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Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls

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Victoria Falls > Zimbabwe > Africa

[Visited: July 1976 (Zambian side only), April 1989, April 2017 (Zimbabwe side only)]

Instead of driving back from the north of Botswana to Johannesburg, we change our plans and opted for a visit to Victoria Falls instead. Not the day trip which many do, but a couple of days to enjoy one of the star attractions of Africa at our leisure. I have been to the falls already twice, but I am still looking forward to my third visit with distant memories in my mind. As soon as we arrive in Victoria Falls, the town, I notice big changes. From a sleepy town, it has changed into a commercial hub, spreading out, where everyone seems to hunt down visitors, and earn some money on them. There is the constant roar of helicopters in the sky. But worst of all: you pay a hefty USD 30 to enter the grounds every time you want to see them; even those born here have to pay an entrance fee. Oh, what happened to the time when the environment was pristine, when you could just walk past the spectacle of the waterfalls any time you wanted to...

Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): Rainbow over the gorge into which the Zambezi falls

We first walk to a viewpoint in the Second Gorge. Halfway there, we stop to listen to a continuous thunder in the distance: Victoria Falls. From the viewpoint, we see a cloud above the trees: the eternal spray of the falls. We decide to take a bird's eye view of the falls later that afternoon, and the helicopter flight indeed offers breathtaking views of the Zambezi, the falls, the rainbows, the chasm from which an eternal cloud rises. The gorge into which the Zambezi plummets is so narrow that, just after hitting the bottom of the gorge, the water is forced up again. The sight and continuous thunder of falling water caused the locals to call this Mosi-oa-Tunya, or the Smoke that Thunders: an appropriate name for the natural spectacle. Back in the main street, we see a rainbow above the town: the afternoon sun shines favourably into the permanent cloud. We walk along the banks of the Zambezi, just upstream from Victoria Falls, to several viewpoints where we can look downstream, with islets, trees, the spray, and rainbows. After a short stop at the Big Tree, a more than 1000 year old baobab, we make it back to town before sunset.

Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): Zambezi river and the spray of Victoria Falls rising high above the river

We dedicate the entire next day to exploring Victoria Falls. We start by walking towards the Devil's Cataract, find the statue of David Livingstone, the first European to see the falls and name them after his queen of the time, and then stop at all the viewpoints on our way to the very end. The beginning is still almost dry, but soon enough, a delicate spray of water comes down. The forest around us is a rainforest: the Zambezi river water rains constantly most of the year. We wrap ourselves in plastic, and I drag plastic bags to protect my cameras around. I am not careful enough: on our first walk to Danger Point, my lens gets fully covered by water. We find a dry spot next to the early 20th century bridge spanning the gorge, and linking Zimbabwe to Zambia; my second expedition brings fantastic rainbows when I look into the abyss from the slippery rocks. When we make our way back to the western side of the falls, we see rainbows everywhere; often double ones. The sun is always behind us, and the rainbows are bright as they can possibly be. We end our exploration at one of the first viewpoints, where a rainbow spans the gorge like a colourful bridge. The thunder goes on, even as the sun goes down, taking the rainbows away from us. It is time to leave. Given the tourism development, I doubt I will ever come back, which leaves me with a feeling of nostalgia when we walk away.

Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): Danger Point and the eastern part of Victoria Falls with rainbow
Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): Bright rainbow in the spray with the main falls in the background
Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): Bright sunlight on the water of Victoria Falls
Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): View of Victoria Falls from the west side, seen from the sky
Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): Spray with rainbow at Victoria Falls
Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): Double rainbow with Victoria Falls in the background
Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): Water wonderworld: the Zambezi plunges into the gorge below at the Devil's Cataract
Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): Double rainbow looking into the gorge at Danger Point
Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): Rainbow in the spray above Victoria Falls
Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): View of trees and rainbow from the westbank of the Zambezi, upstream from the falls
Picture of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe): The water of the Victoria Falls flows through this narrow gorge

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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