“The whole scene was extremely beautiful….but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.”
So said David Livingstone, the famed explorer, when he first saw Victoria Falls in 1855. It’s now 2016, where mass communications and information technology places many of the world’s wonders a Google search away. But the visceral rush that comes from first-hand experience is something you can never truly replace with a computerised image, and the sheer majesty and scope of Victoria Falls, one of the true natural wonders of the world, is ample evidence of this fact.
Victoria Falls was visited toward the end of my stay in Zambia, a trip I had undertaken primarily to meet up with an old school friend of mine; he is Zambian born and bred, but had spent 6 years in Wales as a child, and in fact lived on the same street as me in my hometown of Bridgend. Although it had been about 20 years since we’d last met up, we were able to rekindle our friendship immediately, so much so that I trusted him entirely when he got us involved in some misadventures on the Zambian roads, both on the way here and elsewhere!
The thunderous roar of water and vaporous columns that spiral upward from the precipice of the falls can be heard and seen from miles away. This whipped me up in to a state of giddy anticipation, but it scarcely prepared me for a moment that can only be described as sublime: my first sight of what the locals call “the Smoke that Thunders”.
An ever-present rainbow arcs majestically through the clouds of mist, which rain endlessly down on the adjacent woodland path. As beautiful as this is, it is but a footnote to the stunning falls themselves. The sheer force of the seemingly endless twists of foamy ribbons that froth over the edge, exploding powerfully in the swirl of the Zambezi River below, was a stirring reminder of just how amazing this thing called nature can be.
The falls are viewable from, and shared by, both Zimbabwe and Zambia. Whilst it is generally agreed that Zimbabwe gives a better overall panorama, Zambia allows you to get more up close and personal. This included the steep descent to “Boiling Pot”, a constant whirlpool that rages at a bend of the Zambezi, and a chance to sit in one of the pools perched perilously close to the edge of the top of the falls. This I do recommend, as it allows you to view the falls as Dr Livingstone would have first seen them (the island leading to the pools is named after him), and see why he was moved to compare the sight to experiences normally reserved for the Gods. You can’t get much higher praise than that!