The smoke that thunders….

Posted: 13/09/2011 in Africa

Victoria Falls

No trip to Africa would be complete without a trip to victoria falls and the perfect words to describe it is the Zambian phrase Mosi oa tuna – the smoke that thunders. Driving through Livingston one can see a dense cloud of what appears to be smoke rising but as you get closer you can see that is actually the mist from the falls. It is an amazing sight but does not compare to that first glimpse of the falls themselves – beyond breath taking! A 1.7km ravine stretches between Zambia and Zimbabwe; it’s as if someone has scooped a narrow ???m wide chunk of earth 155m deep in the middle of a river so gallons of water have no place to go but over the edge in a thunderous cascading torrent. Of course in order to enjoy it you have to be wary of baboons. The Vic falls ones are big and aggressive. We learnt early in the day not to leave our bag on the ground when a large male baboon decided that Keith’s bag was worth stealing. James had a short lived tug of war until the baboon started to get a little aggressive and off he ran (the baboon not James) with the bag, down the steps, clunking Keith’s other lens as he went. In the end do you know what he wanted? Sunscreen! To eat! Because sunscreen is so delicious, especially factor 30! I think my dislike of baboons is well founded.

The photographic opportunities, except for the whole water all over the camera thing, are phenomenal. So Chris, Keith, James and myself head in laden with tripods, lenses and plastic bags and started shooting, I didn’t quite make the 700 photos I took of the lions in the tree but I got some fantastic shots. Sideways rainbows, velvet looking white water, scale shots of people standing on the edge of the falls…yes the edge!! They don’t actually block this area off or police it so anyone can walk wherever they want and if that should be at the top of one of the worlds largest falls then so be it. For a fee locals will take you across the river on a “safe route” (because anything that involves walking across slippery rocks in fast moving water that ends with a 155m water fall into a river filled with hippos and crocs is safe!!) where you can stand on the edge and say “I’m a moron with a death wish”. Actually I would have been that moron a few years ago but I’m loosing my adrenaline junkie nerves. Probably not a bad thing because some risks are not worth it. Only 2 days before we arrived a man died falling of the edge not because he slipped but because he was chased by a baboon. So I left that experience to Keith and Chris (not calling you guys morons) and photographed them from the other side.

It would be easy to spend a day there; you can walk parallel to the falls, across a bridge, ducking into numerous viewing points that are fenced off, or you can walk to the bottom of the falls or even get yourself a day visa and head across to the Zimbabwean side. There is a restaurant that offers high tea and great views of the falls or of course you can walk to the falls side and stand on the edge yourself. There is even a place called the devils pool, a small part of the river right on the edge of the falls where you can jump in and not be swept over….providing the water is not too high.

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