<<  Victoria Falls, 30-Apr-2016  >>

Sidetrip to the mighty Victoria Falls

Zigzaging Zambia and Zimbabwe, where Zambezi goes down, down, down

OK, here go the clichés, but it’s impossible to escape them: OMG! Unbelievable! Awesome and humbling experience.

Victoria Falls lie on border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, which is formed by Zambezi River. To see the falls in all their glory you need to visit both countries. We opted to stay in Zambia and go to Zimbabwe for a day trip. Victoria Falls flush your money really quickly. For both Zambia and Zimbabwe this is a gold mine – you pay really overpriced visa for both countries and then really overpriced entry ticket to the national parks, of course in both countries separately. To save some money we stayed in a tent which we pitched in a backyard of a guesthouse/hostel. Do not imagine deep Africa around Victoria Falls, everything is very developed here, prepared for thousands of tourists flocking to see the might waterfall.

I hadn’t really known it before (I rarely look beforehand at pictures of places where I’m going to), but Victoria Falls has topology quite different from normal waterfalls. The water is not cascading down from a mountain or elevated plateau, it thunders from a perfectly flat surface into a deep gorge, created by the river itself. This means that you see the falls from above wherever you go – the river is always on your eye level and then it disappears into void below you. Zambia and Zimbabwe are connected by a bridge crossing this gorge, and this is where we went on our first day, as you don’t need the national parks tickets to make it to the bridge. It was from there, where suddenly, behind immense spray we could see and hear the waterfalls for the first time, and what a sight it was. Both me and Irene went into loud “WOOOOW!” and could hardly believe our eyes, even though we saw just a tiny fraction of the falls. They are much higher than I had imagined.

Next day we went to see the Zambian side. It was high water season (the rainy season just ended), which means millions of liters of water are thundering down each second. As we arrived to the first few viewpoints we discovered that it’s impossible to see anything. The spray produced by the waterfall is so massive that it completely hided the waterfalls in mist. Only now and then, when the wind would open a small window in all that mist, we could glimpse pieces of the waterfall, but literally only pieces and still hidden behind layer of fog. Luckily the viewpoints from the very edge of the falls are protected from the spray which is conveyed along the gorge and it was here, where we could finally see a good piece of the waterfall. Only few meters from the waterfall the Zambezi quietly flows in peaceful environment that wouldn’t have you believe the drama that is happening just around the corner.
The best part of Zambian side is the so called Knife’s Edge Bridge, which connects two cliff heads, right in front of the falls. As you cross this small metallic bridge you experience rain like never before. As all the water of the falls hits the bottom of the gorge, it creates so much spray, that this spray, as it finds its way up from the gorge, turns into monsoon rain of incredible strength and in reality it creates secondary waterfalls everywhere around you. As you cross the bridge it’s like being hit by a hurricane. In fraction of second you are completely soaked, and I mean completely soaked, because the wind created by the waterfalls transfers the spray/rain in all directions. After adventurous crossing of the bridge and walking along a cliff facing the waterfall, the spray eased out and we finally saw what the Victoria Falls are about. Being more than 2km wide, the water drops in unimaginable quantity. The fact that you never see more than 200m section of those 2km (as the rest is constantly hidden by the spray) even adds to the illusion of endlessness.

The day after we visited Zimbabwean side of the falls. I find it very cool that we simply walked into Zimbabwe (of course after paying the overpriced visa). While the experience of the Knife’s Edge Bridge on the Zambian side is truly unique, hilarious and spectacular, the views of the falls themselves are better from the Zimbabwe side, or at least they were so during this high water season. The spray is bit more limited and beautiful views open up everywhere. Naturally, also here you get drenched to bone and well, that’s part of the beauty of this amazing spectacle.
BTW, did you know that the famous Zimbabwe Dollar currency, which had experienced unimaginable 79.6 billion percent hyperinflation in 2008 is gone? They finally replaced it with US Dollar :-(

Now go and check the photos (all misty and hazy) and if you get a chance to actually go to the Victoria Falls, go! It is expensive, but very, very powerful experience!

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak