The Smoke that Thunders, is Victoria Falls

Although Zambia is Landlocked, three great rivers come together to form One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – the Kafue, the Luangwa and the Zambezi Rivers – flow through Zambia, defining both its geography and the rhythms of life for many of its people. The Zambezi River, being Africa’s fourth largest River system, after the Nile, Zaire and Niger Rivers, runs through six countries on its journey from central Africa to the Indian Ocean. She begins her journey as an insignificant little spring in the corner of north-west Zambia in the Mwinilunga District and later runs for 500kms serving as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, thundering over the Victoria Falls and through the narrow, steadily deepening Batoka Gorge.

A highlight and an iconic image when travelling to Zambia and whether you raft the rapids or stand on the spray-misted sidelines, the wildness, power and magnificence of the falls are unforgettable and somewhat unimaginable until seen. Located 11km outside a small town before the Zambia border crossing, a network of paths lead through thick vegetation to various viewpoints where an estimated 600 million cubic liters of water thunders and hits the ground every minute, this really is something to behold.

The African people who live around the mighty falls call it Mosi-oa-Tunya which means “smoke that thunders”. For close-up views of the Eastern Cataract, nothing beats the hair-raising (and hair-wetting) walk across the footbridge, through swirling clouds of mist, to a sheer buttress called the Knife Edge.

The water makes a roaring noise that you will hear long before you can see the falls, the churning waters at first glance look like they are merely rolling off over the cliffs edge and down into the Zambezi River below, the rise of the mist nearly as impressive as the waters. The sheer power and almost deafening roar will make you think twice about stepping off the path for a closer look. A perpetual cloud of water vapour is always seen around the falls which is why we say “hair wetting”. Take along a rain jacket and a good pair of non-slip walking shoes. The continual spray from the falls makes the River Zambezi Rain Forest and walkways the only place that receives rainfall 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Walk carefully!

These exhilarating falls are something to behold.

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