|The spray from the Falls rises out of the African bush|
|Zambia September 1969|
This month I visited the Falls for the 7th time, and the experience never palls. Barbara and I first passed through here in 1969, en route to the Zambian Copperbelt from Cape Town (posting of 25 November 2010), but in all our subsequent visits we have been based on the Zimbabwean side of the river. This time we spent a week on the Zambian bank, thanks to the SAIMM Copper - Cobalt Conference at the Avani Victoria Falls Resort near the town of Livingstone and situated in the heart of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. The Zambezi forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, so the falls are shared by the two countries, and the park is 'twin' to the Victoria Falls National Park on the Zimbabwean side.
Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of Niagara, but while it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft), resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water.
To appreciate the full grandeur of the Falls you must take to the air, so we took a short helicopter tour to view the full width of the Zambezi plunging into the awesome crevice in the relatively flat plateau.
Geologically Victoria Falls is the result of soft sandstone that fills huge cracks in the hard basalt rock of the plateau. As the Upper Zambezi flowed across the plateau in ancient times, it found the cracks and started wearing away the softer rock, eventually creating a series of deep gorges. Geologists estimate that the river has been falling into these gorges for at least the last 100,000 years. As the rock wears away, the cataract follows these gigantic cracks and moves further upriver across the plateau.
|The first of the series of gorges|
|The Victoria Falls bridge from the Boiling Pot|
From the first gorge the river takes a zigzag course through the gorges. When it travels through the second gorge, it passes along a pool known as the "Boiling Pot." During high water this part of the river is filled with heavy turbulence and whirlpools. It is often at this location that objects, animals, and sometimes people, are deposited along the edge of the water after they have been unlucky enough to have been swept over the falls.
A short walk down to river level in the boiling pot is definitely worth the effort and always a good place to relax and talk to local people as the river races towards the Victoria Falls bridge which spans Zambia and Zimbabwe, and also the location of one of the world's most famous bungee jumps.
|Meeting friendly locals by the Boiling Pot|
From the Zambian bank of the river the well maintained trail begins at the Eastern Cataract and leads to the Knife Edge bridge, which often provides a drenching due to the close proximity of the falling water, and then on to the view across the second gorge and Danger Point in Zimbabwe.
|The Eastern Cataract|
|The Victoria Falls and Knife-Edge bridges|
|Crossing the Knife-Edge Bridge|
|The Falls viewed from the second gorge|
|Looking across the second gorge to Danger Point in Zimbabwe|
|The magnificent Victoria Falls Hotel, Zimbabwe|
|The Devil's Cataract|
|The Main Falls|
|Approaching Livingstone Island|
|An extreme close-up view of the Falls from the Livingstone Island rock pool|
|A view of the rock pool from the Rain Forest|
|Cruising the tranquil Zambezi|
Further upriver the Chobe River in nearby Botswana empties itself into the Zambezi, and we spent a day across the Botswanan border in Chobe National Park, famed for its teeming wildlife, particularly the greatest concentration of elephants anywhere in the world (see also posting of 22nd July).
|By the Chobe River, Botswana|
|The "Falls" in September 1995|
|"Viewing" the Falls in full flood|
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