"Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight" ~David Livingstone upon catching a glimpse of Victoria Falls for the first time.
We concluded our holiday travels with a visit to the most highly-anticipated destination on our three-week circuit and one of the continent's greatest natural wonders--Victoria Falls.
In all, I could not have asked for a better vacation. Nor could I have thought of a better way to end our trip than by spending a few days soaking up the beauty of one of nature's crowning achievements.
Victoria Falls is 5,604ft wide and 354ft tall and constitutes the largest falling sheet of water in the world. It straddles the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa.
When I first caught sight of them, the falls left me speechless, as I marveled at one of nature's great miracles.
Then, after a few minutes of staring in wonder, I ran down the path at the edge of the falls and let the water shower me in all its glory.
As I stood atop the granite cliffs overlooking the raging waters, I could feel every one of my senses becoming overwhelmed by the powerful fury of the waterfalls--my eyesight, my hearing, my feeling and my sense of smell. I could even taste the waterfall, as the mist from the powerful falls ran in rivulets down my face and landed in my gaping mouth.
Countless authors, tourists and intrepid travelers have witnessed the falls and attempted to string a series of words together that capture the feeling of standing on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the roaring water.
Yet, though my friends and I had read countless descriptions of the magical waterfall and heard travelers praise its beauty, nothing quite prepared us for the sheer magnitude of this natural wonder. No descriptions or reviews could suffice in describing to the magnificent and overwhelming feeling of standing at the Knife's Edge bridge and feeling the spray as it swept over us and drenched our shivering bodies from head to toe.
Words and pictures do not do the falls justice, and I am not even going to pretend that my descriptions have the potential to convey the beauty of this wonderful natural attraction. It is something that simply must be seen with one's own eyes.
I visited the falls with Abby and two friends we had met during our travels, Carl and Hector. We visited during the rainy season, when the Zambezi river was flowing in full force. The thundering waterfall generated a tower of mist that would spiral upwards and often obstruct our view of the falls. In each direction, we would witness a great wall of whiteness, only to see it momentarily vanish and give way to a fleeting glimpse of the falling water.
I wrapped my camera in countless shopping bags, stuffed it inside my raincoat and did my best to protect it from water damage. I knew it was risky to take pictures but, nonetheless, I would unwrap my camera from its waterproof shield every few minutes, wait for the mist to subside and take my chances.
The four of us walked along various trails around the falls and took in many of the viewpoints. We scrambled down the steep steps to the base of the Batoka Gorge and admired the lush, tropical surroundings. The powerful mist from the waterfall has created an environment akin to a tropical rainforest and, as we walked through the canopy to the Boiling Point, I had the familiar feeling of being in one of the jungles of Central America.
|Lush Jungle Surrounding the Falls|
After viewing the falls from the many lookout points along the gorge, we decided to spend an evening on the fancy deck of the Royal Livingstone Hotel, overlooking the powerful spray from the banks of the Zambezi River.
That evening, we watched the mist in the distance and gazed over the waters as the setting sun painted the tranquil waters with lovely pastel colors. We let the raging sounds of the waterfall be our soundtrack.
As we watched the mist from the thundering waterfall rise in smoke-like spirals, we could see exactly how the waterfall got its name.
Locals deemed the waterfall Mosi Ao Tunya which, in English translates into "the Smoke that thunders."
|The Smoke that Thunders|
There is no doubt that Victoria Falls deserves its nomination as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Its sheer magnitude has inspired local myths and legends. It has attracted millions of sightseers and brought travelers to their knees in awe.
|Rainbow, Victoria Falls|
|Victoria Falls, Zambia|
The waterfall is raw and wild, pure nature at its best.
Visiting it marked the perfect ending to our wonderful trip. It was the grand finale of a journey that highlighted the incredible natural beauty that Africa has to offer.
|Sheet of Falling Water, Victoria Falls|