TThe “smoking” canyon on the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe is more famously known as the Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in Africa, and also – the largest waterfalls in world.
Angel Falls in Venezuela is the world’s highest waterfall and Iguazu Falls in Brazil + Argentina is the widest (I’ve been to both and posts may eventuate). Yet Victoria Falls is titled: the largest waterfall in the world. This is based on a 1708 meter width and height of 108 meters, resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water. This is an average flow rate of 1088 m³/s – which if you’re mathically-challenged like me this means nothing. However, even visiting it the beginning of the dry season, I can vouch for the Falls and reckon that it’s indeed alot of water.
Over the centuries many African tribes have inhabited the Falls area. But essentially all the local names for the Falls mean “the smoke that thunders”. Today on the Zimbabwean side it’s called Victoria Falls. On the Zambian side the indigenous Mosi-o-Tunya.
While Africans have been aware of the Falls since the birth of mankind, Europeans were somewhat slower in their “discovery”.
I reckon you know the name David Livingstone. Yes? Well it was he who shouted it to the world and put the Falls on the map. Yet other explorers – including Arab traders – were aware of them before Livingstone made them famous. He spotted them on 17 November 1855, during his 1852–56 journey from the upper Zambezi to the mouth of the river. And he named them after Great Britain’s Queen.
I spent the afternoon on the Zimbabwean side. A ticket cost $40 (only good for one entry). And while I did cross the border to Zambia and the town of Livingstone, I decided not to visit the Zambian side of the Falls. Why? Well, I believe the view is not as encompassing, spectacular; also it meant extra fees to enter their National Park and then extra fees for a compulsory tour guide to visit the Devil’s Pool. But mostly, I thought I would save that perspective of the Falls for my return visit (maybe in the wet season).
NOTE ON THE VIDEO: (PLAY icon – top image): Amid thunder + smoke a tour group enjoys Devil’s Pool on the Zambian side. A lot of young people come to the Falls to tick-off bucket-list goals like bungee, rafting, elephant safaris, booze cruises, etc.
Travels in Zimbabwe – 2013