African shoestrings – Zambia Day Eighty Four Livingstone
Victoria Falls (known locally as “the mist that thunders”) is one of the great natural beauties of the world. A quirk of political geography has put just over half of the falls in Zambia but three quarters of the viewing area in Zimbabwe. Consequently the views from both countries are a lot different. After having been dropped off by the Fawlty Towers shuttle; we strolled into the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, where the Zambian viewpoints are located, past the many curio stalls that we decided we would look at later and straight into mist!
Let me see if can set the scene for you…………… Imagine if you can the mighty Zambezi, a wide stretch of water, sweeping down from its source in North Western Zambia some 900 kilometres away, plunging down a 103 metre high and 1600 metre wide precipice into a narrow gorge which turns at right angles on the Zambia border into an even narrower channel and out into a slightly wider gorge as if unaffected by its trauma of the last 2 kilometres of its journey. From a huge wide open river, the Zambezi hits Victoria Falls and changes its identity into a body of water flowing through a series of narrow and deep gorges. The Zambian viewpoints are all at the point of convergence of water from the Zimbabwean side meeting water from the Zambian side and then somehow squeezing into that first narrow channel. It is here that great volumes of water thunders down and then rises up in the form of mist, hence the name “The mist that thunders” and then drenches everything in sight including us! Last time we had been there the water level had been a lot lower and we managed to stay relatively dry in comparison. This time we only succeeded in keeping the camera dry as we wondered from point to point beginning to look like drowned rats.
When the rains have been good its estimated about 5 Million cubic metres of water per minute passes over the falls and I’m sure it was all falling on top of us! There’s one particular point called appropriately Knife Edge Bridge. It’s a wooden footbridge that crosses from the mainland to a tiny island in the Zambezi. Walking across is about as close as you get to walking through the falls itself. Needless to say we could see nothing but feel plenty. In the end we gave up and found a trail that led down to the water’s edge downstream of the falls. It was called Boiling Point and it’s here that you can see a great swirling mass of water resembling a watery black hole generated by the pounding that is happening a few 100 metres upstream. It’s also here that the best view of the Zambezi Bridge is to be had. It joins the two countries and hosts two sets of customs and immigration, a continuous human chain crossing both ways and Bungy Jumping.
Look I hope that I’m not offending too many die-hard Bungy jumpers here but why? Why would anyone of sound mind and body attach an ankle to a glorified lackey band and jump off a 100 metre plus cliff, bridge or whatever, bounce up and down upside down for fun? A friend of ours did it and said that she had such an adrenalin rush that it stayed with her for a week. Well, let me tell you that’s one experience I’m happy to bypass. I get an adrenalin rush just from looking down (mind you that’s probably actually naked fear). Well anyway from our position I have to admit the jumpers looked spectacular jumping from the bridge. Small and almost insignificant against the backdrop of the huge gorge that houses both the bridge and the Zambezi but spectacular nonetheless.
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