By LOU-ANNE DANIELS
MATEBELELAND North province is home to “The Smoke That Thunders”, a place of exquisite beauty and an awesome reminder of the power of nature.
When you step out of your vehicle you immediately get a better understanding of the name because the ground beneath your feet literally pulses with energy and if there’s a breeze you can actually hear snatches of the “thunder”.
Locals dubbed the world’s largest sheet of naturally falling water Mosi-oa-Tunya because of the mist that drenches everything in the vicinity when the Zambezi River is in flood. The name stuck because most visitors cannot avoid being hit by the fat, cool mist drops which are accompanied by a rumbling sound resembling thunder.
Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, is a magnificent sight even during the current drought crippling most of Zimbabwe. Around 550 million liters of water drops 93 metres every minute over the cliff edge of the falls into the Boiling Pot and through a series of gorges before it continues to flow down the Zambezi River.
At double the height of the Niagara Falls, and nearly half a kilometre wider, this waterfall is an absolute must-see.
The ticket price to enter the Victoria Falls is US$30 (around R450) but SADC visitors enjoy a discounted rate of US$20 (R300). While this may seem steep to some, it is definitely worthwhile. Just remember to pack water and possibly something light to snack on. You’re also going to need a good waterproof sunscreen because it can get very hot up there.
We were accompanied on the roughly 4km walk by a guide who was extremely knowledgeable and made the history of the falls come alive.
Along the way, we stopped at various viewpoints which offer unique vantages of the falls. Between these viewpoints, gazing towards the Devil’s Cataract, stands an enormous statue of Scottish explorer David Livingstone, the first European to “discover” the falls. Whether you’re an aficionado of colonial-era history or not, it is impossible not to be awed by the feats of a man who braved the unknown to explore the African continent.
Walking the falls may sound taxing, but there is so much to see and learn that the time just flies by and before you know it, you’re back at the base where you can enjoy something cold to drink or a meal at the restaurant before shopping for mementos.
If you’re into something more adventurous, an early morning helicopter ride over the falls may be just the thing for you. The cost of around R2 300 is worth the amazing video and still footage you’ll be able to hold on to forever.
And if that hasn’t satisfied your taste for adventure, a bungee jump definitely will. The Victoria Falls bungee jump is believed to be the most scenic in the entire world and at around R2 250 (US$150) it is definitely well priced.
There are also tours of the Victoria Falls Bridge which spans the Zambezi just below the second gorge of the falls. The views from the bridge are truly amazing.
Whichever way you decide to see Vic Falls, this is definitely a bucket list destination.