Saturday, 22 August 2015

Victoria Falls, Zambia versus Zimbabwe

Arial View of the Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe (left) to Zambia ©Solange Hando

In November 1855, Dr Livingstone was the first European to set eyes on the falls, from an island in the Zambezi river and the top of a baobab tree near the town now named after him. 

Called Mosi-oa-Tunya in the local language, or the 'smoke that thunders, the Victoria Falls stretch for 1708 metres as the Zambezi rushes on its way through five gorges. The highest fall is a sheer 108 metres and in the wet season, the spray might be seen from over 40 km away.

Eastern Cataract on the Zambian side ©Solange Hando

 Zambia claims only a small section of the Victoria Falls but easy access from Livingstone international airport attracts most tourists to this side of the border. 

Nearby hotels such as the Zambezi Sun  and Royal Livingstone allow visitors to walk to the falls to view the Zambezi upper reaches and the mighty drop of the Eastern Cataract.

Knife Edge Bridge (Zambia) ©Solange Hando

Walking across the knife edge bridge is the most exciting experience but expect to be drenched as the spray pours down from great heights like inverted rain. Equally thrilling, when conditions allow, is bathing in the Devil's Pool right on the edge of the fall on Livingstone island. 

On a gentler note and still in Zambia, you can see the statue of Livingstone near the entrance, follow the photographic trail or scramble down to the Boiling Pot where the river exits the gorge to rush around a tight corner.

The Victoria Falls Bridge ©Solange Hando

Open in 1905, the bridge spans the gorge to link Zambia  and Zimbabwe. The border is half- way across and providing you leave your passport at the Zambian exit, you can walk to the end of the bridge into Zimbabwe. However you'll need a visa to go any further and view the falls from that side.

This is a rail and road bridge, with loads of trucks waiting to cross, one at a time, It's also a favourite spot for bungee jumping.

Just one of 16 Viewpoints in Zimbabwe ©Solange Hando

During the dry season, it's best to view the falls from Zimbabwe since, unlike in Zambia, the water doesn't dry up. Trails guide you safely through a patch of rainforest to 16 viewpoints but beware of 'danger point' 15 when very wet.

See the Devil's Cataract, Main Falls, Horseshoe, Rainbow and Armchair Falls and further along, the Zambian side of the falls in the distance as well as the Victoria bridge.

Viewpoint 2 along the Trail in Zimbabwe ©Solange Hando

When the Victoria Falls are in full spate, the spray can obscure the view but the thundering roar still sends shivers down your spine, whichever side of the border you are on. For a complete picture, I would recommend viewing the falls from both sides.


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