentrate on eating as I took photographs, and very hard to take photos as I ate. Nevertheless, it was quite exciting.
My last activity for today is a sunset cruise on the river. I’m happy to have a rest until I get picked up at 3:45 pm and I’m also happy for the sun to be a little les strong at that time of the day. Somewhere along the way, my tube of sunscreen leaked and I lost nearly all of it. Having to pay $22 for a small tube at the hotel shop was a salutary lesson in hotel / resort pricing.