For over 2500km the Zambezi River flows through six African countries wending its way to the Indian Ocean. Punctuating it’s half way point is one of the named seven natural wonders of the world, the largest curtain on water falling on the planet, Victoria Falls. Not only is it a spectacle to behold but one for the adrenaline junkies too.
This massive spectacle is 1,708 metres wide and 108 metres high, making it one and a half times wider than Niagara Falls and twice as high. The local name for the Falls is Mosi-oa-tunya, which means ‘The Smoke That Thunders’. Despite naming it after his queen, Livingstone, the first European to make the falls well known, was said to be highly intimidated by the sheer sound as they approached the falls for his first time.
We visited in the dry season where less water flows over the falls but the pay off is that you can see clear panoramic views of the falls’ face and right down into the gorge below. It is exquisite. And even in the dry season we received a fair amount of spray, which in summer will leave you drenched from tip to toe. It’s during the wet season that 5 million cubic metres of water flows over the falls every minute.
It’s one thing to have a private walking tour of the falls, where you see its face from many angles, but one of our biggest highlights was seeing the falls from a helicopter, a perspective that gives you a real sense of its grandeur. The chopper flies in loops around the falls giving you an opportunity to see it from numerous angles as well as heads up the Zambezi river itself. A few loops take you through the gorges below the falls that show the slow geological progression of the falls over the last 100 000 years as soft sandstone has eroded away from the hard basalt rock. We were even lucky enough to see giraffe, buffalo and elephants from the helicopter as we skirted along the edge of the Victoria Falls National Park.
A view of Victoria Falls from the air.
For the even more brave of heart you can bungee jump from the bridge that links Zimbabwe and Zambia or do what Erica, one of my guests, did and leap from the gorge swing. The drop is a 70m free fall followed by a whopping 95m long pendulum type swing. Erica tried to talk Paul and I into joining her. Despite being up for just about anything else, it was a solid no from the two of us. Although we didn’t embark on it during this trip, white water rafting is also a must for those seeking an adrenaline and fun filled day in the waters of the Zambezi.
The very brave Erica Hubbard taking on the infamous gorge swing.
It certainly doesn’t have to be all strenuous though. We finished off our time in Victoria Falls with a gorgeous sunset boat cruise on the Zambezi. It’s not hard to see what Livingstone fell in love with on that very first exploratory mission and why the mighty Victoria Falls continues to find its way into the hearts and imaginations of many to this very day. The Falls went through a massive transformation after this trip, click here to see the dramatic change.